31 augusti 2011



Milo has now reached the southern part of Sweden and is on her very final stretch of returning to her starting point for her voyage. I just lift my sailer cap for her achievment!!!

20 februari 2011

Artimisia II back in the Beagle Channel

Today Artimisia II arrived to South America, Puerto Williams in Chile, from the voyage to Antartica. The two cremembers Milo and Linda are all well, but unfortnaly the third crew member Anders had to be flown back to Chile with and ambulance plane with double pneumonia and blood poisoning. He is now out of intesive care but the session in Antarctica could have started better. Also the genua ripped again so the stay sail was used as forsail. So the trip back was only with Milo and Linda on board, and now it is time for next crew change. I post more when I get more detailed information.

28 januari 2011

Milo has reached Antarctica

For those who have followed my blog: Milo and Artimisia 2, with two new crew members onboard, is right now cruising the Antarctica after a good sail across Drakes Passage. After 12 years (actually much more) of hard work Milo has fullfilled her dream!

For those who wants to be updated on the rest of her trip I can recommend her own blog (in Swedish):

http://artemisia2.blogspot.com/

26 januari 2011

The final stretch

The last two legs

In the morning we could actually see the mountains

Last dinghy excursion to fix lines ashore

Clearing the anchor from kelp.

Passing Ushuaia on the way to clear out in Puerto Williams.

Docked in the most southern yacht club in the world.

You could see that some boats were designed to cruise this waters with roles of lines and barrels of fuel on deck.

Artmisia 2 outside Isabelle Autissier's boat Ada and Seal.

The yacht club is build around an old ship.

Milo clearing out at the Armada office charming the pants off the officers.

The view from the Armada office towards Argentina.

The entrance to the creek with a channel marker.

Puerto Williams suburban area with the life important propane tanks and wood for fuel the heaters inside the unisolated houses.

The sign post in Puerto Williams showes an international flavour.

The wind picking up in the Beagle Channel.

Leaving Puerto Williams at dawn in a light breeze.

Passing the north marker for the sand bank on our way to Ushuaia.

Ushuaia dead ahead by the foot of the mountains.

ushuaia has a big harbour often visited by cruis ship

Moored at our final destination, the marina in Ushuaia.

On December 10 we started the sail from Caleta Eugenio to Puerto Williams, our last port in Chile. We started in sunny weather, even if there were rain clouds around us. We actually could see the surroundings which was quite beautiful with snowcapped mountain tops. We finished our departure preparation by hoisting the dinghy up on foredeck. In Puerto Williams there would be no need for rowing lines ashore: rather the dinghy would be in the way when docking. The wind was pleasant so we could sail with good speed without being tossed around. According to the GPS we were more or less following the border between Argentine and Chile that runs through the length of the Beagle Channel.

Passing Ushuaia

It was frustrating to pass our final destination Ushuaia early after taking off with a favorable wind from the stern, well aware of that we had to backtrack against the wind to get there after clearing out in Puerto Williams. It was only a day trip of 25 nautical miles, but with the last weeks blowing we knew that there was a risk for making a choice between a nasty sail upwind or stay put waiting for a weather window.

Another frustrating part when passing by Ushuaia was that we were close enough to get signals on the mobile phone, but no way to make a call. This was the first possibility to use the mobile for almost two months. But in some way you could not make calls although you saw that there was reception. That was confirmed when all of a sudden a message appeared stating that all the monthly fixed fee for using internet on the phone was used up, the bugger had started downloading mail without me knowing it. But it still refused to make phone calls. Milo was sure it had something to do with being in the military sensitive border area between Chile and Argentine where they most likely made sure that communication was impossible. A plausible theory since it turned out that the phone worked fine in both Puerto Williams and Ushuaia.

So contact with Sweden had to wait, and they had hopefully already got my message that I was delayed through Patagonian network. As we approached Puerto Williams the rain clouds starting to catch up with us and the wind diminished, so the last part with did in rain by motor. But it was a good feeling when we rounded the north marker of the sand bank giving some see lee of the outer anchorage and even better when we sneaked behind the breakwater and approached marina.

The most southern yacht club in the world

The marina, the most southern yacht club in the world, was really an old ship that was stranded in the river just behind a bend. The interior of the ship was made into showers and a pub while the boats tied up on either side of the hull. There was room for three to four boats along the hull, but to have room with everybody the boats docked outside each other up to six boats wide, depending on how crowded it was. With six boats wide you could only pass on the river by high water since it was too narrow otherwise.

When we came in there was four boats on the widest row that we passed and tied up outside an aluminum boat that was only the second in that row. In the best of worlds we would be able to check out and leave immediately in the light wind that prevailed, but that is not the way the authority works. The Armada was open 24/7, but immigration was only a daytime operation – and it was way passed their bed time upon our arrival.

You could see that a lot of our neighbors had boats that were spending a lot of time in this area. The majority was steel or aluminum hulls and a lot of them had big roles of lines and spare barrels of fuel on deck. The boat we were tied up to, Seal, was the result of 12 years' experience from cruising in the high latitudes by Hamish and Kate, from England and the US. Seal has a lifting keel and rudder and a raised saloon with a 360 view, and a lot of other clever and useful features. And inside Seal was Isabelle Autissiere's boat Ada, that sits there while she does other projects. So we were along experience and novelty.

Uncertain weather forecast

Before we took off to the Armada office we took a shower, the first one since Puerto Eden. And there were hot water enough for both of us, the gas tubes for the heater had just been changed. We were warned that there was only cold water. At the Armada office we got the weather report and together with the grid files we saw on Hamish and Kates computer (via Iridium) showed uncertainty for the next days. What was certain was that we were going to be hit by a massive storm in about two and a half days with wind speed over 60 knots. But before that there were heavy winds by the Cape Horn 60 nautical miles to the south, but it was uncertain if those winds would reach up to the Beagle Channel. The day after our arrival looked like a maybe when it came to wind, but since the immigration was not available until 10 o'clock we could see for ourselves in the morning.

On the morning of December 11 it was touch and go with the wind but there were indications that it would slow down during the night and morning. We decided to clear out with the immigration to be able to go if the weather would permit us, before the definite increase in wind with the approaching storm. From the Armada office you overlooked the Beagle Channel (and with the enormous binoculars at the watch tower also the Argentine coast line). We could see the waves growing and white horses start to form as the wind increased. Since the wind usually slow down at night and the forecast indicated a decreased later we opted for an early morning break.

At sunrise the following morning, which by now was around 5 o'clock, we were up. The wind holloring in the rigging in the protected harbor was not a good sign for our departure. After a short walk up the hill behind the marina we could see the channel, and there were white horses on the water, worse that the day before. So back to bed and I started to realize that this could be a long stay as well.

The storm hits

On December 12 the storm hit us. It started in the evening with a lot of rain and hail with an increasing gusty wind. Boat after boat had come to the protected marina the days before the storm and now we had two boats outside us. And two boats inside. We were the smallest boat in our row so our placement was not ideal and we prepared us by doubling up lines and securing the fenders. The outside boat also took a line to the opposite shore of the creek to ease some of the pressure, so did Seal as well and other boats added more lines direct to the dock or shore. It was a bit like a spider web around us when the wind started to pipe up.

Two boats had opted for anchoring by the entrance of the creek, with supporting help form a mooring boy. They were more exposed to the wind and chop since the creek had a longer fetch there. During the night it was hard to sleep due to all the noise from hauling rigging, squeaking mooring lines and fenders, and jerking boats. In the morning the wind culminated in snow/hail showers and gust up to hurricane force. To walk upright was impossible if you ventured out and to look into the wind was painful. The boats at the mouth of the creek were really taken a beating, but there lines held and the wind slowly decreased during the day.

Should I stay or should I go

Since the weather forecast did not indicate a good and secure weather window in the near future Milo and I talked about the situation. It was a day trip left and in good weather it would be a piece of cake. And Milo still had time waiting for it. I was getting itchy of getting back home. I had taken a leave of absence till the end of November and it was both a matter of financing my stay and getting back to family. Could I leave Artimisia 2 here instead of at Ushuaia? We had discovered that there were ferries between Puerto Williams and Ushuaia. They had stopped working during the storm, but now they plan to leave midday the following day, December 14. It was not an easy decision since I really wanted to help Milo the whole way to the final destination, but she saw my anxiousness and more or less demanded me to go.

By the time the ferry was going to depart we had new weather reports indicating lighter winds in the evening and the following day until noon. So I said no to the ferry and gambled on that the prediction was good enough, and it would take a lot of wind for us not to leave this time. The plan was as earlier, to go up with the sun and leave if weather permitted. We went up to the Armada office to inform them of our plans and met the police/immigration guy there. He started to give us a bollocking for having cleared out and not left. I could see Milo start to lose her temper. She is great at handle men in uniforms, she even had one of the Armada guys in Puerto Williams begging her to adopt him as her son, which she gladly did (not officially though). But this uniformed person she started to lose patience with. She gave him the evil eye and in a very firm way explained to him that it had been a severe storm that it would be irresponsible to leave in, IF HE HADN'T NOTICED. The Armada guys got all quite waiting for the response, but the police man mumbled something and left. The atmosphere rose quickly again and I think Milo got even more respect after standing up to the thoughtless immigration officer.

Leaving at daybreak

Sleeping was hard since the wind was down by nightfall, but we wanted to leave in day light. At dawn December 14 the alarm clock went off and after some morning shuffle (one boat was leaving with us and another needed to change places) we were on our way motoring towards the final destination in a light wind. We watched the sky turning purple of the rising sun and were praying for the wind to not pipe up for another five hours. And it didn't. We arrived to Ushuaia shortly after noon as the wind started to increase. We passed a big harbor with cargo and cruise ships anchored and a big town spread along the waterfront. We found a good spot in the marina outside a boat that would not leave for another week.

We went down town to do the paperwork and while Milo finished the red tape I went to a traveling agency to look into option for flying home (I had stand by tickets). While I was sorting out the travelling arrangement I came to talk to the guy behind the counter. He was asking me how I have ended up in Ushuaia and I told him. So he looked at me and asked if I had heard about the Polish boat that washed up on the beach during the storm.

Storm causing casualties

He showed me pictures from an Argentine daily newspaper on the web with a picture of a sailboat without a mast lying on a beach in the Beagle Channel on its side like a beached whale. They had come from Antarctica with charter guests onboard and made in to the channel. But the engine had stopped and they were pushed ashore. He had not more information than that two of the crew members had died. Having seen the waves and the wind speed and knowing the water temperature only being 8 degrees I could understand how something like that could happen. On top of that a cruise ship had to seek shelter since the windows to the wheelhouse was smashed by waves in Drakes Passage. Reminders of that these waters are spectacular but are not to be taken lightly. You can enjoy their beauty, but you need to know what you are doing and have the right gear.

I found a connection leaving the same evening so all of a sudden I was in a rush. At the rendezvou with Milo back at the boat I explain the situation so I packed my bags, took a shower and then we went to town for a dinner at a nice restaurant before my departure. I had some excellent beer to the dinner, Cape Horn beer. Chile has good beer in general and this was no exception.

A fast farewell

While we were sitting in the restaurant the sky opened and the rain just poured down, as a last farewell performance. We took a taxi towards the airport just stopping by the boat to pick up my luggage (and getting soaked in the process) and off I went. It was a fast goodbye to Milo, I think it was for the best. We did not have time for crying and sulking but we did not have to say anything to understand the mutual respect and gratitude for the experience we had had together.

When the plane lifted I could see the mountains surrounding Ushuaia and the rest of Patagonia and realized again the majestic nature to be found in this part of the world. I was thankful to have had the opportunity to experience it. That I arrived in Europe to Frankfurt airport in the middle of the worst snow chaos in memory with cancelled flights as a result is another story, but that is not for a new blog entry.

25 januari 2011

Glacier excursion and taking on water over my head

The Beagle Channel

Caleta Olla (to the right) from the ridge

Getting closer to the glacier, but still on the ridge

The last ridge is covering the glacier

Beaver country with a lot of dams.

Signs of beavers were plentyfull

Comming across the last ridge the glacier lake and the glacier welcomed us.

The jagged edge.

Ice floats in the lake.

Colourful moss.

Still life on the beach.

We got back to the dinghy in time, we even had to carry it to the water.

It was calm in the anchorage even if it was blowing outside.

The fishing boat was our neighbour.

The Condor is chased away by gulls.

Impressive souring.

On our lay day in Caleta Olla we made an excursion to a glacier that according to the guide book was supposed to be situated a couple of hours walk inland. You could see the top of it from the anchorage, so we knew it existed. But first Milo started off the Patagonia network on the short wave radio, and finally, Wolfgang was back on the air. He had left the responsibility to run the informal network to Milo and an Australian called Ian while he was on vacation for two to three weeks while he was on "vacation" travelling around Chile. That was more than a month ago and Milo had kept the network running for most days in spite fighting from not being an early bird person. But now she was relieved of her duties and we could again get frequent weather reports from someone positioned with access to internet.

Preparing for an excursion

The day looked reasonable promising with some sunshine but also some ominous looking clouds. The wind was quite strong which was fine for Artimisia 2 since she was well protected behind the tree line. But for our tour with the dinghy to the beach to leeward where the trail to the glacier were supposed to start it could be more a bit of trouble. Not getting there, but coming back. The distance to the leeward beach was about half a nautical mile so even though it was a protected bay the wind kicked up a bit of the sea. So coming back we needed to fight the wind and seas, but that was a later story.

The other challenge was to time our trip with the tide. We needed to do the excursion so the dinghy was accessible both upon arrival and when we wanted come back. We anticipated our walk would take at least five hours so figured to go some hours after high tide so the water was on its way out. Then we could anchor the dinghy in a place and the tide would keep on going out and the dinghy would be safe on dry land. And about seven hours later the tide would be on approximate the same level as upon arrival. That would give us some extra time if something went wrong, and you could always carry the dinghy to the water front if we came early. If we calculated wrong the alternative of going in waist high water was possible, which was not tempting when the temperature was about 8 degrees.

So with my water proofed back pack loaded with camera equipment and hiking boots (my rubber boots was on for the dinghy ride) we took off around eleven o'clock and calculated to be back at the beach before five o'clock pm. The first challenge was to find the start of the trail. The beach was long and there were several possible trails starting but none of them felt as the right one. So we went on and photographed some large chunks ice that had floated ashore. I also took some marks on the water surface on an island of the beach to make sure the tidal calculations were right, that the water level was actually sinking and not rising. And at the end of the beach we saw a Chilean flag painted on a tree trunk, that was a dead giveaway for a trail start and our first real long hike inland could start.

Finding the trail

It very soon became obvious that the rubber boots were more appropriate for the hike than hiking boots since the ground was very moist with mainly different types of moss that you sometimes sunk down in to the ankles with a squashy sound indicating water. So I left the hiking boots behind to be picked up on the way back. The trail led upwards following a ridge and soon we emerged from the tree line and had a beautiful view all the way around. We could see the boat in the protected bay and the dinghy on the dry land off the beach. We could also see the whole canal with its snow covered mountain tops. And if we turned in the direction of the trail we could see the glacier, not all of it yet. The base was still below the mountain ridge in front of us. But we could still see the size and beauty of it.

The trail continued to lead upwards and although it sometimes was hard to follow, enough people from charter boats visiting had walked it to make marks. And every now and then a red marker was hanging from a tree reassuring us that we were on the right track. As long as we walked on the ridge there were no real issue of needing the trail either, the general direction was given since the target for the hike was in sight, it was more to choose the easiest track that the trail was giving help.

Losing the trail

But after an hour of walking things got more complicated. The ridge started to become heavy forested and we ended up in a place where the direction of the trail was not obvious. It could go on into the forested area of the ridge, or it could lead down a very steep slope down into the valley below us. The path were more likely to be a creek created by water tumbling down the side of the ridge in heavy rain, it was too steep and tricky for "charter tourists". But if you looked at the glacier in a distance it looked like you had to pass the valley some time to get up on the next ridge that was the last obstacle before the glacier. So we opted for climbing down and into the forested valley.

After climbing/sliding down for more than hundred meters we were at the base and started to look for a trail again. I do not know if we found one but at least we went in the right general direction. And I think the landscape in the valley was constantly reshaped since it was beaver country. Several dams, pointy ends of stubs and some piles of tree trunks in the water showed that. We later heard that beavers were imported to the territory to start fur business for the locals. Unfortunately it turned out that the winters are not cold enough to make the fur have the right quality. So now the beavers are multiplying too fast for their and the environments own good.

After passing over a couple of beaver dam constructions we made it up the final ridge and definitely found the trail again. It led out of the forest and the glacier appeared with all its mighty and a complementing lake by its base. In the lake a collection of small ice bergs was lingering that had broken off the jagged edge of the glacier. We sat down for enjoying the view while eating our snacks and drinking water. The sun was shining and we were in the lee of the wind, so we could get rid of some of the layers of clothing needed and in a t-shirt we could just sit there and be absorbed by the environment.

Mountaineering

The break did not last for long though since we realized the time was late and we had to head back to be sure the dinghy was not unreachable when we got back. But backtracking was harder than we anticipated and soon we lost the trail. It was no problem to find the bottom of the ridge we had arrived on, but finding the way up the ridge was harder. It was very steep and the forest by the foot was hard to walk through so we started to climb upwards. We knew it was earlier than the spot we had come down through, but it made sense by the time.

We reached the top of the ridge, but it was not without effort or danger, and large parts of the stretch were more rock climbing than hiking. Standing up straight you always could touch the side with your hand, so it was steep. The technique was to find the creek paths that water hade made during heavy rain fall, those paths usually had exposed roots and some trees to hang on to. After reaching the top of the ridge, the rest was a piece of cake. Even though we had to pass some areas of bushes, wet land and dense forest we always knew that as long we followed the ridge we would eventually rejoined the trail.

And sure enough, soon we were on the beaten track again and the rest of the descent went easy. We stopped for a breather and to take some photos, otherwise we hold up the pace. I felt good that my back had not giving me any trouble during the excursion, which was a good sign (even though I could feel it in the evening and the following day). And the dinghy was still on dry land waiting for us.

Back to the boat

The wind had decreased somewhat so the rowing back was not that bad as we had feared, but sitting in the front I still got soaked by the waves splatting against the bow. Coming back we also talked to the fishing boat that used the same anchorage. They had been there for six days going out on daytrips to fish. As soon they had enough fish they were heading back to their home port, Punta Arenas. As I was looking at the fishing boat I saw a Condor landing on the hill behind them. It was sitting there for quite some time before a flock of sea gulls aggressively chased it away. It was impressive to see the huge bird lifting and spreading its wings and soar away to higher grounds.

It was great to finally move around inland, and the scenery had been spectacular. So we slept well that night and skipped the Patagonian network the following morning. When we woke up we had company of another yacht for the first time in an anchorage since we left Puerto Montt two months earlier. It was a Polish charter boat and as we leaving in pouring rain, we could see the guests sitting in their dinghy on their way to the beach for a walk to the glacier. We knew what they were in for, and a day with pouring rain was not ideal for that excursion.

Hail and snow

We had a good wind pushing us closer towards our final destination. Only one more Caleta before we reached Puerto Williams to clear out from Chile and the daytrip to our final destination, Ushuaia in Argentina. On the way we passed an Armada compound where we reported our plans and Milo had to persuade them to allow us to go to Caleta Eugenio even if it was not on their list for approved Caletas. The alternatives were either not good enough in the strong wind we had, or too close to Caleta Olla (no point in moving).

After the downpour at the start things improved for a couple of hours before it got real nasty again. In the afternoon we had heavy wind that was very gusty in the snow and hail showers that made the sail miserable. It was a bumpy ride but we had now entered the Beagle Channel. And we only covered 25 nautical miles so it was a short distance. We sneaked in to the Caleta Eugenio between some islands that gave good protection and in the anchorage it was almost calm. We decided to have a stern anchor, two lines forward and one spring ashore.

Anchor trouble

Milo went in the dinghy with one of the 100-meters line and secured it to a good tree ashore. When she was ready I motored in towards the small bay and dropped the stern anchor attached to an "Ankorlina" role (sail tie like line). When Milo came close I had a bit too much speed so before meeting up with her to take the line from her up forward, I put the engine in reverse for a brief moment to slow the boat down, and then put it in neutral. Or, that was what I thought I did. The gear shift was not that smooth and I had not pushed it that last bit to disengage. I noticed that after I had received the line from Milo and fastened it on a cleat. On my way back to the cockpit I thought it was strange that the anchor line was tight. After realizing what was happening I threw myself on the gear shift but of course it was all too late. I had done the classic beginners mistake and tangled the anchor line around the propeller shaft. Something that often is impossible to untangle and at a minimum requires a long dive under the boat.

As we reviewed the situation I realized that I most likely had to take a swim in 8 degrees water. Milo had a wet suit, but this was my doing and going in the water with clothes on was a bit like having a wet suit. But at least I wanted to have a go on top of the surface first. So I positioned myself in the dingy and tried to have a calm holistic view of things. The first thing was to loosen the forward lines so we could tie the anchor line on to a cleat. That freed up "both" ends tangled around the shaft without having any pressure on them. The plan we then came up with was for Milo to go down under the bed in the aft cabin where she could reach the propeller shaft inside the boat. I was sitting in the dinghy knocking on the hull once for stop, two times for turn clockwise, three times for anticlockwise and five times for "we need to talk". With that communication the worst tangle started to unwind. A lot of the twisting seemed to be behind the shaft, the line was twisted around itself.

Time for a head dip

Slowly the twisting part of the line disappeared under the boat as more and more got untangled. A lot of the twist seemed to be unraveled but it all came to a halt when the turning of the shaft resulted in that the ends became tighter rather than looser. And turning the other direction resulted in the same. We had come to the end of the road, the rest was tangled around the shaft. The good thing was that Milo had been able to turn the shaft by hand all the time. That meant that the mess around the shaft could not be too extensive. The bad thing was that it was now time for me to have a close encounter to the 8 degree water.

But before I was going to dive in it was good to have a look under water. So with a Cyclops eye I positioned myself in the dinghy and while holding one hand on the rail I poked my head under the water. It was not the most pleasant experience and I could see that the white line was wrapped around the propeller and the shaft. I was not down long enough to get a good picture. So an improvement for next head dip was to put a fleece cap on my head. And during the next visit with my head under the water I realized that to get a good look I needed to dip more than my head, so the shoulders got wet then as well.

But I could see enough to see it was worthwhile to try to keep on turning the shaft while I tried to work the ends of the line from the dinghy with my head under water. So with the knocking system and more and more of my body hanging down in the water from the dinghy, the line started to slowly unravel from the shaft and propeller. I had started to get used to the thought of going swimming in Patagonia, but as the work went on I started to realize that it might not be necessary. And after a dozen head dips the line came free. I was soaked from the torso and up, but that was all, nothing that the heater that was burning down below wouldn't fix in a minute. My adventures in Patagonia would not involve a swim after all!!

The following morning we left as if nothing had happened the evening before (and I wish it had not). The destination was Puerto Williams where we only should make a brief stop to clear out before going to our final destination Ushuaia. But we would remain there for a week and endure a storm that a crushed the glass of the steering station on a cruise ship and sank a Polish sailboat with two dead as a result. But more on that in the next entry.

23 januari 2011

The channel of glaciers





Caleta Olla

The trip from Caleta Fanny to Caleta Olla.


The anchorage behind the island in Caleta Fanny



The view from the island in Caleta Fanny, it was blowing in the channel.


Rain in the channel


Clearing up and the mountains start to show


The first sailboat we had seen in two months



Snow and glaciers creates a lot of waterfalls.


Approaching the glacier area








Some examples of the glaciers

We planned to leave Caleta Brecknock early on December 5 since the weather forecast indicated a weather window with lighter winds. But when the alarm clock went off at six o'clock the wind was blowing quite strong from the northeast and the rain was pouring down. It was good that we had our lines ashore covering up winds from all directions. But it would mean head winds in the canal so we opted to skip our early departure and wait to see if the wind shifted back to where it was supposed to be, from the northwest.


Paper navigation


We got up in time for the Patagonian network instead, and sure enough, the wind was back to its more normal direction this time of the year. Soon after departure the chart plotter stopped working, the suspicion was too much dampness in the contacts between the removable plotter and its mount. It was a bit of a shame since the plotter had detailed charts over the area again, after being just land contours for a while. So it was back to basic with paper charts in plastic wraps, and although the scale was a bit small for seeing all details, the canals are deep with very few obstacles so it felt OK anyhow.


It was very squally conditions during the 45 miles it took us to reach Caleta Fanny, with often very bad visibility. But you could see that the scenery had slowly changed since we entered the Magellan Strait. The further southeast we came the rockier the hill sides became. The dense forest and green vegetation gave away for different types of stones that shifted in shades of black, white, red and grey. You could see that you actually could climb ashore and explore the inland to a larger extent in these areas. And as we moved along the visibility got better and the constant rain stopped to give way for only occasional showers.


The last stretch before we reached Caleta Fanny was the last part of our trip that we were exposed to a large stretch of open water. It was not the whole ocean; we had a smaller group of islands protecting us from most of the large swells although some sneaked through. But the fetch was quite long so the sea really could build up. As we approached the point sticking out in the canal protecting our anchorage from the waves, the wind increased and the sea started to build. It was quite nice to head in the sea lee of the point once we were there.


Windy anchorage


In Caleta Fanny there were a couple of recommended anchorages alongside the northwestern shore of the bay. The first was a small lagoon that we motored in to, but the high mountains supposed to sheltering it did exactly the opposite. It was real nasty rachas (mountain winds) that came from all kinds of directions. And they were strong lifting up the surface water. They were affecting the lagoon all the way in to the shore line, so there was no wind protection anywhere. The boat really healed over when the gusts hit us and Milo and I did not have to say anything to each other, this was not a good place during present conditions.


The alternative was at the bottom of the bay behind a small island. The disadvantage with this anchorage was that if the wind would shift to the northeast or east the open bay would create a fairly long fetch that would give the sea a chance to build. The advantages were that you could tie lines from all four corners of the boat to land respectively to the island, and there were less rachas than at the first place swirling around. But using the anchor would only complicate matters in there, so it took some planning and preparation before we approached the anchorage. Partly because it was narrow, but most importantly because the wind was gusty and strong, and the direction was not consistent.


Four lines no anchor


Milo brought one line onboard the dinghy and went in to the anchorage in advance. She tied the line to a good tree on the island to windward. Then I approached the anchorage with the boat where Milo met up with the line. After quickly securing it on the boat and throwing a new line in the dinghy it was a race for Milo to tie the new line to a tree on the opposite shore to fixate the boat before an unexpected wind gust pressed her towards the island. Since the wind direction shifted, that happened sooner than later so I tried to help by using the propeller effect and the other line to keep us as still as possible. But Milo soon got the new line in place so we could fixate the boat in the middle and then have more time to fix the remaining lines.


And during the period we would stay in Caleta Fanny we really needed these lines. The following day the wind picked up and since the bay was surrounded by high mountains, the rachas that hit us occasionally was quite feisty. The gusty conditions were reinforced by hail and snow squalls, so all in all it was not a comfortable stay. With four lines attached to good solid trees we were secured in a good way, but the sound in the rigging and healing of the boat made you worry instinctively.


We did an excursion to the small island and could see out in the channel, and the wind out there was lifting the surface water and whipping the rain horizontal. And the breaking waves were running high due to the large fetch, so we stayed for an extra day in the Caleta.


On the evening of December 6 the weather report indicated lighter winds so we decided to have a go the following morning. When the wind started to decrease in the evening I had a hard time to fall asleep, I wanted to get moving before the wind changed its mind. This was one of the last stretches that the sea state really could make a different. But in the morning of the 7th it was still good wind conditions to leave, although it was drizzling. So around seven o'clock we left the anchorage.


The channel of glaciers


Soon we were entering Brazo Noreste (the Northeast channel) and more protected water. We were approaching the area were the boarder to Argentina were coming down from the north to go east in the middle of the Beagle Channel. Therefore the Chilean Armada was more thorough in keeping track of all vessels movement and the Armadas presence was more obvious with more stations on the shore line to report in to via VHF.


As we came in to the protected areas and what is supposed to be a new climate zone, the sun actually showed itself for a minute or two and we were sailing in the variable wind. As the weather cleared up we saw the beauty of the snowcapped high mountains surrounding us. But it was not only the mountains that we could see in amazement. One glacier after another appeared in different forms and shapes. Some of them were reaching all the way down to the water, while others only surrounded a mountain top. It was fantastic to slowly move with the wind as we enjoyed the scenery. And we saw our first sailboat en route for more than two months, the first sign that we were approaching an area where charter boats were more common with Ushuaia as a base.



Our destination for the day, Caleta Olla, was situated at the end of the scenic channel and we arrived there quite late since we covered more than 60 miles getting there. But it was a great anchorage with a peninsula hooking out from the shore giving good protection with low trees. You could sneak very close to shore where it was lee while you could see it blowing further out in the little bay. A stern anchor was holding us from drifting towards land when the tide was coming in and a couple of lines ashore gave security if the northwest wind would reach below the tree line. It was a beautiful and secure anchorage that we planned to have a lay day in. We wanted to explore a trail leading to a glacier inland. A trail we lost track of, but that's for next entry.