Part VI of the “Our Big Bucket Cruise” blog series

March 25: The Veendam arrives in a moderate gale.

Ushuaia from the Sea

Tierra del Fuego is an archipelago surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Strait of Magellan, and the easternmost part of the Pacific Ocean. Although the city of Ushuaia is in Argentina, most of the main island actually belongs to Chile. At 55° latitude, it holds the distinction of being “the southernmost city in the world.”

Ushuaia, the Southernmost Town in the World

The indigenous people were the Yahgan and Alacalufes (canoe Indians). Surprisingly, despite the inclement weather, they wore little or no clothing. Constant fires kept them warm, hence the region’s name: Tierra del Fuego, land of fire.

I’d always wanted to go to Ushuaia. Stories about the ceaseless wind, the snow-capped Andes, and the magical light had fascinated me.

Even though Günter and I are still not feeling well, and have cancelled our tour here, a catamaran cruise through the Beagle Channel and a ride through the National Park, we bundle up to walk into the town. The wind blasts us so hard it almost knocks us over as we head down the gangplank and onto the pier. We make it to the town’s main drag and then Günter, who now has bronchitis, turns back.

Gunter on the pier near the ship, bundled for the walk

Lois, Bundled for the walk into town.

All the streets climb up the hill from the port, as in San Francisco.  The cross-streets filled with restaurants, bars, tourist and winter apparel shops protect me from the wind.

As I walk along the streets, I begin to fall in love with this southernmost town in the world. Yes, Ushuaia is remote, desolate, and moody as the sun appears and disappears behind the numerous clouds.  Yet the town turns out to be quite charming and picturesque. The colorful buildings are a mixture of architectural designs, from colonial European to ski resort styles with steep roofs. (Ski season here will begin in six weeks.) On the corner is the yellow, multi-storied Horn Hotel. On the facing block is a cozy, blue-shuttered bed-and-breakfast with white fretwork and a garden of struggling blue lupines. Towering over the town is the massive A-framed Albatross Hotel. And behind it all lie the snow-capped Andes. Ushuaia is frontier town with lots of character and a cosmopolitan center of 70,000, all rolled into one.

After exploring the town, I meander over to the sailboat anchorage to take some photos. I cannot imagine the courageous and hardy spirit it takes to sail here! Only 100 years ago, the only people crazy enough to come here were convicts in chains. Prison inmates built the town’s railway, hospital, and port. That prison is now a museum that I pass on the way back to the ship.

Delayed by the port authorities, The Veendam leaves too late to view Glacier Alley, but we do experience a few hours of daylight while winding through Darwin’s famous Beagle Channel.

The Beagle Channel at Sunset Viewed from our Veranda.

The Straits

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A must stop on our recent British Virgin Island 10-day sailing charter was Foxy’s on Jost Van Dyke Island.  We wanted to be there, of course, for the famous barbeque that takes place there every Friday and Saturday evening. On this particular week-end, Foxy’s would be sponsoring the Wooden Boat Regatta as well

Those visitors to the islands not on a sailboat can easily get here by boat, water taxi, private charter or ferry service from West End, Tortola; St. John; St. Thomas or from other locations on Jost Van Dyke. To top it off, Foxy even has a new watering hole, Foxy’s Tabu, on Diamond Cay, at East End. I expected that Foxy’s today would no longer be the little funky beach venue that Gunter and I recalled from our previous charter stop there twenty years ago. Even so, for memory’s sake, I wanted to dinghy ashore in the afternoon to see whether Foxy (a.k.a. Philicianno Callwood) might still be holding forth, captivating sailors with his exploits and tales of Caribbean pirates of yore.

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I was not disappointed.

As I left the bar and strolled toward the new gift shop with all manner of tourist paraphernalia bearing the Foxy logo, there he was, Foxy himself with his big saucer eyes, barefoot and grinning. He was perched on a white plastic chair, surrounded by a new crop of fresh-faced admirers who would have been toddlers the last time I was there. I stood by watching him tell his sailors’ tales until the group had their fill and moved on. Then I told him that I was pleased to see him again after all these years and was not surprised to find that he had become an institution on the islands, as well as a capitalist and entrepreneur. He smiled and agreed that he hadn’t done badly.

I took a walk along the beach and then around to the back street, photographing tropical homes and flowers, banana trees, and goats. When I returned back to the bar for a beer, Foxy was gone. One lone guitar player sat on the bandstand, strumming a few tunes. I noticed a life-sized, mannequin of a Calypso guitar player standing behind him. Who else but Foxy would have an “epoxy Foxy” made as a stand in for himself so guests won’t feel slighted when he was not there?

Our group scoffed up the barbeque with plates of ribs and chicken piled high. We sipped on dark and stormies made with ginger beer and lots of rum, while the band began with reggae and quickly changed to rock. But Foxy was nowhere to be found. Getting along in years, (he doesn’t know how old he is) I assumed that, having made his appearance in the afternoon, he hightailed it for home, dinner, and bed.

That night, back at the boat in the bay, we reminisced about Foxy holding forth and the how the crowd of sailors would explode in laughter. Later, I found this poem about him posted on the internet, called Troubadour of Jost Van Dyke.

And when he sees you’ve turned red from the sun,
Look out now, ’cause here it comes!
He’s certain to note you’ll turn green when sick
or blue when sad … it’s part of his shtick!
And when he’s done exhausting all shades,
He’ll wait a moment while the music fades …
You could never accuse him of being a dullard
When he abruptly cries, “And you call ME coloured!”

Liane Le Tendre – November 2004
British Virgin Islands

One of the joys of sailing around the world was shopping at ethnic markets and trying out new recipes.  During the time we spent in Australia, I was treated to this marvelous dessert twice.  The first time I encountered it was in Bundaberg, Queensland—in a beauty shop, of all places! I was having my hair colored and cut, and while I was there, a lady came in cradling a box from the local bakery. “Pavlova!” my hairdresser shouted.

“Lois, have you ever tasted this?” she asked. I shook my head no. “You must have a piece. It’s like manna from heaven!”

Not having any idea what manna would taste like (I always thought it was a kind of bread), of course, I agreed to try it.  The soft, sweet meringue melted in my mouth. The fruit provided a tangy contrast. Those tastes—combined with rich whipping cream—indeed tasted like a slice of heaven!

Pavlova is an authentic Australian specialty, so claim the Aussies. This dessert was created in honor of the famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, after her tour in 1926 through Australia. But this dessert is also one of the national symbols of New Zealand.  Anna toured both countries that year. So was this recipe was created in 1929 in New Zealand or in 1934 in Australia? The two countries have even taken the fight to court. The controversy makes Pavlova all the more mouth-watering.

I made the dessert for “the kids” last Sunday when they came to our house for dinner. My daughter-in-law, Sabine, guessed that it came from Austria. That’s where Google comes in! All agreed that my version of Pavlova (see below) was lip-smacking good.

Recipe for Mixed Berry Pavlova
1 Pavlova shell
6 cups mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc.) cut as for fruit salad and mixed with a pinch of salt and superfine sugar to taste
2  pints best-quality vanilla ice cream or 1 pint fruit sorbet and 1 pint ice cream (optional; not always  included in a Pavlova, but very good)

Whipped Cream
Whipped Cream Topping:
1 cup very cold heavy cream
4 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the Pavlova shell on a cake plate. Soften the ice cream and/or sorbet (if using). Spread first the ice cream and then the whipped cream over the shell and top with the berries. Slice into wedges or just heap into a bowl.

Pavlova Shell
4 room-temperature egg whites
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tsp. white vinegar
2 tsp. cornstarch

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment and draw a heavy 10-inch circle on it. Turn paper over.

2. With the whisk attachment in place, beat egg whites, salt and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer set on medium-low speed. When frothy, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the whites form soft peaks.

3. About 2 teaspoons at a time, add sugar while continuing to beat. Increase the speed to high and beat until stiff and glossy. Beat in vanilla, 1 teaspoon white vinegar, and 2 teaspoons cornstarch.

4. Spoon meringue into the traced circle, smooth with a spatula and shape like a shallow bowl.

5. To cook: Place in the middle of the oven and reduce heat to 250 degrees. Bake for 1¼ hours. Turn off the oven. Leave the meringue in the closed oven for at least 4 hours. Leave the meringue in the turned-off oven to cool, preferably overnight. Should end up crispy on the outside, chewy in the middle.

Pavlova Shell

Adding Sorbet

Pavlova with fruit added

Pavlova, Ready to Serve

Happy Guests

One of the common questions that I am asked about our circumnavigation is this:  “Did you catch many fish when crossing oceans?”  And after I answer “Yes, fresh fish was a primary source of food,” the next question is: “How do you catch a fish under sail?”

“Very carefully,” I answer. “But sometimes, the fish just has to win.”

I’ve posted on SCRIBD an excerpt from my forthcoming book, the second in the “In Search of Adventure and Moments of Bliss” trilogy, called SAILING THE SOUTH PACIFIC.  It is taken from the chapter “Passage to the Marquesas.”  In this chapter, my husband Gunter and I are sailing our catamaran, Pacific Bliss, directly from San Diego to the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia, over 3000 nautical miles away.

Here is a preview:

The One that Got Away

April 4, 2002

There is life out here today, over a thousand miles from the nearest land. Pairs of blue-and-yellow bonito weave alongside the hulls, pursuing schools of flying fish dashing frantically from the crest of one wave to another. The four of us stand on deck for a long time, braced against the dagger boards, watching the marvelous marine show.  We wonder when the next predator in the food chain will arrive, attracted by all the commotion.

It doesn’t take long. Just as we take a break for lunch, the whirl of the reel announces a fish on our line…

 The Second One that Got Away

April 6, 2002

Today, I awaken from my afternoon nap to hear commotion topside. “Lots of birds and dolphins,” Doug informs me, “and where there’s dolphins there’s fi-i-sh.” The reel whirrs as Doug rushes to the holder, picks up the rod, and begins to play the fish.

“Slow ‘er down!” he yells.

“How? We’re sailing.” Gunter heads for the controls at the starboard helm.

“Yeah, I know, at 8 knots. Turn into the wind, quick.” Doug can barely hold onto the rod…

Read the full version at:   http://www.scribd.com/doc/50473221/The-One-That-Got-Away

Pull back! Doug plays the fish

The Reel Bends to the Breaking Point

http://www.scribd.com/doc/50473221/The-One-That-Got-Away

the November 26, 2010 New York Times headline claims:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/26/science/earth/26norfolk.html

And believe you me, from traveling around the world, I know firsthand that these headlines from NYT get picked up by the newspapers of countries everywhere.  They cannot afford to do their own original research. So they simply repeat the dogma. But the editors put these headlines to make a political point, and NYT has always been on the bandwagon of man-made catastrophic climate change. So this fits their agenda.

So what is the truth behind the headline?  Like many other cities, Norfolk was built on filled-in marsh. Now that fill is settling and compacting. In addition, the city is in an area where significant natural sinking of land is occurring. The result is that Norfolk has experienced the highest relative increase in sea level on the East Coast — 14.5 inches since 1930, according to readings by the Sewells Point naval station there.

Amazing isn’t it?  NORFOLK is the only city to experience this high water increase in the sea level on the entire East coast. Think about it.  My husband, Gunter, the physicist, says that “mother nature must have designed a new system for gravity and how water seeks its own level.”  I wonder what that is. The new theory must be that the water in this particular area of the ocean is “X” inches higher than the water in the adjacent but SAME ocean a few hundred miles away!  Call it “Y.”  You can conduct your own experiment:  Just fill a pan partway with water.  Add some stones, or just add a few kitchen utensils.  Now watch the water rise.  Then mark another stone or utensil NORFOLK. Does the water around it rise more or does the water rise evenly all inside the pan?

One has to wonder if the problem is that it’s NOT the water rising, BUT the LAND sinking, but I guess that logic does not fit into the global environmental alarmists’ theory that the sky is falling.

Have the so-called “science writers” gone crazy?  From the article: “We are the front lines of climate change,” said Jim Schultz, a science and technology writer who lives on Richmond Crescent near Ms. Peck. “No one who has a house here is a skeptic.” Politics aside, the city of Norfolk is tackling the sea-rise problem head on, the article emphasizes.

I’ll bet they are.  And they should, if their land is sinking.

Islands are indeed sinking in the South Pacific and in the Indian Ocean.  This happens because most of them are coral atolls, and as they age, the land sinks. But the ocean levels do not rise just around them—only in their part of the sea. Think back to the pan experiment.

Those of you who are interested in geography and science can investigate this further by going to the diagram on my website in the story: “The Enlightened Environmentalist at http://www.pacificbliss.com/journal182.html You can go on to read the true story of Melanesian Carteret islanders, touted as the first global warming refugees by the ABC (Australian Broadcasting System) and later picked up by BBC and CNN.  And then continue to Part III of the story to find what Gunter and I discovered about the “sinking islands” of the Maldives, where they mined their coral reefs for construction material.

New York Times: get with it!  Don’t ask us to defy logic. As Barnum supposedly said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”