The half way target, Puerto Eden, was close and we were ready for some of the luxuries that a small village brings. We needed to fill up with diesel, the jerry cans on deck had all disappeared into the main tanks due to the lack of wind, the fresh produce was down to onions, potatoes and eggs, the last bread had turned moldy, our bodies longed for a hot shower and, according to the contacts in Patagonian network, there were now a library with internet connection in the small fishing village. We left Caleta Vittorio on November 6 hoping for a short and sweet ride to the comfort zone of Puerto Eden, but with an hour left (about five miles to go) the southerly breeze started to pick up significantly. We knew from the weather report that there could be winds from the south moving in, something relatively rare, but we were not sure of the strength. The sea built up fast in the canal as the wind increased to close gale and our speed under motor decreased steadily as Artimisia 2 pounded against the seas. The salt spray was filling the air and sometimes we only moved forward with a couple of knots in spite of increasing the engine speed. So we were quite relieved when we could turn off from the canal behind some islands towards Puerto Eden. The problem was that the harbor is excellent in the normal wind direction, northeast to southwest, but open to the south. There are some islands protecting the harbor from the whole fetch of the canal, but the sea still have a mile or so of fetch and although the seas was considerable smaller, there were still a heavy chop. It was not a good spot to anchor and the other option was to tie up outside a 40 feet sailing boat (the first we seen for a long time) that was tied to the dock. We took a couple of turns in the harbor bay and out again to do some exploration.
Hitting the dock
We both agreed that anchoring was out and the only option for the anchorage was outside the sailing boat. After some discussion we opted to go for that option although it was not ideal. We tried to call for the people onboard but no sign of movement was seen and we did not know how well tied up the boat was and I was worried if our fenders would hold for the constant moving and hard pressure that the wind and chop would do. But we prepared the boat and went alongside. There were no problems in drifting down towards the boat with the wind and waves, the challenge was to do it with as little speed as possible. So coming up alongside from behind with a short stop so the distance of drifting would be minimal was the solution. The maneuver went well but we should have thought more about securing the fenders since most of them were tied to the lifeline. The pressure and movement of the boat resulted in that stanchion for the gate was pulled out of the deck fitting (bad construction to start with – no through bolts only a set screw) so most of the fenders was hanging low on the sagging life line. As fast as possible after securing us in position with mooring lines be doubled up the lines holding the fenders and secured them to rail and turn buckle fittings for better security. We also had to increase the number of lines the sailboat inside us was tied with, and also adjust them better. The owner had left it a week before our arrival and gone to Valparasio and it was not sure when he was to return. He had tied the boat between spring tides so when the full moon now was approaching the bowline was too tight and it would have hung in it in low tide if we had not adjusted it. That night I did not sleep well, partly of worry but also the noise from the rigging in the strong wind and the chop hitting the boat side and the squeaking from fenders under pressure. But all went well and the southerly wind slowly diminished even although it was more persistent in both direction and strength than we wished for.
The old west
Once we felt that we were pleased with the mooring we went to explore the little fishing village. Milo had been here twelve years ago on her last try to sail to Antarctica (that she wrote a book about, Min dröm om havet), and then the only communication in the village was a short wave radio that someone had. Now you could see that the village had been receiving some sort of investment money, from Chile or international community I do not know). But there were a lot of new "governmental buildings", especially a new school and library, and there were a whole new commercial dock being build further down the bay the village was hugging the shore line of. The most significant with Puerto Eden, and which also makes the village so attractive, is that there are no roads or cars. There is only a wooden sidewalk that follows the coastline of the bay and at some places also are built inland to make short cuts and to the national park that has been created. Ant the wooden sidewalk reminds a lot of the old western sidewalks from western films were the steps from the sheriffs boots can be clearly hears as he approaches the bad guys for a show down. Although here the sidewalk is not to avoid s muddy streets but rather to make it possible to pass over the ocean and lush vegetation. The houses are scattered along the sidewalk and are simple and most of them have no isolation, but with a wood stove and access to plenty wood they keep it fairly warm. The building material is a mixture from chequered sheet, wood to bricks and concrete.
The Armada pays a visit
Before we could explore the town we had to wait for the Armada (the Chilean navy/coast card) to arrive so we could "check in". Although we had not come to a new country the Armada is very particular in controlling all pleasure boats in the waters, especially in Patagonia. First it is for safety reason. It is treasures waters with heavy winds and fast changing weather and limited navigational aid. And if a boat needs to be rescued, it is the Armada who has to do it. And in a way it is good for you own security, but they can sometime be overambitious. The second reason, which is more valid down south, is the closeness of the boarder to Argentina. The countries have not really settled all their discrepancies regarding boarders and others in this region. So the situation is sensitive. So at some places where they have a present the Armada wants you to check in so they can inspect your boat and talk to you in person. A lot of the time it is enough that you report your position via VHF. They came from their own harbor around the corner in a RIB boat and was as usual polite and correct asking a lot of questions (usually the same we been asked before). Milo is good at handling men in uniforms (must be her experience from police and military from her previous involvement in Green Peace activities) and often get both good vibration and respect from them.
Hot showers and dinner
After the Armada had done there chores we went up to town. The first we saw was the police station by the end of the dock. We (Milo since my Spanish is non-excisting) talked to them were we could find diesel, internet and a showers. It was Saturday so the library was closed for internet but they had an computer we could borrow for short periods so we checked the weather. Continuing southerly winds was the prediction. Diesel and showers was at the same place, George had a small guest house and was also having barrels of diesel delivered to him frequently with the cargo boat passing by the canals weekly. He sold that to passing yachtsmen. We strolled down the wooden sidewalk towards the guest house. There were no signs so we had to ask one more time before we could find it. The chilly wind (the south winds is the cold one in the southern hemisphere, as low pressures rotate clockwise, the fronts swing northwards and the sun peak in the north at noon) was making us really cold so it was great to come in to a room where a wood stove was rising the temperature. We saw George and yes, he had diesel and yes we could shower. We went back to the boat and grabbed our gear and the showers were actually hot. It was a pure pleasure. When we came out they were preparing dinner and we asked if they served dinner as a restaurant. No problem, they gave us a time to come for dinner and since Milo is not eating meat and they had just got in some fresh fish, the choice was simple. And the dinner was not only tasty (and great not having to do cocking or cleaning up) it was also plentiful, three courses. They looked at us strange when we did not finish everything on the plate but they did not realize that we usually only had breakfast and one meal a day – and not as plentiful as this.
Picking up cats
The following day, the Sunday we arranged for filling up our diesel jugs that we stored on deck. George opened his back yard and there were the diesel barrels. He got a manual pump out and so we transferred 140 liter diesel to six jerry cans. We borrowed a cart to transport them to the boat, and with low tide it was a bit tricky to get them down to the boat, especially with my back problem. But everything went OK. So it felt good to be fueled up again to last us to our final destination Ushuaia, although we hoped for more sailing instead of motoring. After securing the diesel cans we went for a long walk around town and to the national park, basically paths to the hill overlooking the harbor with some signs of different plants. But it was interesting to see all the different characters of the building and meeting some people strolling along. There were also building activities with the new dock that is being built, the supply boat has just arrived and they were unloading it. We passed a church with a cross built from iron pipes, it really was built to withstand the weather conditions here. And we also passed a soccer field that was situated on a moss, also with iron pipes as goals. No activity when we passed, but soccer is important in Chile. And we sauced out a couple of Supermercados for the Monday shopping. Milo got her thrill from all the cats we met. She misses her own "Modesty" back home and every cat we saw had to be picked up and cuddled with. Most of them followed us for a while afterwards and some time we had several followers at the same time. It was a nice day and the wind had started to slow down so the night was also pleasant.
The following day we also managed to find a person that did stainless that could straighten out the stanchion from the gate that was bent. We also did shopping. With the sign Supermercado outside you climb in to someone's home with some shelves with cans and some baskets with potatoes and onions. We did not manage to compliment with that much so we have to continue with mostly our canned food. However, we did find a couple of new types of cockies. It turned out that it was school vacation so the library was closed all week. So we went to the Police station to ask if we could do more than check weather on the internet. I managed to make a short update on my blog and was thinking of checking on Facebook as well, but that site was blocked in the Police station, so no go.
The two full days we spent in Puerto Eden was a nice break from the wilderness and solitude we had experienced on the way down, but we were ready for getting on the move again. And one option was to go by a glacier on the way down south. The wind had calm down so even though it was from the south there were no problems in taking off towards the south again, in what turned out to be the best day of the whole trip. But that is for next entry.