Caleta Victoria and random notes

We are anchored in a pretty ,protected anchorage in Paso Victoria at the south end of Isla Newton. 52 00.2 S 73 43.5 W

Three days ago we finally dragged ourselves away from the fleshpots of the Puerto Natales area. We made some good friends that we will see again, and we celebrated the solstice , Christmas and New Years in a fine fashion.

The last few days in Puerto Natales were not without incident. Max and Sandy on the yacht “Volo” are hugely experienced. Max is an engineer. He designed and built Volo which is a 44′ aluminum cutter with a ballasted lifting keel. It is immaculate. They sailed around the world in their first boat which Max also designed and built. About 4 days ago I walked down to the waterfront in Puerto Natales to catch the ferry back across the harbour to Puerto Laforest where the boats are anchored. Lo and behold , there was Volo bobbing just off the Armada wharf in about 40 knots of wind. Dragged one half mile, right across the harbour ,much as Silas Crosby had done 2 weeks earlier. The thing is that Max and Sandy had taken my advice which was to anchor in the 7′ shallow and use all the chain – 150′. Despite this , off the boat went , with a 60lb plough anchor. I ran up the mainstreet and found Max and Sandy in the Unimarc grocery store and we quickly went aboard and re-anchored. Max is in the process of designing an anchor somewhat similar to the rocna or manson.

“Miepke 2” arrived in Puerto Natales. One week ago they had lost the propeller off their saildrive unit while up estero Peel. They managed to use sail alone to get their 38′ boat down the inlets and through tidal passes to arrive at PN. During the last night they had 35- 40 knots coming in to the harbour and actually deployed their small parachute drogue to slow them down to allow navigation. Their outboard motor was also non-functional.

When we returned to the outer channels from the Puerto Natales area we had decided to forego visiting some well known spectacular places , such as Estero de Las Montanas. Basically , for the moment we have had enough of strong winds in narrow channels that blow relentlessly. It is good to be out where there is enough room to sail and the wind seems to be less than 25 knots mostly. With 30 knots against us in a narrow inlet there is not much we can do , we just have to wait until it dies. Yesterday we sailed form Isla Jaime to Paso Victoria. We had 15 – 20 knots against us , but the seas were fairly smooth and we had good sailing tacking to the NW. We ducked into Caleta Fontaine and anchored. Two hours later the wind switched to the SW and blew into our anchorage , and blew us out of there. We arrived at Paso Victoria at 2000 hrs.

We have shared the last 2 anchorages with “Guapita” a 32′ French boat with 4 young lads aboard. Jean and Jonathan bought the boat in Europe and they are doing a relatively quick trip across the Atlantic, down to Cape Horn and up to Montevideo , where the boat will be sold. Jean is the skipper. Jean’s father , last name Hercher, has a 21 meter converted steel tug. It has 2 bipod masts and apparently can sail. He took it through the NorthEAST passage from Europe to Alaska and are now in Kodiak. The boat’s name is Le Manguier (‘the mango’). Apparently they are to go through the NW Passage next season.

This morning , on the radio net, we heard that Freya Hoffmeister is paddling around South America. She is a well known solo epic paddler. Apparently she is heading our way , so we will be on the lookout for her. Perhaps someone could check her website and relay her position to us ? Also we heard that Justine Couvingen (I think that is the wrong spelling) , another well known long distance kayaker is doing a circumnavigation of Tierra del Fuego. This looks like a really difficult proposition as well.

Yesterday , while beating to windward in Seno Union, a Chilean Skua held position about 4′ from my face , looking like he would love to peck out my eyeballs. Meredith retreated to the protection of the dodger.

This afternoon I had a great hike up into the immediately close granite mountains. It is beautiful walking with great views and quite easy route finding. The alpine starts at about 300′ above sea level. Bushwhacking has nearly disappeared at this latitude. There are still good trees within a narrow band at sea level.

Our sunny weather is gone , back on the east side of the Andes. But now we are starting the next big leg towards the Magellan and Beagle. We have time in hand , and there are lots of protected anchorages. Here in Caleta Victoria we are anchored in 6′ of water and have two stern lines out to trees. Totally secure , but we never know if a gale and williwaws will start in the night.

Mer has sourdough starter now , from Doug on Companera who has had it for years. It originated in Germany many years ago , and had been in Alaska for a long time. Sourdough pancakes and bread are in our future.