It’s all been taken out… and soon to be put back together again (we hope)
Andy’s just sent a video from Patagonia:
Club Nauticos Reloncavi
The 3rd of April marked the end of the journey for Zephyrus and crew, after setting off on January the 24th, from Ushuaia some two months back.
As the crow flies around 1000 Nautical Miles twixt hither and yon, luckily for crows they needn’t tack! So for us double the distance.
If you have been following the journey, the last time I wrote we were heading out of “Bahia Anyway”. From there we turned west and on to the Island of Melinka, I’ll pick up the tale with a setting sun and us headed into it. Night fell fast as we approached the island but luckily Tom’s fianc√© the crazy chikka Jaquikie guided us into port with her screams of “Tommy Mi amor” and before long we were safely anchored.
We passed a pleasant few days on Melinka meeting all the science crew that run the Blue whale centre.
Our time on the island was ridiculously short for such a great place, and only just long enough for me to complete a wee mission. Which I would have liked to take some days over alas.
Back in the UK this summer past, two friends had asked if I would deliver some photos to a group of people living on the island. On the afternoon before leaving, Tom and I drove the 40km to a small fishing village called Repollo Alto.
We met some lovely folk who all remembered our friends Theis and Kicki. And their little boat wanderer III.
For them, that the photos had returned to Melinka via Sweden Cambridge Ushuaia then sailed up the channels was nothing short of a miracle. Emotions were high and as we left an aged and noble Don Vera gave me a big hug, holding me for a time as we shook hands, he said he hoped we would meet again soon. I could only wish the same.
Tom decided to remain on Melinka as the main bulk of his work was done and the next few days were really about getting Zephyrus up to P. Montt.
But the story could never end on such a simple note as “we sailed a bit more then arrived in Puerto Montt” oh no! First we had to take on another crew member.
Enter “Howie” or as he is otherwise known ‘the Earth Wizard!” One time tour manager for rock band Kiss, also London motorcycle courier (he says his horn was a wolf whistle instead of a beep beep, I believe him) his most recent adventures have involved him spending several weeks in the jungles of Ecuador sampling exotic hallucinogenic potions with Ecuadorian shamanic tree folk.
Welcome aboard Sir!
In a word Howie is one of life’s truly wonderful characters, a little leading light with plenty sparkle to share as he makes his way through the world.
He had not sailed since he was five and that was a few years back, but before long he had all the anchorages between Melinka and Puerto Montt marked on the chart. Waypoints plugged into the gps, bearings to Way points written down, back bearings just in case. Our course over ground was his specialty and in the event that we might end up sailing at night which we did, all stars that we should see in a northerly direction were drawn up in a little star chart. (with distances!) I.e. Star “Sirius”, constellation Canis Major distance 9 light years, Star “Betelgeuse”, constellation Orion distance 522 light years….Footnote Nb..light year, distance travelled by light in one year 9.4607 million million kilometres
Light speed = 299,792 kilometres per second.
Where did he think we were going? And if we are making seven knots on a beam reach that would mean arriving at …No don’t even go there!
Our sail north was bliss. Three sun filled days and one overnight passage we had enough time to go and check out some hot springs, naturally heated pools of sulphury smelling water surrounded by lush forest. Our excited chatter soon tailed to silence as each choosing his pool, we soaked silently; all of us lost in the splendour of the surroundings. After a time I got out and went for a walk naked as the day born wandering around in the sunlight, studying little insects and rock pools, I found a group of crabs that lived in the thermal waters they moved slowly as you would in boiling water, an otter wandered out from the bank to drink at the rivers edge the two of us standing with one foot raised each sniffing the air, wind against body and the sound of the river giggling past, otter turned and butterfly took his place tumbling down on waterfall of air, kingfisher called and I called back. See you soon see you soon…
One last star filled night, and a final fire under them
A few hours after sunrise the following day we entered the narrow channel behind Isla Tenglo arriving presently to yacht club Nautico Reconlavi, whereupon a few ropies were thrown about, and they and that marks the journeys end.
Hope you enjoyed it
Just a wee one to give you a little gps position for us Melinka Island
We arrived at Melinka Island two nights back after a great days sailing
across the Gulfo de Corcovardo, heading west into the setting sun with
heaps of wind from the south. Getting into our anchorage late at night
was quite tricky,we motored around the bay trying to find a spot to rest
amongst all the large fishing boats and spot lights.
Once we had anchored Toms wife Jackie was on the radio Gabbling half
English half Spanish,and very excitedly that if he didn’t row himself
ashore immediately there would be trouble. So off we set armed with
Pisco and lemons.
A great night with the crew of the ‘Ballaneas Azul’ the blue whale
research center folk here ensued. It was a little distracting though
after some time at sea, to walk into a house of twenty six Chileans. All
keen to talk English and ask us how our Spanish was….
We were also met by a good friend of Magnus, called Howie, who has been
traveling through South America for some months now, I couldn’t help but
be impressed by the lengths he had gone to to get to Melinka. But Howie
or as he is known to friends the ‘Earth Wizard’ is a bit of a special
character it would appear no distance nor obstacle is too much bother or
a worry for him.
We immediately signed him up as crew and he will be sailing up to Puerto
Montt with us, amongst his others he is a motorcycle courier in London,
one time tour manager for the American rock band Kiss! More recently
he has spent several weeks living in the jungle, in the company of some
Ecuadorian Shamans…. How could we not!
We sail first light tomorrow morning the 31st arriving in P.Montt by the
Zephyr and crew x
The last time I wrote, I believe Mags and I had just rowed Zephyrus about eight hundred miles. “Well alright then, two!”, fashioned a spare pump from shoelaces and spittle then hobbled into Puerto Eden, where we spent several days trawling for water pump specialists and I was becoming very bored with the reply
“Si Senor un bomba de agua (Ill let you work that one out for yourselves) Yes I think I can help! But do you know how far away from anywhere! you are!”
After alerting the Chilean coastguard, along with the country’s combined armed services, and enlisting help from a chain drop of fishermen stretching two some thousand miles (we are now Toot-Tooted where ever we go by fishermen!), we located the pump on a dusty shelf in Santiago and had it sent to Puerto Natales.
I took a ferry back down the channels and whilst folk ran from one side and t”other calling out, “look a waterfall, over there a piece of ice!” I lay in my bunk grinning like a Cheshire cat, two days of travelling with out moving literally, apart from meal times where I could eat and look on with glee as rain lashed my window, and I warm and most importantly on the other side of it.
Once arrived in Natales I ran around like a fooligan with just five hours before the ferry sailed back north again, time enough to stock up with boxes of fresh provisions and not forgetting to pick up the pump! Then a few thankyou’s to some wonderful people, before returning to a further two days of “Look a waterfall, over there a piece of ice” and all from the by now familiar, horizontal position and firmly ensconced behind a book bliss.
And to the lovely girl from Dorset “Anna” thank you, have my heart if not my apologies……as she passed by my bunk on her way from one side or t”other (depending) she paused to ask, “if you”re feeling a bit sea sick I could get you a cup of tea”.
My reply, “That would be lovely thank you”.
All about twenty minuets before lazarus strolled into the dining room and sat down to steak, egg, and chips followed by two beers and a large bowl of ice cream.
A miraculous recovery indeed!
I arrived back to Pto Eden relaxed, refreshed, and most importantly well and truly showered. Tom and Magnus had scrubbed the boat, fuelled up, and pretty much got her all lashed down and ready for sea.
After ten days and eight hours, the pump was slapped into place the engine turned over, and as tons of lovely salt water coursed through the motor, we lifted the anchor and were off, Good bye Eden and god bless.
Our average day’s mileage till this point has been about the 50 mile mark and a really good days travel 70. From Eden we made around 260, this was obviously overnight but all timed to see us through the Gulfo de penas, our passage was fine we chose a good time to go, and apart from feeling a bit seasick all was well.
The passage was predominantly good weather and a big full moon to light our way, at one point I heard a pfffff in the water right next to the boat and looking into the moonlight reflection a slippery rubber skinned alien peered up with glowing green eyes, and then the sea lion barked; all indignant and covered in phosphorescence he dived swirling away in green light, before returning to planet deep.
We anchored late the following evening and spent the next day hunkered down as some strong north west winds blew, followed by a day of favourable west winds at 25 knots and perfect to see us the last sixty miles along the coast of Chile, and then back into the channels.
Since then, I think about three nights ago, we have made some more great mileage and a lot of it under sail alone, which is the very best way to travel through this land, no engine droning away, it is never completely quiet even with the sails up but there are certainly no complaints at the sound of old man wind and the gentle lapping of waves against the hull.
We headed South down into Laguna San Rafael and on into the Laguna itself, this filled with icebergs which run down to meet the sea from the ice cap; once again part of the ice cap of our earlier travels in “Estero Peel” though this time the northern section of it.
At latitude 46 degrees it is akin to sailing along say; Lake Como in Italy, surrounded by lumps of ice, I’m not sure the Italians would take too well to that at all.
Our anchorage in Laguna San Rafael has been one of the more curious and favourites of the journey for me thus far, a three mile trip up a tannin dark river no deeper than 4m from entrance to anchorage, the contrast from the previous day of Pacific Ocean rollers and an afternoon spent swerving around ice. And I was suddenly transported home and gently puttering up the Cam.
There has been a break in writing since I updated this; perhaps a further three nights or so, how easily the days have been blurring into a very pleasant and rhythmic motion of rising as the sun does, and working long days to get Tom into places that he can shoot pictures from.
Tom is working in coordination with the Chilean Blue whale research centre, though this trip his shots and story are for World Wildlife Fund. Tom has spent two years living and working in this area photographing Whales and dolphins.
The idea this season is that from Zephyrus he can explore further, and remain away and unsupported for longer periods from his base on Melinka Island, located on the west side of the Gulfo de Corcovado..
Part of his work with us has involved gathering information on the Salmon farms that seem to inhabit every deep water anchorage available; beginning from just north of the Gulfo de Penas and right up to Puerto Monnt. I believe there are some four thousand in total and the number is growing. The stocks are predominantly made up of Atlantic Salmon so the next time you tuck in to a Pacific salmon……Yep a fairly good chance he came from our side of the pond first….Crazy.
But for me the most special part of this project is whale research and photography today has been an incredible day for just that, we spent some time this morning following a big mama Blue whale and her calf.
Before she arrived on the surface, the waters would be still then gently part as her head and blow hole arrived, suddenly a small island with a twenty meter palm tree of steam would appear just in front of us! where previously no steaming island had been, then her back arching arching and arching onwards before her tiny dorsal fin would show. Then depending on depth of dive, for shallow, she will just drop under water and stay down for anywhere between 7 and 10 mins, and if deep, her tail flukes will lift up and down and down she will go! How deep does anybody know?
Each time she rose shouts of delight came from us all and what else do you say but “wow” a lot!
Later we sighted more blues and a pod of five humpbacks you can tell them apart from the direction of the blows a blue whale blow goes perfectly plum and is one great big vertical geyser, reaching twenty meters!!!! and a humpback two distinct spouts that go out in a V shape, but these boys and girls were all a bit to far away for us to spend any time with.
The weather apart from a really miserable day yesterday, has been incredible for us with lots of sunshine and perfect south winds, the seas have been generally calm making scouting the whales that much easier, and Tom has spent many hours of the last few days half way up the mast with a set of binoculars glued to his face.
This afternoon we arrived in an anchorage, a place I feel I could live in for the rest of my days. The bay filled with dolphins, the surrounding hills this far north quite tropical, with bright splashes of reds purples and yellows from strange looking flowers dotted along the shores, the red one looks just like a James bond style hidden camera on some arch rivals island hideaway.
There is a small community here growing vegetables and pretty much getting on with things, we arrived said hello, I found the biggest pile of wood and an axe and have been busy chopping all afternoon……Heaven is a bay called “Anyway”
East coast of the gulf of Corcovado
Tomorrow North to a spot called “Tick Tock”, Then Melinka Island the following day.
Fair winds all
Zephyrus and crew x
Paso del indio
A mountain of bliss has descended upon us. Puerto Eden must be the friendliest place on earth.
A few days ago we were all set to arrive in Eden in the late afternoon but about fifteen miles short the engine cooling water pump that we have been worrying about finally bit the dust. We killed the engine before it over heated leaving Mags on deck sailing in a dying breeze and myself below trying to fit the spare pump. We or rather i had more trouble than expected and then the breeze died altogether leaving Zephyrus happily drifting along on the current. The only way to get any where was to launch our row boat and tow the mighty Zephyrus by oar power to an anchorage about a mile away and against the current.
Our arms are still feeling it but we both feel that we have passed our Scouts rowing badge. Anyway we made the anchorage and fixed on a new (ish) pump by using part of the bread board to make a new bracket, and the whole thing held together with egg cartons and sticky back plastic!
Too late to get to Eden by this time so we hunkered down to watch a movie and wait for the morning. Just as we were going to bed we spotted a light in the bay and saw another yacht had become entangled in our mooring lines. “Marie Beaumont”, sailed by Scully an Irish man from Sligo, the first yacht we had seen for a couple of weeks had also lost their engine and also rowed into the same bay! The chances must be a million to one!
The following morning we motored to Eden and dropped the anchor in the middle of a delightful bay. As we siestad on deck, in came the Navimag ferry with our friend Tom on board, 24 hours early. Chile is wonderful for that. Tom was very relieved to see us as we were not due here till tomorrow. He is a lovely guy and has fitted right in.
Puerto Eden is a tiny community of roughly one hundred people, and the last stronghold of the Kaweshka people, the local tribe historically. The people are sponsored by the government to stay here and according to who you speak to there are between 3 and 50 Kaweshka people left in the world.
The rest are Chilean fishermen and their families.
The first evening Mags and i went ashore to see about the pump issue and to try for a shower somewhere. There are no roads here and certainly no vehicles, just a wooden boardwalk around the bay. The first guy we met wanted to stop and talk so we did and then he said he wanted walk with us and said he would be back in fifteen minutes (don’t know why, they”re just like that here) but we left to get on with our stuff.
So we were looking for a guy called Pedro who we thought might be able to help us and calling at the wrong house were invited in to chat with the residents, an old woman and her daughter and a very friendly cat who made a nest on my lap and then stayed there even when I stood up!
They were delightful and offered to sell us bowls made of woven reeds, lovely really and as we had no cash with us we promised to return another day. Calling at another house , still hot on the trail of the illusive Pedro we were accosted by a whole tribe of kittens and as we left met an old lady who asked if we wanted to buy any bread and if so how many kilos.
Following the very fat and jolly Maria as she waddled back to her place we thought we would shortly be in possession of some bread. Maria had other ideas however and sat us down at her kitchen table (for a minute I thought she was going to make the bread as we waited) and came in with a huge kettle and a bowl of tea bags from Middlesex in England. Next came horrible looking white slabs on a plate. Something of a local thing, this is boiled dough and much to my delight. Mag’s received twice as much as me. You eat this gooey watery mixture with sugar on top . We were both gagging on this feast yet managing to make the Mmmmm delightful yummy noises. Much to Maria’s approval.
There is a “hostel” here so we called in to see if showers were available but the owner “Rosa” mistook us for potential guests and said they were shut. On explaining we only wanted showers she welcomed us in and turned the gas on to heat some water and lacking a light bulb I had my first real shower for five weeks in the dark. Bliss. We offered to pay her for our ablutions but she refused our cash and said we were welcome to comeback any time we wanted.
The rest of the evening was taken up on board with boiled eggs toast and marmite with glasses of pisco sour a brew of the local spirit with lemon juice and sugar and egg white. Better than it sounds.
The following morning a long boat pulled up alongside Zephyrus and the owner Raul motioned for me to join him..haaa i thought a man who knows about water pumps, Raul and I then chugged out of the bay and away from Eden , Curious I thought but by now had realised Eden was a bit like this, and went along with it. It turns out Raul had just dropped by to collect me for breakfast, a while later he hauled up a bag from the bay, and began shucking giant mussels called cholgas! And some scallops…..He then produced some lemon juice and we sat there munching rather he sat there munching whilst I rolled large mouthfuls of shellfish about ..I really really wish I could say that I liked raw shelfish; mussles and scallops but im not great with them even at the best of times, and especially first thing in the morning, and without even having had a cup of tea . I was a bit of a mess on return and needed a lie down .
Since this time we have met many more great folk and have been taken in by the locals with wonderful adandon.
My favourite thing to do ever! is chopping logs!….Everybody here uses wood for fuel, So I am forever stopping and hefting axes, then thanking the owner profusely much to the ammusment and mutterings of loco gringo!
We have also met a lovely guy, Don Miguel Concha, who has been tireless with his offerings of help in our search for the elusive water pump it has now been found hiding on a dusty shelf in Santiago and will be on its way south this Monday. Don Concha has paid roughly four hundred pounds sterling from his own account for us, so as to speed things up. Trusting we will return the money once we get to an area that it is possible to do so.
So we are held up for a week more or less and it would be easy to look at that way… held up…But its really not what this journey is or should be about ; not the mode of travel; which we love, not even the land though it is stunning in the extreme, but the people, and the spending of time amongst them, the humility of folk who, with nothing to give, gift us everything.
Eden is a colourful place the houses are painted the same as the fishing boats that tug on ropes at the end of every garden. The colours of each change depending on what paint is available, this year is yellow.
The sun is shining and we rest among the Kaweshka
1st of March 2008
South Isla Canning
‘Zephyrus’ left Puerto Bueno five nights ago, we headed east into Estero Peel and sailed up into the Northern arm.
A fantastic day of journeying at around thirty miles. The day filled with sunlight and ice, and an escort of dolphins, two in particular who joined us at the start remained throughout, one with a triangle nick
out of his dorsal fin, and the other with three white spots on his back, the whole day they stayed with us surfing off the bow then charging ahead only to come streaming back in, turn suddenly and begin at surfing the bow again. At times one would lie on his side and look up at you.
When i am around these creatures; or more when they are around me, i feel an overwhelming sense of happiness, they bring out the childlike wonder in us all, and for no reason i know why, but; i also feel safe. Perhaps its their playful all knowing smile that puts us at ease.
We wanted to push further up into the northern arm but time and daylight were against us and so we anchored for the night.
In 1956 H.W.Tilman sailed his 1906 Bristol channel cutter ‘Mischief’ along with six crew, out from the UK across the Atlantic into the Magellan channel. Once past Punta Arenas, they set off North west up the Magellan, on entering canal Smyth they wound their way North through the maze of channels. Since that time our route of some three hundred miles has mirrored theirs. Their ultimate goal Estero Peel and to find a way up onto the Southern Ice cap.
Tilman and two others eventually did this, making the first traverse of the southern ice cap. They then returned back to Peel, via the Calvo glacier, to rejoin the ship. From here Mischief sailed out North into
Canal Pitt and Canal Conception, on and into the Pacific without use of the engine. They finally sailed back to Britain via the Panama Canal.
Tilman was famous for his mountaineering and sailing exploits; the idea being to use his boat to access hitherto ‘unacessable areas’. Mischief and successive boats, over a twenty two year period, saw him travel the southern ocean where he visited Patagonia and many sub Antarctic isles, Greenland, Spitzbergen, the list goes on.
He once said ‘if you cannot plan a journey on the back of a cigarette box then its too complicated”. That said, he was zealous in preparation, but always with the underlying key of simplicity.
It is in his writing that i am endeared to the man most, he is at once prolific, stylish, candid to a point, and yet always managing to see the humourous side in himself and the goings on around.
Mischief and crew went on eventually to land Tilman and two other climbers at Calvo Fjord. The ship had to cope with several weeks of poor weather whilst fending off fast flowing ice. During which time the ship ran aground at a spot a little further North of Calvo Fjord, what is now know as Agnostura Mischief, where they spent a fraught week of unloading the iron ballast off the ship and eventually kedging her off. ( It is here they damaged the propellor which negated the use of the engine for
the rest of the journey.)
Since i came to Patagonia it has been a dream to visit this area along with names such as Hielo Sur (the southern ice cap) Calata Tilman, Calvo Fjord and Agnostura Mischief (‘Agnostura’ being a narrows with a fast flow of water) have all filled me with the desire to go and see.
And so as i lay in my bunk in ‘Puerto Bueno’ five nights back i opened Tilman’s ‘Mischief in Patagonia’ and read.
His words do more justice than mine, and our journey mirrors. So to Tilman.
“We left the following morning, the calm weather of the previous day continued. There was no wind no rain no sun. Peel inlet opens off of Canal Sarmiento abo t eight miles north of Puerto Bueno round Cape
Antonio. The northern side of the entrance is formed by the the shore of Chatam island, and between cape and island, across the six mile wide entrance, are a few small islets. Off the shore of one of these a large object in the water caught our attention, and when we realised it was not a boat but an iceflow we examined it with increased interest but with no great concern. A few miles up we passed the very narrow entrance to Pitt Channel leading to Canal San Andreas and thence to the main channel. Several more flows, some of fantastic shape and delicate blue colouring now drifted by close to the ship, and were greeted with pleased cries, much as some ignorant clown might meet the first few ranging shots of a hostile battery. It is ridiculus to think that we went out of our way to photograph these feeble harbingers of the coming hordes.”
“The Northern arm which we were now entering is narrow and enclosed by high walls on both sides. Its western wall is formed by the large Wilcock penninsula with mountains running up to 5,000ft., and many small glaciers none of which reaching the sea; while of course the eastern shore forms the foothills of the Cordillera 8,000 or 9,000ft. above. It must be rememberd that the lattitude here is about that of London, and presumably the combined effects of the extent and height of this range together with the weather which accounts for the accumulation of snow and the consequent size of the glaciers. The permanant snow line in this latitude is about 3000ft. It is said that the coolness of the summers rather than the severity of the winters is the most important factor in maintaining so low a snow line, the glaciers, and the snow field from which they descend. If we include the Darwin range in Tierra Del Fuego (where the snow line is about 2,000ft.), this ice mantle covers a length of 700 miles and is broken only at the straits of Magellan and the Rio Baker, which separates the two great fields of inland ice at latitude 48 degrees.
The two together form the largest glaciated region of the temperate zone. Its northernmost glacier the San Rafael, reaches the sea in lat 46 degrees 40,south,further from the pole by any Alaskan glacier by 10 degrees, and 20 degrees further than the Jokelfjord the most southern of the Norweigan glaciers which reach the sea. Darwin puts it even more strikingly. He says of the San Rafael glacier, 15 miles long and in one place seven miles broad, that it pushes its ice into the sea at a point on the coast where, within less than 500 miles palms grow.”
After a good nights sleep in what is an unmarked bay but is recorded as Sea lion Cove, we entered the Agnostura early on the morning of the 27th and headed North up Estero Peel.
“The ice was here, the ice was there,
the ice was all around,
It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,
Like noises in a swound”
‘The Ancient Mariner’
On up and into the farthest reaches of Peel, the day had started with pelting rain but once through the Agnostura we were gifted a glorious sunshine. Majestic peaks soon rose from the clouds whilst like two
school boys in a sweet shop the inner climbers shouted at one another look at that line ..yeah but look at that one with the curved ridge, overhangs, slabs, shields, and endless faces of perfect granite all
boarded by incredible waterfalls falling thousands of feet. And each peak crowned or capped by ice, white and blue, deeper blue seracs.
No anchorages are noted in our pilot and whether anyone has checked them out we do not know as nothing is recorded, but we poked around two excellent spots making sketches and sounding them with a lead line.
Like climbing a new route, you get to name it, so two anchorages on the eastern shore of Seno Peel are now named. ‘Leker Ding cove’ and ‘Bobblin bay’.
We headed on up past glaciers hundreds of feet wide, past acres of granite, hillside forests thick with ancient trees and all to the tune of calm flat water and the ear splitting pop as the air inside ice escaped. The chart goes to ten miles and we made a further two at the end. This not being a case of poor navigation or Zephyrus finally ascending a peak!. Just simply the map runs out!. At the head we sat in a bay where two glaciers meet, brewed up a cuppa and watched thousands of years old ice tumble into the water.
Time to leave came and all too soon and we set off back, with just one or two moments to keep us entertained, although Zephyrus has been here for some time i have not yet managed to get a definitive heres my boat with full sails up, bowling along beside a glacier Raaaraaraa, and arn’t we great picture!.
We found a perfect glacial front full of high pointed seracs. And lowered the dinghy into the mirror calm waters. I rowed off into nowhere. And Mag’s the more experienced sailor headed toward the ice, he assures me that had any tumbled off he was out of range of even the highest of the serac.
From my position the boat was dwarfed by the ice and suddenly i wanted to be back onboard, and out of here.
Then sails up, ‘full sails of course’ we wanted to make this a good one!, previously we had thought the toughest job would be to make the sails appear full of wind and give the impression of her sailing along….And then the great Patagonian joke unfolded into our laps WIND! acres of it!!! and not a breath all day…..
It’s nice to laugh at these things now, but suddenly Zephyrus was heeled over, her sails full with white foam under her bow and she was off steaming across the bay, Seracs in the background, gleaming toothy bergs in the fore..
And so we made the shot, and i believe; it is fairly defenitive, if you look closely you can make out the full sails, even the glacier, just behind the whites of Mag’s eyes!.
The following miles back to the Agnostura involved a sedate putter in sunshine where once through this section, a sudden rise in wind had us check the Barometer, which neither of us had been paying much attention to given the days weather.
The wind was increasing and a concern was that it (the barometer) had fallen some five points in the last twenty minuets. The weather was begining to turn and on arrival at our previous nights anchorage (sea lion cove) we found it to be choked with ice.
The decision was made quickly that we should sail the twenty miles south to Calata Valdivia.
The next miles were the most exciting twenty i have ever coverd, downwind under jib alone our speed averaged 9 knots reaching at times 11 and 12. The following seas grew larger and the fronts of wind
turning the breadth of the bay behind us a wall of white, with williwaws whipping up indiscriminate miniature tornados all over the bay, the fronts would catch us, pass over leaving us feeling at once both exhilarated and on edge.
‘One thing about the wind that evening it was incredibly warm although we had foul weather pants and boots on we were both more or less in T-shirts, strange and delightful’.
We dropped our sails only once to clear an area of ice even then under engine alone we were making 7.5 to 8 knots.
As dusk was approaching the warm following winds faded and cold wind and driving rain came in off the bow, the rain was being driven with tremendous force i could not believe the speed of change, by now we had only a few miles to go and our dolphins had returned. At times as i crouched on the bow looking into the water for ice, i would catch sight of ten or so torpedos of grey and white as they played and jossled one another on and under the waves.
We reached the Anchorage just as darkness fell, anchoring and the lines ashore being tied in darkness.
The next day dawned blue, and full of sun we slept till ten, ate pancakes and lounged around under warm skies, so we had come and seen Seno Peel and the ice cap. We had been allowed in and shown all in its splendour and then its splendid force, i am nothing but awed and humbled.
We left the following morning, the 29th now heading north through Canal Pitt.
Wind North West 20 knots, rain, sun, hail, rainbows. 90 miles to Puerto Eden and our half way mark of the journey thus far.
Andy and Mags are moving North at a fine old rate. Follow their adventure in the map below, and read the latest story below the map.
Puerto Bueno East coast of Canal Sarmiento
Another big miles day with fair weather even blue skies, white sails and to the north ‘ice blink’ a way in which the skies are lit up above large sheets of ice. We have made special miles today so as to have some time to explore the next area we are heading into.
And one i have been waiting to go to for years. It takes a little bit of effort to get into but ..
The following is what the pilot has to say:
Estero Peel ..estero peel is a 45 mile long inlet with four secondary arms that cut into cordillera penetrating deeply into the heart of the patagonian icecap (campo Hielo sur). This inlet leads into the wildest and least explored areas of Patagonia, the scenery is majestic on rare clear days with high peaks emerging from blue glaciers, and dark red slopes of granite alive with countless waterfalls.
Estero Peel requires time and patience.
The weather conditions are generally bad and many days and nights pass without a clear spell opening the views of the Andean peaks.The strong frontal winds that blow down the mountains can raise big waves in the channel, which is in many places full of ice. This streams, mainly out of estero Calvo. tends to choke the central and eastern part of it. ‘Bergy bits’ can attain very big dimensions and can often unexpectedly break, leaving invisible smaller bits in the silted waters nearby. Do not approach ‘bergy bits’ to closley. Also beware of smaller ‘growlers’ Which are sometimes very clear and are hidden in the choppy green waters.They could cause major damage to a boat made of GRP or wooden craft…..(luckily we are in concrete!)
The outflow of many rivers, glaciers,and waterfalls are important here, as the current is more or less continuously ebbing out aided by the prevailing winds. All these factors will make for a hard close hauled sail with many tacks between icebergs and growlers.
An alert bow watch is recommended.
Another difficulty is an almost complete lack of anchorages in the northern part. Consider that is is impossible to sail at night and that ice movments are erratic often closing passages that were open only minutes before.
Difficulties not withstanding, the scenery surrounding estero Peel and Calvo is spectacular even on a cloudy day. The Cerro Pieneta group over 2,400m towers like a fountain of ice over the dark waters and blue pinnacles; deep seracs, black peaks and white glaciers will be the reward for those willing to sail off the beaten path.
This is why we come
Zephyrus arrived into Puerto Natales seven nights ago under full and beautiful downwind filled sails, with the mountains now to the west keeping all that horrible rain at bay, whilst we flew over wave tops in sunlight and relative warmth…. Before heading up the channel to Natales.
We dropped anchor in front of the town on what we where to discover was probably the only calm night of the century. Basking in our cleverness and the great weather, we laid out damp clothes,and in the setting sunlight had a beer.
Later we rowed ashore on mirror calm waters after a meal and a couple more beers we were making our way back to the boat. All the while looking for something else, not sure quite what people,
company, talk other than our own…
But nothing until, resigned to a quiet night onboard, we arrived back at the dinghy to find six chillean lunatics surfing in two inches of water all of them stood in our wee row boat.
And so the night began you like Rum? yup! Ice? yup!
But where have you come from? Puerto Williams !how long has it taken you?
about three weeks!
In this boat (pointing at the dinghy!)
You need more Rum…
We were looked after by some fun loving very funny lively people who took us to several bars,before deciding at 4am we should go dancing. Mag and i confessed we had no money and were told not to worry they lived there, we would be looked after.
We tumbled outside to a waiting taxi the six climbed in then promptly drove off leaving Mags and i stood in the middle of the road. As the taxi drove away all six waved just as sincerley as they had with
their smiles of welcome when we arrived. Bienvenido a Chile and dropped like two hot and broke potato’s. Perfect, we giggled our way home.
The next day was a slow one with a fairly lazy morning followed by a pretty sedate afternoon wrapped up by an extremly relaxed evening. Only one thing had changed, the wind had picked up from the North West and was blowing (hard and frequently) the boat was now bucking like a wild horse. I was deeply unhappy and crawled miserably around the bildge whilst Mag’s strolled around on deck like he was on the promenade.
So followed six days of fixing and resupply with just a bit more fixing. A lot of to-ing and fro-ing across the channel to escape bad weather which meant we were boat bound as it was over a mile away.
Even in the relative shelter of the North shore we recorded gusts of sixty knots. Turning the water and our anchorage into a pan of boiling rice.
And so bravely we sat and drank tea and did boat jobs…
I once said that; i had discoverd sailing has nothing what so ever to do with sailing,- Its all about fixing stuff in exotic ports!. A good friend of Mags, Pete McCrumb (who if nothing else has one of the
best names ever) and who has no desire what ever to go sailing has said of it
.. A series of fiddly jobs in a wobbly caravan.! Genius.
Our alternators and batteries had been playing up so a visit to the mechanics shop and a new alternator bought. But with a ever so slightly different casing, we spent the next two days
with a hack saw and a various files getting it to fit, new belts add infinitum.
We have met some great folk ‘Alfredo’ the electrician who came out to the boat and assured us that the heat in the new alternator was fine and that once our batteries had all been taken ashore to his house and put on charge for 24hours that we would be up and running and so it is and we are.
Alternator cool both banks charging loads of lights and plenty of tunes playing.
Mucha gracias Alfredo
‘Roberto’ who repaired our broken oar for two thousand pesos ¬£2.00 and we had tipped him one of those. Then made us a lovely chopping board from ‘Antarctic Beech’ as a going away gift.
All the boys at the Indigo bar with a front room viewing out to Zephyrus, the bar is being just a few hundred meters away, they have been able to follow our every move, including yours truly naked as the
day he was born happily soaping and pouring water around in the sunshine with not a care in the world. Not realizing they had a telescope set up for all and any in the bar to view the incredible waterfront vista!!! Once again it seems i have managed to show my a**e in public!
The brilliant family at the fruit shop of whom Mags is now officially a surrogate son. Secretly i think it was the daughter he was going back for and not another bag of spuds but who am i to argue. The boat has never seen so many nets full of peaches!
We upped anchor this morning at six. As i write we are motoring along and are now thirty miles further west under grey drizzle and low long clouds with incredible shafts of sunlight lighting patches on hillsides and mountain tops. We had a dolphin escort on the bow as we left port and cruised out under fishing fleet escort who where all heading out to work all of whom coming in close for a wave and a smile. Lovely lovely people.
And for us today remarkably in a place that is famed for west wind we are completly wind free… Engine on and full stick we should clear the worst miles by this evening Woohooo.
The final word goes to Natales and its folk after another trip ashore last night this time carrying the outboard motor between us we were stopped by some fluffy chillean hippy folk who had been watching us rowing back and forth all week and were intrigued. After a coffee and hellos and a catch up on our travels, the response was yes it sounds great but all this looks like a lot of hard work ” well yes a bit” followed shortly by
Well would you like a hot tub……..
So to the garden five hot tubs in total dotted around some under stars some under dome tents, followed by a eucalyptus massage….And a few hours later two smiley shiney boys rowed back, once more on mirror calm waters.
Since writing this morning we are now anchored in Calata Columbine, West coast of Estrecho Collingwood
Making good miles today and the rain has returned. Its good to be back.
Mucha suerte amigos y gracias para todo
Que tenga una buena vida
Andy y Mag