Berserk in the Antarctic by David Mercy

By David Mercy

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Since it was after midnight, we would deal with the authorities in the morning – we had made the leap from Argentinian to Chilean territory. In the meantime, the backpackers bade us farewell and set off into the small town to find accommodation for the evening, wishing us luck. Because I had a bit more boating experience than Manuel – I at least knew how to read a compass, for example – I naturally assumed the position of first mate. And because I was actually paying for my ride, I was given my choice of bunks.

Now he had to turn us into sailors. It felt like the Olympic tryouts when Manuel and I first set foot in the dinghy to try our hand at rowing, but it was soon apparent that it was not much of a contest. I had a bit of experience, mostly from using a rowboat on the pond near my cousin’s summer cottage in Vermont. We each tried our hand at paddling around the placid little lagoon near our mooring. Manuel laughed at his own great difficulty and uncertainty at manipulating the movement of the small dinghy, thrashing around like a baby in a bathtub.

We’re doing what any redblooded dreamer in their right mind would. ’ That afternoon we’re just about ready to leave when Jarle tells me to go down to the gas station and buy a new flashlight. indd 64 18/11/2005 14:52:45 A LITTLE TRAINING CRUISE works only intermittently. ‘We need a new one,’ he explains succinctly, adding how vital it is, and off I run. But when I get to the gas station, it is closed for siesta. The attendant is nowhere to be found. I return empty-handed and continue to help Jarle load the boat.

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