Fedor Konyukhov

Clearing Kerguelen

After period of light and variable winds and absolutely chaotic sea and wind shifting from N to E to S we are sailing in powerful weather pattern with winds from S-W-S. Extremely cold – simply can’t freely breathe on deck. Frozen air is burning my lungs, I have to use handmade scarf to protect face. Heavy snow makes it very hard working in the cockpit. Although it is late in April, feels like mid winter. It is either I am getting tired or indeed winter is getting here. Waves monstrously big – that is typical for S-W storms. Few days ago I had 48 hours of N-W gale force winds but sea was 5-6 meters, but 12 hours of S-W winds built up seas up to 8-9 meters and in keep rising. With N-W waves – the boat is sailing and surfing, but with S-W waves the boat is climbing up long hills. After spending nearly 3 months in the Southern Ocean below 45 South – I still can not get use to the power and size on S-W swell. I compare it like: sailing in N-W gale you experiencing Alps waves, but S-W gales bring Himalayan type waves and it is Big difference.

Thanks to Lee Bruce routing tactic we end up on the right side of the low pressure and now sailing away from Kerguelen with 45+ knots wind at 130-140 degrees to stbrd side of the boat. It would be very hard and dangerous to be south of Kerguelen where the wind is stronger and conditions are even colder. My task is to get to 46’30 South to avoid worse of shoaling. Kerguelen has very wide and shallow Plato with some areas of only 120 meters depth. It is very shallow for Southern Ocean conditions, for example right now I have 2.500 meters under keel and 8 meters waves, imagine these masses of water from two kilometers come up to shoaling 200 meters – it will bring very step waves, nearly vertical walls. I have experienced these waves near New Zealand – it is like riding rollercoaster and boat may end up in severe broaching with some damaging consequences. Once you get there – nothing you can do, so we must do our best to stay North and round shoaling.

Overall things are good on board. Southern Ocean is keep testing my yacht and gives me some hard times as well, but this is all part of the game and I don’t feel that it does it intentionally. Kergulen was here million years ago, as well as gale force winds. So I have to adapt to every weather patters and live with that. It is all power of Nature, I came here to witness this unique environment and learn something for my self. Southern Ocean is vast, but every journey has its end and I can feel that we are on the final stretch. Regards, Fedor  

Position: 47,23.87S , 67,38.31E
Speed: 9 knots, Course: 55 deg.
UTC Time: 19. April 2008 18:20
wind 30-40 kt SW - FEDOR OK

Regards, Fedor

The archipelago of Kerguelen is made up of one large island with hundreds of smaller islands surrounding it. There are hundreds of miles of coastline were hundreds fjords and bays are formed. These islands were created by ancient volcanic activity. Kerguelen Islands are also called the "islands of desolation" because the landscape is barren without trees. There is far too much wind for trees to survive. Because there is no industry or living population of humans on the islands, the land and water surrounding the area is not polluted. The water in the area is some of the purest in the world.