HIGH and DRY

Having made the 770nm passage to the South Shetlands in 5 days the weather gribs showed winds building to over 30kts from the NE so we transited the islands in English Strait with the intention of running before the wind to the anchorages in Deception Island.

We made a fast passage in rapidly deteriorating weather with the wind building to 45kts and driving snow.

We were able to transit Neptunes Bellows and with one yacht already anchored in Telefon Bay (our first choice) but unable to contact them to see if they had lines ashore that would stop us anchoring in the bay we took the decision to anchor under the lee of the headland in Pendulum Bay.

As we rounded the headland at around 1.30pm on Friday 12th, we encountered very strong williwaws with over 75kts registered on a number of occasions.

As we were about to drop anchor one gust estimated at least 90 kts knocked the boat on its side to around 75 degrees, washing one of the mainsheets overboard that then fouled the propeller.

With no means of controlling the boat we were blown onto the shore in the extremely high winds and in the survival conditions we were encountering I made the decision for the crew to go below to the shelter of the cabin.

The boat was sat on its Keelson listing at about 10 degrees.

I notified UKMRCC immediately of our position and they then contacted the Chilean authorities.

The following morning when winds abated we dived on the Propeller to clear the lines but with the boat sat on the shingle beach and the sea water intakes blocked by shingle we could not use the main engine to attempt to pull ourselves clear.

An Argentinean supply ship, the "Canal Beagle", was in the bay and offered assistance and at high water on Saturday evening we attempted to tow the boat into deep water using one of their landing craft but with only 300hp available the attempt proved unsuccessful.

This showed that we were unlikely to be able to pull the boat off the beach ourselves and with concern for the safety of the boat and crew and the potential environmental impact should the hull be ruptured I took the decision to ask for additional assistance.

UKMRCC contacted the Chilean Armarda who dispatched the Lautaro a large supply/service ship from its base on King George Island.

The ship arrived on Saturday evening but too late to use the evenings high tide to pull the boat clear.

I was asked to sign a waiver for the rescue of the crew and given that all were safe and well did so.

I was also asked to sign a request for assistance document and with no other options available signed the document.

The boat was sound, all systems in operation and we hoped for a successful tow to refloat Novara

I was asked to sign a formal request for tow and traction maneuver and again with no other option did so.

At 8pm local time Sunday 14th, the Lautaro pulled Novara back into deep water.

The boat was checked for damage and non found.

All systems were checked and operable and after thanking the Captain and crew of the Lautaro we motored into Telefon Bay for the night.

Having checked the boat thoroughly once more and found all sound and operable, we will now continue with our expedition.

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