Golfo de Penas
16 October 2015
One of the more demanding bodies of water in the Americas is Golfo de Penas, located in Patagonian Chile, at 47 degrees South.
Only about 50 miles across, it looks easy enough from a distance. But the depth reduces quickly from 1000-2000 metres offshore, to 100-200 metres in much of Golfo de Penas. That makes the prevailing westerly waves coming in much rougher than they are offshore in deep water (shallow water slows down waves, causing them to become higher and steeper).
The archipelago south of Golfo de Penas results in the tides bringing a lot of water in from Golfo de Penas, which makes for an onshore current (setting vessels toward the rocky shore).
Frequent low pressure systems bringing strong winds and rain (affecting visibility), and always the question in Patagonia of how accurate the charts are (it varies widely, depending on when they were surveyed) add to the hazards of this crossing.
I was overjoyed to have such an easy time of Golfo de Penas as we did--due to excellent weather. We motored out of our anchorage, into Bahia Anna Pink, and then out to sea into a 15 knot headwind. We set sail and headed out and down the coast, staying about ten miles offshore. We needed to go 90 miles along the rocky coast before getting to Golfo de Penas.
We beat to windward for the first day, and half of the second day, before the wind lightened. We then motored for another day and night and crossed Golfo de Penas in a flat calm. At 0300 we stopped the motor and drifted for several hours, waiting for daylight before entering the channel on the south side of Golfo de Penas.
Sometimes sailing, but mostly motoring, we made our way into a beautiful fjord where we dropped anchor, tied two ropes to trees ashore, and waited out a cold front. . ..