Posted on Mar 12, 2016

For the past 9 days we have been "prisoners" in Stanley. Not that the town does not deserve  or people are inhospitable. The place is lovely and locals extremely courteous. The atmosphere is very British. People even if engaged in driving their cars, do not miss the opportunity to offer a polite greeting. The problem is that we are not in the mood for tourism, we want to reach Mar del Plata as soon as possible to find a facility to dry dock Angelique II thus to start the necessary repairs.
We are also  a bit tired of wind and cold and even if the temperature does not drop below 10 degrees, the anemometer has never been below 20 knots for a week, with gusts above 40 knots.
Every day, with renewed hope, we download the weather forecasts but we can not find a favorable weather window longer than 72 hours.
We need at least twice as much and the idea of ​​being at sea for 3 days of winds above 30 knots against us does not excite us at all.
So we decided to wait for better conditions. At least myself and Vaentina, because our crew has gradually disappeared.
Adela and Ijri left already last Saturday. They had planned to return to south of Chile to climb Torres del Paine and with the arrival of autumn they preferred not to wait any longer .
Today we also greeted Matteo and Dave.
Matteo has a flight back to Italy from Lima at the end of the month and he could not run the risk of losing it. Dave I think he eventually decided to join Matteo.
The cruise is over, the crew has been "dismissed" and after 2 months our Life Academy close his door. The school ship turns back to the usual family boat.

Posted on Mar 3, 2016

Stanley Harbor, West Falklands

Last night was a very pleasant one: no waves, 10 knots of wind, mainsail and thee code 0 ashore and we slide on the water at 7.5 knots without warning movement.
The ideal night to send the crew to sleep and stay on watch all alone for the entire night.
All alone besides my wife, whom does not give up even for a minute.
The Radar alarm set the 6 miles, the pilot on 90° wind angle to starboard and we were ready for a good rest in the saloon.
Yes, because this is how we sail during the long offshore navigation.
I know that not all sailors behave this way, but after more than 100.000 miles around the world, I came to the conclusion that if the weather does not require my physical presence in the cockpit, I rely on technology and my senses and when I rest in the saloon.
What the radar does not see certainly I will not be able to see it myself and an alarm warns me in case of wind jumps exceeding 10°. Any other change to the status quo,  physically warns me.
So at about 5 am I felt that the speed had dropped significantly and I woke up.
On the horizon a fiery red ball was emerging from the sea, still a beautiful day but characterized by little wind. My plan was to be in Stanley earlier in the evening thus to carry out our check in formalities to enter the Falklands and offer a beer to my crew.
So I decided to turn on both engines at 2,000 to gain enough speed to reach my objective.
By 6:00 pm once in front of Cape Pembroke, I called trough VHF  the port authorities of Stanley announcing our arrival in the harbor at 18:30.
Anchored in front of the Public Jetty we called the Customs on channel VHF 12 who immediately answered by giving me an appointment after half hour at the jetty to clear all the formalities. I asked if the presence of all the crew was necessary and the courteous customs agent replied that it was enough to bring with me the documents of the boat and the passports of all the crew members. Once at the Jetty a young woman of Asian origin in her elegant uniform, was waiting for me with a dazzling smile. “Hy, this is Katy, I was waiting for you”
I had sent an email to the customs office few days before announcing my arrival around 18:00h and they were waiting for me in a very British style.
Sitting on a bench on the dock, she extracted from her backpack a a stamp and within a few minutes all our passports had been stamped.
Then she gave me a publication with a series of information about Stanley and two yellow plastic bags. We have to call the custom office by VHF radio and they will come to the pier to pick up the yellow bags where we shall collect our waste.
In light of such elegant courtesy I asked where to go for a beer and where to withdraw cash to find out that there are 3 pubs in Stanley, but there is not even an ATM in all the Falklands!
We have to wait until tomorrow morning to go to the only one bank on the island where they offer cash advance with VISA and MASTERCARD.
After having cordially greeted  the lady officer,  I returned to the boat where the crew was thrilled by the idea of ​​enjoying a nice pint of beer. Despite the bad news we decide to try the same. We visited all the 3 pubs, but no one accepted credit cards, only cash.
It was already 21:00h and the hunger began to be felt, so I suggest to my crew to return return on board to reward us with an excellent dish spaghetti “aglio, olio and peperoncino”.
But at the moment of serving the delicious dish, I opened a bottle of properly cooled Argentine Brut: “Cheers Angelique II”.

Posted on Mar 2, 2016

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.

Posted on Feb 28, 2016

The forecasts downloaded last night confirmed a good weather window to face the Drake, so this morning at 06:30h we set sail. Rounded Harmony Point on Nelson Island and gained the open sea we set course to 004° enjoying a broad reach 5 knots which which accompanied us throughout the day.
From this night we expect the wind to progressively veer crosswind and to stay that way for the whole day tomorrow.
From tomorrow afterwards we expect an increase of up to 25/30 knots veering to north west°, which will certainly bring the apparent wind around 35/40 knots, which should last only about 12 hours and then progressively veer again to crosswind to a quiter 15 knots.
For February 2nd and 3rd the forecasts give winds from South, South West around 12 knots and at that point we will be with Stanley at sight.
If we it will really go this way we will be extremely lucky. With the damage we reported it would be better not to face perfect storms.

One aspect that I will certainly have to take care in the next days is the morale of the crew. They are all a bit tired and the contagious enthusiasm of the departure has left room for a clear desire to return ashore.
These very nice guys did not choose to make the sea their life like me and the Vale. They dreamed of reaching Antarctica and now, that this dream is fulfilled, they can not wait to go their own way. All but one.
Ijri, who has discovered a new world and even if you can not define him a person who is loquacious and easy to open, has told me that he would very much like to do this life. To buy his own boat and entering the charter budsiness. And considering his love for mountains and the winter, this means sailing at these latitudes.
Food is definitively something which can leverage on the moral. So for lunch I prepared macaroni with Sicilian cauliflower. Fried garlic, chilli and anchovies, in which flavor the cauliflower previously boiled.
In the water used to boil the cauliflower, cook the macaroni which, when seasoned, should be served with a generous sprinkling of toasted breadcrumbs.
For dinner pizza with tomatoes, almost mozzarella, grilled peppers and bacon.
At least for today I avoided the mutiny.

Posted on Feb 27, 2016

Lat 62 ° 14.15; Long 058 ° 40.50'W

Yesterday, as expected, we set sail at 04:30h am and by 5:30 am we were out of Deception. Outside 15 knots of wind were waiting for us and with full sail ashore wewere sailing at steady 10 knots of speed. In a couple of hours we were downwind to Livingstone Island, sheltered from the great waves of the Drake continuing  through Greenwich, Robert and Racon for all the 72 miles which separated us from Potter's Cove, our anchorage in King George Island, the largest Shetland Island and certainly the one with the greatest concentration of research bases. Just in front of us the Base Carlini, a large permanent Argentinian base.

Within the larger Maxwell Bay, which also houses Potter's Cove, there are 6 other bases:

* Marsh, Chilean, with a landing strip that can accommodate HC130s, an hospital, which provid logistic support to all the bases around the Antarctic Peninsula;

* Bellingshausen, Russia;

* Artigas, Uruguay;

* Great Wall, China;

* Vaclav Vojtech, managed by private citizens of the Czech Republic;

* King Sejong, Korea that seems to have a 5-star luxury structure;

But in addition to Maxwell Bay, few miles north, Admiralty Bay hosts 4 more stations:

* Ferraz, Brazil,

* Machu Pichu, Peru

* Arctowski, Poland,

* Vicente, Ecuador

Yesterday when we arrived there was great movement ashore. In these weeks the permanent bases receive supplies for the long winter, because from April onwards only the icebreakers can reach these latitudes and they do it only in cases of extreme necessity. For nine long months who is lucky enough to live an experience like this, must get used to self-sufficiency and darkness.

It seems clear to me that Antarctica is inviting us to leave. Yesterday the Spanish base was working to close the base, today the Argentinians are preparing for the long winter.

King George would deserves at least a week visit, but from tomorrow the forecasts give 48 hours of West, South West winds, a rarity in these area. 48 hours that would allow us to cross half Drake. Following 18 hours of strong winds from the North West, where we will try to suffer as little as possible. The last 30 hours we should continue to have winds always from North, North West but of medium intensity. 660 miles separate us from Port Stanley in the Falklands whixh I conservatively expect to ne covered in 100 hours. If the forecast that I will download at 23:00 will confirm this scenario, tomorrow we shall be sailing away.

Posted on Feb 25, 2016

Lat 62 ° 58,45'S; Long 060 ° 40.60'W
It is 2300h and as I write this note, Valentina and Matteo are arranging about fifty kilos of freshly shipped food.
A pack of 6x1.5-liter bottles of orange juice
A pack of 6x1.5 liter bottles of Coca Cola
6x4-liter bottles of mineral water
24 cans of beer
12 cartons of 1 liter milk
6 boxes of 1 liter of cream for desserts
6 cartons of 1 liter of fish stock
6 packs of 800 gr of assorted powdered stock (vegetables, chicken, legumes, mushrooms and asparagus)
6 packs of 500 gr of coffee powder
12 cans of 170 g of tuna in oil
10 cans of 1 Kg of tomato paste
2 kg of frozen bacon
2 kg of frozen beef steaks
1.5 kg of frozen pork steaks
3 kg of frozen chicken wings
5 kg of macaroni
5 kg of spaghetti
2 kg of butter
A box full of puffed rice snacks
But let's start from where I left you.
Yesterday morning around 11:00h we left our anchorage on Enterprise Island.
Forecasts were announcing wind from South, South West for the next 48 hours, so my plan to make an intermediate stop on Trinity on our way back to Deception was skipped. I decide to take advantage of this good conditions and to sail straight north for a single leg of 120 miles.
The entrance to Port Foster requires a minimum of attention, so I decided for a mid-day departure so as to arrive at Deception with the sunlight.
Mainsail and Gennaker, 13 knots of apparent wind from 140° and the log on 9 knots. Still large Icebergs, but relatively few blocks of ice. The day was warm, so we opened all the zippered canvas doors giving access to the cockpit to enjoy a wonderful sunny afternoon.
We met many whales, but all extremely shy.  Around 22:30h the darkn arrived and with it the impossibility to continue at the same speed due to the high risk of hitting some big block of ice.
So the strategy was down the sails and proceed with a single engine at about 1.5 knots until the first light at dawn around 4:00h. So at 08:30h we set anchor at Port Foster, just in front of the Spanish base we had visited just few weeks before. Our Spanish friends appeared very busy from the boat.
The base operates only in summer and on May 28th a Spanish research ship will come to retrieve all the members of the expedition to take them to Ushuaia from where they will return home.
"Wintering" a station like the Spanish one is not an activity that takes place in a couple of hours. So we decided not to disturb and to call them only by radio to say hello.
Today was another spectacular day, warm and totally windless. We have dedicated ourselves to a control of the equipment, the level of motor and generator fluids and the cleaning of the bilges.
The program is to sail tomorrow at dawn to cover the 70 miles that separate us from King George Island, in the Shetland Islands, where we will wait a favorable weather window to cross again the Drake Passage,  this time heading the Falklands.
So we organized the activities ot to have an early dinner early so to go to sleep as early as possible. But around 20:00h we receive a VHFcall from the Spanish base.
"Base Gabriel De Castillia llama Angelique II, Base Gabriel De Castillia llama Angelique II, Angelique II me recibe, change?"
"Aquí Angelique II, buenas noche Gabriel de Castilla, adelante"
"Captain puede acercarse by 23:00 a la playa? Tenemos un paquete por el paisaje del Drake"
"Seguro que si, muchísima gracias".

So they were inviting to reach the beach at 23h because the had a pack for our Drake passge!
So at 23:00 with Matteo we took the dinghy and we headed to the base where we found waiting for us th Commander Alberto Salas Mendes and his second, Lieutenant Fernando Rodriguez Alfranca along with two soldiers.
As soon as we reached the beach, the two soldiers loaded a large plastic bag, a large plastic box and several plastic boxes on our dinghy.
"We thought a little food after 3 weeks and the Drake to deal with, could cheer you up".

These basically were the words of the Spanish friends.
I am very inclined, especially by culture, to hug people in moments like this. But this time, the very military handshake offered us by the two officers, I have to admit has fully conveyed the spontaneity and sincerity of that gesture.
Thank you very much Commander.

Posted on Feb 22, 2016

Lat 64 ° 32.40'S; Long 061 ° 59.89'W
Another unforgettable day.
The sun has accompanied us for the whole day making the 8 hours I spent at the helm extremely pleasant.
Our destination today was Enterprise Island, halfway up the Strait of Gerlache about 45 miles from Paradise.
However, rather than sail directly to Gerlache we have chosen to cross entirely Paradise Bay and follow through Andvord Bay so as to pass by Canal Errera, another spectacular stretch of sea between the Antarctic Peninsula and the Rongè Island.
The ice for today has been clement, allowing us always to proceed without having to call for the hel of our 'rubber ice sweeper ".
The detour was providential, certainly one of the most beautiful leg of this cruise. I'm sorry I can not show you now all the photos that Valentina has taken, because it's really difficult to describe what we have before without running the risk of being repetitive.
We arrived to Enterprise Island in the early afternoon, reaching the north-eastern coast and anchoring next to a ship wreck. In the evening Alde Tasmanian, the Australian boat we had already met both at Deception and Vernadsky anchor beside us and later in the evening we saw the lights of a cruise ship anchored in the bay, a couple of miles east of our anchorage.