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The Drake Passage is behind us

Aggiornamento: 13 nov 2023

Banco Burdwood, South Atlantic Ocean

Lat 54 ° 26.41'S; Long 057 ° 42.21'W

I perceive it, the Drake is behind us, we are back in the Atlantic after 15 months and 10.269 miles spent circumnavigating South America, pushing us down to the Antarctic Polar Circle.

Within a few miles, the lead gray color which has dominated the scene for weeks, left water to a intense, almost blinding, light blue while the thermometer jumped forward by 8 degrees Celsius.

Ciao Drake, I might not wear the earring but indelible will be the memories of these days and sincere the stories for those who willing to listen to them.

Until now the weather forecast of the departure proved to be quite correct.

Both 28 and 29 February were two days with winds between 16 to 20 knots, with a still acceptable comfort for navigation. Yesterday morning, as expected, the wind began to turn west to gradually veer to 300 degrees, forcing us to a close hauled course.

The intensity was the same but this time the apparent wind had gusts of 30 knots that unexpectedly became 40 in the night. These are the moments when the Drake starts to scare.

The height of its waves is an order of magnitude larger than those that these winds develop in any other sea. Waves also do not have a consistent direction. Then, starting this morning, the wind veered again south allowing us to go back to our straight course to the Falklands and some relax. As I feared it was tough for our crew. The fatigue accumulated in two months at these latitudes begins to be felt. They are spending much more time in the cabins and they show up only for their watch and meals.

Kitchen therapy works, but it has a too-narrow "pharmacological window" that is shorter than digestion.

But I do not give up, I feel the responsibility for cohesion of this group.

After the Falkland we will head to Buenos Aires to repair the damage of this Antarctic excursion.

A good friend of us, aware of our accident, made us contact the management of its branch in Montevideo which immediately started to look for a facility in the area able to dry dock Angelique II for repairs. I was confiding in the marina of Piriapolis which has a large travel lift (it seems the largest of all the Atlantic coast of South America), apparently a present left by the Whitbread when was Stopping there. Unfortunately the people in Montevideo discovered that Piriapolis Marina has besides the large travel lift can manage a maximum beam of 7,50 meters and we need 8.00! So they are looking for a different solution.

There is an anecdote about our arrival in Buenos Aires which is worth sharing. In order to enter Argentina arriving from the Falklands without risking diplomatic incidents and high fines, I had to ask for a special permit from the Argentinean Navy in Ushuaia.

Basically I had to make a formal request to visit the Falklands that I had to call as Malvinas, specifying all the ports, arrival and departure date, included on my cruise from Ushuaia until arrival in Buenos Aires, of course including Stanley ( Falkland), to be called Porto Argentino.

So the request stated something like: “ myself Giambattista Giannoccaro Captain of the sailing ship Angelique II ask permission to to transit between ports located in the Argentine Continent and Ports located in the Insular and Antarctic Argentine territory according to the following detail: Ushuaia - Argentina; Puerto Williams - Chile; Puerto Toro - Chile; Antarctica Argentina - Argentina; Puerto Argentino - Malvinas; Buenos Aires - Argentina”.

On our departure from Puerto Williams, the Chilean Navy released to me the "Zarpe" (Navigation Permit) indicating as port of departure “Puerto Williams - Chile” and as destination, “International Antarctica”.

If you are wondering why they specified “InternationalAntarctica” the answer is that for the Chilean Authority there is also a "Chilean Antarctica".

In fact, if our cruise had foreseen the return to Puerto Williams or in any other Chilean port, the Zarpe would have recited “Chilean Antarctica" and we would not have had to check out from the country because Chile considers the Antarctic Peninsula its national territory.

In a few years the Antarctic Treaty will expire and I fear we will see some good ones with many countries pretending sovereignty on Antarctica.

In the meantime, as required by the Falkland Laws, I have emailed their Immigration Authorities our expected arrival in Stanley tomorrow around 6pm.

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