A note from Dick and Gail Barnes:
Dick and Gail Barnes are off on another excellent adventure on their Nordhavn 57, Ice Dancer II. They departed Honolulu on May 4, 2009 for an expected one-year cruise of the deep South Pacific. On Ice Dancer (I), a Nordhavn 50, they completed trips to Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii and French Polynesia for a total of 23,545 nm. Ice Dancer II has been to Mexico, Alaska, Galapagos Islands, Cape Horn to Hawaii for a total of 28,708 nm. At their first stop for this trip, Palmyra Atoll, they had completed 52,253 nm on their two Nordhavns. You are invited to share their observations, here.
Caleta Hidden, Estrecho de Magallanes
53 56.9 South 071 35.2 West
Rough chop early, but improving later. Humpback whales were passed, making their own journey through these waters. Anchored, swinging on a single-point with ample room. Wind and rain heavy.
54 26.1 South 071 59.4 West
We are making progress to the west, which must come before turning north. We have just made a transition from Canal Brechnock into Canal Cockburn. The junction is located at an ocean entrance, which gives all kinds of interesting flows of currents, tides, winds, chop and swell.
This morning, we were greeted by snow accumulations, half way down the mountains. The change of season is moving right along, and so must we. We finally put out a crab trap last night and caught a small king crab. Guess we better drop it again tonight.
54 56.9 South 070 46.5 West
We have been at anchor since 2 p.m., yesterday, waiting for weather to improve. There is a crush zone between the permanent high and a deep low system pressing against it. Pressures dropped 2 mb per hour yesterday and last night; it is rebounding this afternoon, although winds are still brisk. Winds in the anchorage, today, have alternated between 15 and 40 knots, with frozen rain every twenty minutes. Our next segment, through Canal Brechnock and Canal Cockburn are exposed to ocean swell. So, we decided to hold up until winds calmed. We plan to leave early, Tuesday.
54 52.4 South 070 05.3 West
We are back on the road, again, after enjoying two days in Caleta Olla (54 56.4S 69 09.4W). We anchored along with Egret, a 46 Nordhavn and two sailboats--one from Sweeden and the other from Norway. Scott and Mary Flanders are living aboard their 46 full time and are having a grand adventure on Egret.
Two stern lines ashore from each boat and tall trees on a wooded rise behind the beach, kept the brisk winds above us. Nearby, tall mountains made high frequency radio propagation impossible, so, we had no news from friends and family. We enjoyed dinners on our boat and on the other Nordhavn, where we swapped cruising experiences. Egret came to the Cape from the Mediterranean and plans to spend the winter in Ushuaia.
Southern Patagonia shares many similarities with Alaska, including progressively stormier weather in the fall. We are beginning to see fresh snow on the hillsides, added to prior years' accumulations that have not melted. The sea-level squalls do a great job of washing the boat.
Caleta Lewaia, Chile
54 55.7 South 068 20.4 West
Most of our time since rounding Cape Horn last Wednesday has been spent being patient. It took us just over a week, but we cleared out of Chile, into Argentina, fueled the boat, bought groceries and checked back into Chile. Okay, Gail got in some good shopping, too.
We had to wait four days for a tanker to unload bunkers before we could fuel, at the same dock. We rigged up three large fenders, tied together, to make a single, mid pivot point to ride up and down a concrete pier, then strategically tied lines from the dock to hold us tight. It worked fine, but again, pulling up to a floating fuel dock seems like a basic facility. But, more often than not, it doesn't occur in the third world. The good news is that diesel is subsidized in Ushuaia, up to the first 4,000 liters, which fit our needs perfectly. The policy is for economic development of a frontier area. The effective cost was $2.03 per gallon. For this end-of-the-world location, that is extremely good. The cruising sailboats at Ushuaia took plastic jugs to the service station then transferred fuel into the boats. Others rolled drums down the dock and pumped diesel aboard.
Ushuaia is a thriving town of over 70,000 population. We saw five or six ships arriving each day and several jet airline arrivals. It is a jump off for Cape Horn, Antarctic and Patagonia cruise ships. The government makes natural gas and liquid fuels available at a discount. It isn't apparent what else it does to support the economy, but it is probably a big factor. The people are well educated, upwardly mobile types, attracted by favorable earnings and reasonable prices. You can drive to Ushuaia from Buenos Aires, an important issue for freight and individuals.
Puerto Williams, as a contrast, is a Naval Base with a modest population living astride. Earnings appear low, compared to Ushuaia, only 28 miles away. Housing is very modest and the population appears more Native in Puerto Williams. Accommodation for yachts is minimal, even though the Armada insists on stopping those passing by, for paperwork and fees. Legitimate reason is hard to discern.
Ice Dancer II is pointed north. After getting a new Zarpe from Puerto Williams and checking through the police, immigration, and the Armada, we are set to go.
Winds on Canal Beagle have been hostile for the past week. We had great luck with calm conditions for our fueling. With that exception, we have seen 35 knots or better, every day, including our beat up Canal Beagle today. It is fall, and the weather is turning. It is time for us to head north.
54 48.7S 68 18.1W
We are anchored at Ushuaia, Argentina and plan to stay here until at least
Tuesday. Tomorrow, we will arrange fueling, maybe for early Tuesday
morning. We bought most of our galley provisions on Saturday.
It has been quite windy, making trips to the yacht club's dinghy dock a
little wet. The weather map shows a passing front associated with a low to
the south. Perhaps things will improve. Each morning we see new dustings
of snow on the nearby mountains. In Alaska, that's called termination dust,
signaling the coming end of the construction season.
There are many cruising sailboats in the area, from all over the world. New
Zealand seems to have the most, followed by France, Belgium, Germany, Sweden
and Great Britain. Further north, most of the cruisers were Chileans. The
super yacht Octopus joined us this morning, as the other non-sailboat
cruiser anchored here. It has two helicopters and a substantial support
boat among its equipment. It is the sister ship of Tatoosh, which we saw
last year in the Tuomotus Islands and at Moorea, French
Polynesia. Both are owned by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft.
55 59.6S 067 17.0W
Ice Dancer II rounded Cape Horn at 8:50 this morning. We rebelled against
the typical photos taken with salty, foul-weather gear. Instead we walked
from our toasty wheelhouse to the bow for photos, wearing Hawaiian shirts
and shorts. Idling downwind in the morning sunshine, it was quite pleasant.
Yesterday afternoon, we anchored in 35 to 40 knot winds at Caleta Martial,
in Islas Wollaston (55 49.3S 067 17.6W). Sailboats from Sweeden and
Argentina joined us in the anchorage, our first sharing with cruisers in a
remote cove, since Islas Galapagos. We took advantage of early morning,
mild conditions and made our run to Cape Horn, doubling its south side. The
Armada kept close track of us all the way from Puerto Williams, giving us
good service for fees charged.
Today, we are heading for Caleta Lennox (55 17.8S 066 50.3W).
55 39.4S 067 06.6W
Yesterday, we left Puerto Navarino with the idea of heading on around Isla
Navarino, and later out to the Cape. The Armada contingent at Puerto
Williams had another idea for us. All traffic heading in or out of the area
is required to stop and get a new Zarpe, in each direction. Our plan was to
bypass them, go to the Cape and then stop on the way back at Puerto Williams
to check out of the country, to Ushuaia, Argentina. When we return from the
Cape, we will have to anchor, dinghy to shore and
get another Zarpe before going to Argentina. Before we can head north, we
must backtrack from Ushuaia to Puerto Williams to check back into Chile,
about 58 miles out of the way. On the positive side, we were able to buy
fresh fruit, vegetables and a few needed groceries.
Last night's anchorage was at Puerto Toro (55 04.9S 067 04.4W); another
picturesque and quiet spot, with a few crab-fishing boats.
Today, we are crossing to Islas Wollaston and plan to anchor at Caleta
Martial (55 49.3S 67 17.7W).
54 55.7S 068 20.4W
Caleta Lewaia, Canal Beagle, Cerca de Puerto Navarino
The front passed, as they do. Today turned out to be spectacular. We
passed tidal glacier after another, crashing off the close-by mountains and
into the our canals. We requested and were granted permission to anchor in
an unauthorized anchorage (boy are they particular, here), just across from
the city of Ushuaia. Under sunny skies, we roasted hot dogs, finally.
There was lots of driftwood and it was dry, unlike the wood we found on the
shores just north of here. This is Canal Beagle, with
Argentina on one side, Tierra del Fuego, and Chile on the other, on Isla
Navarino. We just want to get by, thank you. So, I talked to the Armada
guys in Spanish, they try to respond in English, and I talk back in Spanish.
It is really funny. It is like we are all practicing.
Tomorrow, we will zoom past Puerto Williams, the seat of Armada power on the
Chilean side, and head for Puerto Toro, the southern-most settlement in the
world. From there, we will jump to the offshore islands and then for Cape
Horn. If the weather doesn't cooperate, we will sit.
Tonight's roast and bonfire were grand, and we are watching the lights of
Ushuaia, right now. This whole deal is beyond delight.
Caleta Huajra, Canal Ballenero
54 53.9W 070 29.2W
The southern end of Chile is having a little weather, right now. There is a
parade of low-pressure systems trotting by. We anchored last night in a
small cove, dropped anchor and tied two stern lines ashore. It was just as
well, there is a nasty front passing, today, and we have had sustained winds
of 30 knots and gusts of 40. With this system, you don't swing at all, but
it takes about a half hour to rig it up and take it down. Today, we are
hanging out in the cove and Gail is getting some chores
done, while we wait for the winds to die down. It has been raining quite a
bit, here at the very south. We will be in Canal Beagle, tomorrow, which is
the last one down here.
It must be interesting trying to find spots where we report down to a tenth
of a mile or 600 feet. My electronic Nobeltec charts for this region are
off by 1.5 nm to the south and .6 nm to the east. All of the land masses
are screwed up, but further north they are mixed, with some right on and
others terrible. So, here I am running back and forth looking at small
scale (poor detail) paper charts, drawings in guide books, the electronic
version and what the radar shows is really going on. In big
canals it doesn't matter, but some areas are choked with pinnacles and
ridges. I have the scanning sonar set at 400 feet out and 10 degrees down
or about 60 feet. I just leave it on. It has saved our bacon more than
53 11.4S 073 20.1W
Two hours after pulling anchor at Caleta Burgoyne this morning (52 37.6S
073 38.9W), we turned east from Canal Smyth into the historic Strait of
Magellan. The S-shaped, 310-mile waterway links the Pacific and Atlantic
Oceans. Four months after Fernao de Magallanes discovered the new route in
1520, he was killed by an Indian in the Philippines, who took offence to his
zeal for Christianizing the population. We passed three large ships by
noon, that were using this short cut that avoids rounding
Cape Horn. We will turn south from the Strait after 90 miles, at Canal
Acwalisnan (53 55S 071 37W), and head toward Canal Beagle.
South polar fronts pass here every two to three days. High winds, clouds
and rain are the norm, not the exception. There are no swells to contend
with, except when near ocean entrances and long fetches. Our two cruising
guides have detailed information on anchorages. We have adopted the
technique of anchoring in a protected spot, and then taking two heavy, stern
lines to tie ashore. It is very stable and easy to accomplish, with no
swell-induced, shore break. We keep our smaller Zodiac on the
swim step, where it is quick to launch and recover.
Sunday night, we anchored in a tiny pocket behind an island, named Bahia
Hugh (50 24.1S 074 45.9W). Monday's anchorage was another small basin,
maybe 200 feet in diameter, with a very narrow and shallow entrance.
Without the cruising guides and scanning sonar, we would not attempt entry.
Both of these, and last night's Caleta Burgoyne showed us landscapes that
looked like professional gardeners had planted and trimmed. Among the mix
were Bonsai-shaped trees, colorful, wild fuchsias, holly-like
bushes, plants with trumpet-shaped orange flowers, and beautiful covering
plants. What a nice surprise.
On Tuesday afternoon, we experienced sunshine with blue skies, rain, hail
and gale-force winds. The highest peaks have fresh snow, along with last
winter's accumulation and glaciers. Many hillsides are barren with only
glacial-polished rock showing. It is all very interesting.
49 43.3S 074 21.9W
Friday night was spent in Caleta Vittorio (49 06.9S 074 24.7W), a
completely sheltered cove, albeit a little deeper than preferred, at 65
feet. Saturday morning, we planned our departure to make slack tide at
Angostura Inglesa, a fairly narrow and twisting route that can have eight
knot current at mid tide. To prevent collisions, boats traversing the
section are required to radio Puerto Eden when entering and again midway
through. We didn't see another boat in a day and a half.
By 11 a.m., we were at Puerto Eden (59 06.9S 074 24.7W), a beautiful spot
where we spent the day. Through early afternoon, the weather was blustery,
with intermittent sunshine and rain squalls. Then it turned into a lovely
day. We obtained a new Zarpe from the Armada. Afterward, we hiked hillsides
and the boardwalks of the village. Approximately 100 people live there, not
including the Army and Navy contingents. Over half are Indians, from the
region and further north. Gathering and smoking
oysters exported to Puerto Montt is the primary source of cash. The
government subsidizes the outpost to keep a presence in this remote area,
including a small hydroelectric facility to provide power.
Today, we are heading south through the channels. Hillsides look much like
Southeast Alaska, with steep faces and snow and glaciers topping many. We
are 50 miles inland from the sea. As a result, marine and avian life is
less than seen on the coast. We have wind waves, but no swell.
48 04.4S 074 38.1W
Wednesday night we shared a large anchorage with three fishing boats, in the
rain at Caleta Cliff. The foggy entrance was challenging with Nobeltec's
electronic charts off by 1.5 nautical miles. The charts vary in accuracy
depending on whether recent hydrology has occurred and whether they cover
channels used by large ships. Paper charts, radar and scanning sonar gave
us a safe route into the cove.
Yesterday, we crossed the 100 nm segment from Caleta Cliff to Canal Messier
that includes the Golfo de Penas. Seas were reasonable for our crossing of
this notorious gulf, and we were treated with sightings of a pod of orcas,
and our first sperm and southern right whales.
We checked in with the lighthouse at Faro San Pedro, at the mouth of Canal
Messier and anchored at Caleta Ideal (47 45.5S 74 53.5w). The lighthouse
has an AIS transpoder, so the Armada personnel knew our boat information.
Our stop tonight will be just short of Angostura Inglesa, a section of tidal
rapids. Saturday, we will time our crossing for slack water and stop at the
village of Puerto Eden around noon.
45 50.5S 075 06.6W
The Armada de Chile gave us personal attention yesterday, as we cruised
through Canal Chcabuco. Two navy ships hailed us within an hour; one that
approached from behind, then dropped off, and another that passed from
ahead. They wanted to know all about us, where we were coming from and our
next port. These were not your U.S. Homeland Security boats, but ships in
the destroyer to cruiser size. Well, they do have to keep the rascals from
Peru and Argentina from invading, perhaps.
Last night, we anchored in a completely sheltered cove called Caleta
Mariuccia (45 48.1S 74 23.2W). Gail wanted to hike, so we took our smaller
Zodiac to shore. Two problems slowed us down. The rain forest is very
dense and there are no medium to large animals trotting around to make
trails, as they do in Alaska. The good news is there was nothing trotting
around to eat us, although Pumas reportedly exist in small numbers. The
shore trip was worthwhile, for the chance to see new trees and shrubs,
up close. Also, we burned our paper trash on rocks in the inter-tidal zone.
This morning, we left protection of the interior canals and are working our
way around a headland, called Skyring Peninsula. Large swells produced by
storms further south are here, but winds seem to be cooperating at about 15
kts. NW. Tonight, we will probably anchor at Caleta Cliff (46 26.9S 75
18.3W). From Caleta Cliff, we should be able to cross the Gulfo de Penas in
a day, and be back to inside waters by Thursday night.