South Georgia , here we come – we thought
Budda, Mackan and Anders had recently signed onboard, and Empire was stocked up as
much as never before, when we Friday 24. November threw off from Mar del Plata . We had
a good start, with calm weather. The bow could be pointed directly towards South Georgia.
Our Swedish crew also got a good start in the calm weather, and got their time to walk in
the sea legs.
In spite of the calm weather one of our Swedish crewmembers had a rough start, dealing
with his seasickness. But “a little bit” of seasickness is not enough to get a Swede out of
balance. “A few days of appropriation and it will probably pass…” Unfortunately it was not
the seasickness that passed away. It was the course that had to be changed, but not
because of seasickness. After 2 days of sailing, we got water in the boat through the rudder
casing. We got in about 10 liters of saltwater pr. hour when the boat speed raised above 6-7
knots and the seas were coming from astern.
Luckily we discovered the water quiet early, as we are inspecting the engine room and the
keel bilge at least every fourth hour. It was also quiet easy to locate where the water was
coming in. It was no grave danger that we suddenly should take in a lot of water, as long as
we got the small quantities out regularly. If we reduced the sails so that the boat did a speed
under 6 knots, we did not get any water in at all, except in the biggest surfs. We had control
over the situation, and therefore we did not feel the situation as threatening.
But intrusion of water is intrusion of water, especially onboard a ship at sea… And with the
flat bottomed modern hulls of today, it has to be a lot of water inside the hull, before it is any
usage of using the bilge pump. We therefore had to take out the water regularly with a cup
and a sponge, before it got enough water to use the bilge pump.
At an early stage the Captain was quiet sudden that we were not sailing any further south
with a water intrusion through the rudder casing. It is not a pleasant job, in all weather to sit
with the head into the bilge taking out water. Still we sailed on for 2-3 hours, to evaluate the
situation. When the decision to changing the course with 180 degrees became official, only
one of the crew looked at it as a defeat. The rest of us agreed that we did not sail to the
south, to be with the nose in the bilge.
The weather was nice with good winds, when we changed the course. Of course it was a
disappointed party that were heading back north. But it is no reason to collapse because of
an unfortunate happening...
Spare parts were ready for delivery from Lunde Båt in Norway the same day as we turned
around. Satellite phone is a valuable piece of equipment… DHL told us that they could
deliver the parts in Mar del Plata in 4 days after picking them up in Asker, Norway . But that
is not the way it turned out.
To make a long story short, DHL appeared to be an impolite transportation company. After
10 days the parts finally arrived in Buenos Aires . But according to DHL it could take at least
14 more days to get the parts out from customs. Before that we had to pay an amount of US
dollar, to get DHL to print out the necessary papers. And we had to engage a broker to take
care of the formalities. And the Captain, in person, had to travel to Buenos Aires , a bus trip
of 6 hours – each way. We really wonder what we pay for, when one engage DHL to take
care of an express freight from Norway …
We had no plans of staying 14 or more days in Mar del Plata to wait for parts. A Bavaria
owner in Norway gave us a tip pr. email, that a piece of a car tire house could be the
solution to make the rudder casing watertight. When the problems with DHL came to an
hight, we made some quick decisions. With a piece of a Dunlop 135-13 car tire house, we
mounted the rudder back in place. Around noon the next day we threw off, now with course
for Ushuaia. If we should get the time to sail to Antarctica in January, we had to skip South
Georgia for now.
The car tire house made the rudder casing perfectly watertight. But we had more rudder-
problems coming… After a few days sail towards Ushuaia, we could hear banging sounds in
the boat. At first we thought it was noise from slack tanks. After some more inspection, we
found out that the noise came from slack in the rudder bearings. Together with the parts for
the rudder casing, the Captain also order new bearings for the rudder, for later use. It gave
us some thoughts of bitterness, thinking of the parts in Buenos Aires that we couldn't get to.
One should also mention that he slack in the rudder bearings probably have been increasing
over time, but first been visible now after cleaning and greasing the rudder bearings when
repairing the leak. Wear and tear after seven years of sailing it is called – something the
Captain now feels he should have been thinking of earlier…
The rest of the voyage for Ushuaia was in nice and surprisingly calm weather. We didn't see
much of the “roaring 40's” or the “furious 50's”. We arrived in Puerto Harberton in the Beagle
canal after 9 days and nights sailing, and we arrived in Ushuaia the day after.
We started the work with the rudder bearings almost immediately, as it would not be a
theme to sail to Antarctica with such a slack in the rudder bearings. We lowered the rudder
a few centimeters, hoping that giving the rudderstock and the rudder bearings new touching
planes, would give less slack. After the job was done, it seemed as it was the solution.
Anyway we could not get new parts in time. When it comes to transport and customs and
foreign merchandise Argentina is a hopeless country.
Christmas and New Years were celebrated as it should. Sawubona with Marja and Bosse
(from Sweden ) and Empire invited to party onboard Empire . Both Christmas Eve and New
Years Eve we had the other Scandinavian sailors in Ushuaia onboard fro Christmas and New
Before we finally could throw off for Antarctica in the beginning of January, we only had to
get the new windlass onboard and to install it – we believed…