On the Dry Side of the Andes

We are anchored in Caleta Mousse (why that name? who knows.) on Canal Santa Maria 51 54.65 S 73 02.9W. We are just east of Angostura White. The climate is drier , the mountains are different. Icefalls and glaciers still abound. This little caleta is very secure and beautiful. We are anchored and have 3 shorelines. It is quite gusty and the barometer is dropping. From 1006 this morning to 997 at 2000 hrs tonight. Depending on the weather we may stay here for 2 or 3 days , before sailing the last 30 miles to Puerto Natales. It looks like good walking and paddling here. This whole area was thoroughly explored by the Beagle and associated ships. I cannot imagine how they moved those ships through such narrow waters. The Angostura White has flows of 6-10 knots, but like the BC rapids , one waits for slack.

The idea of shoretying as we are tonight , is interesting. It seems to only be done in BC if an anchorage is crowded. Most of the time in Patagonia we are still only swinging on an anchor. However if we are expecting lots of gusty wind it is very nice to be tied onto the trees behind the beach. It eliminates all sheering back and forth and keeps a steady tension on the chain. No shock loads. Also no anchor re-setting. The shore lines are 1/2″ polysteel , 100m long, with breaking strength of 6000 lbs. It is fairly easy to set up and certainly allows anchoring in some very cosy places. The fishermen here always shore tie. I think it is for two reasons: they tend to have home made welded fisherman anchors or grapnel-type anchors , and the williwaws can be vicious.

Today , again we saw gusts lifting the surface water up into the air. As we were motor-sailing at the time we just took the sails totally down rather than risk tearing them in the gusts.

Rice and falafel with tomatoes for dinner. Three small crabs in the trap , not keepers.

Isla Jaime, Seno Union

We are at Isla Jaime after a day of light wind and drizzle. This morning it is still raining. 52 11 S 73 17.1 W

We are tied up to the cliff with two stern lines and the main anchor out. The weather is wet but not very windy. Two hours after we anchored ,”Freydis” came in and tied alongside and put their own sternlines and anchor out. Just at dusk (2230 hrs) 4 Chilean boats came in and secured alongside us as well. One was a 50′ research boat on contract to aquaculture companies to look at salinity and nutrients etc( interestingly we have seen no evidence of aquaculture since crossing the Golfo de Penas , 200 miles or more to the north, but I would guess that it will develop around here with Pto Natales as the supply base). The other 3 boats were dive boats. Good thing the winds were light as that is a lot of weight on our anchor and stern lines. But they were off at dawn (0515) this morning to catch the slackwater at Angostura Kirke, about 20 miles away. Chilean Skuas were following along behind them.

From here, in Seno Union, we are heading generally east for another 40 miles or so , to Puerto Natales.

We are actually sailing (or motoring) through to the east side of the Andes. A few twists and turns and narrows to get through the drowned valleys and passes. Where we plan to be in a week is reputed to be drier and warmer , like an inland climate. Harry was here 2 or 3 weeks ago and might confirm this. Even yesterday in the murk we could see the lower ends of hanging glaciers and icefields coming down to within a few hundred feet of sealevel.

We caught 3 Centolla (Kingcrabs) yesterday but 2 were clearly too small and were returned. The 3rd was a good size and we kept it in a bucket of water for the day. Later , it was still alive but there was clear evidence of eggs , so she too was returned. No crab to eat at this point. It seems that the ventral shell pattern to discriminate sex in these Centolla is not the same as with Dungeness or Red Rock crabs in BC. No book we have aboard tells us this info.

Baro 1006 and quite steady , outside temp this morning at 0600 hrs 12.2 C, water temp 12 C, wind 10 N, 100% Overcast, light rain. The heater is on , the coffee is hot.