top of page
  • ggiannoccaro

The missing anchorage site

Aggiornamento: 13 nov 2023

This morning we woke up at 7:00h, we had breakfast and immediately after hoisted our sails. More than 70 miles of navigation awaited us to reach our next anchorage, Mikkelsen Harbor on Trinity Island.

We want to reach as soon as possible, Vernadsky Station, the southernmost point of our cruise south of the Antarctic Polar Circle, thus to put your bow back to the North and take advantage of every possible chance of winds from the second and third quadrant (with a south component) predominant in these latitudes, especially in this season.

Unfortunately we can not sail at night and this involves splitting these 250 miles into several stages.

The risk of sailing at night is not represented by large icebergs, but rather by small blocks of ice not visible by the radar that if hit at 8, 10 knots could seriously damage our boat.

Another serious problem of navigating in these waters is the absolute lack of guides suitable for small boats, with annotations, GPS points and detailed drawings useful both for navigation and especially for the search of well protected anchorages. We little captains are left to rely on instinct, experience and, better, the community.

Who, like us, spent few months between Ushuaia and Puerto Williams, certainly ends up meeting skippers with great experience in the seas of the Antarctic Peninsula and obtain not only useful information, but above all a series of notes and drawings that from the Damien times reach the white continent collects and then shares.

So we also got from the skipper of an Australian charter boat, a collection of really impressive notes and drawings. However, the Australian friend warned us not to rely on all the indications contained, because the weather conditions in these parts change rapidly and a secure anchorage in a specific condition could turn out to be a hell under different conditions.

We left our anchorage around 08:00h with about 25 knots of wind from East, North East, which forced us to tackle for about an hour to get out of the great natural basin of Deception Island through the narrow passage of Neptunes Bellows, but once in the open sea the same wind has allowed us to keep an angle of about 100 degrees and a comfortable navigation despite the wave formed.

The temperature remained around -2 ° throughout the morning but the perceived was much lower.

Around lunchtime the wind raised up to 35 knots with gusts up to 45.

We reduced the sails until leaving the main sail with 3 reefs, still pushing Angelique II at 9/10 knots (17 the maximum of the day). Despite the total absence of the sun, the dominant gray of sky and sea contrasted by the white of the palaces of ice we used to slalom, gave the landscape a fairytale atmosphere and not at all gloomy.

I think this is one of the most unique aspects of this planet. The sun shining in a clear sky adds neither color nor charm to this immense scenography staged by nature, although I do not deny that they can affect the comfort level of the observer.

At 18:45h we were already south of Trinity, across Borge Point, ready to lower the mainsail and motor towards the harbor of Mikkelsen Harbor.

Based on the precious notes transferred to me by the Australian skipper, the only possible anchorage on this route that can be reached by Deception avoiding night navigation are Mikkelsen Harbor, a bay on the south coast of Trinity Island and Spert Island, an anchorage in a small isthmus which separates Spert Island from Trinity.

Looking at the nautical charts and drawings notes I had no doubts about betting on Mikkelsen Harbor.

The notes indicated the precise coordinates for the anchorage, a depth between 5 and 16 meters, all supported by a reassuring comment in French: "tres beau" !!!

Unfortunately, once we reached the indicated GPS point, our echo sounder marked 65 meters.

We have sounded the coast of the entire bay for about 2 hours but the depths remained prohibitive unless moving few meters from the glaciers which the shores of Trinity.

AThe only alternative left was the anchorage at Spert Island. We covered the 8 miles in about an hour, just in time to anchor with the last lumen of light.

The notes and sketches in my possession suggest three possible scenarios: a slalom between rocks and icebergs to reach the isthmus between the two islands, an anchorage with lines ashore and a third solution swinging on the anchor.

The forecast predict very low wind fron North starting by midnight so I decided for the third scenario in the menu.

I drop the anchor in 12 meters of water releasing 80 meters of chain and checking that there was enough space to rotate avoiding to end on rocks.

Obviously we set an anchor alarm again and a radar alarm on the 100 meters to spot any icebergs.

In the saloon the temperature was already at 18 degrees, tropical compared to the outside and a delicious chicken curry with coconut milk accompanied by pilaf rice, waiting for us as. A well-deserved reward for the achievements of this day.

4 visualizzazioni

Post recenti

Mostra tutti


bottom of page