05 January 2012 | 45 33.3'S:74 39.3'W,
We are making good progress south now, with Sven as crew, well into genuine Patagonia away from the more populated Chiloe insular area where we spent most of December. The population is very sparse; we have seen no other boats, a few salmon farms, though did spend New Year's at Marina Isla J´chica, and being the only boat there were had a BBQ with the staff, and did a great hike with them to the top of a hill for a super Jan 1st sunset. Generally, we cannot get above the high tide line on land anywhere, the brush is too thick, but at this marina/eco camp combo they have blazed a few trails for visitors. On a suggestion from the marina staff, we broke from the guide book list and made our way to Isla Kent, a large island bordering the ocean with deep estuaries nearly cutting the island into thirds. We took a long dinghy ride to the end, smugly thinking few other humans had ever been there, only to discover a well marked path across an isthmus to a grand sand beach on the P acific, with a memorial to a sunken fishing boat and all hands lost. Today we are motor-sailing west of that island in the Pacific proper, to shelter further south, instead of picking our way nervously through narrow channels marked "inadequately surveyed" on the charts. We were escorted for nearly an hour by a large pod of fin whales feeding around us, close enough that we could feel the power of their exhalations and smell their breath. Every day we see the playful sea lions and plentiful sea birds, and most days dolphins. Besides the whales, our most special wildlife experience was the penguins. We were anchored in a nature preserve, which has a large population of the Magellanic penguins nesting in the thick brush of small islands. Puzzled earlier by loud honking-moaning sounds which we imagined to be sea lions in distress, the puzzle was solved while we were kayaking and a group of penguins waddled out of the woods and stood on a large rock, and the big guy threw back his head, flapped his winglets, and belted out the 5-honks-and-a-wail mating call for us. Spectacular!
Generally the weather has been kind, mostly mild and sunny, some rain. Forecast shows a whopper of a roaring 40's storm to batter our region on the weekend, we'll be snug in a well chosen anchorage to wait it out. In about 10 days we expect to make our most southerly point, the ice clogged Laguna san Rafael.