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"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders

Ed. note: On February 10, 2011, Scott and Mary Flanders, on board their Nordhavn 46, Egret, arrived in the Canary Islands. In doing so, Egret became the eighth Nordhavn to circumnavigate the globe. It had been four years, five months since the couple departed Gran Canaria, intent on seeing as much of the earth as possible, although not necessarily with an end goal to circle the globe. Voyage of Egret documents the Flanders’ entire trip, an endless adventure that has put them in touch with the most fabulous places and interesting people. Much route planning and forecasting was required in order to get to some of their ports of call. But the days of detailed planning are over…for now. “Egret” is now back in Fort Lauderdale, the place the couple called home for so many years, and, ironically, the starting point of their world wide cruising escapade that began with the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004. They currently travel hither and yon, sometimes by boat, sometimes not. Here, the latest update from the Flanders as they keep us continually apprised.


December 27, 2007

Position: S49 13.58 W74 05.55 Caleta Sally, Seno Eyre, (around the corner from glacier Pio XI) pp333-4 P&TdelFNG

Well, mis amigos, a quickie update before year's end. Early Wednesday morning, 12-26, we fired our year end VofE into space. Wednesday's travels were routine, actually not quite routine with no wind or rain. It was overcast however. Along the way we were escorted by dolphins, pinguinos, albatrosses and flights of terns swooping and diving when the pinguino's surface. Apparently the pinguinos are pushing bait to the surface. As we were passing a seno to the east we could see a huge permanent ice cap glacier covered with snow. The seno was spewing ice by the acre but was contained by the wind on the opposite side of Canal Wide while we travel north.

We reached a significant milestone at 1701 UTC when Egret passed into the roaring 40's from the furious 50's (degrees south latitude). Egret has not been into the 40's in over a year. For the most part we stayed within a tight N/S range centered around S54 48.40 (the latitude of Ushuaia), reaching as far south as S56 00.00 degrees when we turned west below Cape Horn.

Most notable is the rise in air temperature. Yesterday when hiking we were down to tee shirts and that was too much. For the past year we have had the engine room blower disconnected along with bypassing water in the keel cooler to keep the main up to temperature. Tomorrow we reconnect the blower. We have already screwed the adjusting screw back in the keel cooler just a bit and will screw it all the way back in after our trip to see glacier Pio XI in a day or so.

Wed evening. So much for no wind and rain........35 knots and light rain before entering the two mile entrance into a fjord for tonights anchorage. (pp340 P&TdelFNG 6.2 S48 45.65 W74 26.75) Expecting to find a little cove like the past weeks we finally figured out the little peninsula sticking out protecting the beach and detailed items described in the guide was it. We didn't take the guide's advise to back into a VERY shallow notch with stern lines. We anchored with TK in the notch, placed a bow line ashore as extra security and two stern lines to trees. TK is pulling downhill but not such a steep angle plus the bow line. We aren't expecting big winds so all should be well. There is a family of red headed geese at the head of the little beach just off the stream. Also, the usual family of steamers are nearby. Just 75' off the bow is a house frame put up by fishermen for winter duty. (they cover these shelters with tarps while in use) Outside is a pile of cholgas (giant mussel) shells. We don't know how old the shells are but it is very explicit in our zarpe (cruising permit) not to eat shellfish south of 43.1 degrees because of red tide. One bad mussel and you are history, finito, daisy pusher. You get the picture.

Early Thur am. Egret was underway at 0650 with little wind, a misty rain and heavy fog/mist clinging in layers on the mountains and settling into the water at times. The past couple of days we have noticed a layering and swirls of gray clouds and again this early morning. In their own way they are quite pretty. (our usual escort of dusky dolphins just showed up throwing head wakes as they raced to our little ship)

Thur pm. After reading the Italian guide's warning of heavy ice in Seno Eyre approaching the glacier, we left early to try and make sure we could negotiate thru the ice to reach the glacier in a single day. As a last resort we could stop where we are anchored now, three miles from the head, and continue the next day. Ice is worst in the fall however, it must be best in early summer (now). We essentially drove to the head of the glacier dodging minimal ice. And the sun was trying to shine thru the clouds. Things were good. Three miles out we drifted and launched the dink. When we were within a half mile YT took off in the dink and MS worked her way forward thru accumulating ice toward the glacier face. I could hear roaring water coming from under the ice creating quite a current. MS could FEEL the current setting her off the face. She did a great job running the boat while I clicked away with the camera. This wasn't the thrill of taking pictures in front of our first glacier in Seno Pia on the glacier loop out of Ushuaia but it was spectacular non the less.

The glacier face is over 2 miles wide and 165' high at the face continuing forever into the distance. Pio XI, named after a current pope of the day, is located approximately 3/4 of the way north on the Southern Icecap. (Campo de Helio Sur) The northern icecap is much smaller. Using dividers on a cruise ship chart, it appears Pio XI is the largest of the glaciers reaching water. It was so unusual turning the corner 18 miles south and seeing the glacier. At six miles out it seemed close. We launched the dink at three miles and the face seemed 5 minutes away, not 40 minutes. Floating ice lost its dimensions as we made our way in. Only when the floating ice was very close could we see the threat!! Inspiring. You get the picture.

At anchor in Caleta Sally, Seno Eyre, S49 13.58 W74 05.55 (around the corner from glacier Pio XI) The little cove decribed in the guide has been blocked off by a line strung by fishermen tied across from side to side. They have built a substantial little warming hut plus have a large water hose permanently running from a waterfall to fill their tanks. No watermakers for these guys. Lines strung by fishermen are common all thru the channels to tie to at night or wait out weather. Other times they drop a stern anchor and tie off the bow to trees. In a few places they lay against tires hung from trees against steep rock. Whatever works is the name of the game for these guys. Basic stuff. No dinghy's, no nuttin. Egret is anchored nearby with two stern lines ashore.

Speaking of pictures we're playing catch up with pictures. This VofE's pictures were taken the other day but I didn't want to miss showing them. I was happy with the reflected ice picture and the steamer duck picture (best duck shot in a year's trying). In the first VofE of 2008 (imagine that.........2008), we'll show one of the posed pictures with Egret in front of Pio XI. After reaching Puerto Montt, Chile mid Feb we'll mail a picture CD for posting on the website. (by mailing a hard copy we can get much more resolution)

So there you have it, a couple more days in The Life. Enjoy the rest of the holidays Ciao.

 

December 26, 2007

Position: Poza de las Nutrias (Otter Port) off Canal Pitt. S50 37.98 W74 15.74 (pp355 P&T delFNG 6.19A) (Egret is under way north. Otter Port is the past two days anchorage)

Nov 26

Well, mis amigos, we'll go through the past days' travel then move on into Egret's year in review.

Fri 12-21 Egret departed Caleta Bernard (Bahia Moore) (pp369 P&TdelFNG 6.32) early on a blustery, rainy - misty gray morning. It was a sloppy day underway, however we had no bouts with aquarium glass which was a plus. The end of the day brought us to Puerto Bueno (Good Port) (pp364 P&TdelFNG 6.26) where we dropped TK in 32', swinging to the anchor alone. Puerto Bueno is a pretty little anchorage, totally protected with a low relief, circular shoreline. It would have been fun to hike the shoreline but with the steady rain it was not to be.

Sat 12-22. We decided to take an unplanned diversion east, deep into the Patagonian interior up to the heart of the permanent Patagonian Icecap. Here we will visit the glaciers at the head of a number of fjords reaching still further into the interior. This area is little explored, not even being charted until 1969, and then only partially. The P&TdelFNG give this area a lot of attention with many navigational warnings, particularly accentuating wind, ice choking the channels and lack of anchorages. It would understandably take sailboats a great deal of time to explore this remote area. Because there is no fuel between Puerto Williams to the south and a tiny village with 'sometimes fuel', Puerto Eden, a good ways to the north, sailboats must sail when possible to save fuel. * Because the Magellan and a couple other places are so dangerous they must use the fuel there unless conditions are right (rarely ever), plus save enough for emergencies and entering anchorages. To sail these channels tacking endlessly against the strong, funneled winds, dodging ice as well, is difficult at best. Beside the intrepid Italians (authors of P&TdelFNG), American ex-pat Ken Murray (a local Ushuaia powerboater helping with survey work for the guide) I imagine very, very few have made the trip. Sooo, with this little challenge we will attempt to visit the fjords and glaciers at their head.

* According to Charlie Porter, an American living in the Deep South these past 15 years studying glacier movement and related subjects, there are but 1000 people living in an area the same distance as from Boston to Ft Lauderdale, the length of the Chilean Channels. Most of those are concentrated on the island of Chiloe' near the top. So, you can easily see there is little support anywhere in the Channels. There is one stretch (the one we are on now) where there are no houses for 600 miles. You get the picture.

Our first fjord and glacier today (Sat) is at the head of Estero Amalia. With a ten mile escort of dusky dolphins we reached the estero head early afternoon. The glacier was covered in misty gloom with no chance for pictures however we did get to see the unusual 'stairsteps' of rocks and stones on the center glacier face pushed down by the glacier. The area 1/2 mile in front of the glacier was totally choked with ice trapped by the wind. We then backtracked to our anchorage in Caleta Amalia (pp361-362 P&TdelFNG 6.23, S50 56.3 W73 52.10) We are deep enough into the Patagonian interior the trees are back to full size and are healthy, standing straight and not windblown.

Sun 12-23 We departed Caleta Amalia early, east bound for Estero Calvo (Calving (ice) Fjord). Along the way we had to negotiate ice spewing from Estero Asia into Estero Peel (the main channel east), a smaller fjord with a single glacier. Slowly bumping in and out of gear we gently moved the smaller pieces of ice avoiding the car/truck sizes. Soon we were free for the run thru scattered ice from Estero Calvo with our dolphin escort. EC is a large bay narrowing toward the end with several fingers reaching further into the interior. Along the way and in each finger are multiple, or should we say a continuous glacier from high, flowing blue tongues of ice into the fjord. To make a long story short we worked our way as far inland thru the ice as prudence would allow then retreated. During this time a breeze started puffing and happily cleared away a number of the smaller pieces of ice. The highlight was the 'hurricane' glacier. This perfectly defined glacial ice hurricane swirling around a central eye moving west with dangerous quarter storms following. (of course this is a southern hemisphere storm - clockwise) Picture 1 is the best we could do with two days of imperfect lighting. (to give an idea of the size, the eye and surrounding ice-storm are well over a mile wide) After repeating the ice dodgum we anchored for the night in Caleta Valdivia on a mainland peninsula. (pp360 P&TdelFNG 6.22 S50 47.60 W73 53.88)

Mon 12-24 The trek further east past Estero Calvo has a number of dangers, primarily ice. When it is overcast and the wind is puffing, ice bits, even some large ones are difficult to see. The worst are chunks of clear ice, at times large enough for serious concern. What we needed was an impossibly good day or we were going to head north continuing our journey.

We woke early Monday to 2.1 knots of wind, a promise of sunshine and a rock steady 1022 barometer (very, very high for this area plus unusually steady) TK was up in a flash and off we went. A perfect day, sun and no wind. One of just a few during the year in this area. During the night the north breeze swept away all the small ice leaving it easy to dodge larger bits. Within a few hours we were past Estero Calvo heading into the unknown, and uncharted. From 10 miles up the narrow fjord (Estero Peel) ice flows continually west, faster on the ebb. We slowly worked our way thru the ice to an island blocking the narrows. We were on HIGH alert looking out for shoals marked in the Italian guide and fast moving ice. With MS calling out the depth we moved VERY slowly against the strong current (ebb) to round the island and escape the exposed rocks and moraine debris just under water. (the tide runs up to 6 knots in this restriction) It was nip and tuck.......then we touched.......then it was ugly for a bit. In the end no harm was done but the old ticker was doing the Bo Jangles. We didn't make it to the end, however we saw most of what we came for. We weren't willing to wait for slack tide (as recommended) to transit THEN have an issue on return. (there are no anchorages above the narrows) The objective wasn't just another glacier, it was seeing the Andes soaring higher and higher as we moved inland with their permanent ice cap flowing down from the top. Reversing our route, we are now under way northbound up Canal Pitt (pp356) and our anchorage this evening.....this special evening, Christmas eve.

12-25 Christmas day. No wind and sun.......a perfect gift. The 1019 high is still with us. Egret is anchored in Poza de las Nutrias (Otter Port) off Canal Pitt. (pp355 P&TdelFNG 6.19A S50 37.98 W74 15.74) Otter Port is a tiny, perhaps 100 yards across, perfectly circular bay with a notch in the rocks to the west. The bay entrance is to the north. We dropped TK in 55' on a rapidly shelving bottom backing into the little notch. Once inside all went still while we placed our two stern shorelines. This time we have a third line ashore to the north attached to the bow keeping Egret from swinging at all. We have but 30' on either side of the notch. The surrounding shore is nearly vertical with healthy jungley growth all around. Picture 2. We won't waste this gift of a day traveling. Nearby is a trail that leads to an inland lake and so forth. So, what will today bring? We'll see.....after my sweetie finishes her first cup of coffee in bed enjoying the luxury of a sleep in morning.

At times I think the Italians are a bit twisted. The Italian guide mentions a stream and a trail to an upland lake. We found the stream, sort of a trail that led us high into the rocks and that was it. To get to the lake you need a helicopter. YT BLED getting scratched mercilessly along the way. Geesh. Up high however, the scenery was stunning. But then it always is. Swamp trotting thru the jungle back down (An Indian scout with GPS and bread crumbs couldn't find the trail back) we left for a bit of dinghy exploring around the little bay. Along the way we traumatized a couple steamer ducks (flightless ducks that paddle with their feet AND wings to escape) to take pictures from the dink. We did get our best yet and soon after they were back together and all was well. And so the afternoon went. Later back at the boat, we scraped the Ushuaia slime off the waterline and gave her a wash. The water here is fresh floating on top the salt. In fact, in the channel with the glaciers we marked 4 feet of fresh water floating above the salt on the depth finder. The transition line on the bottom machine was so distinct we even took a picture.

Today was a special treat having such a sunny day for Christmas. Mary keeps her own log that includes weather. She mentioned yesterday and today are the 4th and 5th sunny day since leaving Ushuaia, December 7th. Tomorrow we are off again pounding out some miles. In two days we should be staged to make the run back into the Patagonian interior to see the granddaddy of all Patagonian glaciers, Pio XI.

So there you have it, a few more days in The Life (cruising life). Now we have the year end reports. Another great year.

A short precursor for readers new to VofE.

Aug 6, 2001. We take delivery of M/Y Egret, a 2001 Nordhavn 46, hull number 74

Apr 3, 2002. Two days after retirement we leave our hometown of Ft Lauderdale after shedding ALL our possessions. We haven't stopped since.

May 2004. Egret joined the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally (NAR), Ft Lauderdale - Bermuda - Azores - Gibraltar.

July 2004 - April 2006. Egret cruised the Mediterranean wintering the first year in Barcelona, Spain, the second year in Marmaris, Turkey

April 2006, Egret left her winter port of Marmaris, Turkey with our destination goal of Ushuaia, Argentina. Egret's itinerary was: Turkey, southern Aegean Greek Islands, Crete, Sicily, Straits of Messina, Italian west coast and Riviera, French Riviera, Barcelona, Spain for provisioning, Gibraltar - departed Gib Sept 15th, Grand Canaria, Canary Islands where we picked up our super volunteer crewman, Master Angler Steve Lawrence. Egret departed the Canaries Sept 30th for Salvador, Brazil arriving 20 days later. Brazil to Mar del Plata, Argentina, south down the Argentine coast to Ushuaia, Argentina, arriving December 28th, 2006, 7009.65 nautical miles and 110 days from Gibraltar. (Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world) (Fin del Mundo - End of the World))

2007. A year in review. Along with crewman MA Steve we were joined by PAE's Jim Leishman to round Cape Horn, doing so on Jan 21st (east to west) and again on Jan 22d (west to east). This was followed by a weeks glacier tour in the Chilean Channels. With our friends departed we cruised locally for a bit then changed our intended itinerary of passing thru the Deep South and on to our announced goal of New Zealand deciding to spend a year cruising the Deep South. We simply couldn't leave this wild, unspoiled frontier. With a full year in hand to explore the Deep South we wasted no time. Here and there including a winter 'glacier loop' tour around Isla Gordon we explored. As enjoyable as the cruising was, another big highlight was socializing with the few winter-over international group of cruisers, the adventure charter sailboat folks and the townspeople. We thoroughly enjoyed the small town of Ushuaia, Argentina, headquarters for all who arrive in the Deep South. Ushuaia is the main departure port for Antarctic cruise ships as well as a ski resort in the winter catering mainly to Argentineans. The full VofE's log of Egret's meanderings, from Turkey until today, are available to read at your leisure on this same website. Also, there is a Pictures section as well as a Forum section to ask questions you may have.

2008 promises to bring more Egret adventure traveling the balance of the Chilean Channels, thru the Pacific and on to New Zealand. As we move along we will attempt to paint a real time picture with words and attached photographs thru VofE. We hope you enjoy the ride.

Voyage of Egret was brought to life by the foresight of Jenny Stern, Pacific Asian Enterprises, and web guru Doug Harlow, Harlow Media Arts. jenny@nordhavn.com dharlow@harlowmediaarts.com

It has been a pleasure to bring you Voyage of Egret again this year. Voyage of Egret is our gift of inspiration, along with a bit of 'how to', for new boaters as well as boaters to be, waiting for Their Time to enjoy The Life (the cruising life). Mary and Scott

 



December 20, 2007

Position: Caleta Bernard, Bahia Moore S51 45.09 W73 55.00 (pp369 Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical guide 6.32)

Nov 14

Well, mis amigos, shortly after firing the last VofE into space on Monday, 12-17, the wind moderated as predicted by OMNI Bob, the tide swung and all was well as we traveled the last few miles in the Magellan before turning north into Canal Smyth. Shortly after entering Smyth is a mid channel island with a Chilean Armada station (Faro/Lighthouse Fairways) along with a complete weather reporting station. Mary dutifully called and was replied to in English, sort of.... (sort of like our Spanish). He later called just before our anchorage with no real reason but to practice his English. After anchoring a bit later MS called him again with our position. He was thrilled.

This first night's anchorage in the Smyth is Caleta Darde', named after a French sailboat who found and reported this tiny, natural circular harbor and its VERY narrow entrance (about 40' wide - 20' deep). (pp376 P&TdelFNG 6.41) Again, no shorelines with good holding in heavy mud. Before the anchorage we passed two wrecks. One was nearly rusted away completely but the second was a large single screw freighter, perhaps 150' or more long, lying on its side rusting away as well but more intact. Picture 1. Canal Smyth is straight in places but twists around small islets and islands in others. The fairway itself is quite deep but off-channel are rock snags waiting for the unobservant. Even with radar, paper charts and weak electronic charting we needed to be on our toes in the heavy mist/low visibility. We passed a large Norwegian cruise ship, in fact the same one who rescued the passengers from the cruise ship that recently sunk in the Drake Passage, after they exited Canal Smyth and were entering the Magellan. Some of the turns are so tight I'm not sure they don't have to use their bow and stern thrusters to help make the turns, particularly in heavy wind.

Tue am. Light rain all night with little wind continuing into the afternoon. Soooo, it was a laundry, make water and rinse the salt off the areas not exposed to the rain morning.

Tue pm. Rain all day. Puttered, read & watched BBC Planet Earth until 1:00AM. One thing we noticed recently with the Racors is Argentine fuel, even though clean, clogs the 2 micron Racor elements in a relatively short time (not with visible dirt), 150 hours or so. (we change the elements at 5 inches of vacuum, not the recommended 7 inches - the time difference between 5 inches and 7 inches is short) During the winter, fuel in our gravity feed tank for the diesel heater gelled. We had to add kerosene, 15%, to the mixture to keep the fuel viscous. The main tanks were never affected. The water and air temperature is much warmer now plus we have the added head pressure of full tanks pushing the fuel thru the system in addition to the main lift pump. Bottom line: the Racor vacuum gauge isn't moving. Hmmmm Interesting. Perhaps we were getting a slight thickening of the fuel causing the filter element clogging. (Any N46 owners reading this and not quite understanding, we specified the day tank from the N40 and gravity feed main tanks be installed in Egret when we placed our order - most N46's have siphon tubes in the main tanks)

Wed am. 12-19 Under way, light mist and overcast, 15 knots of wind, towing dink, 30 miles or so to the next anchorage. Wed pm. It was such a nice sunny day by early afternoon we bailed early and anchored in Bahia Mallet, off the Smyth Channel (pp373-374 6.38 P&TdelFNG). After launching the dink we followed the ancient portage where the Indians used to portage their canoes across a low isthmus to save miles of rowing. We puttered and explored. Mary found tadpoles. Amazing, here at 52+ degrees south. Just last night we were watching BBC reporting how 1/3 of all frog species have disappeared in recent years from a fungus. They appear to be alive and well here though I can't imagine how they can possibly survive this climate.

After returning it was oil change time for the main. (YT's boat chore for the day) MS's job for the day was trimming Egret's Christmas tree. We cut a very small conifer and took the trimmings from nature: red califate berrys for red balls, small purple flowers for ornaments, delicate reddish miniature ferns for color, gray-white lichens for snow and a daisy like little white flower for the star on top. Picture 2.

Last Christmas Egret was under way as well. We were at sea, three days before arriving in Ushuaia. We took a picture thru the pilothouse window of the three of us (including Master Angler Steve, Egret's super crewman) sitting on the dock box, backs to the camera looking forward wearing red and white Santa hats. It was a beautiful day at sea. We'll see what this Christmas brings.

Thurs am. 12-20 Egret departed the anchorage at 0700 in blowing rain, overcast and misty gray (a perfect day to travel - not to waste the good days). As soon as we turned the corner from our little hidey-hole the wind went immediately to 34.9 knots. The digital barometer looks like stair steps going down. Yup, its going to be one of those days. 4.5 - 5.2 knots depending on headwinds. 0900 Going by a steep sided island on the port side there are 15 waterfalls within a 1/4 mile. With no vegetation to speak of to hold the rain water, the water funnels to the crevasses and down it falls. There is very little snow on top to melt. When the rain stops, so will the waterfalls. During dry, sunny days you can see the courses of the larger waterfalls along the way by the vertical smooth areas.

Paper chart navigating. We have a large gap in our DMA (U.S.) paper charts. I don't know why, but it is what it is. Here again the Italian guide (P&TdelFNG) has proved priceless. By cheating a bit and looking up different anchorages along the way, at the top of each anchorage description is the number of the applicable Chilean charts. (small and large scale) We have the Chilean book of ALL their charts but in a size reduced to 8 1/2 x 14". Using the guide's chart numbers hugely simplifies flipping pages to find the largest scale chart. We use a clear magnifying dome to read the charts.

Thurs pm. Lotsa wind this afternoon......over 40 sustained. After a few bouts with aquarium glass (thats where the spray is no longer spray but solid water on the pilothouse glass.......its like looking into an aquarium) we bailed and retreated 4.5 miles to an anchorage. Funny, 3.4 knots going uphill, 8.8 - 8.9 downhill. We are anchored in Caleta Bernard, Bahia Moore (pp369 P&TdelFNG). After turning into the anchorage all went calm. We went to the end where we could have swung to the anchor alone but there was another powerboater in our spot.....imagine that. Dirt bag. We retreated to a tiny space between islands and put two lines ashore. While we were doing the shoreline cha-cha their entire crew of 5 came by taking pictures then left. (movies we found out later)

After getting secure, YT went over and invited them for cocktails. Understand, we have had no human contact for a while. Getting kinda dry for new conversation. An interesting boat. Its a single engine trimaran (Ocen Alchimist) similar to Cable and Wireless, with a 80' main hull and two small hulls aft, sort of like training wheels but VERY efficient. The owner came by himself (his crew was working). Its a long story but he is quite a famous sailboat racer, Frenchman Olivier De Kersavson who has won a bunch of BIG around the world stuff. Nine times passing below Cape Horn racing. We had a great evening listening to stories, killed a couple bottles of cheap Argentine wine and exchanged numbers. We promised to call when in Tahiti where he has a home. He is currently taking a French film crew around on a TV program odyssey. Between the French and BBC they do a lot of boat adventure stuff. Its too bad we Americans don't do the same.

Olivier stopped here because fellow French sailor Bernard Moitessier stopped here as well. We stopped here to keep from getting killed. We all have our reasons.

Friday am. This is it mis amigos, the holidays. Mary and I wish you the best. It has been a great year for the Egret crew and hopefully for yourselves. Perhaps before long there will be a little white fiberglass barco (boat) in your stocking. VofE will be back before New Years to keep you from getting totally saturated with football. The best to everyone. Ciao.

 

 

December 17, 2007

Position: S53 18.43 W73 00.18 Caleta Playa Parda, Western Straits of Magellan (north side) (pp 414 Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide #8.6) This is not actually where we are (we are under way), but last night's anchorage (Sun). Hopefully the Google Earth overhead is clear. If you want to look up the last three anchorages yourself on Google Earth the coordinates are: Caleta Brecknock S54 32.70 W71 54.55, Caleta Murray S53 56.83 W71 41.10, Caleta Gallant S53 41.25 W71 59.75

Nov 14

Well, mis amigos, what a difference a day makes. From the windy, rainy day before, Thursday (12-14) was a perfect, perfect day making up for the previous days of not so nice. We woke early in Caleta Brecknock to sun and NO wind. We didn't waste a minute. First was transferring the fuel out of the cockpit fuel bladder. We now actually have the generator and wing exhaust above the waterline. No more blowing bubbles!!

After breakfast we were off for the first of three hikes. I wish we could show you the pictures but it is not to be. What we described as a 60' wide inlet into the little circular stone coliseum of Brecknock we could now see is about 125' wide. What a difference the security blankey of bright sunshine vs the threatening obstacles of rain, hanging mist and mucho wind. The first long hike high to the east overlooking the inland lake and stream feeding the large waterfall was a treat.

To regress just a bit, speaking of waterfalls, after anchoring the evening before we were watching the high waterfall across the way exposed to the wind being blown UP in the rachas (williwaws). Wild!! (not just mist - everything)

Back to our little white fiberglass home for lunch then off dinghy exploring up a creek fed by a second inland lake. Another long hike up we discovered a third and fourth inland lake. The lakes were little sparkling jewels surrounded by wind hammered, nearly barren rock. Only crevices fed by water and somewhat protected from the wind is there any significant growth of tortured trees. Later, dinghy exploring the little bay a mile before our anchorage we took a third high hike to find the source of the waterfall and stream leading inland. This time it was a larger lake being fed by numerous waterfalls from 3-4 surrounding mountains. With the wind starting to puff we headed back (downwind.....yes!). Just before dark a Dutch charter sailboat came in. We gave them a hand with their shorelines but I will say they were an efficient crew boathandling in the freshing breeze.

The grib forecast told of not so great, but acceptable morning winds on Friday diminishing during the day. Yea, right!! We left Caleta Brecknock without difficulty, entered Canal Brecknock scrambling to make sense of the rusty channel marker and unidentifiable islands (not charted). We made it after a while then entered Canal Cockburn leading eventually to the Magellan. Canal Cockburn is open directly to the Southern Ocean with nothing in its way. We got our butts kicked. Yup, KICK-ED. Had to tack a bit using the advantage of the Naiad's in a just-off-beam sea then turned downsea. Lotsa power in the waves and tide. The bright spot was, we were RIDING the tide.....for a change. Running at 1725rpm (to keep more water flowing past the keel and stabilizer fins) we were making 7.5 - 7.7 knots even though it wasn't very pretty. Still not having any navigation difficulties we decided to be a bit naughty and cut nearly 100nm off our course by taking a different channel north. (not allowed by the Armada but in foul weather is somewhat acceptable) By turning the corner north early we got rid of the wind driven waves and were down to just a bit of wind......no biggie. We made our way thru a number of islands then entered Canal Acwalisnan leading into Seno Pedro (Pete Sound), that, in turn, enters the Magellan. (pp452-452 P&TdelFNG) (Seno Pedro was named after Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, who sailed with his ship Nuestra Senora de la Esperanza (Our Lady of Hope) in February, 1580) We were lucky to be riding the tide on the way north thru Canal Acwalisnan to Caleta Murray. The tide runs up to 8 knots thru the narrows. Near the north end (before the Magellan) is Caleta Murray (pp454 #9.4), a mile long gash into the interior of Isla Clarence.

Caleta Murray, tonight's anchorage, is in front of a stream. We LOVE streams. Streams deliver nice hard mud for great holding. We don't like rock bowls, like Caleta Brecknock with its rocky bottoms and poor holding. CB is our first poor holding EVER in the Deep South. Our late afternoon Caleta Murray hike inland had a purpose, to get high enough to see the Magellan and also Cabo Froward (yes, spelling is correct). Cabo Froward is the southernmost point in the continental Americas and is located on the north shore of the Magellan where it turns from N/S to E/W. Soooo, we climbed to the next high peak, and next, and next, next and so on. We finally made it. Geesh. Yup, we took a few pictures.

These past few days have been a number of firsts for Egret.

Farthest north in nearly a year. First time bashed by the Pacific Southern Ocean (the Southern Ocean is made up of the three great oceans below 50 degrees south: Atlantic, Pacific, Indian) First time swinging on anchor alone since Brazil (no shorelines - except Ushuaia Harbor & Estancia Harberton) Mary spotted our first conifer trees in the Deep South on our Caleta Murray hike. Mary discovers motor drive (see below *) First time on mainland Americas exactly a year to the day (Dec 15th - the date Egret left Mar del Plata, Arg)

We have shown pictures of Puerto Williams, Caleta Olla and Caleta Emilita in the last few VofE's. We'll keep up the tradition showing anchorages as we are able along the way to Puerto Montt, Chile at the northern head of the Channels. Picture 1 is Caleta Brecknock. Picture 2 is Caleta Murray. These pictures will give you a good visual to help bring our words to life and give you a bit of understanding about cruising this wild place in the world. If we can get clear (no rain) pictures of every anchorage it will be a miracle.

* One ting I must bring up, MS (my sweetie) has discovered MOTOR DRIVE on her camera. No problema. Push the button and letterip. No problem for HER banging out 3 frames a second. SHE isn't the one who has to take out the 2GB memory card and sort thru 7 zillion pictures a day. YT uses motor drive sparingly: birds in flight, jumping sea lions, pole dancers, and so on. You get the picture.

With good weather predicted for Saturday (tomorrow) we'll cross the Magellan and trek a bit west to Caleta Gallant. Caleta Gallant is one of the most historic anchorages in the Deep South.

Sat 12-15 Cross the Magellan we did and are now anchored in Caleta Gallant, Bahia Fortescue. After leaving Seno Pedro turning into the Magellan we were able to take pictures of Cabo Froward. CF looks like the head of a bull dolphin (mahi mahi), a vertical cliff with a little whoop de doo on top. Today we took an inland hike up the same stream fleets of ships over the years have stopped to water. To give you a bit of history we'll copy P&TdelFNG pp421-422 #8.13 (with permission) Visitors to this small bay have been:

1587 Thomas Cavendish with his small fleet: Desiree, Content and Hugh Gallant (Caleta Gallant was named after this ship) 1767 Louis Antoine de Bougainville aboard his ships La Boudeuse and Etoile 1786 Antonio de Cordova with the frigate Santa Maria de la Cabeza 1826 Capt Pringle Stokes of HMS Beagle 1828 Capt Robert Fitzroy of HMS Beagle (with Charles Darwin) 1830 Capt Parker King of the Adventure 1896 Joshua Slocum, single handed on his yacht Spray (first American single handed circumnavigation under sail)

Slocum was attacked by "savages from Bahia Fortescue who shot arrows at him" and went up the way to Isla Carlos (Charles Islands) in the middle of the Magellan where savage winds kept any canoes arriving from Fortescue. After two days the wind moderated and Josh split. (Charles Islands are Egret's next anchorage)

Exactly nothing has changed in this bay since 1587. There are zero signs of habitation or molestation except perhaps a bit of plastic on the shore (but very little). Tony C. (Antonio de Cordova) send his crew up the 2461' mountain dividing the Magellan from the bay. TC named the mountain Monte Cruz (Cross Mountain) after an iron cross the crew erected on top.

Sun 12-16 Egret is under way. TK came aboard at 0700 on an overcast, misty morning. 0815 we passed Tony C.'s Monte Cruz on the southern side as we are running toward the west. Lying in bed early this morning looking at the anemometer (we have a repeater in our stateroom next to YT's head) reading .4 knots we made the decision to run for it in the calm weather even though we would like to explore Isla Carlos, Chile's first national sea park set aside to study whales who come into the bay and surrounding area, just a couple miles up the road. The grib files show 2 1/2 days of calm. We need to travel about 100 miles to get into Canal Smyth, a N/S channel for protection from the westerlies and north westerlies. We talk a lot about weather for good reason. Weather dominates all cruising decisions and daily life in the Deep South. Quoting directly from the Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide (pp406-407) we'll give you the weather meteorology for the western section of the Magellan and up into Canal Smyth (a N/S channel). It is a bit lengthy but will allow you insight into the local weather every cruiser faces daily in these higher latitudes traveling the Channels.

"This part is characterized by distressingly constant bad weather. The N/NW frontal winds prevail and they blow at an average speed of 25 to 30 knots. These values increase to 40 to 50 knots during the passage of a deep depression. The conditions are worsened by the steep coast and deep valleys, likely to divert and funnel the wind creating the well known violent gusts called williwaws. These come from highly unpredictable directions and combine a remarkable violence with a general descending motion of the air, blowing spray and foam in a way reminiscent of a column of smoke. Winds up to 70 knots should be expected in squalls. They are fortunately of short duration, but if met unprepared, can cause serious damage to sails and rigging. Once the frontal part of the depression is passed, the wind turns to W/SW and blows with an average strength of 20-25 knots. If lower strengths of SW wind or calms follow the passage of a depression, this indicates the arrival of another system, the frontal part of which is counterbalancing the rising pressure of the first."

..."For vessels going N towards Canal Smyth the task is even worse, as they are liable to incur almost endless contrary winds, waves and tidal streams (the flood runs E). We had to wait 9 days for a good spell to cross the last 20 miles from Puerto Angosto to IslaTamar, while the great Joshua Slocum remained anchored in the same bay for a month..."

You get the picture...we are taking our Christmas regalo (present) early and running for it. You can see why.

Back to wave bashing. Actually, there are NO waves, just waterbirds everywhere without enough wind to lift off. The only ones feeding are pinguino's (penguins). Albatrosses, shearwaters and giant petrals are all paddling about moving away from our little ship. AND, we are riding the tide...7.5 - 7.9 knots at 1500 rpm. Yes!!

Sun pm. Euphoria soon morphed into reality. Egret briefly touched 8 knots THEN tings went south, or should we say east. Both the wind and tide decided to swing. Yup, 3.4 - 3.5 knots and up to 30 knots of wind on a 'no wind over 10 knots' day. Sooo, the best laid plans got changoed. Scanning the Italian guide for a place to bail, simple math had us backtrack 4 miles to Caleta Playa Parda (pp414 P&TdelFNG #8.6) Wow, what a treat this is! No shorelines to fool with but a simple TK drop, with MS doing the foredeck work in the rain while YT was inside nice and toasty.....yup, not bad. Caleta PP is another circular basin with a narrow, kelp lined entrance. Immediately to the right are two large waterfalls falling from quite high. In front are a mass of mostly barren rock sheltering what has to be an inland lake in the distance being fed by three more waterfalls we can see flowing down a mountain in the background. We won't launch the dinghy for a hike up high because of the rain and a short time before dark. We plan to leave VERY early tomorrow (Mon) to catch the ebb and make the miles to turn the corner into Canal Smyth. We'll see manana.

Time and time again I'm kicking myself for not buying the 12-24mm wide angle lense the camera guy was trying to sell me so I could take a single picture of what we are seeing out the pilothouse windows this very minute. I didn't want to spend another boat unit on camera stuff but regret it now. I thought I was going to stitch photographs together using Photoshop and didn't need the lense. After buying a comprehensive DVD on the subject it is more technical than I want to get into. Don't have the patience. Bottom line: I have taken a series of overlapping pictures MS and I can look at later to bring this beautiful anchorage back to life.

Mon 12-17 Egret departed Caleta Playa Parda this morning at 0550. Immediately upon turning into the Magellan the wind ramped to sustained high 20's, went to the low 30's for a couple of hours and now is hovering around mid 20's. This is on a sustained wind forecast of 10-15 knots. Normally we add 10 knots to the forecast and are right more often than not but this seems unusually higher. The Italians said in their guide unpredictability is the norm and they are right. There comes a time when enough is enough. We are determined to slug our way thru today unless OMNI Bob's forecast coming later shows we shouldn't. It will take a lot of convincing even though the head seas are growing by the hour. We are running at 1600rpm maintaining an average speed for the day of 4.9 knots. (on a favorable tide)

We have passed just three ships since we have been in the Magellan. Two yesterday and one this morning. We have passed a number of small wooden Chilean fishing boats in clusters here and there and no private boats.

OK, on to OMNI Bob's weather forecast. You will notice immediately the difference between professional forecasting and the nominal information we have available. This is a lengthy VofE because of details however, there ARE a lot of details. When we are on our trade winds passage starting in April reports will be shorter. Ciao

High pressure ridging should extend from a 1024mb high cell near 35S 90W Mon/am. The high is expected to weaken and drift SE'ward. Ridging from the high cell extending SSE across the Magellan Straits Mon/am will also weaken through Mon/night-Tue/am as a weather front approaches from the west/north. A developing Gale low well south/west near 58S 90W and weather front/troughs extending NE across the southern portions of S/America will produce an increasing NNW-WNW wind/sea pattern from the Ushuaia waters north across the Magellan straits and Canal Smyth waters starting during Tue/18th with a little easier wind pattern during Tue/overnight-Wed.

The more protected waters will have their sea heights fetch limited. However, across the more exposed waters to the WNW-WSW (in the passes/straits) these areas will experience higher sea/swell heights.

Overall, expect an easier wind pattern during Mon/am that gradually freshens during Tue/17th, maybe starting Tue/overnight. The strongest winds will tend to occurs Tue/morning-evening where gusty winds above 33kts should be expected.

Outlooks indicate an easier wind pattern developing in the Canal Smyth area and northward from Wed/19th and continuing until Thur/pm. However, a new low will approach the area during Thur/pm and this low will bring a new round of increasing NW-WNW winds Thur/eve-night.

Expect cruising northward toward the Magellan Straits and Canal Smyth area.

Mon/17: NNE-NW 08-15kts, waves low in protected waters, partly cloudy, maybe some morning clouds to start. Clouds tend to increase during the overnight. Locally higher winds in the passes.

Tue/18: Freshen NNE-NW 15-20kt with low waves. Increasing clouds with showers/rain developing through Tue/morning-midday, then NW-WNW 20-25kt, gusty 30-33kts from midday-afternoon. Easing a bit WNW 15-20kts, gusty toward Tue/eve-night. Mostly to variably cloudy with showers through the evening, less likely during the overnight.

Wed/19: WNW-ly 15-20kts, gusty upto 25kts in the passes. Variably to partly cloudy.

We will continue to watch this pattern closely. Updating as requested.
B/Rgds, Bob/OMNI

 

December 12, 2007

Position: S54 32.67 W71 54.60 On anchor, Caleta Brecknock, SW Chilean Channels pp479-480 Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide (10.7)

Nov 14

(If Google Earth's overhead picture is clear you'll see how unique this anchorage is) Picture 1: 'Sometimes kelp is your friend (marking rocks/shallow water), sometimes its not'. Picture 2 'Wind and Ice'.

Well, mis amigos, Egret is under way.......again.......finally. After a full day and night of rain on Mon 12-10, Egret departed Caleta Emilita at 0550, Tue am. The late night grib (weather) files show a bit of wind this morning, calming late afternoon then slamming on Wed early am. We are trying to make today's run to one of the most famous caleta's in the southern area and hopefully we'll make it. If not we'll stop 25 miles short at our back up anchorage. If we have to use the back up we'll move to the other more famous caleta just to see it even though it is a short distance up the road.

Our departure routine in the enclosed (little swinging room - ie Cta Emilita) caletas is: recover the appropriate (leeward) shoreline then the windward, tie the dinghy close to the boat (so we don't suck the towline into the prop), raise the anchor (with MS rinsing the chain and removing any kelp), motor into a safe area to drift to lift the dink and secure it on the boat deck. All logical progression and usually not an issue UNLESS there is mucho wind from the wrong direction, THEN it gets exciting.

So far this morning (0800) the wind hasn't exceeded 27 knots and averages around 18. There is but a bit of chop. Also so far, a cautious so far, we haven't found the poor charting to be an issue. Navigation has been straight forward between using the radar, paper charts (DMA charts have proven the best so far) and the world map charting on C-Map charts, Max Sea navigation software. Today's run, depending on our mileage to the next anchorage we choose, gets a bit more complicated with tight navigation between numerous small islands. The magnetic compass is +16 degrees so we don't use it much for reference.

If all this information detail seems a bit much let me explain......again....our goals. Most magazine articles give highlights about a cruise or areas but lacks details cruisers REALLY need to cruise those areas. What VofE is all about is giving first, inspiration but just as importantly enough detailed information.....REAL usable information, so you too may use these logs as an aid to cruise this area (and areas in the past and future) with much more information we had available. Of course, for every given cruising area you need to obtain ALL the possible information like cruising guides and the like. For this particular area (the southern Chilean archipelago Puerto Montt to Ushuaia, east to the Atlantic, then north to Mar del Plata, Argentina) we use/used the Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide, the excellent articles in Cruising World Magazine by Beth A. Leonard and several other authors. Also, there is an informative PassageMaker Magazine article, Argentine coast to Ushuaia, written in 2003 by Ken Murray, an American powerboater. Currently you have the excellent logs for the trip north thru the Chilean Channels from N57, Ice Dancer II (available on the nordhavn.com website) as well as VofE in the future. Mary and I both read and re-read ID II's logs for information.

Another important item (I just happened to look over and remember) is EPIRB registration. By rooting around on the NOAA website I found a phone number for EPIRB registration. A real human answered the phone. Amazing!! She couldn't have been more helpful listing Egret's rough itinerary in the computer and registering our second EPIRB (a gift from friends for our ditch bag). 888 212-7283, 301 817-4515

OK, back to wave bashing, and wave bashing we did........and did some more. From 1000 to 1400 we had steady winds of about 30 knots topping out at 38.8 in the Canal Ballenero (PP469 P&TdelF Nautical Guide). Canal Ballenero is not so much as a canal (channel) but a large, narrow bay open to the Southern Ocean with little diversion for the wind. These winds mixed with tide made for TT waves (tall & tight). We increase speed to 1500rpm from 1350rpm to keep the bow from dropping so much and later increased to 1600 rpm. Our speed ranged from 3.8 to 5.5 knots including the increased rpm. We had LOTSA time to look at the scrubby, stunted vegetation along the way. It looks like a tree hell. If you have been a VERY bad tree, this is where they get sent to the land of perpetual wind, rain, snow and little sun.

In due time we passed our first acceptable anchorage, however it was still early enough with the prediction of decreasing winds and the long summer days we pushed on. (there is usable light from 5:00am to 10:30pm local time) This particular area is the most demanding navigation we have experienced to date, however it turned out to be no biggie using our different aids to navigation. (Necessity is the mother of invention!!)

Our optimum anchorage for this section is Caleta Brecknock, one of the most historical anchorages in this area. Going for it, we passed our second choice for anchorages and pushed on for Brecknock encouraged by a favorable tide. (pp479-480 P&TdelFNG)

Before leaving Ushuaia, both Kiwi friends on Vision and the American/Italian couple on On Vera both asked us several times to keep an eye out for 'red sails Edward', a 73 year old single hander from New Zealand (I believe) in his 28' simple sailboat. Both had met Edward in Puerto Montt, Chile on their stay there. Edward has been at it for years and years sailing the world single handed with no engine and basically, no nuttin. The Chilean Armada in Puerto Montt wouldn't give Edward his zarpe for the Channels without an engine, with VERY good reason. Soooo, red sails caved and bought a 4hp, 4 stroke outboard. Next he built a simple bracket on the transom to mount the little engine, however he mounted it to high and now had a 4hp, gasoline powered fan. Vision got things straightened out and off red sails went. The other two boats passed him and have been in Ushuaia for weeks.

Several miles before the turn-off for Caleta Brecknock Mary spotted red sails Edward in the distance and hailed him on the VHF. Minimalist sailboaters don't leave their VHF's on to conserve battery power, so there was no reply. As we closed we drove over near Edward, who now hailed Egret as "sport fishing boat". Edward was exactly as described; sitting outside in the cockpit in bright yellow foul weather gear (it was raining hard at the time and blowing over 30) towing his 3 piece nesting dinghy (three pieces fit inside each other for storage on deck and assembled for use) trailing knotted lines behind the dink. Edward doesn't believe in life lines so tows the dink and knotted ropes behind. He fell overboard once and this arrangement saved him. He told Vision "if I would have had lifelines I couldn't have gotten back aboard". Can't argue with success.

We would loved to have Edward join us in Brecknock but it was not to be. For Edward to beat back against the wind and tide he was riding would have been a many hour affair, even for the relatively short distance, plus it was around 7:30pm making for a time crunch. We said our goodbye's and later, at his request, e-mailed Vision his position.

We have met a number of 'red sails' in our travels. This small group of older adventurous sailboaters tend to take their time traveling, have been everywhere and are readily assimilated into the more 'youthful' liveaboard cruising community. This group suffers unimaginably, we all know it and respect their independence and toughness. Their reward in suffering at times while under way is the genuine warmth and acceptance as peers of this small, mobile cruising community. Here, age is treated with a certain respect, something they may not enjoy sitting somewhere ashore watching re-runs. Mary has spoiled a number of red sails by inviting them for dinner aboard Egret, exchanging books (as a group they are ALL big readers) and fussing over them. They LOVE the attention & my sweetie.

Entering Caleta Brecknock was a trip. Brecknock is a 2 mile long narrow fjord running SW/NE into Peninsula Brecknock. There are two indentations (bays) before entering the narrows. Blowing rain, lotsa wind and no charting of any consequence. Saved again by the Italian guide's single word 'end', we kept the faith moving past an anchorage (second indentation) that appeared to be exactly as described right down to the waterfall. 'Faith' required us to go thru a 60' wide opening between two vertical rock cliffs - can't see the top from under the flybridge top, to see what is beyond. Bumping in and out of gear VERY slowly, soon the narrow channel opened into a smallish, circular bay with another waterfall and anchorage as described in the guide. I was still not totally convinced when Mary raced to the flybridge with pictures of the Caleta she found in the guide (pp 160 - 9 pages into the picture section). The high rock dome we could see in the picture AND ahead convinced us this was the spot. Holding isn't the greatest, rocky, so until the wind swung to the usual westerlies holding us off the beach we weren't comfortable. As a precaution we moved the dink to the port side along with dropping all our fenders in the water to become a floating cushion. The water is deep next to the steep-to shore so if in the chance TK can't grab notches in the rock we have a back-up if the wind swings to the NE and we drag.

Wed am. Gusting westerlies, rain from time to time and the small part of the bay open to the wind thru the narrow opening is churned white. Our job for the day, or next time there is no rain, is to empty the 100 gal fuel bladder in the cockpit. Deck fuel comes at a price and that expense is accentuated pitching with extra weight on the ends (of the boat). The cockpit weight is the worst being so far back. (The 150 gal foredeck bladder isn't so bad because it is moved back as far as possible) With the problems of fueling in Ushuaia, and not wanting to take a chance on spilling any fuel the foredeck bladder isn't full. Big problema there. Now it sloshes back and forth as we pitch compounding the pitching. We'll fill our empty jerry jugs from the cockpit bladder with an electric pump, then take the jugs forward and pump the bladder full. Next we'll evenly divide the fuel between the main tanks. Any remaining fuel will be pumped into the jerry jugs.

We plan to stay in Cta Brecknock a bit exploring this smallish stone coliseum. According to the guide, "it is a wonderful place to hike. A sparkling emerald lake lies just 10 minutes away, walking from the anchorage. It created the waterfall in the NE corner" and so on. Not bad mis amigos. Ciao.

 

December 10, 2007

Position: S54 52.97 W70 22.91 Caleta (Cove) Emilita, Isla O'Brien pp488 Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide (10.18)

Nov 14

Picture 1 is our anchorage in Cta Emilita with two shorelines. Picture 2 was taken Sun. late afternoon when two dusky dolphins were playing with YT in the dink. Mary took this great shot.

Well, mis amigos, rain, rain, rain mixed with snow and so on. Friday was a 'liveaboard' day here in Caleta Olla watching the continuous waves blow through. After finish reading Two Years Before The Mast by Richard Henry Dana, Jr, YT suited up in plastic clothes to check the crab trap. THIS time it was baited with a juicy can of sardines with holes poked in both sides. Nada. Zip. So we moved it for another go.

Tings are a bit different cruising today vs Dana's era. (1834-35) One remnant of the past at least for the last few days, is the daily allowance of hard bread. We mentioned before, when leaving Ushuaia we bought ten loaves of just baked French bread wrapped to go. While sitting in Puerto Williams one evening we heard the water pump go on. As every boater knows it doesn't take long to identify with EVERY sound aboard, familiar and unfamiliar. The water pump didn't shut off. Mary raced to the circuit breaker panel and switched off the pump. YT grabbed a flashlight to investigate. First, up came the master berth under which most of the water connections are. Nada - dry. Next, under the master head sink, galley sink, then the forward head. Yup. We had filled the guest shower with consumables: 2 liter bottles of soda water, coke, paper towels, heavy veggies AND our precious French bread. A few heavy loaves of French bread (1 kilo each) had fallen over and turned on our la di da shower handle. Yup, everything nicely sprinkled. Soooo, we re-wrapped the bread, all but one loaf that got soaked. That loaf we left out to dry. Dry it did and is now our daily allowance of VERY hard bread. Perfect for toast.

Sat am. Clear and windy with a fast falling barometer.

Sat pm. The barometer is rocketing down (978 so far) but it is clear, some sun and windy. In addition to our analog barometer we have a digital recording barometer giving current readings, 1 hour, 3 hours, 6 hours, 12 hours and 24 hours past. Graphic.

Looong hike today up above glacier Holandia and its inland lake below. Not as strenuous as the other day but quite long. A number of times along the way we stopped and just sat. Its so pretty its hard to describe. One thing we noticed is the glacier and its basin being an illustrative example of glaciers advancing, then retreating. At the terminal end of the lake is the pushed up dirt moraine standing 100' above the lake. Around two edges the rocks have been worn smooth by advancing/retreating ice. Another area is vertical moraine along a side. We took a number of pictures during the hike of different tings. We'll see what makes the cut.

Sun am. 0745 TK is snug in its anchor roller and Egret is under way. There is little wind, a rising barometer (984), a bit of light snow and cool. We are traveling west on Brazo Noroeste (NW arm of the Beagle Channel - about 1/2nm wide) with Tierra del Fuego to stbd (N) and Isla Gordon to port. Both sides of the Beagle are littered with glaciers, 9 within these next 6 miles. Between and below the glaciers are small waterfalls from snow melt and inland, upland lakes. We just went past the waterfall where last January Egret slowly bumped up to shore and Jim Leishman climbed over TK to the rocks with a garden hose to fill the water tank from the waterfall. He immediately filled one sea boot with ice water but braved it out holding the funnel under the waterfall. We didn't really need water, we did it because we could. Cool. On the protected side, Isla Gordon, the snow dusting is down well into the tree line. The TdelF side is barren of snow to above the tree line.

Glacier Italia (Italy) spits out floating chunks of ice year around (the first glacier W of Caleta Olla). A few pieces of ice made their way into our anchorage yesterday afternoon being driven by the wind and tide. We tried taking pictures of Italia this morning when we went by but it is very overcast and foggy. This entire area around Isla Gordon (Gordon Island is roughly a 28 mile long horizontal island with fjords entering from the north and south to the interior) is considered the 'glacier loop' and is the prettiest area in the Deep South. We'll be past this area by early afternoon looking to our next anchorage to sit out the high winds coming for the next couple days. We have several choices depending how much way we can make against the tide. Currently we are going 5.7 knots, not bad considering we are traveling west.

Wind in this area is filtered by the mountains making directional and true wind speed forecasting inaccurate at best. (Ushuaia was more predictable because of the funneling effect of the mountains - it's nearly always windier than predicted) As some fronts (westerly lows) meet the Andes they tend to turn south then wrap around Cape Horn. Other lows tend to trek down the middle of the Drake Passage as the summer season progresses. As we travel further west we come in more direct contact with the SW, W and NW winds. Here the winds slam into the southern Chilean coast with full force. Obviously it is important to tuck in well at each anchorage, particularly over this next 150 mile stretch to the west and north. For the two difficult southern passage areas, Straits of Magellan and Golfo de Penas, we will use a professional weather forecaster as a secondary source of weather. These two areas are not areas to make a mistake so it is prudent to get all the help possible. The balance of the S/N trip to Puerto Montt are more protected so we'll just use the grib files. OMNI Bob, Bob Jones, Ocean Marine Navigation, Inc. (ocmarnav@aol.com)(866 505-6664) who helped guide Egret on her Atlantic crossing last year and more recently forecasted for the Med Bound 2007 group's Atlantic crossing will be with us again this year. Again like last year we will post OMNI Bob's weather forecasts with each VofE.

We are now passing Romanche Glacier with its huge waterfall exiting from UNDER the ice down to the Beagle. Below the highest drop is a large, house size, remnant of ice that slid down this past winter. When Darwin was exploring this glacier in the Beagle's longboat (the ice reached the Beagle Channel at that time) a large chunk calved into the water creating a wave than nearly washed away the longboat stranding their small party. Lotsa history here amigos.

Now its an obvious avalanche scar going by on the stbd side (N) along with more waterfalls. As tough as this area is it is also fragile. A scar like this, denuded of trees with a grass covering may take many hundreds of years to reforest itself. In the Harberton area, trees are lying down looking intact from a fire over a hundred years ago and still looks like it did shortly after the fire. I'll try not to say it too many more times but we are certainly going to miss this wild and rugged place in the world.

Now its snowing heavily. At least the radar is punching through giving us a clear picture ahead. What happened to early summer????? Geesh. Sure am glad we are in our toasty pilothouse with our buss heater pumping out hot, dry air. Not having to look through salt caked, snow ringed eyes is also a grande plus. A fellow boater a few months ago simply COULD NOT understand we have NEVER turned on our windshield wipers...EVER. He began to argue until I repeated myself (what part of NEVER - EVER don't you understand???) and showed him one blade is missing with the spare in the chart storage area under the pilothouse settee. (I'll put it on someday years from now so the next owner of Egret won't have to use it.) Mary uses RainX on the pilothouse glass from time to time to shed the water. Even at night we see well through the salt on the windshield because of no reflection. Heavy spray is self cleaning. Light spray sticks, particularly when its hot. We wash down the glass with the saltwater washdown hose if there is a lot of salt and it is calm enough to go forward to the hose. (Sorry about the drift but its important you know if you don't.)

Sun pm. Egret is anchored in Caleta Emilita on Isla O'Brien. pp 488 Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide (10.18) This is a small button hole anchorage on the east side of the island giving protection from all quarters except the east. We have two lines ashore to the trees. TK went down in 57' and we are held in place in 35' near shore. There are two small waterfalls behind us. Isla O'Brien is the dividing line between the forested eastern part of Chilean Tierra del Fuego and the scrub, wind scoured western part. For the next days travel the hillsides will be the same. With the constant high winds, rain and so on nothing substantial can survive.

Today's travels in a thumbprint were; foggy and cool, calm and overcast, wind to 34.9 knots, heavy spray, no spray, no wind, sunshine and warm, heavy driving snow, hail and rain. We dropped the dinghy in hail, but little wind 2 miles from the anchorage in the lee of some small islands. Fog obscured the anchorage until we were close, radar and a GPS waypoint showing the way. We anchored in calm and sunshine. Wild!! According to the Italian guide hiking is excellent here. Very easy from the looks of things. If we have mucho wind tomorrow (Mon) we'll stay and hike. If not, we'll move in the good weather to the next anchorage.

Mon am. Here we sit in our little protected pool while the wind rips Canal O'Brien to the south of us. The protective wind shadow reaches well beyond our anchorage. Tomorrow (Tue) promises (I should say appears - there are no promises here) to start windy then clear during the day. After checking the weather this evening we'll move in the early morning for the run to the next anchorage if there are no changes. Ciao

 

December 6, 2007

Position: S54 56.45 W69 09.40 Caleta Olla - entrance of Brazo Noroeste (NW Arm of the Beagle) (Caleta = Cove) (pp 507 #10.33 Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide

Nov 14

Note: Last VofE we announced we would be out of internet and phone contact for 2 1/2 months..no nuttin. That is not quite true. We still have Iridium phone based e-mail so VofE's will follow their no schedule schedule.

Well, mis amigos, The Egret crew have gotten their zarpe (cruising permit) from the Chilean Armada. We are cleared to Puerto Montt, Chile (at the northern end of the Chilean Channels) due to arrive on or before Feb 20th. We were lucky to get a zarpe direct for that distance with no intermediate ports. (Not that we won't stop. The direct zarpe saves us from the paperwork cha cha.) Guess our previous visits to Puerto Williams helped.

We were delayed for a day in PW because of weather. The Armada closed the harbor to departures. We would have left punching into 40+ knots at times heading west down the Beagle Channel (the wind driven chop isn't an issue in the Beagle). We don't have a girl boat and would have been nice and warm inside but that isn't the norm so we sat. And sat in the rain turned to heavy snow. Just before dark a beautiful yellow wooden schooner arrived at the Micalvi (sunken WWII ammunition ship where we are berthed). We were rafted 2-3 deep with no room. The schooner moved over to the Armada buoy for the night. We invited the American crew to Egret for a spaghetti dinner however they had dinner underway. Later the owner and a friend came over with a bottle of Australian rum and Chilean Channels tales. Interesting folks and boat. She is a 65' schooner (rear mast is higher than the fore mast), built of wood in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, in a traditional style complete with rowing skiff. They are on an around the world odyssey staying south of the major capes continually moving. Quite a trip in a very short time. Today (Wed) is a provisioning, fueling, propane and so on day, tomorrow Cape Horn then on to Buenos Aires by Dec 14th. Pretty cool however we all cruise differently.

Interesting, Tasmania (south of Australia) so far (except the Chilean Channels) have been their favorite spot. N46 Arcturus went directly from New Zealand to Tasmania (quite a trip in itself in the roaring 40s against the wind). Hmmmm.

We meet so many interesting cruisers here and there. Yesterday we were treated to pictures of Chagos, a dot of an atoll isolated in the southern Indian Ocean) by an American cruiser, captain and owner of a smallish Taiwan built sloop and her Italian boyfriend. Previously we spent some time with them in Ushuaia. They arrived from the Channels a bit frozen (literally with frostbite on fingers and toes) but in good spirits. After HOT showers ashore, first in 2 months, they made the rounds visiting cruisers. We donated 2 pairs of insulated boots we had on arrival in the Deep South and later replaced. Also, we directed them to a local industrial hardware store for gauntlet fleece gloves and rubber outer gloves. This and the fact they finally got their heater working made them VERY happy. Now they don't have to wear 4 pair of pants and 4 jackets all the time.

The Chagos pictures were outstanding. Beautiful, above and below water. Always looking for an excuse for a get together, the yachties put together an 'Adam and Eve' party for her birthday. An old piece of line and a coconut head became the serpent. Leaves were the dress of the day. Only!! Wild. A few of the Chagos yachties make pilgrimages to Madagascar (south) for supplies and RUM and return for the next year. Madagascan rum will set you free. We saw the pictures.

Wed, 12-5 0745 Egret departed Puerto Williams this morning heading west at 0545 with a few knots of wind and a bit of fog. Visibility is about 1 1/2 miles. 1350 rpm's and 6 knots against the tide. The tide along this stretch flows continually east (speeding and slowing with the rise and fall) to just east of Puerto Williams. The Pacific is slightly warmer (thus higher) than the Atlantic so it is always trying to equalize itself. When crossing the other day from Ushuaia with high gusts driving the tide we were down to 3.8 knots at times at the same rpm. Our stop this evening is Caleta Olla at the entrance of Brazo Noroeste (NW Arm of the Beagle) (Caleta = Cove) (pp 507 #10.33 Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide). We have been there a number of time before. There are two long hikes we hope to take if the weather cooperates. Caleta Olla is Egret's first anchorage on our way to New Zealand. We have a few more to go.

To a degree we'll move in bad weather saving the best days for hiking. Around the Magellan we'll wait for GOOD days. Weather wise, the Magellan and Golfo de Penas (Gulf of Pain), both directly exposed to the westerlies, are the two biggest challenges cruising north to Puerto Montt.

Yesterday's snow blanketed the high mountains just like winter. The mountains are beautiful. I would imagine in a few days the high mountains will be back to their usual summer pockets of deep year around snow and exposed rock. Yesterday we fired up the diesel heater for the first time in days. The heater is still on along with the bus heater under our berth hooked into the Lugger's hot water loop. No frostbite here!!

The Beagle has a slight wind chop. The albatrosses are floating here and there without enough wind to fly. Albatrosses need 8 kilometers/hour of wind to soar without flapping their wings. Pinguinos (penguins) are everywhere. Now, if the sun would come out it would be a perfect day here in the Deep South. We'll see.

Egret arrived Caleta Olla in sunshine, no wind and a little light rain. After dropping TK and backing him in Mary kept the boat squared while YT took the two lines ashore to trees. (We drop the dink BEFORE entering our anchorage while in a large area to drift.) After picture taking with Egret and Boulard, a French charter boat, in the cove we fired up the suds and a little rum n coke for MS. We'll see what tomorrow brings. Life is good for the Egret crew.

Thur. Major hike. We left after breakfast to hike to a ridge described by a friend as splitting the Hollandia glacier to the east and the stream fed by an upland lake to the west. MS had a better idea (double duh) so we turned north a bit early heading nearly straight up. An up. And way UP. Looking at it now out the pilothouse window I don't see how we got up OR down. It wasn't easy but never the less we had a great day taking lots of pictures, (picture 1 is the flower of the local Firebush, picture 2 is an artsy fartsy shot of our little white fiberglass home at anchor with shorelines) didn't make the highest ridge in the five hours up (1 1/2 hours down) but got close. Within the first minutes after climbing up we both took off our light weight jackets and strapped them to the outside of the backpacks. Mary also had a sweater. Somewhere up there, among the scrub trees, bushes and rocks are Mary's sweater, jacket AND good sunglasses. We looked on the way down but it was impossible to retrace our route. Oh well.

The route down was a trip. The mountain face is a series of downward sloping narrow ledges. Some fall away to the east and others to the west. Usually there is a drop in between. We kept heading down in the faith we wouldn't have to backtrack and climb back up. In most places that would be VERY difficult. In the end we made it. We were proud of our little adventure and both have blisters as a reminder.

Today (Fri) we plan to take it easy. The wind is back with us along with a slight misty rain. After breakfast we'll head out in the dinghy to the beach to the east. From there we'll follow a much easier trail up to the Hollandia (Holland) glacier. When we were there with the Cape Horn crew we took pictures of two trees shaped by the wind with the glacier in the background. The trees came out well in the picture but the glacier was not clear. I now know how to make both clear (small aperture) so we'll try to find those same two trees again and reconstruct the shot. (Now if the sun will come out.)

Watching the sea gulls out the window is mesmerizing. They are feeding on small baitfish driven up by bigger fish. The gulls have been moving around the bay dipping and diving for their breakfast. There is so much food, after a bit they go to the beach joining a second group resting then return. Interesting.

So there you have it, a few days in The Life (cruising life). Ciao

 

December 3, 2007

Position: Puerto Williams, Chile Rafted to the Yacht Club Micalvi S54 56.10 W67 37.11 PP 543 Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide

Well, mis amigos, sad day for the Egret crew. We'll save those thoughts for later. Moving back in time we'll describe our last few days in Ushuaia, Argentina, base of operations for Egret's Deep South cruise this past year.

After waiting a while to get fueling arrangements sorted we finally succeeded. Twasn't easy. I'll copy an e-mail to our son in FLL to give you an idea of the latest fueling arrangement in the Deep South. The Argentines in Ushuaia have closed their only fuel dock to yachties. AFASyN Yacht Club doesn't want fuel drums rolling down the dock as in the past. Quite honestly, the boats fueling this way haven't all been diligent in not spilling fuel. A large charter boat forward of Egret on the dock was fined for a fuel spill the other day. THEN he was fined the next day for smoking while fueling...duh. Should have been. So, we are in a fuel flux.

(Fri) We fueled today from a truck with 4 - 1000liter fuel bladders (we took 3600 liters - 950 gallons) tied to a secret dock. It went without a hitch...if you understand Argentine fueling. No fuel nozzle, single speed pump (too fast), hose fitting direct into tank fill, fine for spilling if caught, nervous about Prefectura showing up (Coast Guard) in unauthorized fueling spot (there is NO authorized spot), and so on. We filled both main tanks and 3 fuel bladders with no fuel overboard. (We don't need fuel bladders for the trip north to Puerto Montt, Chile. Simple economics. Every gallon we load here we save 3 American pesos in Chile.) Fortunately the fuel hose, about 1 1/2", was thin and I could regulate the fuel flow by folding it over. 2 hours, 20 minutes. AND the wind held off until just after fueling & paying the bill. THEN 25-40 knots. We anchored when we got back. The tide was too high to do a somewhat controlled downwind crash into the dock. We anchored for an hour, cleared kelp off the anchor chain in 30+ knots, THEN crashed into the dock on a lull, just 25 knots, after the tide fell a bit. Thank goodness for lots of oversized fenders. Geesh!!

This place isn't easy. Yesterday the Polish charter sailboat docked forward of Egret, 50' ketch, had a guy up the mast in 40 knots. Spray from the chop was flying over their deck. Then, it started to rain. Then, it started to hail. The large, square guy had his short round legs wrapped around the mast holding on with one hand trying to do wiring with the other. Another large square guy at the base of the mast who winched square boy up wasn't paying a bit of attention. He was worried about keeping his cigarette lit in the wind, flying spray and rain/hail. Wild! Watching scenes like this we should hug our little white fiberglass ship every day.

(Sat) Today they (Polish boat) left. Gusting to 45 or so. They used a bow spring line (aft of the bow) and a HUGE round fender to rotate from the dock. The captain knew his stuff but the charter weenie on the spring didn't let the line go. Then IT hit the fan. Or should I say the fan hit it. Lotsa yelling in some primeval language, lotsa grande white eyes, then a spectacular crash back into the dock. They made it on the second try. NEXT, the 60' French aluminum charter yacht that was rafted outside square guy's that left decided to do a controlled crash with their toy fenders just in front of Egret. He approached during a rare 45 second lull in the wind. Just after passing Egret and clearing his 'stuff', including man overboard poles and the like, past TK (our monster anchor) the wind hit. Seconds earlier Turkish steel (TK) would have done a number on his stuff. Frenchies.

Lets be naughty for a bit and stereotype the charter clientele. They arrive in herds of brandy new goretex clad pilgrims carrying their designer duffel bags down the dock. (Sailboat charter in Ushuaia isn't cheap so it doesn't attract the po folks set) They wander down the dock buzzing with excitement and probably a little trepidation. They find 'their' sailboat (yacht to the UK group) and pile aboard with their stuff. Meanwhile the sailboat skipper and wife/mate are frantically trying to ready themselves after a short turnaround. Provisioning, repairs, fueling and so on. Next the pilgrims all sit outside on 'their' sailboat looking around and talking. In time they figure out they are wet and cold so down into the cave they go only to appear now and then. With the wind ripping the rigging realization starts to set in...slowly...heavily. This is the REAL DEAL. This isn't like reading a magazine or internet blog. This isn't like hazy summer Wed night races around the buoys I got caught in a Chesapeake storm once and so on. So, in time, off they go in their new plastic clothes to tackle Cape Horn, the Drake Passage...TWICE...to Antarctica and back or whatever. Along the way I'm sure more than a few are wondering why they are spending huge buckos to be scared witless, freeze to death on watch, dry heave into the darkness and so on. In due time they arrive back at the dock a bit worse for wear. HOWEVER, they have survived an adventure they will NEVER forget. Very few people ever get to see Cape Horn or Antarctica from the deck of a small boat. Pretty cool. (After typing this paragraph I looked up and there are 7 colorful pilgrims exactly as I described standing on the dock - except previously I left out the latest designer footwear)

This afternoon Mary and I were invited to an asado (cookout) at the yacht club hall. Great fun. Two birthdays were being celebrated. One was Mariolina Rolfo, co-author of Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide. Early this evening she and Giorgio stopped by Egret for a visit. What nice people. We gave them a CD of some of our favorite photos to show on their website, www.capehorn-pilot.com. Working as captain/mate on a large Italian sailboat this past summer in the Med they fell in love with a used N46 for sale in Malta. They need to sell a few more books before they can buy one but keep dreaming and reading Circumnavigator II. We didn't have a latest version to give them (CN III) but will have one sent to Italy. They too are leaving the Deep South...after 10 years. Sad for them as well as us after just a year.

More last, last minute provisioning. Tomorrow (Sun.) is fresh fruit and veggies day AND last minute phone calls. We will be out of voice communication for 2 1/2 months except for emergency Iridium time if necessary. No internet for 2 1/2 months. No nuttin. Monday before clearing out of Argentina with the Prefectura we pick up our bread order (10 loaves just baked and wrapped) from the French bakery. We have been working on leaving for a while so there is no panic and no loose ends (at least we can think of this 5 minutes).

Sun. Mucho kilos of veggies and fruit. Last day phone calls to the family. Rinsed Egret, it was too windy to give her a good wash, topped off water and so on. Here and there we are saying our goodbye's.

Mon. More goodbyes. Pretty tough mis amigos. We left Ushuaia at 10:50 local time. It was blowing 25 knots. After leaving the dock it was gusting to over 40. A proper send off from Ma Weather letting us know she is still in charge. So, the next adventure begins with a trip back to Puerto Williams, Chile to clear in then out and get our zarpe (cruising permit) to Puerto Montt, Chile, 13.22 degrees north and two and a half months away (by choice).

It is difficult to get here (Deep South). It is also difficult to stay here. It is more difficult to leave here. And leave we are after just under a year enjoying this wild, wild frontier. Will we return? Don't know. Hope so. We'll see, however we still have some unfinished business. Ciao


 

 

 

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