23 december 2010

The beginning

The first part in more detailed of the sail from Puerto Montt (north of the map) where Caleta Jaqueline is south of the map (included in next entry)

The white line shows the approximate sailing path

The first anchorage in Isla Heupen

Penguins in the water but no collony

Dolphines welcomed us to the anchorage

Santo Domingo with impressive back drop

Milo trying to get the lines ashore

Santa Domingo was also a beautiful anchorage

Sailing at last

After waiting in Valdivia for more than a week for avoiding close to gale force winds on the nose we took off October 16 and got a bumpy ride down to Puerto Montt, 200 nautical miles south, where Patagonia really starts. We timed the arrival to canal Chacao perfect for the tide and zoomed through there sometimes with eleven knots. The trip took a couple of days.

Last minute provisioning in Puerto Montt resulted in a stolen wallet for Milo and back problems for me. A MRI at the hospital showed wear and tear on a fetlock resulted in pinching nerves. So it was painkillers for me rest of the trip and leaving all the heavy duties for Milo. All this described in earlier entries in the blog (in Swedish though).

We left Puerto Montt October 23 in a drizzle and no wind with snow-capped mountain tops hidden in low clouds. Our destination was 130 nautical miles to the south so it would be an overnight sail. But to get there before dark the second day we motored since the wind was very weak, We were heading for an anchorage inside a small group of islands, isla Heupen, outside Peninsula Coca on the main land, partly chosen for the reason of the guide book stating that there were supposed to be a penguin colony there. The night was clear and the moon gave some light which made the night shift pleasant. We arrived in the afternoon in dead calm and the beauty of the place was striking with lush small islands with the mountains as a back drop. But the best part was the welcoming party. A school of dolphins followed us all the way in to the recommended anchorage playing in the bow wake and sometimes looking up to get eye contact. It looked like they were making sure we were finding the right way in to the anchorage. How can you not be overwhelmed with joy with such fantastic creatures hanging out with you. On top of that we passed several penguins swimming in the water. They were however more shy than the dolphins and disappeared under the surface before we got really close. But it was a good sign of what we hoped to be a penguin colony. Well inside we anchored and secured with a line ashore although there were no wind at all.

The following day we decided to stay and explore the area by rowing the dingy to the island where the penguin colony was supposed to be. For being an inflatable dinghy it is pretty good for rowing and with Milo (yes, I had my back problem) by the oars we took off. It became quite a long excursion covering more than half a Swedish land mile (about 3 nautical miles). And Milo worked up a sweat not only from rowing but also from the sun that was shining from a clear blue sky. We were disappointment at the arrival at the island though because no penguins were to be found. The trip was well worth the effort though (especially for me sitting back relaxing the whole way) since the scenery was great and the dolphins came back to make us company, both on the way there and back. And having them at an arm’s reach from the dinghy is a special treat.So we could not have gotten a better start (well with a penguin colony it would have been perfect) to our Patagonian adventure.

On October 25 we took off for our next anchorage 20 Miles away, Puerto Santo Domingo, which was also on the mainland behind a small low peninsula sticking out as protection from the prevailing northwesterly winds. We motored there since there was sunshine and no wind. At the anchorage Milo got the first challenge on the trip as line handler. The shore line consisted of very slippery stones in the tidal area on a steep sloop. Not only were the stones slippery they were also rolling underneath her feet threatening to slide her into the 10 degree water. But with willpower and skill she managed to climb up to the flat of the peninsula and found a couple of good trees for our lines. In the bay, which was surrounded by high mountains, there were a couple of fishing boats anchored and a couple of small shacks ashore (more wind shelters). Obviously a place often used by fishermen from the area. And we really could enjoy the beauty of the surrounding mountains since it was high pressure weather with clear blue sky.

The following day we took off for a new overnight sail of 113 Miles to the next bay, or caleta as it is called here. It was caleta Jaqueline. We left in bright sunshine but quite soon the clouds were building up and from my shift that started at eight pm it rain all the way to our arrival in the afternoon on October 27. However, the rain also brought some wind so we did some sailing during the night. There were quite a lot of traffic with fishing boats and commercial ships in the canal in this part of Patagonia. We have not passed Gulf de Pena yet and it is not until then we get down into the more remote areas. The anchorage has been a bit unsettled since the wind direction has shifted radically in the different squalls that have passed by, but we have good lines ashore so there is no danger, just a bit of uncomfortable at times.

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