The Wanderers Return!

After 3 years of wandering the Atlantic Ocean in their Pan Oceanic 43, Dandelion, WQSC members John and Sue Chadwick have returned to their home mooring at Holes Hole.

After a voyage that included Brazil, Argentina, the Beagle Channel, the West Indies and most recently a 10 day passage from the Azores, Dandelion took Sunday’s flood tide up the Tamar to complete their voyage.

John takes up the story, “After we left Holes Hole in July 2016 we headed pretty much south to call in at a number of harbour’s in NW Spain and Portugal before we pushed off for Madeira, Salvegens, Canaries, Cape Verdes, Salvador (Brazil) and on to Uruguay.  Then a sort of pit-stop in Buenos Aires for storm repairs and then on down the Argentine coast to Patagonia and the Beagle Channel.  A quick loop round the Horn (as you do) and slowly home via Isla del Estados, the Falklands, Brazil, Suriname, Antigua, Turks and Caicos, Bahamas, Cuba and the Azores.”

Isla del Estados, just of the southern ‘hook’ of South America is one of the most remote islands in the Southern Hemisphere.  
“Other than a two-man outpost of the Argentinian Navy it is completely uninhabited. 
The best shelter  – Puerto Hoppner – is on the north coast and almost completely enclosed within a horseshoe of sharp-edged, steep-sided mountains. It has an inner basin which, in my opinion, is one of the world’s best anchorages, a special place, a haven; a gorgeous, pristine lagoon overlooked by forest and greenery and rocky cliffs and peaks and waterfalls.  
In the SE corner are a couple of tiny islands. We nudge in behind one and find there a space of maybe twice our length. The Mate and M jump down into the RIB, take a bow line to the island and make fast to a stout tree. I hold us in place whilst the two stern lines are attached to trees on the ‘mainland’ and we’re secure in the centre of a rope ‘Y’.”
The Turks and Caicos 
” What really puts these islands on the map (at least as far as DDLis concerned) are their proximity to the serious ocean deeps.   
DDL is attached to one of the handy moorings laid for commercial dive boats off West  Caicos The mooring is smack bang over the lip of a serious drop-off.  Looking down from the front of the boat we can clearly make out the details of the seabed, 15 or 16 metres down.  Over the stern there’s just a blue void.  The Mate and I kit up and use the barnacle-and-mussel-encrusted mooring line to descend slowly to the sand-and-coral seabed directly below Dandelion.  
Finning off towards  the edge we find coral formations becoming increasingly fantastic.  Shapes like huge Roman vases, giant tubes, massive brains, branches, fans – corals of every shape and colour imaginable and then, beyond the edge, a blue infinity falling away to Gawd-knows where.  About 20 metres below us, an eight or nine-foot reef shark is cruising effortlessly along the cliff, as far as we can tell, not in the least curious about the two bubble-emitting intruders.  Let’s hope it’s been well-fed…”

John and Sue have kindly agreed to give us a talk about their adventures during the coming series of Winter Talks, so further tales of their journey will have to wait until then. Or until you buy them a sundowner or two at The Plough……

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