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Putting to Sea
January 5, 2016

falkland islands bernie harberts Windora Phil Lynda Christiesen
The Falklands are sparsely populated. These king penguins saw us off on our voyage in to the Southern Ocean. We will be sailing aboard Windora the wood ketch anchored off the beach.

The day has come to put to sea. Tomorrow I sail from Stanley, in the Falklands Islands, to South Georgia island, off Antarctica. I’ll be traveling aboard Windora. She belongs to my friends Phil and Lynda Christiesen. We met years ago in New Zealand. It may be a while until you hear from me.

I know, in this era of easy communications, it’s just assumed one person can talk to another where ever they are in the world.

Not so. Over the next months, I’ll maintain little touch with the outside world. In these times of instant communication to and from any part of the world, that seems like a queer decision.

falkland islands bernie harberts Windora Phil Lynda Christiesen
If this was your view and your phone rang, would you answer the phone or watch the albatross?

The reason I’m visiting South Georgia is to experience massive isolation. Sure, every year, a dozen or so cruising sailboat venture there. Even more chartered yachts and cruise ships visit on their way to Antarctica. They visit a few days – maybe a week – then head on. In most cases, they’re bound to the outside world by satellite.

I don’t want that. I want to absorb the Southern Ocean. Spend days or weeks sitting with penguins. Row to a glacier face and listen to it calving. Smell the belching elephant seas. And then…write it up in my journal. Or doodle out a letter and send it home. Yes, there is a letter box in Grytviken, South Georgia. Ernest Shackleton is buried half a mile way.

I want my attention span to grow back somewhere closer to where it was a few years ago – before Facebook, Twitter and selfies. And for that, you can’t be constantly be checking email, tweeting or, if you’re in remote areas, punching your way out via sat phone.

How will I do it?

Simple.

We (Windora, Phil, Lynda and I) sail to South Georgia. We hope to spend two months there then head east toward Namibia or South Africa. Or wherever the wind or circumstance blows us. Maybe we finish in April. Or it could be May.

The final details are up to the southern ocean waves and winds to decide.

Hear from you when we get off the sea!

Posted Tuesday January 5, 2016 by Bernie
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Falkland Shearing
January 2, 2016
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I know. I told you I was sailing a wooden sailboat from the Falkland Islands to South Georgia. Somewhere along the way, I ended up going from my sea berth to chasing sheep.

I’m new to this sheep thing. Here are some photos. Hope this makes you appreciate that wool sweater you’re wearing!

Yes, I still plan to sail to South Georgia in early January.

falkland islands bernie harberts
Before you can shear sheep, you have to catch them. In the Falklands, it’s called “gathering”. In days past, it was done with horses and dogs. Today, it’s done with Land Rovers and motorbikes. Look at that photo. You’ll see a lot of land and very few sheep. The island we’re gathering on has 750 sheep on 3,000 acres. If you look closely at the hood of the Land Rover,you’ll see….
falkland islands bernie harberts
….caracaras. Known locally as Johnny Rooks, these birds of prey will pinch your hat as quickly as they’ll nab an injured penguin chick, a camera, clothes off the line, or, if you’re digging potatoes, spuds. Curious by nature, these two had an affinity for Land Rover windshield gaskets. It doesn’t take long to figure out why the island’s Land Rovers are missing their wiper blades.
falkland islands bernie harberts
The sheep are driven from the island paddocks down to the shearing shed. The shed sits just on the water, a few feet from this shipwreck. It is said to the second oldest shearing shed in the Falkland Islands.
falkland islands bernie harberts
The big wait: sheep are either terrified or waiting. Here, they’ve been put in pens to await their annual hair cut. The sheep in the far paddock are lighter colored because they’ve been shorn (or “shored” as some islanders say).
falkland islands bernie harberts
The sheep are moved from pen to pen via gates. Hinges don’t last long in this salty environment. Chains soon replace well intended latches.
falkland islands bernie harberts
The sheep are Pollworth crosses. I don’t know what a Pollworth is, but even with my beard starting to grow in….
falkland islands bernie harberts
….I still have a long way to go. I don’t think my wool will bring much.

Coming next, what goes on inside the shearing shed.

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Posted Saturday January 2, 2016 by Bernie
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