15 January 1995

"Spirit of Sydney" arrives in Antarctica at 6 am. on Sunday, 15 January. At sea the wind had been light, but ten miles from Commonwealth Bay the katabatic winds hit us. They are headwinds now as we approach Boat Harbour and they are blowing about 40 knots. I feel pretty confident about entering the little harbour because I've been here before. I sailed here in January 1993 with 200 teddy bears. We go in and drop our biggest anchor, a 75 pound fisherman and all the chain but then we get blown downwind and the boat hits the rocks. There is a lot of wind pushing us sideways but we are lucky, the hull of the boat isn't touching the rocks. We can hear and feel the keel grinding on the rocks. We have to get lines ashore and another anchor down so we can winch ourselves off these rocks. We try but we are really stuck, the wind is strong, about 35 knots and it is holding us against the rocks. The tide is falling which is making our situation worse. We are worried that the rocks will damage the hull and the rudder so we try and stabilise the boat. It's not a nice position to be in-- aground in Antarctica in a lot of wind. We are all worried but there is nothing we can do at this point except to wait for the tide to come back in. It has fallen about two feet since we first hit the rocks. Four hours later the tide has come back and the wind is dying. We crank on the winches and put great pressure on the lines we have ashore and the two anchors we have put down. We all feel relief when we move the boat off the rocks. Finally we are floating again. We notice that the sun has come out and the wind has died completely.

Everyone is really tired because we haven't had much sleep since we got to the pack ice a couple of days ago. When we arrived at the pack ice it was very thick but we decided to take a punt and try and get through it because there was no wind at all. When we looked out the window we could have been at the Barrier Reef in Queensland, the sea was flat calm. There were a couple of places where the ice was so thick that we had to sail around it and one section where we had to zigzag between big chunks. The space for the yacht between the pieces of ice got narrower and narrower. We had to send Jay, one of our crew members, up the mast to look for paths through the floating chunks of ice. We even had to push some of them out of our way. We never would have got through the pack ice if there had been any sort of breeze.

We are safely anchored now but we can't rest because we don't know how long this calm will last and we have to get our gear ashore. We work unloading all our food and provisions from "Spirit of Sydney" into the Avon dinghies and ferry them to the eastside of the bay. The survival hut panels are 2400 mm by 600 mm and if the wind comes back they will be very hard to transport to shore. As we stack them ashore we find that they are badly warped. We had some drama coming down when the acrylic popped out of the foredeck hatch and lots of salt water got into the forward compartment. We hope when we put the hut together the panels will straighten out. Because this is the windiest place on earth we have to put ice screws into the hard frozen snow and tie everything down. We finally finish for the day and check out the time. It is midnight!

I'm Don McIntyre, I turned forty the day we sailed out of Hobart, 5 January. I started my own business, McIntyre Marine Services more than 10 years ago. I sell safety and survival gear for yachts. Things like desalinators that turn sea water into drinking water, emergency location devices, man overboard retrieval gear and high quality boat equipment. I also build boats. One of the boats I built I raced single-handed around the world in the 1990/91 BOC Challenge. Another boat that I built is sailing in the 1994/95 BOC Challenge right now. I was born in Adelaide and built my first boat on the front lawn of my parent's house in Clarence Gardens. I met Margie in Mooloolaba about 12 years ago. Margie McIntyre is 34 years old and she is from Greenslopes near Brisbane in Queensland. She trained as a nursing sister and worked at Royal North Shore Hospital in St. Leonards, New South Wales before joining me at McIntyre Marine Services. She's worked with me on all my projects including the Goodman Fielder Wattie Bi-centennial Around Australia Yacht Race (try answering the phone and saying that), and the BOCChallenge. Margie was my campaign manager and did all the logistical support for that event. She met me in every port and worked with me to get the yacht ready for each leg of the race. For those of you who haven't been following the BOC race, it starts in the United States. The end of the first leg is Cape Town, South Africa. Sydney is the halfway mark and the fourth leg begins in Punta del Este, Uruguay. The finish line was Newport, Rhode Island when I raced but this time it is Charleston, South Carolina.

We don't like to travel alone so we have an adventurous group of teddy bears with us. Each of their owners has sponsored them on this trip by sending a big donation to charity, Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children. This way we get to have teddies with us and we are helping sick children by raising money for the hospital. Many people don't realise that there are no bears in Antarctica. Polar bears live only in the Arctic, the North Pole. This is the first group of teddy bears to have a whole year's expedition to Antarctica. The teddies that came with me in January 1993 were the first teddy bears to form an expedition to Antarctica but we only stayed two weeks.

"Spirit of Sydney" was designed by Australian Ben Lexan. It was launched by Bob Hawke for Ian Kiernan who sailed her in the 1986/87 BOC Challenge. She is 18.5 metres long and she's often referred to as "sixty feet" or a "sixty footer" because in the BOC Challenge, Class I is for boats from fifty to sixty feet long. Since "Spirit of Sydney" was designed for single-handed around the world racing her interior layout wasn't quite right for an expedition like Expedition Ice-Bound with seven people and all our gear. We took out her water ballast tanks and replaced them with bunks. We put on new rigging to be sure it was strong and safe. A ten year old boat needs to be carefully checked before it makes a voyage as serious as a trip to Antarctica. Her hull is aluminium and metal transfers the cold easily so we lined her with insulating foam for sailing in icy water.

SIGNING OFF I'm really looking forward sharing this adventure, Expedition Ice- Bound, with you.I know I'm going to learn a lot in the next few months and I'm glad to know that you are out there reading what I've got to say. When "Spirit of Sydney" leaves us, Margie and I will be all alone except for the local residents, seals and penguins.

It's nice to know you're out there.

Keep warm, Don

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