Monday, 2 October 2017

Isla Prieto

The only real problem in this manner of traveling is deciding what to do with each tomorrow.

Laguna San Rafael and the tidewater glacier that tumbles into it constitute one of the scenic gems of southern Chile. The Chilean small boat sailors seldom take their boats to the far south of Patagonia but take pride in their voyages through the relatively sheltered inside waters to that special place. I'm not sure if it is more or less beautiful than the myriad of tidewater glaciers further south or if it simply better known by dint of being more easily accessed. At any rate, we wanted to see it to find out what the fuss was about.

A relatively good day, wind-wise, was available three days out of Puerto Aguirre - just when we would get there. On the flip side though, the weather after that would present an ugly trip back up the channels to access the route further south. Additionally, forecasts suggested the skies would be gray and rainy. I finally decided a break from all the traveling would be nice and a fine glacier visit didn't seem enough of a sure thing.

So off we went instead to this spot on the south shore of Isla Prieto. We are just short of where Bahia Anna Pink opens up into the 180 mile ocean passage we must make to access the sheltered waters on the other side of Golfo de Penas. Our initial plan out of Puerto Aguirre was to divide the Isla Prieto voyage into two days. Nonetheless, arriving at our planned overnight anchorage at the end of a long blustery day, we found it offered no shelter. An unusual easterly breeze was blowing wind and waves right into the anchorage. So on we went for another three hours before settling for the night.

Our spot here at Isla Prieto is contained by high green mountains that block the fierce Patagonian gales. Waves cannot enter our sanctuary because of the collection of tiny islands that surround it. In addition to all that, Traversay III is almost immovable with four strong lines to stout trees suspending us in the middle of a tiny elongated cove. In the mornings, the occasional shaft of sunshine illuminates the mist clinging to the tops of the surrounding hills. Whitecaps in the channel outside our sheltered bay give clues to the strength of the winds outside.

My first punishment for passing up Laguna San Rafael was the dawning of October 1, the day we would have been at the glacier, clear, calm and very sunny. Oh well, there will be other glaciers to tour further south and, in the meantime, we can SCUBA dive to pass the time.

They say that the best way to make the gods laugh is to tell them your plans. As I assembled the stowed SCUBA gear, I found Mary Anne's buoyancy compensator, an important piece of equipment, had failed. This was no doubt additional penalty for my having passed up one of Chile's scenic wonders. Various increasingly invasive attempts at repair finally revealed that a small air valve in the inflator had become irretrievably corroded. It's amazing how little of what you buy these days will give more than ten years of trouble free service!!

Finally, I gave up on the valve and replaced the whole inflator/deflator assembly with a spare carried aboard for years for just this possibility.

Eventually, somewhat late, we got into the water. The dive was excellent and yielded up many fine photos. A dinghy excursion later in the day showed us some early spring flowers being visited by a hummingbird. The flowers waited for a photo; the hummingbird did not.

There will be more diving for sure because the weather forecasts promise totally unacceptable weather for an open ocean passage until at least the 6th of October.

And so here we wait.

At 2017-10-02 18:28 (utc) our position was 45°48.01'S 074°23.47'W

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