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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.  

January 28, 2008

Position: Castro (capital of Chiloe') Chiloe', Chile S42 28.65 W73 45.37 (pp189-191 Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide 2.11)

Well, mis amigos, it has been a relaxed couple days. The weekend wasn't anything special except more exploring by dinghy and a few boat chores (generator oil change, fuel filter change, bilge cleaning and so on). A cruise ship arrived so we avoided town and spent a little time learning the history of Chiloe' and Castro.

Castro was founded by the Spaniard, Martin Ruiz de Gamboa in 1567. The Dutch attacked the settlement in the 1600s. When Charles Darwin arrived in 1834 aboard the Beagle he found extreme poverty on the island. There was not a pound of sugar or a steel knife to be bought on the island. No one owned a watch or had a clock. The church bells were rung by a man who "had a decent notion of time". In more recent history an earthquake struck on May 22, 1960. The resulting tsunami emptied the bay for 15-30 minutes. A number of locals raced to the dry beds to collect shellfish. The returning tidal wave entered the bay killing 200, and laid waste to all the coastal homes, bridges and docks. Prior to the earthquake, during the 1950's there was a potato famine lasting several years. The poorest of the poor flocked to the cities trying to find work and food. In Castro this group built shanty houses called palafitos on stilts out over the bay and its free land. Obviously this was the first group of homes to go during the tsunami tidal wave. The palafitos have since been rebuilt and have become a major tourist attraction along with the wooden churches around the island.

Bottom line is Chiloe' is still a beautiful, quiet laid back place. The Chilote's are struggling to enter modernity slowly switching from subsistence farming and fishing to aquaculture raised salmon and shellfish businesses along with a bit of tourism. The far majority of folks are still what we westerners would consider poor but are happy living a simple and rewarding life. There are no chrome and glass buildings and but a few built of anything but wood. There are still no travel agents in Castro (the capitol). The only car rental is the local Chevy dealer with a handfull of small new cars in stock. Chonos' (the little princess) new family sells real estate. Of course Bernardo took his time with us to show us the survey of a piece of waterfront property on the next fjord. 19 hectors, (7.7 acres) with over a mile on the waterfront...$150,000 U.S. pesos. I grabbed my heart and groaned to indicate how expensive that was (can you imagine a mile of waterfront for those few pesos?). He immediately said the price is negotiable. We have rented a car for three days starting Tuesday to explore the island (100 miles X 30 miles). Our first day will include a trip to meet Bernardo and look at his property out of courtesy. Our problem is we like most everywhere we go. But wouldn't it be nice to have a little place on Estero Pailad (Egret's first anchorage) with a mooring out front? Jan 15th to Mar 15th would be about perfect taking the heart of the season before returning paradise back to the usual rains every other day. This is not an original thought. More and more mainland Chileans and foreigners are buying or building the little places we described.

We received a recent e-mail from Milt and Judy Baker aboard N47 Bluewater (Med Bound 07). M&J are back in their winter headquarters of Barcelona enjoying that great city. In their text was a subtle whining about BCN cold weather. We of course whined back about the hot weather. However, in our jests back and forth comes a simple truth about how adaptable we cruisers become. During our year in the Deep South we faced weather most folks would consider extreme with high winds every few days, sunshine-rain-hail-snow all in the same day at times during the austral summer deteriorating during the equinoxes and so on. Anchoring, dinghying to shore, docking or cruising was difficult at times, however, all this became routine and not uncomfortable simply because of acclimation and proper clothing. Mary and I aren't any tougher than anyone else. Again, it is all a matter of acclimation. You wouldn't want to be dropped into these situations but as you move north and south your skills and tolerances adjust to the routine. One reason UK, Brittany coast French, New Zealand and Australian cruisers are such prolific long distance cruisers is their home waters are difficult with high winds, high tidal ranges with accompanying currents and general overall difficult boating conditions. This international group have skills most folks haven't been exposed to. Calm water folks a bit more tentative about heading 'out there'. The international group aren't any tougher than the calm water folks, just acclimated. You get the picture.

So there you have it. A little history and a little 'you can do it too'. Enjoy your week. Youbetcha we will. Ciao.

 

 

January 25, 2008

Position: Castro, Chiloe' (capital of Chiloe') S42 28.65 W73 45.37 (pp189-191 Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide 2.11)

Well, mis amigos, Egret arrived in Estero Pailad late afternoon after being caught when the tide swung a couple hours earlier. Tides REALLY make a difference here. In the end we were running at 1850 rpm making just 4.6 knots. We haven't run those high rpms since a similar situation transiting the Cape Cod Canal. All's well that ends well and we anchored off the little yellow wooden church mentioned in the Italian guide. The scenery was exactly as described with patchwork green fields on the rolling hills, little houses dotting here and there, horses, fat cattle and sheep and the long awaited black necked swans.

Since arriving in Chiloe' the bird life is more prolific than perhaps even Brazil. There is a constant coming and going of sea birds; two type terns, gulls, three different cormorants, two petrels, numerous shorebirds and the first pelicans since leaving Ft Lauderdale. This simply means an abundance of available food. (We were continually marking schools of fish on the depth finder all through the islands.) There were a number of different songbirds along the road as well. And yes, just in front of us on the beach were two dozen black necked swans. I have to chuckle at myself trying so hard to get pictures of a pair of swans in the national park just west of Ushuaia.

On arrival in Estero Pailad (pp 198 P&TdelFNG S42 51.81 W73 35.34) there was a steel ketch flying a German flag tied to a mooring. Later we saw the couple return to their dink so we dinghied over and invited them to Egret. It's a very small world. They bought Galileo in Ft Lauderdale and restored it over 5 years behind their home after sandblasting it inside and out in the marina I used to hang out when a kid with my first boat. He worked for a German engine manufacturer for ten years just a few blocks down the road from our office. They sold their home and here we two homeless boaters from Ft. Lauderdale are sharing a remote anchorage in a seldom visited part of the world. Another great evening.

The next morning we were off with the little princess for a hike along the single lane dirt road bordering the estero. We landed the dink at low tide behind the church, walked past two horses grazing, through the gate into the church property. We took pictures while Chonos ran through the flowers zipping here and there. We met Bernardo Urile in the cemetery with his son. Bernardo invited us into the church for more pictures. The church was built over a hundred years ago simply constructed using wood and tin, the floors shaped by an adz (very obvious). The interior is simple as you would expect from the very poor constructors of the time. The parishioners pride and joy is a very large, very old bible written in Latin with hand drawn pictures on most pages. I showed Bernardo pictures in the view finder on the back of the camera. Well, off we went up into the belfry for more pics. We climbed a very shaky ladder from the beginning of time. Geesh. We thanked Bernardo and off we went.

The people we met along the way were happy, smiling and waving (to the gringos). We buen dia, good morninged, everyone we saw and they responded as well. Along the way families were grouped along the low tide shoreline. The fathers and older boys were gathering seaweed in waist deep water, the younger kids were splashing along the beach with mom. They were spreading the fine seaweed on the rocks to dry. I asked one man if it was to comer (eat), he shook his head no and gave a long dissertation in Spanish that left me with no clue. Others were gathering small clams. (Earlier Bernardo's son gathered enough clams for lunch in just minutes.)

All the while during the walk the little princess ran and sniffed, and splashed in the streams, and sprang up and down when she saw cows showing how tough she is, and chased birds from the beach, and freaked when an old man driving a pair of oxen passed by. When the first local dog approached she snapped her teeth then walked forward for a sniff. The first dog bought it. She tried it again on the second dog. He didn't buy it and chased her up the road. Chonos split left for the beach easily outrunning her short legged buddy. She had a grand morning of discovery and adventure, her personality bubbling over.

Now for the big news. Bernardo and family is to be Chonos' new family. She will be Bernardo's daughter's pet. Bernardo sells local real estate and lives up the hill from the church. We agreed to meet the next morning at the church before we left the anchorage.

We met Bernardo as agreed with the little princess. We didn't feed her that morning so they might feed her next. We gave Bernardo her food dish, dog food and regalos (presents) for the family in a decorative canvas bag. Using an English/Spanish computer program I wrote a short note in Spanish how we found Chonos abandoned on Isla Humos and brought her north. We explained how Mary named her after the long gone Los Chonos indigenous Indians. She is a good dog and so on. We exchanged e-mail addresses so we may check with his daughter on her well being. Cruising isn't without compromises. We can't have it all. Chonos consumed our lives for the few days she was aboard. So without carrying on let us say we saved a young life and made a family happy. We will miss her. Pictures 1 and 2. New faces of Chiloe'.

Not wanting to stay we left with the tide for Estero Pindo and the booming berg of Los Angles, population 800. (pp194 P&TdelFNG S42 37.05 W73 29.63) Estero Pindo is a natural cove set into a smallish island. Los Angles is a 'build your own house' berg of homes along the waterfront and 2 deep up the hill. The wooden church is the focal point of town. Along the dusty, single lane road around the bay are a few more homes scattered here and there. This village is an artist's or photographers dream. During our walk we could easily fill a couple calendars, one scenery - one nautical, with beautiful and unusual pictures. We were ushered the entire trip by a little black dog we named 2short, for his stubby legs. In a stretch the harbor reminds us of a Greek island anchorage with wooden workboats in continuous motion, both large and small. At the end of the day a largish (60') boat delivered a jumble of locals home from shopping on the 'big island city of Castro, pop 30,000'. We tried to buy huevos (eggs) and a few tings from a local tienda (tiny market) but the lady wouldn't take our American pesos. The town doesn't have a bank and certainly no ATM.

Thurs am. We left Los Angles riding the tide to the island metropolis of Castro. We took our time and stayed close to the island shorelines along the way. A table top book we read at the marina resort gave a text and pictorial account of Chiloe' and nearby islands boat building heritage. Nothing has changed. Wooden boats are being build along the shoreline, well above the high tide line out in the open. There are no swarms of workers like modern boat building but a few working here and there. Island time. With the exploding salmonera farms and aquaculture shellfish business along with the abalone dive boats, tourista boats, delivery boats and so forth business is good. All along the twisting waterway to Castro were builders with boats under construction. One modern facility was building the 75 footish, steel ramp door boats for the salmon and delivery business. They had 5 in different stages of construction. Simple, functional and probably relatively cheap.

On arrival in Castro we went to the Capitania del Puerto's office and turned in our zarpe. We were told not to move the boat until we were issued a new one on departure. Well, OK boss. We wandered the town and already have gotten our bearings. After a seafood dinner ashore we dinghied by one of two steel sailboats flying Austrian flags. The larger boat has a couple and their two young children along with two dogs. Crewing the smaller boat are her parents. They are sailing south and will winter in Ushuaia. The younger couple have been there before and know some of the local sailboaters we met last winter. Invited aboard, the stories flowed like vino tinto (red). The whole gang is coming to Egret this evening minus grandma and kids. Friday nights are grandma's night. Like most everyone we meet they were amazed we took our little white fiberglass ship across the ocean, spent time in the Med and so forth. The questions start and the head nodding begins with our ' single little tractor engine, lots of fuel, lead in the keel' beginnings and so on.

Today its off to the rental car agency so we may tour the island. We think we'll stay a bit. So there you have it mis amigos. It has been a busy and emotional week. Another good week in The Life. Ciao.

 

January 21, 2008

Position: Estero Pailad, Chiloe' Island, Chile S42 51.81 W73 35.34 (pp198 Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide)

Well, mis amigos, a lot has happened the past few days. The little princess has taken over our lives AND we stayed at a (gasp) dock for two nights. Yup, marina queens.

The last VofE left Egret under way enjoying another sunny, no wind day en route to the last anchorage before jumping across the Golfo de Corcovado and to Chiloe Island. YT was perusing the Italian guide and saw an anchorage just around the corner from where we were at the time early afternoon. It had a dock and a restaurante' at the top of the hill. So we decided to give it a go and see what was shakin. The small resort is located in the northernmost of two fjords cutting into Isla Jechica. The dock looked secure so we tied up with the help of two marina employees. It turned out to be the manager (Nelson) and island guide (Daniel). Nelson apologized and said there would be a slight fee for docking. Well, OK. They gave us a tour of the facility which includes guest cabins, a main house, restaurante' including a sitting room, bar, free internet and reading room upstairs. The whole resort is new and rustic first class. (pp240 P&TdelFNG 3.8 S44 24.55 W73 51.50)

Off we went with Daniel on our first hike to an inland lake with Chonos romping here and there. Daniel is very much into flora and fauna explaining tings along the way. Interesting. He showed us the Chilean version of a fly trap plant. Unlike the familiar one that closes on a fly, these have spikes like a flower. At the end of the spikes are shiny droplets of sticky sweet glue type stuff that holds the fly. After, we had Daniel over for cocktails and conversation.

Friday night was our first time to experience Chilean seafood, their specialty. We were greeted with pisco sours, another Chilean staple. Next was was small stone crab type claws and abalone appetizer followed by pork tenderloin with veggies. A bottle of Chilean red with dinner and cafe' after with dessert. Yup, they have a chef, not a cook. The food and presentation were impressive.

Sat am it was a hike to the top of a high hill overlooking the fjord and surrounding waterways. Showers, then off to the reading room before dinner. Dinner Sat. night was: pisco sour, beef and pork appetizer, fresh salmon with a honey glaze and tings, desert followed by cafe'. The food couldn't have been better or Nelson and Daniel more interesting. (Both came over to Egret Sat. before dinner.) The resort is owned by a Chilean who keeps it as his pride and joy. The Chilean government will give a 100 year land lease, in this case a large island, if it is improved, kept pristine and whatever venture employees locals. They have about 8 employees. We were the only guests. February is the big month. February is the warmest and driest. Their clientele is a mixture of families from Santiago and Europe with a few Americans sprinkled in. We were their first foreign powerboat cruiser ever and one of very few foreign cruisers at all. We stayed the second night not because we wanted another great dinner but to help support one man's effort to keep a wilderness area pristine (at his substantial personal financial loss). Our support won't go far because the entire bill was $160 U.S. pesos. We did leave picture CDs with 125 pictures and permission to use them for advertising if they wish. Daniel said some will be used to upgrade their website in the future. www.islajechica.cl if anyone is interested in a vacation in a very remote location but with all amenities. Rates are very reasonable and the staff principals speak English.

Sun. We left our new buddies and headed north. With the little princess emptying our freezer we needed to find a tienda or supermercado (grocery store) to find dog food. Soooo, after contending with our first serious tidal flow in Chile we're sitting in Melinka, a 1200 person fishing village and the last stop before crossing the gulf. Not looking forward to the Armada cha cha we dinked to town with our zarpe and boat papers. Surprise, surprise. The Armada duty officer copied our zarpe and asked we call on the vhf when we leave. Done, thank you very much. We found our dog food, fresh fruit and veggies and all is well. The tienda merchant apologized for the low exchange rate for the US peso. Even here mis amigos.

Sun eve. We had two young whale researchers stop by in their large inflatable (1 Chilean, 1 from the UK). Over some red we listened to their stories. It turns out the gulf just north is loaded with whales. Some are even found in the channels we just transited. Humpbacks and the giant blue whales. There is a different species of local krill, small shrimp like critters, that are different than Antarctic krill. Their research show these groups of whales never leave the area to go to Antarctica (as presumed in the past) but feed here before heading north in the winter. After the whale stories we heard about the salmoneras (salmon farms) and the ins and outs of that industry. Some high points were: sea lions invading the nets, drowning, being shot by fishermen, salmon escaping through holes in the net into the wild, salmon are very aggressive eaters and are supplanting the local species, when a pen full of salmon (20,000) get diseased they are dumped into the wild vs harvesting them and bring them to Puerto Montt for disposal, the average salmonera has 8 pens, salmon farming is Chile's second largest industry bringing billions of dollars to the economy, almost all salmon are sold abroad with locals getting none, there are six inspectors to inspect the 4000 current farms. The inspectors don't have a boat so have to ride out on the fishermen's boats with an arrival itinerary given, and so on. It was an interesting session with the guys very serious and much into their environmental endeavors.

Mon am. Lucky to catch the early morning flood north, after of course taking the princess for her morning romp ashore, we headed out riding the tide into well spaced swells from the NW.

Mon pm. The swells increased as they clocked to the SW causing us to corkscrew a bit. The poor little princess lost her breakfast on the foredeck. Late afternoon things calmed down and she bounced back to life. We were hoping to see whales but not to be. We'll be in our anchorage in a few hours. Let us quote the Italian guide about the anchorage.

"This wonderful, deep and Y-shaped inlet has several anchorage possibilities. It is in a quiet natural setting with sheep and cattle grazing on green fields, black-necked swans and small wooden houses. The inlet is clear as far as the church, after which the bottom shelves rapidly. The tidal range is impportant, over 6 meters, and the resulting streams are strong in the entrance. The farmers, living in the village by the church, sell fresh vegetables. The surroundings offer great hiking possibilities. Pailad is, in our opinion, one of the nicest places in all Chiloe'."

Not bad mis amigos. Perhaps we'll stay a bit. Life is good for the Egret crew. Ciao.

Note: We have had a flury of Forum requests (VofE Home Page) in the past week or so. Give these a look. Some of your own questions may be answered.

January 18, 2008

Position: Puerto Americano S45 00.87 W73 42.53, pp245-6 Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide. (actually we are under way. Puerto Americano is last night's anchorage - we'll arrive the next anchorage too late for this VofE to be posted for the weekend)

Well, mis amigos, Egret is back in the Channels slowly working her way north. We finally got a window after sitting in Caleta Cliff for a week. Egret cleared the twin headlands at 0630 Tues, 1-16, with the following weather forecast from OMNI Bob.

Tue/am: SW-ly 12-20kts, waves 3-5ft, upto 6ft over the more exposed waters. Swells SW-W 7-10ft, periods 10-12sec.

Tue/aftn: SW-ly 13-20kts, waves 4-5ft. Swells SW-W 8-10ft, period 10-12sec.

Tue/night: SW-SSW 12-20kt during Tue/night. Chance for wind gusts of 25kt during the overnight. Waves 4-6ft exposed waters, closer to 2-4ft in more protected waters. Swells should be a bit easier SW-W 6-9ft, 10-12sec.

We will continue to watch/update. Please keep us advised of your departure and positions while enroute. B/Rgds, Bob/OMNI

Bob had been in at least twice daily contact as these systems to the south and north were developing. Tues was the best day we had for a week and weather was on its way again. The wind had been calm for most of the day before and thru the night. On our last venture outside the winds were calm for just overnight and the swells were still pumping up from the Southern Ocean. We got killerated. This time it was different. We still had the swell direction as forecast but were a bit less. Along the horizon offshore the elephants were marching, large waves, but near shore things were better. We made the trip without salt on the pilothouse glass. As predicted the wind picked up later in the day but by now it was directly behind us withou the swell and all was well. We spent last night in a lovely little protected anchorage with two lines ashore. We dinghy explored before dark and saw our first Pacific starfish in the clear water. (Caleta Saudade S45 48.76 W74 28.10 pp288 P&TdelFNG)

Wed 1-16 We slept in a bit and left around 0900 running at 1250 rpm towing the dink. It was a beautiful day. How far we got didn't matter. Sunny, calm with wildlife everywhere. Dolphins met us as we were leaving the anchorage then raced off to meet their buddies who were corralling fish for breakfast. They were swimming in a tightening circle when one would leap up and dive making a big splash. A large group of cormorants were nearby doing their deal along with pinguinos, albatrosses and a new to us type of tern. It was almost warm enough for the flybridge. Navigation was simple in the connecting channels using a small scale DMA chart along with the Chilean charts. Even the electronic charts weren't doing their usual fairy tale guesstimating. MS had picked out a little anchorage on Isla Humos, a large island bordering the channel north. Pulling into the little round harbor we saw what appeared at a distance to be a large raccoon type critter running along a white sand beach. It disappeared while we were anchoring. After anchoring we left for dinghy exploring the large, low tide white sand beach and the two into one waterfall. Then we met Chonos. Pictures 1 and 2.

Chonos was named by MS after the Chonos region we are currently passing thru and the name of the region's indigenous Indians long since disappeared. She is a young, spayed, very thin little girl who somehow was left on this island. Personable and smart we decided to give her a hand. YT went back to the boat and retrieved two cans of tuna. She promptly scarfed both. I put the cans back in the dink after they were shiny clean. Chonos went over and picked up a can from the dink and dropped it at my feet. Sooo, like proud parents we brought her back to the boat. Mary fried bacon in a sauce pan, added water, a bullion cube and made a pot of rice. We gave her half after it cooled. Later she was dancing like our dogs used to so off to the beach in the dink we went. She did her business then ran back and jumped in the dink. She had come a long way from the groveling, tail between the legs little girl we met earlier. Later we gave her the other half of her food. While she ate she would race back to us tail wagging then back to the food. She was starved for companionship as much as food. We'll keep Chonos with us until we can find her a home in Castro, the major town in Chiloe or further up the road in Puerto Montt. In the meantime until we can find a little berg with dog food she is going to have to be be satisfied with meat mixed with rice. We don't think she'll mind a bit. Now she is sleeping on her new mat in the cockpit. Life is good for the new Egret crew.

Thur 1-17 This morning MS fed the little princess then took her to the beach. After her trot into the bushes she made sure she was between MS and the dink. As soon as Mary walked toward the dink she jumped in. In the< past she was nervous crossing the slats of the swim platform. Not this morning. She made sure she was aboard and not to be left. When MS picked up a stick on the beach to throw Chonos hit the deck cowering. Again later when I was raising the anchor and picked up the boat hook to knock off a large chunk of clay she ran to the back of the boat. Somewhere she has been abused. What type of person would harm a sweet young dog like this? Really sad. The two girls are now on the foredeck getting some sun and enjoying the day.

Thur pm. Wow, what a great day. Sun ALL day, hot, a little wind up the pipes AND traveling with the current all day. 8.1 knots at times at 1350 rpm. At that time we had an over 6000nm range. Don't you wish we could ALL do those kind of miles all the time? A bit of history. Pto Americano is where the schooner Ancud stopped after leaving the Chiloe (large Chilean island in the archipelago) town of Ancud in May 1843. They lost their launch to weather crossing the gulf just north of here stopping in Pto Americano to build a replacement. After three weeks their new replacement was finished so they left to pass around Golfo de Penas. (You remember GdeP don't you, WE do) Ancud got trashed rounding Cabo (Cape) Rapier and so returned to Pto Americano to rebuild. After, they had to send the new launch with 5 guys to round up boat goodies to put Ancud back together again. Weather wasn't easy then either.

After anchoring we took the little lady ashore following her afternoon snack. She felt it was her duty to scare every living creature off the beach as we walked along the low tide line. She did her job well. Last night MS took out our our LAST pack of 4 Argentine steaks. They didn't smell quite right so you know who is enjoying steak twice a day while we eat other. Typical gold digging wench. They're all alike.

Fri 1-18 Well, we're under way. It is another beautiful no wind day. The Hawk crew told us weather changed north of Gulf de Penas and they were right...so far. We were escorted out of the anchorage by our dolphin buddies, fur seals, pinguinos, tons of cormorants and so on along the way. We're riding the flood north, 7.9 knots at 1350rpm. The girls are up on the foredeck chatting. Life is good for the Egret crew. Ciao.

--Would anyone like a personable, gentle young dog? (she has yet to bark) Fly to Puerto Montt, Chile, between the 3d week of Feb and 2d week of Mar, take a short cruise aboard Egret for a few days, and take Chonos home. Chonos' vet duties and chip implant will be taken care of. Contact: jenny@nordhavn.com

 

January 14, 2008

Position: Caleta Cliff (Cliff Cove), Peninsula Taitao, Chile. S46 26.97 W75 17.44 (pp297 Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide)

Sat 1-12 Well, mis amigos, sittin' in the wind and rain, reading, putzin' and thinking about safety tings. Its funny how a spooky incident can bring sudden religion and safety issues to the forefront. We mentioned in the last VofE some safety issues we looked into and what we did about it. Let's take that a little further. In checking the Iridium spare batteries...guess what? Yup, we charged the group all day and through last night. In REALLY looking at the ditch bag we bought a few years ago at the Newport Boat Show, we discovered an inflation valve. The oversized screw in lid is sealed with a substantial gasket to keep the bag watertight. The bag has a line running around its perimeter for holding on to in the ocean as another source of flotation. This morning I unscrewed the valve and inflated the bag by mouth. (Nearly fainted when I was done...geesh). So now, we have a fat little bag full of goodies. I looked for information on the bag to pass along. It's single decal says Amphibigear, Basic Designs, Inc. No web address or phone number. It is yellow and measures 14" X 28". The entire string with three other floating canisters (2 flare - 1 Iridium case) reaches nearly 16'. Remember 'red sails Edward' we met in the Channels towing his 3 piece nesting dinghy behind his small sailboat? Behind the dinghy were trailing knotted floating lines. Perhaps we'll take a cue from rsE and add a piece of polypro to string out as well giving us an even better chance of grabbing onto our stuff.

Later this morning we went into the engine room and re-familiarized MS with the fuel valve arrangement, emergency instructions in case of fuel starvation along with switching the Racor valve from one filter to the other. The chance of her having to do any of this is minute however it never hurts to have a back up. Then came putting on the inflatable life vests we store in the pilothouse. It's surprising how you forget whose is whose AND how to put them on. We haven't done this since picking up Master Angler Steve in the Canary Islands, Sept 06. We have small strobe lights attached to the life vests and ditch bag. Those batteries need to be checked/changed. We need to totally discharge the battery in the hand held VHF and recharge it to full. (We have two handheld VHFs, one in the ditch bag, plus a second battery pack that takes AA batteries (Standard Horizon HX350). We have a sleeve of 28 AA batteries in the ditch bag. (The flashlights (2) in the ditch bag are LED so they take little power.) We have a third waterproof flashlight attached outside the ditch bag. This morning Mary asked how to set off the EPIRBs. We went over this. In a previous VofE we listed the phone number of the NOAA department for registering EPIRBs; 888 212-7283, 301 817-4515. We now have two EPIRBs, one thanks to a good friend. Both are registered with NOAA along with our loose itinerary to Puerto Montt. I guarantee you if BOTH go off, along with our registered itinerary, we feel someone will care and take whatever action they may. Before we leave Puerto Montt and start across the Pacific we will call and update our itinerary. We also updated our plasticized copy of important/emergency phone numbers we keep in the pilothouse and Iridium case.

None of the above is rocket science. Nothing more than common sense. You current boaters, when is the last time YOU went over this stuff??? Embarrassed, we told you when we did. When it hits the fan is not the time to be thinking about tings like this. Ball's in your court.

So we're sittin in the wind and rain. The constant fronts of the past days have moderated to racha (williwaw) type gusts coming from relative calms to 20+ knot puffs. We can see them coming across the water. No biggie. Because the wind didn't swing to the N/NW as predicted early on, and the direction our most protection, we set a third line to the SW attaching it mid-ship. It has taken a lot of strain off TK and the stbd stern line. Hopefully we can leave tomorrow. This morning (Mon) was calm and sunny but like the last calm and sunny morning we left and got killerated, the winds have been constantly swinging back and forth from NW-SW. This translates into confused large offshore seas we'll pass on, thank you. They should lay down during the day and tonight so we'll leave early morning unless there are changes. It will be good to get moving again. Hiking here is near impossible because guardians of the interior, little biting critters that still have us itching from a couple days ago, make it not worth the effort. In the Deep South there is no berry you can't eat, no biting insects of any kind and no animals to be wary of. Back to reality.

Reality leads us to reading and putzin. The other day YT checked the valve settings in the main engine...again...perfect...again. Every mechanical item aboard Egret is in perfect order except the freezer. The freezer still cools properly but has taken up with drawing a lot of amperage before it finally starts running. Its making a constant clicking sound as if a contact of some kind is trying to be made but can't. This is beyond my expertise. Hopefully in Puerto Montt we can find a refrigeration guy to sort tings out. Like Roxana in Ushuaia, there is a Finnish cruiser in Puerto Montt who has stuck in the PM tarpit. He acts as an agent helping other cruisers by putting folks together and by working himself on cruisers' boats. We'll start there. MS accuses me of being an amp monster, OK - admitted for a number of reasons. Battery amps are like your first checking account. Money in, money out. You can never withdraw more than you have available AND you always need a reserve. Our electrical draw takes amps out, the solar panels and generator return the amps to the bank (house bank of batteries). Refrigeration counts for the FAR majority of daily amps consumed. Watching a movie at night is a second large draw but in the overall scheme is inconsequential. We are also very careful with lighting so there is little daily draw there as well. (We have changed our main reading lights to low amp models.)

Underlying the freezer issue is a second related issue of a slowly dying battery bank. Before the NAR we bought VERY expensive lead acid batteries with a 7 year warranty, boosting Egret's house bank to 1300 amps from 1020 (4 X 325amps). Bottom line: junk in our opinion (as far as warranty replacement they would have cost more than the initial cost with paying the pro rated difference and freight to Ushuaia). The batteries come in individual 2 volt cells tied together making each battery 12 volts. We currently have three complete batteries on line with the fourth taken out of service with two dead cells. For the same cost we could have bought nearly 2 complete sets of AGM batteries. So, not to rag on this issue we'll check into replacing them in Puerto Montt with AGM's. If AGM's aren't available in Puerto Montt and we can't ship a set down by April 1st, we'll have to make the call to nurse these junkers to New Zealand or buy a set of el cheapo lead acid batteries in PM and throw them away in NZ where we'll change to AGM's. If you don't know, batteries are NO place to shortcut once you head offshore.

So, after tales of issues we'll leave you with happy thoughts seeing a couple of Mary's recent pictures. Picture 1. This little bird has a GRANDE voice making a warbling call. Intensely curious, this little fella hopped to within 2 feet of MS. Picture 2. You get nervous watching these little guys. Between us we shot about 50 pictures to get two reasonable shots. In full resolution this picture is beautiful, capturing the hummingbird's wings in a golden blur but its body perfectly suspended in mid air.

So there you have it. A few more days in The Life. Enjoy your week. We
will. Ciao.

 

January 11, 2008
Position: Caleta Cliff, S46 26.99 W75 17.42 (pp297 Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide 4.21)

Well, mis amigos, a few days gone by with nothing to report but a continuous series of fronts and rain. During a few lulls, and not so lully we dinghy explored, walked the beach and so on. There is so much fresh water from the rain runoff our watermaker is making the purest water ever by far. AND the watermaker intake is 3 feet or so underwater. We have to turn the high pressure pump way down to keep from hurting the membranes. The other good thing about all the fresh water is the dinghy motor gets a complete flush as well as the generator. Any growth on the bottom should be killed as well.... (tango uniform).

OMNI Bob has been sending multiple short reports a day like he is living thru this crossing with us. Like its HIS boat. Pretty cool. Great service. We were naughty this morning and got killerated as Bob predicted in his forecast. There was no wind for most of the night. At 0430 there was just .7 knots in the anchorage. We decided to give it a go with a grande front anticipated in a couple days. We need just 70 miles before we are back in the protection of the channels. While I was undoing the longest shoreline in came a 50', very tough looking steel Chilean fishing boat. As soon as Mary pulled me in the fishing boat went to shore, picked up a line that paralleled the shore from where they came. Three guys were on the foredeck pulling the line over a roller as they retreated out the little cove but I didn't see any traps, hook drops or whatever come up. At the end they dropped the line and left. Different.

Up came TK and off we went. When we poked our nose out it wasn't too bad, swells from the SW and W giving us a push along with the wind AND current. We were rockin at 7.6 knots surfing our way north. Then it hit the fan. Gigundus swells from the SW with a cross W swell. When the water just offshore is over 7000' deep and shelves to 150' being pushed by a deep low storm down south it is not a giggle. We bailed at the first anchorage, 12 miles up the coast. Caleta Cliff, S46 26.99 W75 17.42 (pp297 P&TdelFNG 4.21) The entrance was straight forward but a bit spooky with giant waves breaking on the two headlands at the entrance channel. Once inside the large dogleg shaped bay we wandered around the bay trying to find a place to anchor to the anchor alone as the guide suggests. It was too deep for just anchoring with the current wind direction so we are tucked up to the tallest, most healthy trees we could find protecting Egret from the north with two lines ashore. Currently the wind is from the SW with a lot of fetch but that should pass in time then swing to the north, the direction of anticipated weather. So here we sit, rockin and waitin.

Thur 1-10. During our time in the Deep South we have read about and heard stories from other cruisers about getting trapped by weather for an extended period of time. Quite honestly, in the past we would sit for a day or two if necessary then bashed our way to where ever we wanted to go if we weren't happy sitting. Our little white fiberglass lady is a willing partner so off we would go with lotsa spray but no harm done and no chances taken. No problema. Along this relatively short section of coastline is the very first time we have to be extremely cautious. Weather at sea is something we try hard to avoid but when it is unavoidable we deal with it and move on. At sea we have no choice and have never had a serious issue. Uncomfortable perhaps, but not serious and certainly not close to survival or life threatening. The waves we have experienced along this coast are uncomfortable but not threatening. The issue is closing with a lee shore in heavy seas, wind and particularly if visibility is poor.

This entire area is very poorly charted. There is no commercial or recreational traffic to encourage further charting. The only exception are tough local fishermen and a few wayward private cruisers. For the few that venture here, seamanship and extreme caution are orders of the day. OMNI Bob has been sending a multiple series of short updates during the day along with a complete daily weather synopsis and summary. The bottom line is we will sit until at least Sunday before moving and perhaps will wait longer. We need just a long day's run to be back in the protection of the channels, not from the wind but large shore setting waves. BIG difference. The second issue is during the short windows (like just now - no wind - sunny skies - weather is coming this afternoon) the anchorages between here and the next 70 miles are marginal at best and the one reasonable anchorage is difficult to enter in weather because of rocks at the entrance. So there you have it. No big issue because Egret is going to sit until it is safe to move.

Thur pm. During a few hour sunny stretch we dinghy explored and walked the beach. For the first time we have seen the abuses of civilization in a big way. Green castoff polypro fisherman's line and other fishermen's debris is strewn everywhere along the beach. In one place a metal barrel has washed ashore, rusted and shed its contents on shoreside rocks. It appears to be used engine oil cast off by a wretched ships crew. Other than seeing white sand beaches and their accompanying streams today's little exploration was not a happy event. In the regularly visited Deep South anchorages, we and other cruisers police the shoreline keeping tings pristine. This place is sad. (note. Looking at the fishermen's debris we saw remnants of long-lining with drop lines and a single hook. The other morning the fishermen were pulling their longline. We didn't see the drop lines in the darkness)

Inspired by events the other day we went into the forward stateroom and retrieved the ditch bag bringing it into the salon, its usual sea berth. Additionally we collected the other safety items: two waterproof - floating flare canisters along with the Pelican case containing spare Iridium phone and spare batteries. We attached the three smaller canisters together with 3' pieces of line and with a longer piece, attached all three to the ditch bag. This way everything is in a single, floating group and organized. The only additions would be one of the handheld Garmin GPS's from the pilothouse and the second, daily use, Iridium phone along with our single sim card. If we have more time or anticipate a problem we have two 10 liter plastic jugs of water up forward. In the unlikely event Egret has a serious problem between here and Puerto Montt it would include being washed ashore. The life raft isn't much help in those conditions. Once we leave Puerto Montt and head offshore the liferaft will return to its usual sea berth in the salon as well. Egret's bit of caution.

In Egret's past weeks travel we encountered some nasty weather and have duly reported the weather, events and our mistakes. In addition to being inspirational VofE is designed to be informative. We lay out events as they occur; good, bad and not so good in detail so you may learn along with us. We report what we see, what and how we think and feel at the time. In no way are events exaggerated for effect, nor smoothed over painting an unrealistic picture.

So there you have it. A few more days in The Life. Currently we are trapped like ratones (rats) by weather. (31.8 knots in our protected anchorage moments ago.....geesh) We'll see what the next days bring. Ciao.

January 7, 2008

Position: S46 36.80 W75 27.65 Caleta (cove) Suarez, Estero (bay - fjord) Como, Taitao Peninsula, Chile (pp 298 Patagonia &Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide 4.22)

Sat 1-05 1100. Well, mis amigos, Egret is under way crossing the Gulf de Pain. In 31.34nm we will reach the headland off Point Rapier then will turn along the peninsula to our anchorage for tonight. We agonized about leaving or moving to a close by caleta until the weather became more settled (we have another front due in 24 hours) or giving it a go with the option to retreat after 10 miles or so. There was little wind at night. The alarm went off at 0315, by 0400 the chain was dropping into its locker and at 0427 we cleared out of Caleta Ideal using radar and entered the fairway between two islands. Bottom line at this time is: 2 meter swell from the NW mixed with a 3 meter swell from the WSW. There is little wind and no wind chop on top. The ride is quite comfortable at 1675 rpm and an average speed of 6.5 knots. This speed will drop a bit as we approach the cape and its southbound 1 knot current.

When we entered the gulf there was just a bit of opaque light illuminating the silver gray water. Dark heads were popping up with wide eyed looks from time to time (sea lions). Further offshore albatrosses are working the waves. One granddad in particular is the largest we have seen to date. During Egret's first long distance offshore adventure, Ft Lauderdale - Nantucket, we saw our first shearwaters working the slight pressures, positive and negative, caused by the waves along with the wind. Both MS and I watched them for hours during our watches. Albatrosses soar much the same but are a larger, heavier bird with more presence. Like shearwaters, we have watched them by the hours since being in the Deep South.

OMNI Bob, the grib files and the Chilean weather report this morning from Faro San Pedro all call for increasing winds from the NW this afternoon. The seas will increase accordingly, probably a meter or so. By that time we will have turned the corner so we'll give the Naiad Multi Sea II knobs a twist and let them do their deal in the beam seas. Now they are dialed down a bit. We try to run as little fin as possible to keep our speed up. Egret is very comfortable. If she rolls a bit it doesn't matter. We'll update later.

Sun 1-06. Yesterday's trek to the anchorage included a number of variables as many near shore trips include. First we had no wind and mixed swells. Our next diversion was the meeting of the 200 meter shelf Egret was crossing and the 400 meter drop off. Any time you have a sharp delineation in depth along with current there are upwellings causing confused seas in exactly the same wind conditions. It was along this demarcation we saw for the first time wandering albatrosses working the wind and confused seas. During our entire stay in the Deep South we have never seen a wandering albatross. Black browed albatrosses by the hundreds but never the granddaddy of them all. What a thrill. We were so fortunate to see what relatively few people have seen, wandering albatrosses from their own boat. They would soar by the boat, work the wake for whatever it might bring, then peel off to a dot in the distance only to reappear shortly after. We saw what appeared quite a number of wanderers staying with us for hours, but again it may have been a relative few putting in the miles.

I could go on forever about feelings at times like these but won't. You must understand we lead simple lives without media distractions and the intricacies of dirt dwelling life. Such simple pleasures of seeing a soaring bird gives us unimaginable pleasure. The longer away from distractions the more we have changed. We have thinned our shell of toughness and have actually become more fragile. To preserve this fragility we avoid the media in its different forms as best possible and wander in opaque ignorance. Perhaps unusual by contemporary western society standards, this is how we live and it works for us.

As we neared Cabo (Cape) Rapier the winds increased as expected. Just as water likes to follow a surface so does wind. A disruptive projection into any wind or water flow causes the wind or water to be compressed and accelerated, wrapping itself around the projection. In this case, the large land mass projection of Cape Rapier took the 5 knots of wind we were enjoying, along with a late afternoon dropping barometer bringing a bit more wind, and pumped it to 20 knots. Near same wind, same everything except being compressed. You can see how Cape Rapier, Cape Horn and all the capes of the world causes such distressing, violent weather when they are hit by a passing depression. The 20 knots of NW wind diminished the NW swell turning into shorter, tighter waves creating a lot of spray but lessening the pitch. The WSW swell increased to 3-4 meters looking like low lying islands in the distance when even higher sets popped up occasionally. This swell passed harmlessly under Egret on its way to spectacular shoreside wave bursts.

In due time with fairy tale electronic charting, poor resolution (large scale) paper charting and the Italian guide turned to our anchorage, we cautiously closed to shore. We had been running 5-6 miles offshore using the radar outline to match the paper charts staying well away from the coast for a number of reasons including an east (lee shore) setting 1/2 knot current. In very heavy mist with about 1/4 mile visibility things were tense. Closing with shore we kept reducing the radar range down to 1 1/2 miles then 3/4 mile along with zooming up to see further ahead outlining the coast. When all we could see through the mist were waves exploding into the air it was frightening. No visible shore, just white water flung skyward. One defining landmark to the anchorage entrance is an island blocking the opening with passages on either side. Finally, we found it. Slowly we crept in past a dividing island straining to see through the mist with binoculars. The radar was giving a false return because of a low lying scrub valley making it look like the fjord. As the depths shallowed well more than the guide indicated and by reaching further into the cove we realized it was wrong. Cautiously we backed out, moved further down the coast where shortly the entrance island appeared hazily through the mist, exactly as defined after the mist lifted to 1/2 mile visibility...thank goodness.

I have to take just a moment to thank Georgio and Marolina, the Italians who wrote Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide, the British couple who wrote the RCC guide to Chile, and others as far back as the original discoverers who gave definition to this wild area of the world. Without all their help we certainly would not be here (overall trip to the Deep south). You can't imagine sitting at home knowing how difficult it would be to find safe haven in the impenetrable mist, though relatively mild weather (horrific by our earlier standards) we experienced to find safety along this lee shore coast without this help. The alternative would be stand to sea and endure the pasting from the passing front as we write these words in safety and comfort of our little haven. Thanks. (Monday note: 36 hours later the storm is still raging offshore.)

Caleta (Cove) Suarez, Estero (Bay - Fjord) Como, is a three mile deep gash into the peninsula running NW-SE. Near the end is a narrow peninsula protecting a tiny cove back to the north. According to the guide "this is one of the safest and beautiful coves in Patagonia". We have to agree. (pp 298 P&TdelFNG 4.22) Here we reached a second milestone for the day. Since passing Cape Rapier we have, in my mind, left the Deep South (with associated emotions). We are now at 46 degrees south putting us well into the Roaring 40's and into the Pacific Ocean, Egret's first venture into the Pacific and third milestone of the day. In this short hop from the wind blasted, rain scrubbed island and mainland mountains to the south, we traveled to a different, temperate forest full of trees and plants we have never seen. A magical dividing line like we have never seen in our travels, as definitive as ocean and shore. Slowly motoring into the fjord we saw colorful ferns in many shapes and sizes including round bright green displays, first ever. The trees varieties are many vs the four species of beech in the Deep South. The beaches aren't hard rock but small pebble, deep sloping beaches appearing and disappearing with the tide. Critters on the way in were familiar with sea lions, an occasional fur seal, pinguinos, rock shags (cormorants), albatrosses and other sea birds we didn't discuss (two small petrels, giant petrels, two types of terns and so on). As we neared the peninsula protecting the anchorage a whole family of fur seals popped their heads up giving us a look.

Directly opposite Egret's anchorage is a growth of red leafed ferns we also have never seen. Just feet away is a rope swing hanging from a tree made from the ubiquitous polypro fisherman's line supporting a rough sawed plank erected either by fishermen or cruisers. As remote and dangerous as this place is, along with no support communities, I suspect it was cruisers passing time waiting for weather to cross the Gulf de Penas or resting like ourselves after crossing. So we'll sit, enjoy ourselves hiking the continuous pebble shoreline and take it easy for a bit. Another front has arrived. We're in no rush. In another life my fishing buddies and I used to have a saying; you don't leave fish to find fish. TK and our two shorelines are doing their deal. You get the picture. Life is good for the Egret crew.

Mon 1-07 Before we fire this VofE into space we'll revisit Mary's and my discussion last evening about our mistaken entry into a smallish cove that couldn't have been the correct one. Under normal conditions with reasonable visibility this would not have happened. The case was as you read not normal with very heavy mist. This is how accidents happen, but by being cautious, slowly bumping in and out of gear, luckily no harm came. Bottom line: The Italian guide has a line drawing of the entry island and fjord along with a scale. Obviously this is a rough guideline but adequate. If we would have taken the time to use the compass and scale the island at the entrance we would have seen it was over 1/2 mile long, not the smaller island we saw at first. Basic seamanship. Our mistake. It won't happen again...EVER. We escaped with a cheap lesson learned without penalty. We hope you pick up on it as well.

So there you have it, a couple more days in The Life. Enjoy your week. We
will. Ciao.

 

January 2, 2008

Position: S47 45.54 W74 53.53 Caleta Ideal (pp314 Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide 5.8) (entrance of Golfo de Penas waiting on weather)

Well, mis amigos, Fri, 12-28 was a slugfest with wind and rain...perfect for traveling, not for hiking. We left Pio XI on a down hill run with wind and current with us until we turned the corner heading north. Fortunately again, ice wasn't an issue. With 3' waves, and occasional 4' set thrown in,we used the worst of all voyaging seas (stern quarter) to work on our
autopilot parameters (the speed and ratio between rudder speed and counter-rudder speed). Egret has a Simrad AP20 autopilot with a commercial oversize and adjustable autopilot pump (Accu-Steer HRP-75). N47 buddy Milt Baker has the same pump and newer model Simrad autopilot. A few days ago we sent an e-mail asking for Bluewater's parameters knowing Milt is a bulldog detailist when it comes to his little white fiberglass ship. Milt's ratios were very different from Egret's so we gave them a go as a baseline knowing
we have two different bottom designs and Milts may not match Egret's needs. (In very rough terms, Milt's parameters were about 3-1, ours were about2-1.
Autopilot parameters have two settings, high (normal default setting) and low. We slightly modified Milt's high setting to give us straight line steering with just a degree of variation going up sea (not tried in heavy seas). This was better than ours. Milt's low setting gave us snake wake. So, keeping the high setting we did all our trial and error on the low setting easily switching between the two, testing for better down sea control. During the hour run down the seno we tried MANY different combinations ending up with the best down sea combination by far to date using a further modification of Milt's high setting. Not to confuse things, at the same time as the autopilot combinations we worked on the Naiad Multi Sea II electronic control settings in conjunction. If you have too much
stabilization dialed in, the fins steer the boat going down sea - down current, and of course affect your fuel mileage. For this test we used seat of the pants for roll and GPS for speed (wind was steady between 25-30 knots as was the current steady). Needless to say we are thrilled. In the
upcoming southern Pacific crossing route fuel mileage is everything. We should have following winds and a little surface current most of the way putting this testing to practice.

Late afternoon we reached our anchorage for the night in Caleta Grau, Isla Wellington (S49 20.44 W74 24.66 pp 329 P&TdelFNG). Like the other night we opted to drop TK in the narrow opening and back out setting two stern lines. The tide range is starting to become an issue with higher tides and currents as we move north. Tomorrow we have to negotiate the Angostura Inglesa (English Narrows) with its currents up to 8-9 knots. We have punched in the Angostura Inglesa section tides into our electronic tide tables so we'll see if we can transit when we arrive or not. If not, there are different nearby anchorages to wait to pass. Our original plan was to visit the metropolis of Puerto Eden (pop 280), a small fishing village with an Armada station just 15 miles up the way. In a recent e-mail from Dick Barnes, N57 Ice Dancer II, who transited this area both ways this year, gave us the Armada zarpe cha cha warning. In Chile if you weigh more than 25 tons (we do) they have stiff fees for clearing into and out of port, much less the time spent negotiating paperwork. We know this first hand by paying for at least one Chilean warship with Egret's clearances into and out of Puerto Williams during different cruises this past year. Bottom line is we will pass Puerto Eden even though we would like to overnight there to walk the waterfront and meet some locals.

Sat 12-29 Wow, what a day!! From the beginning, we left Caleta Garu at
0700 running easily toward Angostura Inglesa with winds under 25 knots. The
tides were perfect for a transit, a high ebb flowing north during our
arrival. We passed Puerto Eden giving them a look with the binoculars. The
narrows were no big deal with subdued current flowing north, easy navigation
and not much wind. ALL that changed when we exited the narrows into the
very wide N/S Canal Messier. The entrance into Messier wasn't the least bit
subtle. (pp306) 35 knots to start with, standing the weak ebb on its ear.
Next came the 70 mile fetch from the north (1 1/2 - 5 miles wide and very
deep). For the remainder of the afternoon it was 35 - 45 knots, briefly
touching 48 knots at times as well as the lulls at 33 knots. All the
parameter stuff you just finished reading got put to the test. Mostly it
was tight headseas that didn't affect the parameters much but when there was
a slight jog in the canal or a wind shift ALL came into play. We won't
dwell on the waves, spray, wind howling and so on but let me say we both are
VERY happy we bought the boat we did. When the wind sounds like a train and
rocky lee shores and islets are exploding with white spray in every
direction it isn't fun.

Down to 2.6-2.8 knots at times struggling against the wind and current, (at
1625 rpm - all it would take without serious pounding), this little north
facing notch in the rocks was a VERY welcome arrival. (Caleta Morgane, 5.15
pp320 P&TdelFNG S48 31.15 W74 23.35) Mary went to the foredeck in
streaking rain and a heaving bow trying to make it happen sooner. The notch
was considerably deeper than described so we again dropped TK in the outlet
of a little stream (to pick up the silt for holding), dropped a lot of chain
and took two stern lines to trees. After anchoring in glacial water full of
glacial silt the past days not wanting to run the watermaker we'll stay
another day making water and doing our overdue laundry. From here it is a
50 mile run to stage for the overnighter across the Golfo de Penas (Gulf of
Pain) and around the headland into Bahia Anna Pink. We may putz along the
way, we may not. We'll see.

One thing we should mention. MS and I aren't "is that all you got...arggg"
type cruisers. We enjoy and prefer nice days cruising and at sea. We take
the other in stride. It's all part of the deal.

Dec 30th. Caleta Morgane...still. Yup, we did just what we said, made
water, did laundry, and boat chores. One item YT finally got around to was
changing the leaking fuel transfer/polishing pump to a spare given to us by
N57 Ice Dancer II back when we met some months ago. I installed this system
myself after delivery. The installation is a thing of greaat
beauty...however no one will ever see it and other than looking great the
installation was really DUMB making me dissemble the entire assembly and
mounting board to install the new pump. Arggggg....*#&%^(!_. All things
pass as did this. The new pump is a treat pumping 3 times the amount as the
old pump. Life is good again. One more item. The VERY last day we were
going to use the Dickinson diesel heater it wouldn't burn properly. Not
enough fuel. Long story...many disassemblies of the carburetor and so on.
Bottom line: the copper fuel line delivering fuel from the carb to the
bottom of the stove was clogged with carbon/coke type stuff. All is well
now and it's ready for use in New Zealand or wherever.

Dec 31, New Years Eve. Another blowy day but with a difference. The
earlier part of the day was the usual, however in the afternoon there was a
remarkable difference. Something Egret hasn't experienced in over a
year...sea waves. Yup, ocean waves gently rolling in from the Gulf de Penas
directly connected to the Pacific. The waves were higher but without the
power we have been used to recently. Egret just went up and down softly.
Only a bit of spray.

We are swinging to the anchor only in Caleta Ideal, the staging point for
crossing Gulf de Penas (Gulf of Pain), rounding Punta (Point) Rapier and
entering Bahia Anna Pink. All in all it's about a 160nm run, an easy
overnighter. We are in no hurry, have no set schedule we can't easily
meet, so we'll sit a bit. We were warned by Francisco, the officer in
charge of collecting fees for mooring to the Micalvi in Puerto Williams,
about the Gulf. He said it was Chile's second Cape Horn. The Italian guide
has strict warnings as well. Like everything, timing is important. When
Ice Dancer II came south through the Channels, then returned north, there
was no weather issues which made both their crossings routine and no
problema. OMNI Bob, Bob Jones of Ocean Marine Navigation (ocmarnav@aol.com)
has sent this afternoon's forecast. (We are using Bob's professional
services for this crossing as well as Egret's Pacific crossing.)

OMNI Bob:

Over the next few days, a stationary ridge of high pressure off the coast of
Chile will change little through the coming weekend. However, a series of
low centers with troughs/fronts to the north will move west to east across
the Chilean coast (south of 40S) through Fri/04th. As each front approaches,
then passes fresh/strong NW to SW wind/seas and long, rough onshore swells
will dominate the waters across the Gulf de Penas.

What this means is that NW-SW winds ranging at least 20-30kts,
intervals/gusts 35kts with onshore WNW to SW swells somewhere in the 7-14ft
range should prevail across the exposed waters through Friday.

by Sat/5th, the high pressure area off the coast of Chile will begin to
ridge southward across 50S and should also begin to move eastward toward the
coast of Chile. As it does, this will allow for easier wind/sea (20kts or
less) and swell conditions (under 7ft) to develop that would make the
transit across the Gulf de Penas a more pleasant/safer trip.

So, for now, we would suggest waiting to make the crossing until the pattern
improves that would allow a more favorable 24hr or so run. This means not
beginning to cross the Gulf de Penas before Sat/am (possibly late Fri/night)
and allow the roughest sea/swell conditions to move away from the area.

We will continue to watch this pattern closely. Please keep us advised of
your itinerary and if you will be/able to wait until late Fri/night or Sat
to make the crossing.

B/Rgds, Bob/OMNI

Jan 1, 2008. 2008...geesh. We sat in rain most of the day, put the crab
trap out for probably the last time and putzed. Then, we got a gift. Don't
think this part of Egret's voyage north is all nasty weather and more.
Along the way we have received a number of special gifts such as good
weather in the early part of the trip, perfect Magellan crossing without
wind, a very special stable, sunny calm for our two days into the
Patagonian interior visiting the permanent icecap, bright sunshine on
Christmas day, optimum tide for transiting the narrows and others. These
gifts are all weather related. This gift isn't...so let's tell a little
story.

Before Egret, before our little Grand Banks, seeds were planted, watered and
brought to life by magazine articles. First came the sailboat magazines,
then Passagemaker Magazine with its powerboat tales of offshore voyaging and
traveling far. Time was marching on. Any mountains to be climbed by
vocation had been climbed and become repetitious. It wasn't that things
weren't good, they were in fact great. However, and that is a big however,
there was this burning for another mountain, a different mountain. We
needed watering and a catalyst. The focus here is to call attention to
three particular writers. The first writers are Bernadette and Douglas
Bernon writing for Cruising World Magazine in their six year Log of Ithaca
magazine series and internet blog. The Berndons grew as voyagers from shaky
novices to accomplished cruisers. All the way readers grew with them...as
did we while ashore dreaming and scheming. The second was a one-time 2003
article in Passagemaker about a modest production coastal cruiser rounding
Cape Horn written by Ken Murray. Ken and his wife still live in Ushuaia,
Argentina and is now a cruising buddy. The third writers, and most
influential in Egret being in the Deep South, are Beth A. Leonard and her
husband Evans Starzinger. Prior to taking delivery of Egret we bought
Beth's first book, The Voyaging Handbook, fueling the dream. In time, Beth
became a prolific writer for Cruising World Magazine and most contemporary
sailing magazines, writing not just about beautiful sunsets and dolphins in
the bow wake but useful nuts and bolts details for cruising a particular
area.

We still get a Cruising World subscription sent to our son in Ft Lauderdale
for our yearly trek back to the States. Reading the issues chronologically
during our past trip to the States were Beth's travel and Evans' techno
articles about their voyage north to British Columbia, refitting in Port
Townsend, Washington, (installing a watertight cockpit door...that has but
one purpose...Deep South) and on to the Sea of Cortez where our articles
stopped. Hmmmmm, sailing south....watertight door....perhaps they were on
their way to revisit the Deep South. Along the way we have been listening
as best we could with our wimpy SSB to the Patagonian Cruisers Net hoping to
hear of their (Hawk's) whereabouts.

If you haven't guessed by now, yesterday morning, 1-01, cero ocho (08), when
YT got up to make coffee Hawk was anchoring next to Egret. They had just
transited the Gulf of Pain and gotten killerated. For these folks to say
they got mauled the trip must have been a doozie. After crashing for the
day Beth and Evans were over to Egret last night for dinner. This morning
it is over to Hawk for coffee. They plan to stay for a few days. So do we,
waiting on weather. The social whirl begins...AND a chance to talk to
someone who is as crazy about this boating ting as the Egret crew. THIS is
the gift.

So there you have it, a few days in The Life. Welcome to the new year.
Ciao.


 

 

 

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