By David Mercy
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Additional resources for Berserk in the Antarctic
For our first manoeuvre Manuel and I had to learn to lower the dinghy. We listened raptly as Jarle instructed us that whenever we hit shore and needed to anchor, one of us would take ropes in the dinghy and row to shore to tie us up; the other would toss the anchor and assist him on the boat. The yellow dinghy, the size of a half bathtub, seemed to be constructed of nothing more than pressed corncob. indd 49 18/11/2005 14:52:43 BERSERK IN THE ANTARCTIC lashed to the deck right in front of the mast.
He had been preparing his ship for months now, in the small Chilean Naval port of Puerto Williams, four hours due south on the Beagle Channel by sail. He had returned to Ushuaia for a week simply to pick up some last-minute supplies and provisions that he couldn’t get in the small naval town, in particular a steel wind pilot he was planning to fasten to the stern. Unable to find anyone to go with him, he was now prepared to sail down to Antarctica all by himself. The four backpackers were heading to Puerto Williams on Isla Navarino, for a weeklong trek through the island’s sawtooth mountains.
As we cruised easily down the channel, Jarle asked me to swab the deck. I shrugged and grabbed the bucket, then leaned over the starboard side of the boat to fill it with water. The boat moved at a steady clip and the bucket filled quickly, catching me by surprise as it heavily dragged me down. Not wanting to lose it on our first trip out, I held on to it firmly and started to slide over the rail when Jarle jumped up and grabbed hold of me by the waist, saving me from going overboard. I lost the bucket but gained something far more important, confidence in my captain.