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Thursday, 28 December 2017

Small challenges

In Canada, a typical boating adventure involves driving the car to the supermarket, visiting the fuel dock with the boat and heading away.  This is roughly the same for a Chilean boater with their boat in Puerto Montt if they are planning a short trip around the nearby islands and inlets - with the exception that their entire itinerary has to be approved in advance by the Navy.

Our trip is longer so things are different.

Isla Chiloe Scenery
As we passed north along the shore of Isla Chiloe, it started to become obvious that, while our food and fuel would just last to Valdivia, the chocolate, peanuts, cookies and wine would be exhausted.  Oh no!

So we fit in a stop at the city of Castro on our way north.  This regional center boasts a good supermarket. Also the fuel needed for a margin of comfort after covering the additional distance to Castro was easily purchased at a truck-stop.  Fighting the relentless winds and currents in the channels on the way north had increased our fuel consumption more than we could have imagined.

Getting these easily purchased items aboard our anchored boat was somewhat more problematic.  The tidal range here is six meters from low water to high water and only the Navy have floating docks that move up and down with the tide.  With our purchases, we wheeled the dinghy down onto the beach from where we had left it safely above the sea in a parking lot.  Did I mention our dinghy has retractable wheels?  After loading our five twenty-liter jugs of fuel  and our groceries, we sat in the warm afternoon sun in the dinghy until the water returned and floated us up and off the beach. We even had an audience for this exercise and the locals would no sooner notice what you were about and they would come running to help.

Since we had stopped at a town with a Navy base, we had to present ourselves and our documents (twice) to obtain approval for the remainder of our voyage to Valdivia - which had already been approved in Puerto Natales.  We are not troubled by this. It is connected with a concern for our location so we can easily be rescued.  A minor addendum to these procedures is that the ports are frequently closed to small vessels (like ours) in the sort of inclement weather that doesn't really trouble us.  The boat has, after all, gotten itself here from Canada.  We rushed to get the dinghy aboard  and the anchor up in the gathering wind, somewhat worried that the port would suddenly close and we would have to start all over getting our permit to leave.

Against the background of solving these sort of problems, the large alternator on our engine has failed completely requiring us to run a separate generator for electricity even if the engine is running.
We can't really fault the thing.  It has been spinning 10000 hours or so and was just tired.  A worn brush slipped out of position and it's spring chewed up the copper slip ring and spat it out as a fine powder around the engine compartment.

Lacking time in our schedule to research repairs - the guy who sold the device eighteen years ago doesn't answer his phone - we have ordered a new one.  It is on its way but will stumble in Santiago on its way to final delivery until I find a broker to run interference between myself and customs.  Theoretically, parts for foreign vessels in transit are duty-free but I have my doubts that will happen.

And, like everything else here, this is all a challenge to my slowly-improving but not-yet-good Spanish, the language in which everything happens.

We are now back in civilization.  The mobile phones and wireless internet now work about 1/2 the time.  The land, all islands, is covered with little farms patched onto the rolling hillsides.  It is a sort of "Shire" from "Lord of the Rings"

Shellfish culture floats
The water, less scenically, is covered with enough fish farms and oyster culture areas that sometimes we can hardly believe there is a route into the anchorages where we spend the nights.  Of course, in the morning we discover the last sentence to have been an exaggeration as we easily see the obvious way back out to sea.

But all goes well.  The scenery is still very special and five more days, including an overnight open sea passage, will see us in Valdivia making our final preparations for the return to Canada.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

A Christmas Portfolio in Red & Green!

Christmas Tealia - British Columbia
Gorgonian coral - Chile

Centolla - Chile

Rose Star - BC

Urchins and Algae - Chile

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Essential gear for cruising in Patagonia

If you plan to come to Southern Chile south of the Golfo de Penas in your sailboat, here are a few things that we use that really help:
The ‘Italian’ book: ‘Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide’ (by Mariolina Rolfo and Giorgio Ardrizzi). They’ve listed over 400 usually safe anchorages.

You need 4 shore-ties. These are described in various books and in an earlier blog by Larry.

If you have a fairly small vessel, you’d be wise to read ‘Winter in Fireland: A Patagonian Sailing Adventure’ by BC resident Nicholas Coghlan. He and his wife Jenny sailed their Vancouver 27 – ‘Bosun Bird’ from South Africa over to Brazil via St. Helena and down the coast of Argentina. They spent time in Ushuaia and Puerto Williams and came up through Patagonia in the winter. His research into the history of the area and his description of the hold-ups they faced will give you an in-depth view of a sailor’s life and how to deal with Patagonia in a small vessel. Even if you’re not a sailor, you’ll admire the story of their life working in Argentina and later in the Canadian diplomatic service.

‘Marine Benthic Fauna of Chilean Patagonia’ edited by Vreni Haussermann and Gunter Forsterra details the geology, maritime and oceanic conditions here in addition to its primary focus on underwater creatures. In some preliminary information it states: “From 42 degrees south, the dominance of bad weather is increasing each year. In some places, like those exposed directly to the action of the air masses, the highest concentration of winter depressions results in more than 25 days of rain per month.” The book later states that 6,000 mm of precipitation falls annually. Increasingly bad weather has also been noted by Greg and Keri-Lyn of ‘Saoirse’ who have been running charters to Antarctica for many years.

We find that negotiating these channels with a bigger boat makes it easier. Although we still face lots of challenges, we can carry more fuel and have a more comfortable time in the cold. Since this is our only home, we made sure that we would have good insulation and a working furnace instead of having a faraway roof or driveway to maintain for disconsolate renters.

Before we left Canada, I knew we’d be making this trip along the Canales. So I bought some essentials. Several unsolicited gifts have also been the source of great warmth.
1. Heat Factory hand heaters … get them at MEC in BC or REI in Washington.
2. Scandinavian model dive mitts. These are great for pulling wet lines out of the 9C water when you are tying to trees. A gift from  Norwegian friend Rune (SV Opportune)
3. Down-filled mitts available at Eddy Bauer – Amanda Neal of ‘Mahina Tiare III’ told me about these. Get 2 pairs – you can wash them.
4. The special ‘Fashy’ German-made hot-water bottle. It’s double-insulated and it comes with a cozy fleece cover. This was a gift from Kania and Gregorio – the physiotherapists who run Centro Praxis in Valdivia. It’s a lifesaver!
5. Get thin merino wool long johns, toques and neckwarmers – they are warm, good under rain gear in rain and they’ll dry quickly. You’ll find yourself using lots of layers. Remember that once socks get wet with sea water, they rarely dry!
You will need the usual heavy-weather sailing gear. Make sure to use the neoprene ‘oilies’  bottoms for putting out and pulling in lines. But on top we use our gore-tex jackets. They keep out most of the rain, while allowing us more ease of movement.
We also use really warm (and much cheaper) neoprene fishermen’s boots. They’re warmer and lighter than sailing boots and Larry likes them for navigating through the shallows prior to tying to trees ashore.

Monday, 18 December 2017

The Lowly Worm

cirratulus cirratus worm
When we saw this long orange multi-corded piece of plastic on the dive at Bahia Tom, I was quite disappointed in seeing such a thing, and Larry took 2 photos of it! I listed it under 'plastic 00 and 01' on my Excel spreadsheet.
It has taken me several weeks of studying the Marine Benthic Fauna book (Haussermann & Forsterra) to discover that I was wrong about the Orange Plastic which we photographed on November 13. It's actually a WORM - a polychaete worm called 'cirratulus cirratus' - the angel hair worm. Reading more about it, I find it has multiple black eyes, with 8 rows ranged diagonally on each side. Our photographs are very high-quality, but I still cannot find any tiny black dots on this worm and I doubt  anyone else can find them in the photo. THIS is why you need a degree in biology and a microscope to be more than an amateur at marine identification.

We've now finished our seventeenth dive here in Chile - the dives have been very productive - Larry took 108 photos of our dive at 'Pozo Delfin'. I've edited all the photos and we've printed out our favoured species for our dive logs. I've generally identified them. The next step is to try to get a more specific identification using the Marine Benthic Fauna book' and they will then be massaged into a text file and organized in Excel after which comparisons can start as to what we've seen. We've done three dives at Pozo Delfin - one in 2007 and two in 2017.
There's a big learning curve to identifying the animals. Since many of the animals fit into the same niches as species we know from the Pacific NW, we know which class to fit them into on our Linnaeun species list. However, even with an I.D. book at hand, I'm not sure about many animals. Especially sponges and ascidians seem to resist easy classification. The Benthic Guide recognizes this, and the authors on each of the species provide the names of animals which could easily be mistaken for each other. As with many other subjects one can study, becoming familiar with the subjects takes a lot of concentrated study and experience.

Even within the world of scientists, changes are occurring with perplexing frequency. It's really hard for an amateur to keep up. I was astounded to learn that an animal we know as a nudibranch - the 'dendronotus rufus' - red dendronotid had appeared in a classic role in 'Pacific Coast Pelagic Invertebrates' which I simplistically imagined was all about jellyfish. It was very easy for me to mistake a hydrozoan (page 317) for the ascidian (p 895) in Benthic Fauna. Among the most confusing aspects of gelatinous pelagic life is the fact that some animals switch from being attached and living completely static (sessile) lives, to being pelagic (moving around like jellyfish) for parts of their life. Many stately corals spend part of their life cycle in a planktonic, free-moving form. Learning more has clarified for me that a little bit of knowledge is just that … a little bit.

It has taken laborious hours for me to try to classify the photos we have. Our marine identification teachers in Vancouver - Donna Gibbs and Andy Lamb were such experts. When they leave their dive, they merely check through a computerized list of hundreds of animals, and they check off each of those they remember seeing. Through looking at our photos, we often find many animals that we hadn't even noticed when we were diving.

For his skills as a scientist, an educator and a lifelong proponent for marine preservation Andy Lamb has recently been made a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society. He's a great expert. Where I'm pleased to be nearing 500 dives, he's now completed nearly 10 times that many - 5,000 mostly cold-water dives.

At 2017-12-18 08:36 (utc) our position was 43°56.64'S 073°47.12'W

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Dive Day Agenda

adelomelon ancilla snail (150 mm)
We got up early yesterday … I got up to write a few emails as time at the prime computer is limited. Its major uses are as a moving map for navigation and to track weather information. Since we don't have internet down here (no-one else does either - unless they're fabulously wealthy!) we usually only send and receive emails once a day. I was quite surprised when the Captain emerged at 5:30 - just as it got light. He looked around a bit and said "we'll have to move the boat closer to the divesite". So I got my coffee, prepared my hot water bottle, got on my 'oilies' (weather-proof oilskin pants), wool hat and mitts and I waited for my jobs to begin. To start the main engine these days, we have to run the generator for a while because the alternator is broken and can't be fixed until we get parts ordered to Valdivia (in January). Soon I heard the roar of the generator being answered by the roar of the main engine. Out I went to lift the anchor - the washdown pump had been turned on and the control to activate the anchor windlass (which pulls up the anchor chain) was also ready. But I'd forgotten that first we had to get the inflatable dinghy (stored on top of the deck) in the water.

So I did that job. I turned the crank and the halyard rope lifted the dinghy over the side and we dropped it in the water. Then I hauled in the anchor, spraying the chain and watched the captain get rid of all the kelp gathered on the chain and anchor. Next we cruised around looking for the perfect spot really near the rocks but not so close as to hit them. When he found the perfect spot, he estimated a distance perpendicular to where the boat should end up, and he had me start dropping the anchor about 300 feet from the shore - I called out the distances the anchor had run out and when he gauged we were close but not TOO close to the rocks, he told me to stop. He left the engine in reverse tugging against the anchor chain, I ran to the back and he got in the dinghy with one of the two long ropes we have coiled onto spindles attached to the back of the boat. He rowed the dinghy to the shore, clambered up through the slippery rocks, circled the rope around a sturdy tree trunk, carried a long rope end back to the dinghy and tied the end in a knot which would hang out over the water once I tightened the remaining rope at my end. I tightened it by pulling in the slack using another winch at the back of the boat. Meanwhile he came back to the boat, got the other long rope and attached that to a companion tree triangulated from the back of the boat. These two triangulated lines angled from the anchor would keep the boat in a secure position once they were both tightened.

We did all of that in short order. Now we had ropes ashore leading to a prime rocky location for us to do our dive.
I started to get my dive gear on. Unfortunately, when the Captain turned the key the main engine wouldn't turn off. My first thought was "why don't we just turn off the fuel?"; but diesel engines - once starved of fuel - are very reluctant to start again. Many thoughts raced through our minds as the engine labored on and on - we remembered that we couldn't even order parts until we got hi-speed internet. If we ran out of fuel here in the wilderness, it might take weeks before someone could get to us. What if we had to leave the boat there … etc etc. Anyway, after searching the engine manual for a period of time, the Captain discovered an alternative way to turn it off which he'll use until we get to Valdivia and he gets the spare parts needed NOW for both the alternator and the engine.

We proceeded to get our dive gear on - with him assisting me to get the tank on in the water. I was finally going to get some exercise myself after watching him do most of the work! We set off to the nearby rocks and had one of the best dives in Patagonia that we have ever had. After that, because of the storm forecast for today, we had to untie all the lines, haul the dinghy up on deck and pick up the anchor to move the boat - a 5-hour trip - to our new location here at Isla Amita.

Now all I have to do is edit and identify the animals in the 108 photos Larry took yesterday, to write our photo-logs and to start assembling the data about what we've seen in our three dives at the Pozo Delfin divesite (February 2007 September 26 2017 and yesterday). Tomorrow we'll dive again here at Isla Amita.

At 2017-12-14 00:44 (utc) our position was 44°05.06'S 073°53.22'W

Friday, 8 December 2017

Summer finally!

Our cruising guide to this area says that once we are north of Golfo de Penas, summer is actually a possibility. It has been so! Five days out of the week since that passage have been blessed by sunshine, warmth and reasonable winds. We rarely even feel the need to run the furnace any more.

The desire to make a few memorable SCUBA dives is now able to occupy more of our attention as survival and safety demand a bit less.

Of course it is still not easy! We wanted to dive a site immediately next to a current-swept channel. The current generally promises more vibrant life as the sessile invertebrates have more food delivered to them.
Our cruising book promised a secure tie-up amongst the trees just next to the channel we wanted to dive.

The first problem was that the aforementioned current swept laterally across the opening to our little mooring cove with such gusto that there was no way to line up to back in to the spot. We waited about an hour for the tide to reverse at low water and tried again. The nook was so narrow that the plan was to anchor and reverse to a point just outside the opening, run several lines ashore and winch ourselves into the opening under perfect control. We needed the anchor to hold firmly to the bottom until we were all the way into the protected cove and had four lines securing us to trees. That would leave us immovable and out of wind and current.

After the first line was secured ashore and the rocks very close, it became clear the anchor was not holding to the rocky bottom. The hurried disconnect from our first tree went well and we escaped unscathed just before the tidal current returned sweeping in the opposite direction. On to plan "B". Of course, there is always a plan "B"!

We secured ourselves deeper in the bay with anchor and shore lines but, alas, too far from the desired current-swept channel to dive the site we wanted.

But, of course, we dove anyway along the rocky shore we could reach. We had been a bit tired of dive sites dominated by only one life form - typically the galatheid crab or squat lobster - and we entered the water hopeful of change. There WAS change but no real variety. In thirty minutes of swimming about in depths of six to twelve meters, the bright pink rocks were carpeted with fluffy white metridium anemones. They were far thicker than summer wild flowers on an alpine meadow but, alas, there was little room for anything else in this rather magic scene. The for-sure, though, is that the next dive will be different; that's why we go down and take a look.

The bonus of the day was not underwater but above. A large colony of sea lions graced a rocky islet just outside our bay. Every bay or channel offers something to see!

At 2017-12-07 23:08 (utc) our position was 45°24.96'S 074°01.65'W

Sunday, 3 December 2017


SAILING: Yesterday and today we've sailed across the Golfo de Penas and we're now motoring along Bahia Anna Pink towards our anchorage. We'll reach it after a 32-hour trip. Larry chose the departure time really wisely as we've sailed most of the way and haven't needed to use up much of our precious fuel.

In another and quite different display of the Captain's brilliance, a VERY LOUD ALARM warned us that we had changed our course more than 10 degrees. Sailing headings are chosen on points of a compass between 0 degrees (North) clockwise around to 360 degrees (North again) so a change of 10 degrees wouldn't really endanger your boat in a large Bay such as Anna Pink (shown in photo). This short explanation of how headings, our compass and the alarm works is very simplistic and only explains one facet of a complex situation.

We really needed this alarm because of our 'finicky' auto-pilot. Otto (the pilot) has been acting up for quite a while. Failures have occurred at the worst times, such as when we were sailing past Leopold Island on the NW Passage, up north of Svalbard and while we were passing through a gap in the reefs in Australia on the Barrier Reef. The boat making a large turn, after steering straight for hours and hours, is exactly how an autopilot failure manifests itself.

Larry had tried several times to get the 'source code' for the auto pilot. Since it's nearly 20 years old, and the original company for all our instruments has changed hands, useful information was not forthcoming. If we wanted to buy a new Otto, we'd have to buy a complete and costly set of new instruments. They're all formulated to work together and the new auto-pilot would not work with the other older instruments.

With an unreliable autopilot, Larry simply added the alarm 'fix' to the compass which he designed and built. His compass has worked perfectly now (for us anyway) for over 25,000 nautical miles. This was just another one of his software additions to the already competent little device.

DIVING: I've been spending many hours of the trip trying to correlate the 3 dives we've done in the identical location at Caleta Ideal into useful statistics. There are 3 steps. One is to turn the MS Word list into something useful for Excel. The first step is to itemize all the animals according to our Donna/Charlie Gibbs/ Andy Lamb-inspired 'take' on Linnaeus into a list. So here's my way of listing items.
1 Flora … kelp and algae
2 Porifera (sponges)
3.1 Hydroids
3.2 Anemones
3.3 Sea-whips, Pens
3.4 Corals
3.5 Hydrocorals
4 Jellies Ctenophores
5 Worms
6 Molluscs
6.1 Polyplacaphora Chitons
6.2 Gastropods limpets snails
6.3 Brachiopoda Lampshells
7 Nudibranchs
7.1 Dorids
7.2 Aeolids
7.3 Tritonia
7.4 Dironids
7.5 Bubble shells
8 Bivalves
9 Arthropods - Barnacles
10 Shrimps, Isopods
11 Crabs
12 Bryozoan
13 Echinoderms Stars
14 Urchins
15 Sea Cucumbers
16 Ascidians, Tunicates
17 Salps
18 Fish
19 Mammals
20 Overviews
Of course, I keep track of which animals are not yet identified in the Chilean Guide (published 2009), and state the name in NA (North America) if applicable. I also state if the animal has not yet been identified anywhere. At least anywhere that I can find with my limited resources. That way divers in future can go in and find new animals or (at least) note range and habitat changes for known species!

At 2017-12-02 18:11 (utc) our position was 45°48.33'S 074°35.83'W

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

A Pretty Glacier

A friend of ours recently mentioned in an email "Nobody sails Patagonia for the weather".

Following our relatively benign week in Ultima Esperanza - only one dragged anchor - we have only been able to travel north on one day out of two. The "rest" days have been forced on us by strong north winds raising waves in the channels against which we cannot make any progress.

Our friends remaining in Puerto Natales have fared worse. For about a week now, that port has been closed to any movement of small vessels (like ours or the many fishing boats). On some of those days, the fierce winds have caused the port to be closed even to large freighters and ferries.

Sometimes the weather, rather than forcing us to stay in a place, forces us to leave it. This has happened in Natales, Eden and the anchorage immediately after Natales. It's like the ice forcing our decisions during the Northwest Passage.

Most of the places we choose to stop are very sheltered and secure against any weather. Oddly, the inhabited places are often an exception to this. The bay in front of the small community of Puerto Eden is sheltered from north winds but open to the south. Thus, after a day of sheltering there from strong north winds - and enjoying the unusual availability of internet - I felt the need to leave because of forecast strong SOUTH winds.

Progress against the dying north winds was painful in the final open stretch before a well sheltered cove, Caleta Yvonne, at the junction of Fiordo Iceberg and Canal Messier, the route north. Nonetheless, Caleta Yvonne where we stopped a couple of days ago presented the possibility of a bit of sightseeing.

Eighty miles north of Caleta Yvonne is Golfo de Penas - the Gulf of Sorrows. This represents a difficult 175 mile passage in the open Pacific exposed to all the weather the Southern Ocean can muster to torment a sailor. At this point, we have been looking at long range forecasts for several days to find the most benign period in which to tackle the crossing. Establishing that December 1 would be a good day to set out left us with a few idle days.

Following an engine oil change in the Caleta during one of those spare days, the weather perked up and the sun came out for the first time in a week and a half. At the eastern end of Fiordo Iceberg, three hours travel from our anchorage, lies a beautiful glacier. The winds were still blowing quite strongly but that would aid our trip to the glacier - and the winds were forecast to die away enough so as not to impede the return.

We hurriedly disconnected ourselves from the shore, got the dinghy aboard and hoped the sunshine would last. It did! At one point along the route Mary Anne counted fourteen waterfalls in sight at one time coursing down the valley walls. And the reward at the end of the fjord was a perfect glacier of such an impossible shrieking blue color that it seemed someone must have dumped a tanker load of blue die onto its surface.*

Now we wait again for better weather to move along. Caleta Ideal, our last anchorage before crossing Golfo de Penas, is only forty-five miles north of us. November 29 should see us there.

* The one lo-res picture we are able to send by short-wave radio does not do justice to the place; we'll replace it when we have internet access in three or four weeks.

At 2017-11-28 00:27 (utc) our position was 48°20.31'S 074°33.49'W

Friday, 24 November 2017

Puerto Eden 2007 and 2017

Shell midden - Puerto Eden 2009
When we were here in 2007 & 2009, the major fishing industry - the shellfish industry - was bustling ... there was a huge 'midden' next to the boardwalk which encircles the town. Only a shadow of it is left, and the shellfish are again proliferating in their natural environment. We donated some books to the school library and bought some handicrafts from the local Alcaluf native group whose land this is.
The familiar story to all of us (and particularly to North and South Americans) of land "grabs" and diseases brought by the European colonizers are also -sadly - familiar here. In the south the Chono, Alacaluf, and Yámana Indians occupied the whole Chilean archipelago southward to Cape Horn. Now only a fragment of those people remain - mostly here in Puerto Eden.
 We were advised by French cruisers Isabelle and Ariel on 'Skol' that all cruisers who come here should ask for permission to anchor from the Alcaluf community. As we're only staying a short time, we complied only with the Armada regulations and those governed by international maritime law. Ariel and Isabelle are giving back as much as they can to the community here - teaching French cookery, taking kids on sailing trips and - in return -  learning to weave baskets.

Where the shellfish are in 2017
In 2007 we got to know some of the residents. Louisa was running a wood-fired Pizza Place out of her little house. Her husband Miguel, an engineer, was constructing a new dock in the town centre. They're gone now and the town has seemed really diminished with few children running up to us, fishing from the dock and racing around with their dogs.

But this town is just waiting to TAKE OFF! A civil works project to finish rejuvenating all the old houses in the town is giving employment to some of the local Alcaluf population. A new ferry terminal has been built, and ferry service has been doubled with a new ferry running to Tortel and Puerto Natales providing connections to busses and airlines. For 'Cruisers'there's  a new Boat Haulout in Natales so you can get boats repaired and the hulls repainted. Keri-Lee Pashuk and Greg Landreth have relocated their business here and bought a house which will act as a scientific research center with lodging and trips. They hope to include dive trips. To read about their current scientific work in monitoring the deaths of the many whales lost along this coastline look up

Aboard Traversay III: Louisa, Miguel & family with Louisa's sister 
The fishermen here have had to re-adjust to  a complete abandonment of the shellfish industry because of the Red Tide threat and they've taken up capturing Centolla (the lithodes santolla crab). These are hand-packed, frozen and most are flown directly to Europe and the U.S. Other companies offer the meat re-packaged. SeaTech's ad reads as follows:

A Beautiful Delicious Crab MeatOur Chilean King Crab Meat (Lithodes Antarcticus / Santolla) is packed from crab caught in ice cold pure ocean waters off the coast of southern Chile. The brilliant bright red and pure white colors of the meat, its naturally sweet briny succulent flavor, and wonderful texture is an epicurean delight. Chilean King Crab Meat is packed with merus meat layered over, claw meat, broken leg meat and large whole pieces of shoulder meat in our one pound vacuum packed tray. Our pack is single frozen which maintains the top quality of fresh picked meat. For additional information download our spec sheet, send us an email or give us a call.

Larry's photo of: Lithodes Santolla

Thursday, 23 November 2017

A Mystery

ascidia paratropa - Glassy
When you have dived in Northern Europe and on the West Coast of North America, you more or less expect to encounter similar species, and even for amateurs like us we are not surprised that Alaska’s Giant King Crabs are roaming westwards, pulverizing less aggressive species and taking over in Russia and Norway. These animals share familiar habitats and it’s not surprising that Northern climates feature very similar species – especially those that move around. BUT – when you encounter a glassy tunicate (pictured) you have to wonder: “How did it get here?”

How did it make it through the equator? How did it make it through the torrid waters that stretch so far on either side of the equator? We certainly didn’t see any Glassies in Australia’s Coral Sea or even in the temperate waters of New Zealand.

 In our last dive at Caleta Damien, we saw not just a glassy tunicate (or ascidia paratropa) but another ascidian or tunicate called halocyntia aurantium or Sea Peach. They’re both quite amazing – the Glassy looking just like something that could be a distorted but lovely water glass – and the Peach quite the opposite – gnarled and mis-shapen like a plastic Halloween face that has first had ears and nose pulled out of place and then been left forgotten in an oven to partially melt. Both of these animals do not have the ability to move. So how did they get here?

David Behrens gives us a clue about all invertebrates when describing the dispersal of certain nudibranchs (- his specialty-) “the overwhelming majority have been distributed by natural means”. Some species of animals have a much greater tolerance for variety of temperatures and of prey animals. They can flourish while other similar creatures are excluded. “Phenomena such as El Nino events (when the ocean experiences a drastic increase in temperature) can provide … distribution of the species.”

Sometimes, it IS our influence that brings new animals from across the equatorial divide. The prey of some species can be organisms fouling the bottom of a boat, or in the bilge water of ocean-going vessels.   If the animal being brought into new water can survive, find appropriate prey and reproduce, it will have found a new home. Some are unwanted, so every country has strict regulations to reduce any impact a vessel like ours can have on their territorial waters. Neither the Glassy nor the Sea Peach are shown in the ‘Benthic Fauna of Chilean Patagonia’ but no doubt they find the climate, water and food here as agreeable as the waters across the equator and up North.

REFINEMENTS of the Tunicate/Ascidian family:

Eating and excreting with the same orifice? UGH! The glassy tunicate and its family are quite remarkable. They’re a more complex form of life because they have TWO orifices - unlike the anemone and most other marine invertebrates which have only the one. This earns it a higher number (16) in our Linnaeus-based numbering system as compared to the anemone (3.2) Andy Lamb explains:  “Each solitary tunicate has two siphons: an in-current one that brings in the food-laden water and an ex-current one that expels the filtered product.”

halocyntia aurantium - Sea Peach

Sex: Andy continues: “Nearly all tunicates are hermaphroditic, meaning that each adult specimen has both male and female organs. However, the Peach avoids the disadvantage of self-fertilization by releasing the eggs and sperm at different times.”

Saturday, 18 November 2017


Our last night in Puerto Natales was quite delightful. We had moved from our "secure" anchorage at Puerto Consuelo into town - or a mere half mile from town by dinghy - mindful of a good forecast for the night and the anticipation of a shared restaurant dinner with Martin and Patty of "Otra Vida", Mark and Rosie of "Merkava" and Greg of "Saoirse". Then we really wanted to get out of town as 1) the calendar was continuing its relentless progress and 2) the forecasts promised a lot of trouble with forced relocations and dragging anchors if we stayed.

Our departure the next morning was on a typically difficult Patagonian day with extra strong headwinds delaying us at a tidal pass and nearly preventing our getting through - a six hour delay; not a disaster. Our very safe planned destination for day one turned out to be too difficult to enter under the prevailing conditions so on we went for four more interminable hours to a spot we would have to leave if the wind shifted. It did! So we left!

A few days later, we find ourselves in Caleta Damien on Isla Whidbey. In conventional terms, we have made abysmal progress to date but the weather here only presents a decent day to the northbound small-boat sailor on one day in three.

This spot is a bit open to the southwest winds blowing at times at thirty knots but the waves are not traveling far and have no force to them. I know the anchor holding us off the beach is well dug into the gravelly sand fifteen meters down because I looked at it earlier today on an otherwise uninspiring dive. Four ropes to the most lively-looking trees I could easily reach from the shore add to our feeling of near-security. Our main concern is, of course, the strong gusty winds. The snow and five millimeter hail (on different occasions) earlier today are more in the way of entertainment.

We will get going again tomorrow or, more likely, the day after. The strongest squally winds have a way of flipping the dinghy and dumping the precious oars in the water while we are winching it aboard after using it to untie the shore lines. If you have seen small boat sailors towing a dinghy in your home waters, that is not good practice here as the fierce winds soon turn it into a kite and/or find some other way of depriving you of its further use. So we wait for weather at least good enough to safely get going.

All this aggravation, I must mention, is taking place while we are surrounded by unparalleled beauty.

Enough complaining ...

Mary Anne is playing Debussy on the piano, filling the boat with sound and beauty. I think I'd rather listen than write more.

At 2017-11-18 17:52 (utc) our position was 51°18.47'S 074°08.75'W

Monday, 13 November 2017

Hits and Misses

tritonia odhneri in 2007
errina antarctica 2017

It’s with a feeling of relief that I’ve been able to remove a glaring and prominently placed mistake in one of my previous Blogs. I was feeling quite happy with my blog-writing ability, having a bit of a swagger about being able to bring some of the underwater creatures to ‘life’ for some folks who have never encountered them before.

I’ve now removed that source of embarrassment. No need to say more (particularly if you hadn’t noticed it!)

The ability to make huge errors is never really vanquished. Particularly in a Blog … we rarely have more than an hour to write these. And we both check them over – but we rarely seem to catch the big errors when we proofread each other’s blogs. Possibly Larry has an exaggerated idea of my writing ability because he sees me reading and reading …

errina antarctica fan coral 2007
I’m also very much aware that without a ‘real’ biologist’s skills and tools for dissecting and closely examining the animals, I can very easily be wrong in the identifications and information I give here. Also – with new discoveries in research, my ageing books and information may now be out of date. Even with Larry’s help in checking the data, there’s a huge margin for error.

The temptation to assign a cause for missing animals we saw 10 years ago would be very wrong. For one thing, we are not experienced specialized divers so we may just not have seen what was plainly there to be seen. In fact, I was brought to an awareness of my own deficiencies as a diver when I read David Behrens statement in ‘Pacific Coast Nudibranchs’ that “on a single dive, the inexperienced observer should be able to find 6 to 12 species of opistobranchs without too much difficulty”.
sunflower star - in British Columbia 2014
We rarely find more than 2 species. Also - the fact that we missed seeing any of the spectacular orange tritonia odhneri nudibranchs could be because 9 years ago we saw them in the middle of summer (January 6, 2009) and it’s still too early in spring. Or that their primary food source (the octocoral fan errina antarctica) didn’t seem as flourishing as on our previous trip.

latruncullia ciruela a new type?
Behrens shows several other reasons for our disappointment. One is as follows: “Many species have been observed to come and go from local habitats, disappearing for years at a time where it was once abundant, and then reappearing once again … biogeography is one of the most speculative aspects of the biology of organisms.” So the fact that we didn’t observe the the orange nudibranch may just be one of environmental fluctuation rather than loss. Similarly, one hopes that the same reason can be attributed to the losses of beautiful sunflower stars (pycnopodia helianthoides) in British Columbia and Washington.

latruncullia ciruela sponge
Some of the wonders of the trip have been that - with the help of the ‘Benthic Fauna’ book - we’ve seen some new animals and been able to properly identify some whose picture we took 8 or 9 years ago and could not identify earlier.

Newly identified for us: latruncullia ciruela.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

More Puerto Natales

The Scene from day to day near Puerto Natales is so striking that we can't help but share some of the images.
The emu like flightless bird is a darwin's rhea or lesser rhea.  He seemed quite large enough so we had trouble imagining the larger greater rhea.
Guanacos, the wild relatives of the llama are everywhere in the wild in large numbers.
We are anchored off a historic estancia (ranch) about 20 kilometers by road out of Puerto Natales.  Cowboys ride along the road herding their cattle in a most picturesque manner against the mountain background.
The estancia itself is always pretty with the everchanging light and cloud. Where we land from the boat, there are always horses wandering about.

Friday, 10 November 2017

A Day Complete

… complete with Heaven and Hell. Yesterday we took Highway 9 North to visit the famously beautiful Parque Torres del Paine. We were fortunate to start out around 0730 with the most peaceful and sunny day possible. Every 'local' we met during the day told us how lucky we were to be here: "such beautiful weather - NO WIND!" Every viewpoint from which Larry took a photo - familiar from the many tourist advertisements of the area - contained a glass encased little hut from which you could snap your picture without danger of being swept away by strong winds. Of course, he took these photos unimpeded by an enclosure.

My only problem with our day as tourists was the fact that I was driving. Apart from the main highway #9, travel was mostly on very poor and narrow roads composed of gravel alternated with tarmac. This pavement was made more interesting by large potholes. On these roads, we met few vehicles like ours. Alas - we'd followed our usual plan and I had sought the smallest and cheapest vehicle I could rent. The helpful people there DID warn me that many folks had accidents on the roads around here. Perhaps I should have taken heed at that point, and noticed that my little car was already covered in dust. Everyone who passed us - that is everyone going in the same direction - roared by in big 'Expedition' vehicles. Luckily, I grew up when Alberta's farms were mostly serviced by gravel roads. I'd learned to drive out on Uncle George Penner's farm. The advantage of gravel roads was that we could always tell when someone was coming to visit us because the cloud of dust announcing an arriving vehicle could be seen for miles across the flat countryside.

So now I knew when a car was coming towards me or coming up from behind. Most of the roads here are 1 or 1 ½ lanes. I could find a bit of wider road and pull over a little as the tour busses or large expedition vehicles cruised by. Of course, we'd have to close our windows (it was warm out) to wait for the dust to settle while I proceeded along slowly and in 2nd gear. In the low areas of road, the surface resembled corduroy. Being shaken to bits seemed a possibility. By my second driving day, we'd already had to take the car back to the Rental Agency because of a nearly flat tire. They seemed very accustomed to the problem and sent out an employee with a portable inflator. But it now seems flat once again.

After 9 hours of driving, we were ready to relax when we got back to the boat in the dinghy. We had just eaten a meal of wraps and had a drink when Larry warned that the winds were building up. About 1 minute afterwards, our anchor alarm blared and we both rushed out to find we were rapidly moving into the shallower water. The dinghy was bouncing around on its leash and there was no way of getting down to ease its troubles. Luckily we'd taken our usual precautions and secured it with double lines including a steel cable - but a constant worry was that it could turn over, fill with water, lose the oars or flood and ruin the engine (it didn't). I rushed out to lift the anchor (my job) but it came up with a meter-wide ball of tangled weeds and mud attached. Of course, without being grounded, the strong winds (35-40 knots) were blowing against the hull and driving us even faster into shallow waters and it was pure luck that we hadn't already 'grounded' and stuck. Larry got us into somewhat deeper water and came forward to finish dealing with the messy anchor, and I went back to steer - driving back and forth under his directions for the best course and the deepest water within a very narrow possible range. This would continue - until (1) he could get the muck off the anchor and it would be able to 'dig in' (2) we could find a deep enough spot to hold the boat with secure depth all around so that it couldn't start moving again and (3) it calmed just enough for the anchor to sink through the weeds into the mud below before the wind yanked it free.

The water is not much deeper in any direction and this is a far from an ideal anchorage, but there are few anchorages here and it's the one the Armada (Navy) directed us to.

Luckily our emergency only lasted for about 2 hours. Today, I'm having a 'rest' and editing photos while taking the antibiotics I got from the dentist on Tuesday. I have a problematic molar. Poor Larry is spending the day fixing the water-maker. Luckily, he thought ahead and has all the tools (including an impact wrench) that he needs.

At 1899-12-30 00:00 (utc) our position was 51°36.54'S 072°39.59'W

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The Big City

Along the way
Puerto Profundo on the edge of Magellan Strait was our actual turnaround point but we needed to r
esupply with food and fuel to provide for our trip back north.  Puerto Natales, being the only inhabited port around here, was the only choice.

The way this normally works is that you arrive in the city, tie up in a marina berth for some expenditure of money and eat out a lot while going to supermarkets movies and concerts to mix the essential with the enjoyable.

It's different here!

We left an anchorage a few miles from Puerto Natales early on a calm morning to try to get as much done as possible mindful of the likely but unknown difficulties.  There is no a) secure (from weather) and b) available  - tie-up for a "pleasure boat" in Puerto Natales.  There is no anchorage either that doesn't get regularly beat up by the Patagonian winds. Needing around 600 liters of diesel fuel though, we really wanted to tie alongside something a fuel truck could park on.  Everything else we could solve from an anchorage using the dinghy.

A phone call established that the fisherman's dock would allow us to tie up no longer than necessary for the fueling ... and the paperwork the navy required to allow us to fuel. So in we came between two boats unloading fish and loading supplies. I headed off to the Port Captain office for the papers and a short time after I got back, the fuel truck appeared.

Puerto Consuelo
The Navy people - who had appeared almost as soon as we had tied up - confirmed that there was nowhere for us in town and "suggested" we should really head off to the secure anchorage at Puerto Consuelo about 2 hours by boat out of the city.  Mary Anne quickly digested all this and suggested that, since we would need transport from there, she could rent a car and meet me there.

While the day was evolving under light winds, brilliant sunshine and world-class scenery all around, the following problems emerged in no particular order.  These are the sort of things cruising sailors deal with that regular tourists cannot even imagine.

1) in front and behind our boat, various other boats tied up two-deep (a kind of legitimate double-parking).  It took the help of three or four fishermen on the dock to extricate Traversay from her position on the dock to the open water outside this considerable thickness of parked boats.

2) Everything, of course, takes place in Spanish

3) lots of docking paraphernalia (lines and fenders) for one person to put away while steering through unfamiliar waters.

4) very shallow water on the way to Puerto Consuelo.  On the best course there is only 10 centimeters of water under the keel - on the wrong course: none at all.

Meanwhile ...

5) the fact that Puerto Consuelo is an obvious location on a nautical chart does not mean that the highway people give it any thought at all.  Mary Anne toured a very scenic part of Patagonia getting no closer to where I had anchored for the longest while. Several of the roads which went to the water were closed for repairs, so she kept seeing the water far below, and no apparent way of getting to it.

6) Roads were gravel, dusty and slow.

The road to Puerto Consuelo
7) Mary Anne's ultimate arrival was delayed a considerable while by a large hole in the road and several large pieces of construction equipment attempting to fill it.

8) during these separate travels, there were no cellphone signals thus I had no idea of Mary Anne's progress and she had no idea of mine.

9) Did I mention that everything takes place in Spanish - including any helpful directions Mary Anne was offered along the way.

10) Her roadmap didn't show Puerto Consuelo and my nautical charts didn't show the roads to get there so neither of us would have been much help to the other if we could have communicated.  This is a typical problem; many people living on or near a beach cannot describe how to reach their location by water.

But now, we have a car, full fuel on the boat and a secure anchorage.  The city is only a half hour drive away and we are ready for a week of adventure here.  The failed desalinator that makes our drinking water can be repaired another day.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Dive IV in Puerto Profundo

Yesterday in another of our Puerto Profundo dives, we came upon an old friend who has perfected a most fascinating disguise. We seldom see this character - it's only when a patch of background material starts moving in a certain way, and I pick it up and replace it on a very different background that Larry's able to get a photo. We don't know whether the disguise has been adopted as protection, but we think he/she are quite probably the predators. The disguise is used to keep their prospective dinners from suspecting that there's Danger nearby.

It's a crab species known as 'eurypodus latreilli' in Patagonia and as 'oregonia gracilis' in northern waters. Its common name is the Graceful Decorator Crab. It doesn't hurt to move him to another location. In the book Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest Andy Lamb states: "using virtually any material, this fastidious crab rips off pieces of its environment and then attaches them to its body. In captivity, if a specimen is moved to a different background, it will remove its old wardrobe and re-festoon."

If you like to walk ocean beaches and have that opportunity, every summer you may come upon all sorts of crab shells. Don't worry - if they have no meat on them, these are just abandoned shells that have been outgrown by bigger crabs. Of course, hard shells get too small as crabs grow, and they cast them off through a process called 'molting'. As GJ Jensen has written in 'Pacific Coast Crabs and Shrimps' "molting is a remarkable process. A molting crab leaves behind an exact and usually intact replica of itself, down to the surface of its eyes and gills and even the lining of its stomach".

If you see an abandoned crab molt, just imagine the complex manoeuvres the animal went through to get out of his shell. These shells are often used like recycled clothing by other underwater crustacean species. The propagurus fusitriton - pictured here - is wearing (in this case) a recycled fusitriton cancellatus shell.

propagurus gaudichaudi hermit crab 
A miracle of intricate timing occurs when a parasitic little arthropod living under the shell of a crab needs to grow a larger shell of its own. All shrimps and crabs (crustaceans) go through the molting process as they grow. So the parasite has to go through exactly the same growth cycle - losing a lot of musculature in its claw, building up a new exoskeleton under the old one - and timing all this to coincide exactly with the host crab's time of molting. Two co-joined arthropodic inmates I knew at the Wet Lab in the Vancouver Aquarium must have gone through this process together.

Since the molt itself takes very little time, preparation and execution for both partners in this duet has to be as perfect as a sonata performance at Carnegie Hall.

At 2017-11-04 10:00 (utc) our position was 52°40.92'S 073°46.30'W

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Puerto Profundo

the fishermen visit
When we planned this two-year voyage, due to various seasonal and time constraints, we realized we would have to forego some of our favorite spots on the Beagle Channel at the very bottom of the continent. Magellan Strait would be the furthest south we could reach in the time available.

Puerto Profundo is a relatively large and deep area of sheltered water situated where Canal Smyth at the southern end of Chile's "inside passage" joins Magellan Strait. The word "puerto" does not signify any sort of town or village - no one lives here at all - but only that vessels of various sizes might find shelter.

The center of Puerto Profundo is suitable for moderate size ships to anchor but is too open and deep for small vessels like ours. Nonetheless, the maze of waterways that constitute the puerto offer numerous little nooks and crannies where a sailing yacht can hide amongst the trees protected from all manner of nasty weather.

As a turn-around point, there is enough amusement here to last us at least a week and Puerto Natales, the nearest town, will provide refueling and provisioning for the return north a few easy travel days away. When we get there it will have been over two months since our last supermarket visit!

Mary Anne has described the phenomenal diving here (and will do so again) in the clear cold water. We have also wandered around the various channels and tidal lagoons in the dinghy. It is all outrageously scenic! We see a high icecap crowning the mountains in the distance to the east. Unlike further north - though not as much as further south - the bush along the shore thins enough in places to allow access over the sponge-like moss to higher ground where the views are more open. We have seen dolphins and steamer ducks (flightless) in the lagoons and large salt-water otters (Chungungo) on the shore.

A small fishing boat from Puerto Natales visited Puerto Profundo a few days ago to harvest Centolla, a tasty Chilean crab, from their traps. She came alongside us and we traded with the three fishermen aboard. One of Mary Anne's freshly baked cakes along with a bottle of wine netted us a few recently caught Centolla.

Yesterday, our instruments indicated a sailing yacht anchored in Caleta Teokita, one of Puerto Profundo's more distant coves. I visited by dinghy and met the Chilean owner from Santiago traveling with a number of his friends. The south of his country had so enchanted him on a previous visit with his wife and family that he decided to visit again in a summer trip from his boat's home port in Valparaiso to the Cape Horn area and back. It still being late spring, they were on their way southbound.

It amazes me that after weeks of rain and wind, our stay here in Puerto Profundo is blessed with unusual calms and abundant sunshine. We will continue to enjoy the memory of this place as we fight the contrary winds and currents on our way back north.

At 2017-10-31 12:41 (utc) our position was 52°40.45'S 073°45.74'W

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

A Heteropod as art work?

Puerto Profundo has been the divesite in Chile we most wanted to return to. So far, on our two dives, it has not disappointed us - we've been able to see and photograph nearly all of our favourite species from 2007 and 2009.

The amazing-looking sea creature pictured is in the jellyfish family. It comes to us directly from the Pacific Ocean which is not far away. It seems to be a heteropod. We only know this because nearly 20 years ago we bought a book entitled 'Pacific Coast Pelagic Invertebrates' (Wrobel and Smith). From photos in the book we decided that the animal most closely resembles a carinaria cristata.

Jellyfish have come to have an undeservedly bad name - partly through TV programs like the 'Friends' episode in which Joey has to pee on Rachel when she gets stung by an un-named species of jellyfish. In 1998 when this book was published, it included photos of well over 100 different species and the authors stated 'we could not include all of the gelatinous animals from this region' (California up to Alaska). The authors address Rachel's problem: 'Jellies are often treated as a scourge, deadly creatures that should be avoided due to their venomous sting. In reality, gelatinous animals are among the most beautiful and stunning animals of the sea. Although a few types may present some danger to people, most are harmless.'
The most common jellyfish we terrestrial animals see are the moon jellyfish … hydromedusa. You can see them when they float into Bay areas - seemingly in their thousands - at the whim of currents bringing them in from the open sea.

We have also often seen hordes of physalia (Portuguese Man of War) offshore. They CAN sting you - and they do sometimes arrive on beaches. Usually warnings are posted by authorities, as in Australia where beaches with warnings about the dangerous 'Box' jellyfish (whose venom could kill you) should be avoided.
When you see moon or other jellyfish, you're advised to avoid picking them up especially if you notice red cells - these only occur during the breeding season. If you do feel a sting, you should avoid itching the area or apply some ice wrapped in a towel. Rubbing alcohol, fresh water and pee are not useful solutions as they will just encourage the activation of more nematocysts. A nematocyst is a tiny barb which can be affected by mechanical or chemical stimuli to fire into the epidermis of the prey. Divers in cold water (the water here is at 8C, 48F) are wearing divesuits of some kind (we have drysuits) so we would never feel the effects unless they touch some uncovered area of our faces.

Gelatinous animals can be beautiful to watch in the proper setting. If you're able to see an aquarium containing moon jellyfish, there are often crowds watching - mesmerized by the graceful movements of these animals as they're carried along by invisible currents. There's a story that in Japan, instead of having artwork or a television, some people have aquariums full of moon jellyfish. If true, we could all learn from this - it would be soothing to watch these harmless and beautiful creatures instead of worrying about North Korea and watching TV News.

It's impossible for us to collect specimens of this very rarely seen animal which Larry has photographed. I doubt that even Japanese millionaires could keep them as pets or replacements for artwork. That's because they cannot survive in standard aquariums. At the Vancouver Aquarium, a special system continuously brings fresh seawater directly in and out plus more machinery is needed to simulate water motion without also sucking the jellyfish out of the tank. The animals are delicate and consist of 95% water. Even if we had permission and the right equipment for collecting them, we could fatally injure them trying to scoop them up and out of the water.

Our book has taught us about the parts of the animal. At the very top of the creature is its mouth. It's been feeding on a sea whip - a 'convexella magelhaenica'. You can see that the lower part has been completely eaten away. This is another cannibalistic action as both animals belong to the class Cnidaria - but although the whip also has stinging cells, it can't fight back with its largely ineffectual nematocysts. Supposedly there are eyes, sucker, radula (a tooth-like apparatus which it's using to scrape away at the sea whip) and tentacle up near the mouth - none of which I could make out in the photo. The gorgeous long swooping diaphanous part is the tail, and the yellowish structures within it are the guts, gills, the penis and a vestigial shell - all of which I find difficult to identify individually. Perhaps with a higher resolution photo, you'll be able to see these parts.

**Please note that we have appreciated comments on our blog, but we're not able to respond to them while we're away on this trip.

At 2017-10-31 11:07 (utc) our position was 52°40.45'S 073°45.74'W

Sunday, 29 October 2017

A Motherhood Strategy: for fish

female emerges from sponge

This is probably a one-of-a-kind photo. Larry took it on November 17 2007. It shows a fish emerging from an orange sponge having laid her eggs inside it to try to protect them from predators. We'd already heard about this - biologists in BC had observed this behaviour with tiny 'gobies' - a small darting fish emerging from the orange finger sponge - ' neoesperiopsis rigida'. To our knowledge, no-one else has captured it on film.

The photo was taken during a dive at Bahia Moore here in Patagonia, Chile.

How do you find an encouraging divesite? Travel here in Patagonia is difficult and sometimes impossible.
For navigating on all 3 of our trips here, we've been using the 'Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide' (by Mariolina Rolfo and Giorgio Ardrizzi). Although not concerned with scuba diving, they've listed over 400 usually safe anchorages. Known as the 'Italian Book', this book is now used with gratitude by all yachts-people who travel here.

Once we get to a listed anchorage, we carefully study the chart in combination with searching the shoreline - hoping to find a steep rocky cliff near which we can tie or anchor Traversay III.

For identifying underwater species, the new (2009)and comprehensive book is 'Marine Benthic Fauna of Chilean Patagonia' edited by Vreni Haussermann and Gunter Forsterra. It supersedes the smaller Guìa de invertebrados marinos del litoral Valdiviano (Zagal, Hermosilla y Riedemann), Mariscos y peces de importancia comercial en el sur de Chile (Lorenzen, Gallardo, Jara, Clasing et al) and our guide about the similar BC species: Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest (Andy Lamb & Bernard P Hanby).

The Chilean book was compiled with the help of over 40 specialists, help from biological institutions around the world, and with many photographers, translators, divers and environmental groups here in Chile. The work load for the editors has been massive, and the resources have been slim. Time is limited to adequately identify let alone protect the amazing biodiversity still unexplored here in Patagonian Chile. More international interest and support from around the world would help these researchers get to these sites, dive them and quantify and properly investigate the species. What's needed is a modern 'Calypso'-type vessel. You can find out more if you look up 'Huinay Scientific Foundation'. It's based in Puerto Montt Chile which is where many vessels spend the Chilean winter.

myxicola infundibulum - slime tubeworm
We offered to take a Chilean diver (he would pay only for his food) when we dove here in 2009, but at the last minute he bailed out. It was too late to find anyone else and our Canadian identification mentors (who had also been invited) couldn't come.

Since the Benthic Guide is so international, we don't believe that divers and photographers from other countries would be prohibited from collecting here and the guide offers a complete PROTOCOL which must be followed by any interested divers to properly collect so-far uncollected species. For us: we're now at an age where guests aboard for an extended period is a huge drain on our energy. That shouldn't stop other divers and photographers from different countries from collecting here!

janolus sp. nudibranch
Here are just a few animals and locations we've seen so far in the same location which are not identified or pictured in the Guide:

myxicola infundibulum (slime-tube feather-duster). This rather unattractively named species of tube-dwelling worms lives in rock crevices. It's a filter-feeder and when you approach, it pulls in its pallid crown leaving a jiggling mass behind.
WHERE: Pozo Delfin (S coast Canal Baeza … Arch de Chonos) S 73 47.01 W 044 29.39

janolus rebeccae or janolus sp. (nudibranch) We identified this beautiful animal as 'rebeccae' on our previous trip here ... perhaps through the kind help of Dr Paul Brickle who worked for the Department of Fisheries in Stanley, Falkland Islands. The Chilean guide states that no Janolus had been collected South of the Golfo de Penas as of the publishing date.
WHERE: Caleta Ideal (N end of Canal Messier) S 47 45.4 W 074 53.5

For your own photo of the mother emerging from the sponge:
WHERE: Bahia Moore (E Coast of Canal Sarmiento) S 51 45.15 W073 51.9 But you may wait a long time!

At 2017-10-29 12:35 (utc) our position was 52°40.45'S 073°45.73'W