Friday, 27 October 2017

Southward: Challenging Days and Gentle Days

Based on the forecasts for the next week, we are trying to situate ourselves in well protected coves during serious storms and travel on the days when it is safe to do so. This travel plan is blended in with our desire to SCUBA dive - usually during the bad weather - in various spots along the way.

The day chosen for traveling from Bahia Tom to Caleta Paroquet looked acceptable. Twenty knots of wind from the north would provide a fast sail and avoid the use of some diesel fuel.

Our cruising guide, known as "The Italian Book" for the nationality of its authors, suggests that if your sheltered anchorage is windy, DON'T SET OUT!, it will only be worse. No worries there. Our anchorage was nearly calm.

Outside was different though than in our sheltered hideaway. The wind built and soon we were sailing along at eight knots (that is way faster than the motor can push us!). The wind varied from 35 knots in the squalls to only 15 in the lulls. We settled on little enough sail that there was no danger to our rig in the squalls and accepted the somewhat slower speed in the blue-sky stretches between.

The thirty-three miles went by very quickly. Just as we were closing with the intricate entry to our destination inlet, the biggest squall of the day hit with winds briefly touching 40 knots, the boat sailing over eight knots and hail pounding down on the deck. It was actually painful to be out in the open! Hail was even flying in the entryway hatch and landing on the galley floor.

Mercifully, the calm that followed the squall was just long enough for us to get the first couple of lines tied to nearby trees in the tiny nook that was to be our home for two nights of even worse weather.

When it came time to leave, it was clear, mirror calm and quite perfect - other than having to use fuel because of a complete lack of wind.

Nonetheless, there were some problems: it had been so cold during the clear night that there was ice on the dinghy seat as I rowed toward various trees to untie our shore lines. This ice was duplicated on deck such that when we went forward to raise the anchor and hoist the dinghy aboard, Mary Anne fell on the deck and I narrowly avoided doing so thanks to her warning.

The day of navigation, though, was as peaceful as the previous had been boisterous. As we get further and further south, the bare smooth stone mountains are testament to the forces of the glaciers that until so recently covered this wild land and to the fierce weather that - only reluctantly - **in sheltered gullies allows anything at all to grow.

In another day, we will be at the shores of Magellan Strait - the furthest south we plan to go on this visit to Patagonia.

**As an aside, if any readers write comments, we can neither reply nor access your email address to write to you until we get to civilization and have web access - possibly in another couple of weeks. These postings are made through a short-wave radio email facility, not through direct internet access.**

At 2017-10-26 23:14 (utc) our position was 51°53.33'S 073°42.25'W

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