11 April 2020
We ended up cutting out stay in Chile short due to the corona virus situation. All of the ports are closed and nobody is allowed to move their boats so we got ourselves up to Valdivia, buttoned up the boat and caught the last commercial flight out of Chile. The trip home took 36 hours, but it was the most pleasant we have ever made. The airports were deserted, there were no lines at check-in, security and immigration and the planes were nearly empty. So now we are hunkered down on our trawler in Ventura and getting ready to head out to the Channel Islands where we will continue to "shelter in place".
A Boat Too Far
26 March 2020
Last night we were swallowed up in a galaxy of stars like a ship in space. Twinkling constellations above us and reflected on the still water below us. Standing on the stern steps felt like floating in space, inducing vertigo that had us grabbing for the railings. This morning we woke up to perfect calm, the shoreline lit up by the morning sun reflecting on the mirrored water like a kaleidoscope. Rum Doxy feels like an island removed from the world, at least for now.
We are about a week out of Valdivia, one of the few open ports that will let us in. That is all we really know for sure. Once we get to dock we'll have a better idea of what our options are and how we will be dealt with. As far as we know we will undergo a health inspection, after that all is speculation. The one rumor that keeps repeating itself is that the Santiago airport will be closing soon, which gives us concern. We may be calling on some of you with contacts higher up who can bring us home, preferably on Air Force One!
For now we try to stay present in the moment and be fully here in this serene and beautiful place. It takes an effort though, not knowing and knowing, many people are suffering. Being so far away from all of you our family and friends is really hard and we hope we can make it home soon.
15 March 2020
We missed this glacier due to weather on the way down, so we resolved to see it on the way up, and glad we did. This glacier is different from the others we have seen in the Cobalt blue of it's ice. We speculate that the ice cap is particularly thick in this area which compresses the air out of the ice. The result is ice with the clarity of crystal that reflects only the deepest blue that we have not seen until now. We were able to anchor nearby and approach the glacier closely in the dinghy and spent the afternoon messing around the ice floes and climbing on the nearby rocks.
We left before the next front could catch us and anchored the next day in a nice cove where otters played around the boat and biting flies feasted on our flesh. We are now anchored at the entrance to the Golfo de Penas awaiting a weather window tomorrow that should allow us to scoot across without too much punishment.
Bugs and Wind
07 March 2020
Annette and Mike
The longer we're here the more I appreciate and respect the delicate balance of the environment we are living in. For the last few days the temperature was unusually warm, high 60's ,low 70's, and very little wind. Great days for traveling north. But, with the balmy weather came the hoards of biting gnats, making it impossible to be outside except for anchoring. We cover ourselves from head to toe including head nets and still they bite. Every time a door is opened hundreds swarm in providing the next hour of entertainment swatting and vacuuming the pesky buggers up. It's very frustrating to be cooped up inside because of little critters. But today we're back to normal Patagonia weather, cold temperatures, wind and lots and lots of rain. The gnats are lying low, waterfalls are over flowing and rainbows fill the air. Time to put on our red survival suits and go outside to play.
Thursday evening, after a long, 57 mile travel day we chose an anchorage that was easy and didn't require us to tie to trees. The guide book described it as a secure anchorage, protected from wind in all directions, which was important because a strong front was forecast to come through the next day. Once through the narrow entrance, that we slipped through with the rocks just feet on either side, it looked safe enough, but we were a little skeptical as it seemed that the wind was free to blow down its length. Sure enough, when the front passed the next day we were treated to 50+ knot williwaws that would form at the head of the estero and barrel down on us as walls of wind that whipped the water into white froth and filled the air with clouds of spindrift. The anchor held fast, but it was not a relaxing afternoon. Another front was due the next morning so, as soon as the wind died down, we slipped out through the opening and moved to better spot. We went 3 miles up a fiord between steep granite walls and waterfalls to a tight little nook where we could back in and tie to the trees. Along the way we passed right through a pod of orcas, the first we have seen this year. When the front arrived this morning we sat in calm water, watching the whitecaps in the fiord. Much better.
As the front passed the temperature dropped, the rain poured down and the bugs have lost their nerve. It feels like we are in Patagonia again.
We broke free!
01 March 2020
According to the weather forecast there looked to be a small break in the wind this Sunday morning, then filling in later in the afternoon, so we were determined to move even if it was just another 10 miles toward our destination. We got a fairly early start once we cut ourselves free from the huge net we were tangled in with the anchor, no easy task. Once underway there were a list of obstacles we had to overcome one after another to make any real progress of which the weather played a major role but not all of it. So as we checked off one obstacle after another our spirits rose along with our optimism. First, was crossing the gulf which held us back the other day, no problem. Then our genius captain came up with a brilliant strategy in getting through the narrows by taking the high route Angestora White, instead of the popular main thoroughfare Angestora Kirke. There were high winds and strong currents in Kirke (not sure why everyone goes this way)at the time we would have gone through, but by taking the alternative route we passed through with no wind, flat water, and current with us, not to mention it is a way more scenic route. Hurdle 2 conquered. As we reentered the west/east channel we feared the winds blowing through Kirke would prevent us from continuing but with both motors, and no counter current we were able to continue on at a decent speed, 3rd success accomplished. Side note; Just as we were about to reenter the west/east channel with 5 knots of wind, about 2 miles ahead of us we witnessed a bona-fide water tornado swirling water up into the sky right across our path! Our Last obstacle was getting up Seno Union. With no current and both motors we made steady progress toward our optimal destination 47 miles from Puerto Natales! It feels really good to be making northerly progress again.
29 February 2020
We've been here for the past 5 days waiting for the wind to lay down enough for us to make it back to the West side of the Andes and continue North. As we mentioned before, the weather on this side of the mountains is a lot drier and often clear. We have even seen the stars for the first time since we've been down here. The wind, on the other hand, is relentless. We thought we saw a chance yesterday morning and made it almost 3 miles before the wind filled in and we had 30-35 knots right on the nose. The needle on the fun meter was hovering around zero, so we beat a retreat back here and the wind has settled back to the usual 30-40 knots. Even the local swans have been having a rough time of it. They do not appear to be well ballasted and are easily capsized in the gusts, as can be seen in the photo above.
It looks like the wind may finally settle down soon and we should be able to make a move in the next couple of days, leaving the swans to fend for themselves.