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"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders


Ed note: After a summer filled with cruising along the Mediterranean and conducting final preparations for their big voyage, Scott and Mary Flanders left September 16th, 2006 for the Canary Islands - the first stop in their great adventure taking them from Gibraltar to New Zealand by way of Cape Horn. After successfully traversing the Horn, the Flanders fell in love with the pristine cruising grounds of the "deep south" and decided to winter in Chile, thus postponing their arrival into New Zealand by a year, but they reached their goal destination in October 2008. Now plans call for exploring the lands of New Zealand and Australia. Here, the latest update from the Flanders as they keep us continually apprised of their journey with weekly log reports.

June 30, 2007
Position: S55 05.72 W69 48.56 Estero Coloane Brazo Sudoeste, (SW arm of the Beagle channel) pp 519-520 Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide

Well, mi amigos, Slow week. We spent Monday AND Tuesday running the generator equalizing our lead acid batteries trying to bring them back to life. (Still testing after today's run - Thurs.)

June 30Wed 6-27: A beautiful day with NO rain. We hiked up and down the hills on Isla Chair. Mary worked to climb a tall peak where we took a 'Titanic shot'. Isla Chair is a beautiful little island about a mile-and-half wide and five miles long with two additional appendages. During our time there we hiked most of it. The highlight of the day was sitting still for some time watching the wildlife. Off in the distance we could hear a waterfall and occasionally a glacier grumbling. Ducks wandered about, condors overhead, and every now and then we could hear a sea lion exhale. It's so peaceful it is hard at times to realize, even after the years, we are not on vacation and have to leave paradise and rush back to work. Pretty cool. Egret's anchorage in Isla Chair. Picture 1.

Through 6-28: After hiking the majority of Isla Chair the past days it was time to move IF the weather was fair. Our route for the day was through some twisting and relatively narrow channels with VERY poor charting. Zero electronic chart help. There was little wind and a misty fog early morning so we retrieved our three shore lines, raised TK and off we went dragging the CIB. If you could define the trip through the narrow passes between islands in just a few words they would be: beautiful with a zillion waterfalls winding their way down the steep mountains on both sides. Ho hum. We were traveling south through a short cut but were perhaps being a bit naughty. The cruising guide says this particular path through the islands is off limits HOWEVER, our liberal interpretation of the Chilean zarpe (cruising permit) shows a circle around Isla Gordon. In addition we had a modified zarpe to allow Isla Chair. Soo, you get the picture.

June 30After cruising south through the islands we entered Brazo Sudoeste (SW arm of the Beagle) and headed east. For the first time ever Egret rolled to Pacific swells. The swells were rolling in from Bahia Cook. Think about it...Bahia Cook. Talk about history!! We suspect those won't be the last Pacific swells we'll see. Estero Coloane is on the south side of the channel in a bay leading into Isla Hoste. You have to wind your way in and around peninsulas, islets (including a large one not on the Chilean paper chart) then hooking your way into the NE corner. About half way we were munching our way through thick but soft ice. We did the bump and grind in thicker ice near the anchorage. At times the towed CIB was riding with one hull on top the ice. Tilt city. Rounding up in the ice with Mary ready on the foredeck she spun the windlass wheel dropping TK in 60' then crunched our way backward. The CIB earned her title again taking two lines ashore to trees and a single line forward to a small islet. In thick ice her bow would rise over the ice, lurch ahead before the sharp hulls would crash through, rise n' crash, rise n' thrash... You get the picture. In the summer this anchorage is williwaw city. In the winter they are whimperwaws. We have already had a couple. So, the crab trap was set in water cleared by our little ship. Hopefully it is doing its deal. Antithesis of reason trying to catch the crabs. The extra trap line and float are thrown on the ice nearby. Picture 2. Another great day in The Life.

Fri 6-30: We have two days of SW wind coming before a grande high settles in with cool but calm air. Thurs night and early this morning we were kept awake by ice grinding its way past. We sleep just above the waterline. Noise transfers WELL through the water and hull. During the night we had made up our minds to leave at first light. In the morning, with the wind starting to puff, the ice was mostly gone. Also gone with the ice was our crab trap float. Great. As you can see in the picture it wasn't far from the boat. By using the picture we'll take the dinghy grapnel and give it a go to see if we can get the cursed contraption back. That #@&%*$% trap has caught but one crab whereas our borrowed trap in the summer kept us well supplied with tasty goodies. Oh well, one crab per trap is still cheaper than eating crab in a nice restaurant in the States plus we get to toughen our hands in ice water. Its not all bad is it??

We'll hike today above the anchorage to take pictures of the anchorage and the glacier across the way. We did mention the huge blue and white snow covered glacier with high snow covered mountains on both sides didn't we? Tain't bad mi amigos. Ciao.

 

 

June 25, 2007
Position: S54 53.99 W70 00.79 Caleta (cove) Alakush, Isla Chair pp
493-494 Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide

March 24

Well, mi amigos, YT had a little technical difficulty & failed to send Thurday's report with the last VofE so we'll give it a mention then move on to today's (Fri 6-22) looong voyage of 16nm.

Speaking of looong voyages, MOST long distance cruisers spend the FAR majority of their time safely within a days run (24 hours) of a protective harbor during their cruising years. Egret's little Lugger (main engine) has 5337.1 engine hours over a period of 6 years and two months since retirement. (To be accurate we were liveaboards for six months prior to retirement. Those few miles/hours are assimilated into the total). At an average speed of just 6 knots (our overall average is somewhat higher) Egret has traveled 33022.6 nautical miles and crossed the Atlantic twice. Of those miles, roughly calculated, we have spent just 56 days outside a days run from a safe harbor. Fifty-six days in six years, two months. (2250 days or .02488% of the time) Including those days we have had just 8 partial days of bad weather (.00355%). (1 Gulfstream crossing - 1 Turks and Caicos to Dominican Republic, 2 in the Med -[only because of a SCHEDULE], 4 off the Argentine coast) The first four days were by our choice. The last four were NOT our choice. So, there were just 4 partial days of nasty seas that were not our choice in the hands of Ms Ocean and the ONLY 4 days outside a days run from a safe harbor. (.00177%) Of those 4 days NONE were beginning to approach survival status. (00.000%) You get the picture.

You can see the miles the Med Bound 07 group are piling up, as well as the days outside safe harbor, are just a few in the BIG picture. We have said this before and it won't be the last time, what we long distance cruisers do isn't rocket science. By following Milt Bakers Med Bound 07 postings (www.nordhavn.com) from N47 Bluewater live and from the heart, you see what it is all about...having the adventure of your lives.

(An FYI trivia goodie. Egret's fastest speed was transiting Hell's Gate in New York City at 13.6 knots riding the tide. Her slowest speed was .8 knots departing Gibraltar against the tide.)

Sorry for the distraction. We just got finished reading Bluewater's MB-07 noon report and was a bit pumped. (I would imagine the majority of NAR participants are reliving their adventures through the MB-07 group as they will through the next group, and so forth.)

Thurs 6-21 Another glorious hiking day. We took the CIB (Catamaran Ice Breaker - you can see where CIB gets her name - picture 1) just a bit to the north to start our hike of the N/S peninsula extending to the divide between the E/W arms of Seno Pia. Both arms extend to the north. (map - VofE 6-15) We spent the day crisscrossing the peninsula slogging through the snow. We eventually made it to the northern end. The highlight of the day was a sea lion family of three who spotted us. As we moved closer to the shore they would raise themselves treading water higher and higher out of the water for a look see. We would stand still calling to them until they resumed their feeding then move closer. Great fun.

Fri 6-22 As mentioned we made the 16 mile trek to Caleta Alakush. Alakush is the Yamana (indigenous Indians) name for steamer ducks. The caleta is a 100 yard rectangular notch, tapering toward the end, cut E/W into the SE corner of Isla Chair. We dropped TK in 30' and have two lines ashore to trees to the west. There is but 50' of water on either side of our little ship between the low cliffs. Directly ahead there is a small islet giving partial protection from the rare easterlies. Fitzroy (captain of Darwin's ship Beagle) gave the small but high island its name from its shape. We are now beyond the western extreme of Isla Gordon. From here we'll travel around the W side of IG and travel eastbound on Brazo Sudoeste (SW Arm) of the Beagle.

When departing Caleta Beaulieu in Seno Pia we had to steam thru 1/2 mile of heavy skim ice. Approaching the much thicker white patches we slowed to a crawl and shoved aside the heavier pieces. (they didn't break up). We are very proud of our little ship in dealing with ice. There has been NO gelcoat/bootstripe scratches. The upside is we have shed the mossy waterline growth from Ushuaia harbor. Picture 2 is my sweetie with the salt water wash down hose cleaning the anchor chain as we pull anchor. The trip west on the Beagle to Isla Chair was again (ho hum) joined by sea lions laying on their backs, flippers in the air, birds and little Magellanic penguinos (penguins). The crab trap is on the bottom, its now dark, beer is ICE cold, life is good for the Egret crew.

Sat 6-23 Ho hum, another beautiful day. While charging the batteries and making water we had breakfast and planed our hike. Rather than fool around with a very cold outboard we paddled the 75' to shore. A quick tromp thru the woods brought us to a clear area leading up to the hills to our north and east. Hiking higher and further than ever we wore ourselves out. We hiked up and down the low mountains/high hills north to the Beagle then east to the very tip of Isla Chair. We had crunchy snow in the exposed areas and fluff in the shaded areas. The great part about hiking in the winter, the ground is much more stable because it is partially frozen vs the mud of summer. We do have to be careful not to stick our feet into one of the jillion little water courses that can be up to two feet deep and twist an ankle. My sweetie stepped into a shallower one bridged by snow this afternoon but fortunately no harm done. She just tilted a bit, crashed and burned.

Returning to the CIB in the late afternoon we found it high and dry. WAY high and dry. In the morning there was no wind. We stuck the grapnel under a grande rock and shoved the dink to the end of the line. Our anchorage is protected from the prevailing westerlies. It is rare you get an easterly, particularly in the winter AND particularly with any force. Well, the easterly be puffin that blew our little dink onto the rocks THEN the tide went out. After moving sharp rocks and heave-hoing (is that a word?) we finally re floated the dink & made our way back home via the EMPTY crab trap...groan...again. Later near dark we took a pro active measure and set a third line ashore off the port bow. This line is led well forward and attached to a large horizontal limb with some give. Even with TK pulling uphill if we get 50+ knots this evening (we haven't gotten a weather report so don't know) the bow could possible veer off enough to put us near harms way. (We DON'T take chances) Another great day.

Sun 6-24 Well, fore warned is fore told. After setting the bow line the wind started puffing after dark with rollers steaming into our little notch in the rocks until after midnight. Procrastination doesn't pay mi amigos. With the falling barometer rain marched in with the front melting> ALL the snow covering Egret, and of course filling the CIB with water.

'Notch in the rocks' brings to mind 'Hole in the wall' like in the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Hole in the Wall Gang). YT is currently reading In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin. In the movie, BC & the SK bought the ranch in Bolivia. However, in In Patagonia, Chatwin spends considerable time researching the real Patagonian lives of BC & the SK. Interesting and like so many things elsewhere every local Patagonian Chatwin interviewed from that era has their version of the famous 'norteamericanos'. The President of Argentina during that era also got involved to the point of exhuming graves and sending his minions into the field to find the 'real story'. Good book.

Sunday brought the most rain in a single day since arriving in Patagonia. Only in Brazil did we experience more rain within a 24 hour period. Obviously Sunday was a putzin and reading day. We'll leave Sun with a little techno goodie learned from friends on a Nord 50, Tranya. On Egret's single lever engine control is the cap end of a small boat fender cut in two parts (the fender eye is stuck thru the L of the handle). The remaining 18" are slid over the tall dry stack of Egret's exhaust with a rope loop through that eye (put in place with an 8' boathook) The cap end on the engine control is a reminder of the covered exhaust. Egret spends most of her life on anchor where we swing into the wind so there is no water getting down the stack. Cruising here in the Deep South we nearly always take lines ashore to the west and direction of the prevailing winds. NOW the tailpipe is facing the wind. To keep the water out and eliminating the cause of sooting on start up with moisture laden carbon we attach the low tech fender. We also do this when at the dock. No problema.

So there you have it, another soggy day in the Deep South. Its time for another hot tea or perhaps some hot apple juice with a bit of cheap Argentine rum. Life is good for the Egret crew.

Mon 6-25 The rain has stopped and been replaced by a slowly rising barometer and a bit of snow. The sun is trying to peek through. While things dry our chores today are bailing mucho gallons of water out of the CIB, checking the valve adjustment on the main AND the major pain job today is equalizing the batteries. Egret has high end lead-acid batteries that have sulfated. This is our third time equalizing with better results each time but not satisfactory to date. We'll see.

So there you have it, another few days in The Life. We hear through friends' e-mails there is going to be a 'do in Portsmouth at Nord's RI office for some of the boats there. This would be a great time to meet the boats and boaters that have stretched their wings and voyaged offshore. If we hear details we'll pass it along. It's spring (in the Deep North), life is good.

 

 

June 21, 2007
Position: S54 47.80 W69 37.76 Caleta (Cove) Beaulieu, Seno Pia, northern Tierra del Fuego side, NW Arm Beagle Channel, Shown on the 6-15-07 VofE chart. Seno Pia is the twin fork fjord reaching 8nm to the north (upper middle) pp502-503 Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide

March 24

Mon 6-18 (Caleta Morning) Following Sunday's rain and occasional snow the weather cleared to an overcast and hazy but dry day. The sun tried to shine through the clouds all day but didn't succeed. Taking advantage of the dry day we returned in the CIB to the trail to the north over the high hills. Crunching through the icy snow we covered ALL of the easily climbed hills to and along the Beagle. It was a fun day following critter tracks - rabbit & fox we believe - and practicing on our photography skills. This new camera we have is amazing. (Nikon D80) In the manual mode when focusing, it has this bar gizzie that shows the amount of exposure, under and over, before you take the shot (shown in the viewfinder). By turning a little wheel on the back of the camera with your thumb and bracketing around three bars we soon learned what works and doesn't. You immediately know because the viewing window on back shows any overexposure by flashing the overexposed parts black (usually clouds) and a darker picture if underexposed. Pretty cool. For the first time ever we can shoot nearly into the sun. It actually works. Great fun. We only wish we would have had this camera in the Med AND known how to use it. (Actually this technology didn't exist at the time to my knowledge.)

We hiked until dark, 4:30 Chilean time then returned home. Good day.

On a different note, our Mediterranean food treasures have now been depleted. Monday we finished the last of the Turkish jam. A couple of weeks prior to that we served the last of our Greek and Turkish wine to visiting cruisers. What we have left of Egret's two winter, three cruising seasons in the Med are pictures and a lifetime of memories. Not bad mi amigos. We wish the same for you and more.

Tue 6-19 We woke Tue to SUN shining through the portlights. Wow!!!! We wasted no time in preparing Egret to leave and cruise the Beagle the 12 miles to Seno Pia. We put some heat into the engine, snapped the snap shackles releasing the shore lines, tied the CIB close to the transom and headed out. (Picture 1 - the CIB under tow down the Beagle - looking back to the east) WHAT a beautiful day. 141 pictures worth (reduced to 28 and still cutting - you should see what we are throwing away...geesh). Mary took lots of video as well. 1100 RPM, 4 something knots, and three hours in the flybridge putt-putting to the anchorage in Seno Pia. Two condors, fur seals, sea lions and penguins along the way. We took time out to take pictures of sea lions perched on a large rock on the edge of the Beagle and entrance of the sound (seno). As glaciers march to their final forward progress before retreating (as we're seeing now) they push scoured dirt and rocks in front of the ice. After the glaciers retreat the dirt and rocks, and over time just rocks, that are left are called a moraine. It was on these moraine rocks we saw the sea lions. On our first summer cruise the end of January, Seno Pia was our last glacier anchorage before returning crewmen MA Steve and Jim Leishman to catch their flights home from Ushuaia.

It was in Seno Pia the Egret crew plus three other cruisers from two sailboats joined us for a picnic lunch and cruise to the very head of the seno's western arm. The last half-mile or so was filled with ice that had calved off the glacier during the summer. Egret VERY slowly pushed and shoved her way in, bumping in and out of gear until we could lay off the face of the glacier for a glamor shot. Jim and I got into the little inflatable and proceeded to play bumper dink (BD) with the floating ice chunks. When finally in position we both fired away taking mucho pictures. THEN, for just a bit the sun came out and lit up our little white fiberglass home against the beautiful blue of the glacier face. WOW!!!!! Back at the ranch (anchorage) when the pictures had been logged into the laptop I showed Jim my favorite (sort of bursting with pride inside but trying to be cool). That dirty dog dismissed the picture with a wave of his hand saying "it is just a typical SE Alaska shot". Deflated, crushed, etc. HOWEVER, all's well that ends well. Undaunted, the 'ice' picture first became our screen saver on this laptop. LATER, a VERY smart and intelligent British powerboat magazine (Motor Boat Monthly) used the SAME picture in a TWO, 2, dos, due', ikki, (you get the picture) page spread to highlight their table of contents for that issue. HA!!

Now that our buddy Jim is well under the bus we can get back to business. Driving into the late afternoon sun we rounded the corner into Caleta Beaulieu, dropped TK in 60' (just off the beach) and took two lines to trees. On the way in we could see a ways up the eastern arm to the first glacier. It was all iced over. An hour after anchoring williwaws had shaken some thick surface ice loose. It blew in sheets across the little bay and surrounded Egret to the shore. An hour later it was gone with the wind. So far, no more ice. We'll see.

Later in the evening the wind started puffing from the north east, sort of the way we are facing, and pushed the slack out of Egret's anchor chain putting us too close to shore. Soooo, we started the engine and used the windlass to warp ourselves offshore until the shorelines were tight. We then relaxed the tension by putting out the snubber on a short tether. No problema since.

Wed 6-20 We woke to sun and no wind. The whole cove where Egret is anchored is covered with thin skim ice and perhaps an inch of snow on deck. It is quite cold so the snow is not fluffy but crunchy. At sunrise with the sun rising behind the mountains and glacier in front of the anchorage YT was on deck taking pictures. For twenty minutes at sunrise the sky was constantly changing with pinks and so forth. Beautiful.

After a disastrous attempt to burn our garbage (wet wood) AND after throwing a quantity of precious Boy Scout juice (dinghy fuel) on the fire it was useless. Of course, when hiking within a few hundred feet we found DRY wood. Great. Today's hike was two high levels up thru the snow. (picture 2 is YT's beautiful snow bunny) Every now and then on the way up one or the other would screech when the small tree we were using for a handhold would shower snow down the backs of our jackets and covering our hair. At each level we would stop and catch our breath, take pictures then sit and just marvel at the sights. There were times there wasn't a word exchanged. We sat trying to never forget the cove, glaciers and overall beauty. We lost the trail several times on the way to the peak so had to backtrack or make our own. One thing we learned quickly. You CANNOT climb smooth rock covered with snow. Slippin n' slidin. Another great day for the Egret crew.

Wed evening. The air is quite still and cold. The ice covering most of the cove and surrounding Egret stayed all day, not moving. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Thur 6-21 Last night's ice left with the tide and a bit of wind crunching its way by. This morning the entire cove is frozen over again with skim ice. We plan to hike the peninsula to the west, extending to the north toward the glacier. After we'll take a CIB ride to as close to the glacier as the ice breaker will allow. We'll take videos of THAT ride. The scenery is great but the SOUNDS will be a bit different. If the wind isn't puffing we'll leave Fri AM for the next stop in the glacier loop. We'll see.

 

June 15, 2007
Position: S54 55.14 W69 30.09 Bahia Romanche, Caleta Morning, north side Isla Gordon pp 505 Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide

June 15

Well, mi amigos a week in review. Another great week..

Picture 1 is a map of Isla Gordon showing the NW and SW arm of Canal (Channel) Beagle. As we move around the island counterwise, starting at the top, and nearby islands you will be able to follow Egret in her travels. Caleta Olla is just inside on the right traveling west on Brazo Noroeste (the little blue dot). Bahia Romanche is the first deep fjord on the north side of Isla Gordon. The squiggly white ruffles are glaciers. The map is a photograph of a chart, then enhanced. With the low resolution pixels it is the best we can do putting pictures to words. In a perfect world you would buy the Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide by Mariolina Rolfo and Giorgio Ardrizzi. This guide has detailed drawings and text of every anchorage Egret is and will be using thru next April along with pictures, critters, and a comprehensive history of the entire area. Available from Bluewater Books and others.

Monday 6-11 Drizzle all day, one crab in the trap, fixed the window blind, read, putzed n lazed, watched a movie, went to bed. We normally have a soft synthetic blanket on top of a thick comforter on our berth. In Mary's putzin she reversed this by putting the warm blanket UNDER the comforter. Our normal routine in the evening is I go to bed first, crawl between the ICY sheets, shriek, whine and carry on loudly until things warm up in a minute or two. This is routine. She comes to bed next. Now, I have a death grip on MY pile of blankets on MY side so SHE doesn't rip the warmed parts off. She would if she could. This woman is evil and has NO scruples. On particularly cold days she normally counters the ICY sheets by first coming to bed with her la di da black Under Armor synthetic, moisture wicking....blah - blah, long johns on. So NOW I'm sleeping with a SEAL until she is sufficiently warmed up. Geesh. Now for the good news. Since changing the warm blanket from above to below the comforter it is as if everything is pre-heated. YES!!

Tue 6-12 A memorable day in The Life. As routine I got up and fixed my sweetie her first cup of coffee delivered down below while she is still in her warm bed. Actually, it is a half cup so she doesn't dawdle and hold up you know who's breakfast. Ha, no lack of smarts here. During breakfast she spotted two steamer ducks creeping by the shore behind Egret. I have been trying for some time to get a picture of a steamer from the side under way using wing and feet power. Sooo, we got out the trusty Nikon, turned the little wheel to action, prefocused at 200mm and crept outside. The steamers had just swum below the port line ashore to the trees. I lifted this line up and slapped it a few times on the water. Welll, the steamers looked at one another with BIG eyes, freaked n' split in a flurry of feet, wings and flying water. Mr Nikon banged away on motor drive at 3 frames a second. Out of fifteen shots three are good. One is great but we're saving that for another day for a special treat. Remember, steamer ducks are flightless and use their wings like a sidewheeler steamship.

We had decided to leave Tue morning so after pulling the crab trap (there was one on the outside, not on the inside...) and towing the CIB (Catamaran Ice Breaker) close to the transom we left Caleta Olla with an inch of fluffy snow on deck and headed into 25 knots of wind, intermittent light snow and an opposing tide. We didn't care because we were running at 1100 rpm's making 4.4 knots, charging the batteries and enjoying the beautiful Beagle Channel's snow covered mountains on both sides heading the twelve miles west to Bahia Romanche (N shore of Isla Gordon). Along the way we passed nine glaciers. We left Caleta Olla with an escort of dolphins. The escort in the Beagle was fur seals playing. On arrival the escort was a bunch of penguins paddling about and after anchoring a welcome committee of dolphins came around. In the evening there was a condor flying overhead. Nature at its finest. There are two anchorages in Bahia Romanche. Caleta Morning and Caleta Evening. We anchored in Caleta Morning near the entrance of the fjord with two lines ashore. Beautiful!!!!! There is a small waterfall just off (50' or so) the stbd side falling down the high, sheer cliffs and a large waterfall off the port side leading to a lake. Egret's transom is just 25 or so feet from shore in 35' of water with lines to two trees. The anchor is on a VERY short scope but is pulling up a very steep bank of thick mud so no problema.

Wed, 6-13, the day the last VofE was posted and announcing Egret's cover shot and article in Passagemaker Magazine. We're still thrilled. For our out of country VofE readers, Passagemaker is the US's premier boating magazine for trawler owners and long distance powerboat cruisers. It is because of Passagemaker and a couple of sailboat magazines fueling the long distance fires we chose to retire early, buy the boat we did and are leading The Life as we are. You would do yourselves a favor to subscribe to PMM and fuel YOUR own fires so perhaps someday you too may live The Life when its Your Time. Yaneverno, there might be another Egret article pop up in PMM some day.

Wed was a repeat of Monday with different scenery. Rain all day. The snow on the lower slopes is gone as well as from Egret's decks. No crabs in the trap. Mary just delivered a hot apple juice with a bit of rum. Life is good.

Thurs 6-14, Another GREAT day. The rain ceased before breakfast. During breakfast we heard a loud splashing outside. We are both still numbed by years of dirt dewlling NOISE for lack of a better word and didn't catch on immediately. We discovered a seal thrashing his head back and forth noisily eating its breakfast just below the cliffs to the stbd side and just feet away. Pretty cool.

We dinked the 150' or so to the large waterfall and bushwacked our way up to the inland lake that was feeding the waterfall. The surrounding mountains in turn were feeding the lake with small waterfalls everywhere. We then hiked north over high hills or low mountains, whatever, to the Beagle. The Romanche glacier across the Beagle was pouring water out from under the ice at a lesser rate than during the summer. The difference being about a third of the flow was frozen into a sheet of clear ice. Beautiful. There were two more glaciers in perfect sight to the east. The sun kept peeking in and out of the low clouds scudding by brushing the mountains with soft light, gone in an instant. We had just both finished reading an article in a sailboat magazine about using a movie camera under way along with some tips. The big tip I learned is patience. Mary did the same. We would both compose our picture and WAIT for the sun to paint whatever with light. The bottom line is between both cameras we have enough high quality pictures to fund a couple Tierra del Fuego calenders. I don't think you can blubber over beauty with words but if we could we would. There are many different forms of beauty however this part of the world would hold its own with majestic beauty as anywhere in the world.

We hiked further east bushwacking and swamp trotting our way along before returning to the dink. On the way back home we pulled the trap. Grrrrrr, just a starfish. We reset the trap elsewhere so we'll see. Another GREAT day burned into the memory banks.

From the heights we spotted a high inland lake to the south. If the weather cooperates on Fri we'll give that a go. We'll see.

It's Friday and WHAT a change. The wind is puffing from the north east driving horizontal snow in flurries. We are getting a bit of wind wrap with the high hill to our north. Egret is tucked into a corner with vertical walls of trees behind Egret (W) and stone and trees on the stbd side (S). It's funny watching the wind do her best to rock our little fiberglass world. On the port side we get the full monty and on the stbd side the snow is swirling and gently falling. If you have ever spray painted anything you know no matter how hard you try you CANNOT paint into a corner. You get the picture.

This morning my sweetie (and ardent barometer watcher) made the deduction when the barometer is falling we get rain and when it is rising we get snow during the austral winter. How much depends on the gradient (steepness), of the rise/fall. In today's example we went from 1017 to 983 overnight with rain. Now, in the morning it has risen to 992. Ya know, she is absolutely right. I'm married to a genius (our little private joke when one or the other fixes something difficult or makes a pronouncement like this). To further this weather deal, when the high (still and cooler air) moves in (and stays a bit) is when we get ice in the bays. So there you have it, everything we think we know about weather.

In all this talk abut rain and snow, etc there is something important you should know. We are NOT uncomfortable or cold. We have the proper insulated boots, insulated socks, clothes and dress warmly. During the course of the day we are layering/relayering, gloving-hatting/ungloving-hatting because of the steepness of the climb, warming in the afternoon, etc. When it REALLY gets cold we wear these head deals that are like a sock that goes down to your shoulders with a hole in it for your face. When we wear these dealies we look like a cowl vent with our face shoved thru the vent opening.

Noon Fri. The horizontal snow has changed to vertical snow and all is well. What was yesterday all greens and browns on the lower slopes is now all white and gray with a hint of green. Beautiful. It's time to head for the hills so we'll sign off this VofE so we don't have to hurry back to make the weekend posting. So there you have it. Another week in The Life. Life is good for the Egret crew.

 

June 13, 2007
Position: Caleta Olla, Chilean Channels

Well, mi amigos, lotsa stuff. First I promised to give you information how to visit this magical place in the world without the effort Egret and fellow Nordhavn, Ice Dancer II, put forth. To put in prospective how remote and unvisited this place is during the winter there are just five private boats wintering here in the Deep South, (not gone more than two months during the winter), 3 Americans, 1 Canadian, 1 French. This is out of the thousands of cruisers worldwide. In winter cruising the Channels articles we read along with the Italian Guide (written by Italians - Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide) ALL carried on about the beauty of this southernmost cruising area of the world, just as VofE is professing. It's the Real Deal.

Previously in a recent VofE we mentioned the local crewed charter sailboats that offer Chilean Channel cruises that will take you EXACTLY where we are cruising and NO cruise ship and venture. We picked three that were English speaking as their first language. We chose those three simply because they are wintering here as well and as a guest you will probably have English speaking charterer companions as well. There is a fourth boat with a German owner who speaks fluent English and lives in nearby Puerto Williams, Chile. This boat would be best with a group of friends. In all fairness virtually EVERY charter boat captain we have met is outgoing and speaks English as well no matter what nationality. We haven't listed them as well because of the above reasons and nothing more. AND we don't know of any others wintering here.

In previous reports we have described the channels and the 'glacier loop'. This is all fair weather cruising (no waves) in protected channels or fjords. Wouldn't it be great fun to live The Life for a bit in the Channels before it's Your Time??? Flights are simply this: get yourselves the best way to Buenos Aires, Argentina then take the Argentine airlines to Ushuaia.

We will give you the adventure sailboat's website addresses and the rest is up to you. If nothing else you will read of their adventures and see some beautiful photography. In alphabetical order:

SV Australis www.ocean-expeditions.com
SV Northanger www.northanger.org
SV Seal www.expeditionsail.com
(We don't have the website for SV Santa Maria Australis, e-mail santamaria@simltd.com)

There is a second but more permanent option. There was a Passagemaker Magazine article written a few years back that was one of Egret's inspirations to make the trip south. The owner still lives in Ushuaia has since become a friend. Unfortunately he is very sick and is selling his Defever 40 he and his wife made the trip south in. I will give you a very brief description then will copy an e-mail he sent us recently. If you have any interest please contact him directly. Ken Murray PF7588@sailmail.com Pelagic is NOT a finished yacht as Egret. Think of it as a rustic country cabin. Ken has converted it to fit his lifestyle with a large wood burning stove in the salon, a large aft stateroom and the forward stateroom has been converted into a shop. This boat will probably spend the rest of its life cruising the Chilean Channels and Argentine Tierra del Fuego southern coast within the limits of the Beagle Channel. Pelagic is his full time residence.


March 24Hi Scott and Mary,

Just a quick note to see how you are doing down south. How is the work on the wing engine going? Did you get it to start? We are making good progress north but not much dry and friendly weather yet. We should reach the Golfo de Penas in about 3 or 4 days. Not too bad! My health seems to be doing quite well so all is happy aboard. I remembered that I was going to give you some details about Pelagic, so as follows. Built in Taiwan, Hudson ship yard in 1976. It was designed by De Fever, and has two names depending on the importer. Pelagic is a Falcon 40, and its other class name is Passage Maker 40. I have the original sales brochure for both. She has a single ford Lehman, 120hp, 2100 series, Ford engine. Borg Warner velvet drive. She has a Wagner auto-pilot with hydraulic steering. Passive stabilizers. She has a Filtration Concepts water maker. 20 gpm. As you know I have converted the for-cabin into a workshop so she has only one head and basically one sleeping cabin. What can one say when a material possession becomes part of ones self. Life is just a journey and what a wonderful experience Pelagic has been for me these past 18 years. I have no Idea how much she is worth in a realistic sense. To me she is beyond value. It would take someone who has a dream and is looking for a good basic boat. She has some problems but nothing that can't be put right. I will sell her with almost everything she has aboard. In other words, ready to go. How many times have we read in the trade magazines, must sell due to health related problems? I guess this is our true epitaph. Well you good folks I hope you are enjoying your channels trip. Please drop us a line if you get a chance and let us know how the weather is down your way. We get our mail almost every day on PF7588@sailmail.com

Best regards and good cruising!

Ken & Eef

This should go unspoken but Egret has no financial gain in passing this information along. We are simply keeping with our policy in giving VofE readers all the information we have available whether it be our personal adventures or whatever. Our singular goal is to encourage readers to enrich their lives through water. We have ourselves chartered twice before casting off the lines. (Once a Grand Banks in the Pacific NW and once a 'rent a wreck' in the Caledonian Canal in Scotland.) Both times it fueled our desire to do EXACTLY what we are doing.

On a personal note we are happy to announce that Egret is on the cover of the upcoming Passagemaker Magazine (July/August) with an accompanying article detailing her travels from Gibraltar to Ushuaia, Argentina and eventually rounding Cape Horn. It's hard to condense over 7000 miles and 134 days of travel and adventure into a few thousand words but we did our best. We think you'll enjoy the story as we did living and writing it. The cover shot was taken by fellow long distance cruiser Tom Zydler in Ushuaia harbor. Fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride!!


June 11, 2007
Position: S54 56.42 W69 09.40 Caleta (Cove) Olla, Brazo Noroeste Canal Beagle (NW Arm Beagle Channel), pp 507 Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide (same as VofE 6-07-07)

Well, mi amigos, we are going to do something a little different in writing VofEs. We are on our winter cruise here in the Chilean Channels. Most every day we stumble across something at the time that is inspiring or noteworthy to Mary and I and we would like to pass it on as well. Soo, instead of writing daily VofE's as we did on passage we'll give daily thumbprints as they occur and post them every so often as a single VofE. The only downside of this format is we can only send two pictures that represent a LOT of discoveries. We'll do the best we can.

Picture 1 was taken when we hiked on Thur 6-8, west under the cliffs to our twin waterfalls, about a mile or so. The picture is of Caleta Olla taken from the west looking east. You can see Egret tucked up to the western shore facing east. Isla Diablo (Devil Island) is in the background. You can see how we are protected by the trees from the westerlies and also from easterlies by the peninsula. On other occasions we have been here in the summer and would get late afternoon williwaws that would blast down from the mountains a few hundred yards to the north and rock our little fiberglass world. Devil Island in the background is at the entrance to Brazo Noroeste with Isla Gordon to the south. DI got its name when in 1830 Capt Fitzroy, (Capt of the Beagle) was camped with a survey crew. The guard one evening saw a pair of eyes reflecting in the campfire and fired at the eyes scared witless. In the morning they discovered a dead owl. Fitzroy gave the island its name after that bit of trauma.

The ground was near perfect for hiking. It was partially frozen giving us good traction and sinking into the bog in just a few places. After visiting the waterfall we hiked WAY up. Along the cliff face we discovered what we named the crystal palace. Tiny rivulets of water had formed ice around plants giving them a clear coating of ice perhaps twenty times their size. Beautiful. Picture 2. (It's really difficult to pick pictures.) At the top we had terrific views both east and west up and down Brazo Noroeste. After a quick sandwich and hot tea we returned in the falling light. Another great day in The Life...ho hum...again.

(Whoops!! The ice picture was scraped for a picture taken by Mary today (Sun) on today's hike up to the inland glacier east of Caleta Olla)

Friday, 6-9 we got up early to hike to the glacier east and north of our anchorage however it was raining so we hung out for a bit before leaving in the dink in a light rainfall. Incidentally, we haven't had ice in the anchorage except glacier ice that came in on this morning's tide. (Glacier ice with tonight's cocktails.) We beached the CIB (Catamaran Ice Breaker) on a falling tide but leaving just a bit of extra line because the tide was way down. We tromped a couple of miles down the beach as far as the lighthouse (faro) to the east. We discovered gunaco (llama type critter) mama and wee one's tracks leading in the same direction but we never got to see them. It was another camera day with both of us taking artsy -fartsy ice shots, kelp geese, landscape, etc. Mary's photos are quickly getting better. She is 'seeing' better shots (composure). Another great but short day. We caught our first centolla (southern king crab) in our new trap. We reset the trap with another can of tuna and some table scraps. We'll pull it sometime Sat. Who knows what will be inside?? Almost forgot. The tide REALLY did fall. We're on a moon and the tide left the CIB hi and dry. It slides well. Wasn't the first time stranded and won't be the last. Oh well.

March 24Early Sat. AM we heard what sounded like ice scraping down the side except the only ice in the anchorage was glacier ice in chunks that don't scrape. To make the story short yours truly had left the boom winch controller outside since offloading the CIB (buttons up). We have had two days of light rain. Rain or condensation shorted out one of the four micro switches inside the controller intermittently engaging the winch motor making the noise we heard. Of course it had to be an UP button AND the button with a double purchase block (twice the lifting power). The lifting block and snap was snapped into a pad eye screwed into the boat deck. By the time I had figured what was happening it ripped out the pad eye with a terrible pop. I had figured out what was going on while still in the boat and shut off the circuit breakers. Sooo, now we have put a piece of duct tape over the two holes where the pad eye was screwed in (thankfully no other damage like major fiberglass repair, etc) and the controller has been taken apart and dried over the diesel heater all night. Now, IF the rain will stop we'll get out the epoxy and do the repair. The controller SHOULD be OK. We'll see. Another lesson learned on Egret's nickel. Geesh, will lessons never end???? You know that answer.

On a happier note there is NO noise here except for birds, dripping water and in the far distance the occasional day and night booming of calving ice from the nearby glacier.

Sunday was still and warm. Today we took a hike up to the inland glacier. We followed the trail for a bit then struck out on our own climbing to the top of the low mountain. You can't imagine how special this place is. I know, we sound like a broken record but we can't help ourselves. In addition to the vista treats we saw three gunacos along the beach before turning north following the trail. We saw them twice more along the way. The third time the male silhouetted himself on a high ridge and was calling. He was drawing attention to himself allowing the other two to escape the red clad, camera toting monsters. This is the same behavior we observed in Caleta Hornos on the Argentine coast on Egret's trip south. A while later we had a male condor fly very close by and about fifteen feet below us. (Camera in the backpack...groan.)

After reaching the summit we climbed down to a vantage point for pictures of the glacier and lunch. PB&J, Chilean Pringles copies and a thermos of hot tea. Life is good for the Egret crew. It's even better now that the boom winch controller is functioning again since drying and reassembly.

In our next VofE we will tell you how YOU can enjoy what we are seeing and doing here in the Deep South. Ciao.

 

June 6, 2007
Position: S54 53.10 W68 03.26
Location: Beagle Channel en route to Alcamar Navarino

March 24

Well, mi amigos, Egret is FINALLY underway west bound on her winter Chilean Channels cruise. Our first stop will be on the NW end of Isla Navarino, Chile just offshore of the Alcamar (Coast Guard) station. After two days of drizzly weather and high winds in Puerto Williams we left this morning in 30 knots (SW) but with a promise of calming winds as the high moves over. When we left it was wind with tide in the Beagle so we were running between 4.8 knots and 5.8 knots (1500 RPM) but now the wind has quieted just a bit HOWEVER the tide has swung westbound giving us 6.2 knots with a short chop. Lotsa spray.

The GRANDE (Big) news is that the Med Bound 07 group arrived safely in Bermuda with the winds starting to puff just as OMNI Bob (MB-07's weather router) had predicted. All were tied up safely without incident. This was Grey Pearl's (N62 - NAR 04) and Bluewater's (N47) second time to Bermuda. No matter how many times you arrive at your destination from an offshore passage landfall is a welcome sight after being at sea. This was HEARTILY welcomed in the days of sextant navigation. With today's electronic aids it is still a thrill but navigation safety is hugely increased.

While we are on the subject we would like to mention Bluewater's preliminary offshore voyages preparing themselves (boat and crew) for this trip across the ocean. Even though Milt and Judy had many, many miles offshore coastal passagemaking in their previous Bluewater, a Grand Banks 42, and sail before that, they still took the time to make two serious N/S passages. The first was a long distance N/S offshore coastal passage (US East coast) then from the Caribbean to Maine via Bermuda. After both N/S passages they had a punch list to perfectly fine tune Bluewater. If you plan to cross oceans in the relative near future after you take delivery of your offshore passagemaker this systematic planning and fine tuning your boat AND its crew is the way to go. What all long distance cruisers do is not rocket science however sea miles and acclimation are the key to safely making passages with confidence.

We'll leave the Med Bound group to rinse off the salt, tell sea stories and dine on fresh dolphin and wahoo. (Washed down with Dark and Stormy's - a local quite volatile rum drink) They'll be off again in a bit on the next leg of their adventure.

The other news is my sweetie has confiscated my old camera (Nikon D50) and is trying her hand at picture taking. Mary took both of today's pictures. She is rapidly learning about sun direction, cropping the shot, details, etc. I promised her a better lense if she enjoys the hobby. The picture of the Chilean centolla (southern king crab) fishing boat beached on the tide was getting a fresh coat of paint on the name. Note the get home engine on the foredeck (tall oars). The second picture is a typical Fuegian sunset picture with the pink sky. Both were taken on Puerto Williams hikes in the past few days.

With the high moving over Tierra del Fuego the wind will lay down for a few days and bring cooler weather. In our first two anchorages there isn't an ice problem (skim ice) so we'll hang out in the second for a bit hiking and hopefully catching some centolla in our new trap. We'll see.