Today we left the anchorage near the Dead Whale after Meredith paddled over for more photos of the bloated stinking corpse. Yesterday we took a little video of us sailing along in a whale oil slick , smmooth water and 15 knots of wind.

Today , in contrast, we sailed 10 miles in the sunshine and found a described hotspring. A tub sized rock pool with just right hot water , on the beach , on a sunny day.

We have had a look at the small scale charts , and we have a LONG way to go to get south. So, we need to pick up the pace for a few weeks , weather permitting. We might get to the Puerto Natales area by Christmas. Four hundred miles or a little more in 3.5 weeks. Can it be done? It will require focus and determination, of course (ha ha) , but it will also require missing a lot of cool places. Meredith however has just stated , ruminatively, “Wow , there are just a lot of glaciers down there” , looking at the charts around the Beagle Channel , Cordillera Darwin etc etc. So we will see lots of tidewater glaciers , unavoidably.

Tomorrow if the wind lays down overnight we are going to go up Estero Slight and anchor , then walk across to the Cabo Raper lighthouse.

Right now we are anchored at Pozo Omega , little, and shaped like the greek letter. 46 39.9 S 75 25.65 W .The hotsprings are 0.9 miles west.


Round Cabo Raper

I downloaded a gribfile weather map at 0530 this morning. It indicated that today would bring light west , shifting to SW winds off Cabo Raper. Tomorrow would be SW and S, against us , so we needed to get going. By 0630 we were underway and encountered rough irregular seas off the mouth of Estero Cono. Pressing on under motor power we made a 5 mile offing , but the seas were crap. By 0900 we had a 12 knot west wind so were able to make sail, while I yakked on the radio. The radio net is expanding so that boats are calling from north of Juan Fernandez Island around to the Falklands. Some of them are old friends and spend a few minutes catching up on news and plans. Some are unknown to us. So a small community is being established, and possibly we will be able to meet some crews, in the flesh, as we go along.

The wind died a couple of hours later , so we motored at 5.5 knots for about 5 hours until a SW wind did arise , as predicted. By this time we had ‘turned the corner’ and could take the breeze on the beam. We finished the trip with a lovely smoothwater sail with clearing skies. The water actually was unnaturally smooth. Like an oil slick. With the smell of whale. We rounded the corner into Puerto Barosso and sure enough , there was a dead baleen whale on the beach , about 30′ long. The oil was smoothing the water over at least 10 miles square in the sound. Always a high point.

So this evening we are anchored in a little cove off a sandy beach at the entrance to Seno Hoppner 46 47.79 S 75 18.29 W. We have the prospect of hotsprings tomorrow , about 10 miles away , if we can actually locate them.

Calm ,sunshine, what a treat.

Puerto Refugio to Caleta Suarez

Estero Cono , Caleta Suarez 46 36.8 S 75 27.7 W December 18th 1834 and Darwin sailed in on the Beagle. He climbed Mt Cono . 1600′ asl which he described as a difficult bushwhack. We left Puerto Refugio, where Lord Anson’s pink , the Anna , recovered from their trials, and headed out hoping to sail the 55 miles SSW to this Caleta Suarez, not far from the west end of Peninsula Tres Montes. Many sailors refer to some notorious headland in their own homewaters as ” the Cape Horn of the (fill in the blank)” , like the Brooks Peninsula or Point Conception in California. This nearby cape is too close to Cape Horn for comparison.

The Peninsula Tres Montes protrudes west into the Pacific, and must be rounded to sail the length of Chile ( there was a scheme to dig a canal across the Istmo de Ofqui near Laguna San Rafael but it never progressed). It is at this point in the coast where an east flowing current splits with part going north to become the Humboldt or Peru current and the rest returning to the Antarctic. The latter part pushes into the Golfo de Penas, on the south side of the peninsula, giving a significant and dangerous onshore set , along with a big predominant SW swell and relatively shallow waters.

The Golfo de Penas , the gulf of suffering, that’s tomorrow’s treat.

Today we have hung out at Caleta Suarez, chatting with and watching the crews of the 15 fishboats that were rafted up when we arrived yesterday afternoon at 1800 hrs. They had been here for 5 days waiting for a break in the weather so they could resume work. The do long line fishing about 30 miles from here for Pacific Toothfish (aka Chilean Seabass) and later in the eyar and more to the north , for Albacore. The boats are mostly wood and about 16m long with crews of 5 to 7. Their trips are for 40 days , then they steam for 3 days to Puerto Montt for a week , then head out again , all year.

Yesterday was exciting. We left Pto Refugio knowing that the wind would be north and favorable , but hoping that it would not build to be too strong. As we sailed west to the end of Peninsula Skyring it increased from 15 to 25 knots. There was a 4 m west swell left over from previous weather. There are several offlying rocks and the swell was breaking on them with frightening results. With the imperfect charting we really had to keep a sharp lookout into the gloom. Another set of rocks , Roca Hellyer, lies about 3 miles off the end of Peninsula Skyring, and we passed within a mile of it.It looked way too close and truly had a fearsome and violent appearance with huge white sheets of water flung high into the air and blown away.

The west swell and the north wind made for corkscrewing progress, but as the wind built to 30 knots or more , we sped along at 7 or 8 knots with a triple reefed main and a scrap of jib. The Black Browed Albatrosses, Southern Giant Petrels , Wilson’s Storm Petrels , Sooty Shearwaters , Pintado Petrels , and others were all wheeling and gliding around us in the blow- completely at ease.

Fifty miles later we were closing with the north coast of Peninsula Tres Montes, and the north wind made it a lee shore. So we had to be accurate getting into our chosen bay. The ceiling lowered , the rain thickened and the wind increased. Perfect.

But , the radar got us into Estero Cono in very bad conditions. As we sailed into calmer waters the wind became gustier so we were sailing 7 knots with just the triple reefed mainsail. Three miles up the inlet , around a gravel spit , and we glided into the calm pool of Caleta Suarez, to raft onto the side of the Don Jorge , a Chilean fishboat. The fishermen were very friendly and welcoming, and gave us Congria ( a big conger eel) to eat for supper. They were surprised that we had sailed in out of the windy ,wet murk. The rain was coming down in windblown sheets and we retired below with the heater burning.

An exciting and , at times, worrisome and frightening day. The only casualty of the day was the small pressure cooker , it fell off a bunk and shattered the far side handle – nothing too critical.

Now we have a 3 day outlook of more settled weather , so we might have to motor most of the way around Cabo Raper and Peninsula Tres Montes.

So it goes.