18 October 2019 | Puerto Aguirre
13 October 2019 | Puerto Raul Marin Balmaceda
11 October 2019 | Puerto Quellon
02 October 2019 | Valdivia, Chile
16 November 2019
Once again we are tucked away, waiting out the weather. We are paying special attention this time around as we are getting ready to head into the Straights of Magellan, which, due to its size and NW orientation, can focus the wind and become particularly snotty. We are fortunate in that there is a lighthouse nearby that broadcasts the conditions twice daily and will relay the forecast if asked. It has been raining steadily for the past day, but in the brief moments between chubascos we can catch glimpses of the ice fields and mountains across the sound. We are backed into a slot in a small island with mooring lines ashore. The rock walls are no more than 30 feet away on either side with what look like giant bonsai sprouting from their tops and sides, reminding us of the temple gardens we saw in Japan. While the wind indicator at the top of the mast reads 25 knots, it is calm at deck level and we are perfectly snug in our little caleta, waiting for a series of fronts to pass so we can sneak down the Straights. We were planning on exploring in the kayak today, but, between the wind and the rain and the cold, it is looking like a better day to brew a batch of our Patagonia IPA instead.
Speaking of cold, when we arrive in a new anchorage we are usually visited by a small hawk called the chimango. These guys are very curious and will spend hours walking around the boat, checking things out, before crapping on the deck and flying off. The other day, one discovered that there was warm air coming out of the smokestack for our heater and settled in. Sweet! It wasn't long, though, before he jumped up and started picking up his feet, one after the other, and looking at them with indignation, wondering why they were so hot while the rest of him was enjoying the draft. He would do this dance for a while, then jump off to continue his inspection of the boat, only to return a few minutes later to repeat the process. Down here, with no TV, no internet and out of contact with the rest of the world, we take our entertainment where we can find it.
Oh Sunny Day!
10 November 2019
Yesterday we woke up to a cloudless sky and ice on the decks. It was a day to brighten our spirits, warm our bones and dry our clothes. As the result of captain Mike carefully monitoring the forecasts and strategically planning our stops, we were anchored just around the corner from the glacier, Pio XI, for this beautiful day.
We struggled into our matching red dry suits, filled our back packs with a camera, binoculars, the drone, snacks and water and piled into our dingy. The 4 miles we motored over to the face of the glacier were glorious. We got to behold and enjoy the unobstructed view above and beyond the massive blue ice field flowing out of the mountains, which are normally shrouded in low lying clouds and fog, but today was clear as far as the eye could see. And not another soul in sight. Our hearts were singing praises for this reward, after the relentless clouds and rain.
Pio XI is no longer the tidal glacier it, until very recently, was. There are wide mud flats and gravel mounds built up in front of almost the entire glacier face. We were careful not to get to close to the ice face but did pull the dingy up on a mud flat in order to get off and explore around. We didn't get far before Mike sank knee deep in quicksand. He was lucky to pull out with both boots still attached to his feet, thanks to lessons he learned from watching westerns on TV.
After that it was decided we would explore with the drone instead. Mysteriously the drone malfunctioned in midair then crashed landed into the mud. Surprisingly after a hard impact and a few tumbles it landed upright and made its way back home to us on autopilot, but the gimballed camera was trashed. After countless crashes and close calls, sadly the damage this time is beyond repair.
Since the tide was coming up quickly and our attempts to go exploring were foiled we gathered up some margarita ice and made our way back to the anchorage. With plenty of daylight and blazing sunshine we raised anchor and carried on back down the canal, taking in the many glaciers and pinnacles that were hidden from us previously by clouds and fog on our way up. By the time we arrived to our next anchorage, 4 hours later, it was overcast and rainy once again, but we had had that rarest of things in Patagonia, a sunny day, and we were able to toast it with margaritas made with glacier ice.
07 November 2019
We took advantage of a short break in the weather to move to this anchorage yesterday. The trip down was beautiful, in particular Canal Grappler, whose bare granite walls have been scraped clean and polished smooth by the glaciers. Although we are moving into spring, the snow level has been creeping down the mountains as we head south. We had a fresh dusting in our anchorage yesterday with snow just a few hundred feet above the water. The days have been cold and we are running both heaters now. Nights are in the 30's.
As we see more of Patagonia it's hard not to make comparisons with Alaska. There are a lot of similarities and differences. The scale is bigger in Alaska and there is more wildlife. The weather is worse down here, the vegetation is other worldly and, if possible, it is even more remote. But what it really comes down to is that, in Alaska you would not be surprised to see a herd of wooly mammoths on the beach, while in Patagonia you might expect to see a band of trolls, maybe even an orc.
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06 November 2019
We have been holed up here for the past few days to let some weather pass. It has been raining for the past week and we are told that there are only 18 days per year that it does not rain here. This has been a nice stop, though. The town of 170 people is spread around the bay where we are anchored, the colorful houses connected by a single wooden boardwalk. There are no cars, the only connection with the outside world being the weekly ferry and the ubiquitous satellite dishes. The school bus is a small panga that arrives each morning with a handful of kids from the settlement around the point. At night the boardwalk is lit by street lamps, giving the whole village a warm glow in the rain. The people are very welcoming and it seems like every time we stop to chat with someone we are invited inside for a cafecita. Most houses are simple affairs with low ceilings, a wood burning stove and a tv that is on 24 hours a day to help ease the isolation. Supplies are pretty limited, but we were able to buy 16 Jerry jugs of diesel from a fisherman and found potatoes and onions at the âsupermarket' as well as bok choy and chives fresh from a garden.
The weather is starting to break and we can see patches of blue sky through the rain so we will try to move south today, hoping to arrive at the first glacier in time with the sun in a couple of days.
The Messier Canal
03 November 2019
We are now making our way down the Messier Canal. This popular route since the 1500's is not only dramatically beautiful but the best way for ships and yachts to avoid the really nasty sea conditions out in the open ocean.
I used to think that in order to see the beauty in a place it had to be sunny, always hoping for a clear day and disappointed when it wasn't. But that view is being corrected as we sail further and further south. The cloudy gray skies, days of torrential rain, hail and intermittent rain squalls, are what create the florescent rainbows, cascading waterfalls and spontaneous rivulets down every rock face, The wet climate nourishes glaciers and dusts the rugged snow capped peaks. The dark and gray is what makes this area so special. The vegetation is so dense that it is virtually impenetrable. It can be difficult to put your arm into it to tie a line to a tree. The tree trunks themselves are covered with vegetaion and even the rocks are coated with thick, chartreuse moss and blooming lichens in every color. New trees and shrubs grow out of the old and dying trees. We get to enjoy all this nature and unique beauty while looking out the windows from the cozy comfort of our heated cabin. This is why I feel like a princess, sitting in my bean bag chair looking out the windows from my glass palace with the warmth of a fireplace.
Caleta Punta Ley
30 October 2019
Mike | Weather: shitty
We awoke yesterday to ice on the decks and another sunny day. As we were getting ready to pull anchor a whale, probably a Minke, spouted just behind the boat. Unfortunately, we found that our satellite connection was down. This was bad news, not only because that is how we stay in touch and get weather reports, but because that is how we give our daily position reports to the Chilean Navy. If they do not hear from us after 36 hours they launch a Search and Rescue. Fortunately, we were able to contact a lighthouse keeper on VHF who relayed our information to the Navy and today the satellite appears to be working again.
We had a great sail down to this anchorage, flying the spinnaker under sunny skies most of the way. It had become pretty windy by the time we anchored and Annette got to practice tying lines ashore in the dinghy. This is necessary in most of the anchorages down here as they tend to be deep, tight and tucked into the trees for shelter from the wind. I used to do the line tying until it became apparent that you have to burrow into the trees with the spiders to do so. Better that I stay onboard out of the wind and rain. We are hunkered down again today while a front blows through. Lots of williwaws but Annette's lines are holding us tight. Hoping to move south tomorrow towards Seno Iceberg. Can't imagine why they call it that.
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