Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Puerto Natales, 19th of December

Puerto Eden, 8th of December

Jetty in Armada Style

Because our official permits (tarjeta unica migratoria) would expire on the first of January which meant that we only had about three weeks left before we had to leave Chile, we had decided to stop in Puerto Eden and ask if the officials there could extend our permits. Hence, upon arrival we headed straight for the Armada’s jetty to take care of the matter. 

We approached the jetty as usual with our fenders hanging on the side of the boat but when we reached the head of the T-shaped jetty, the first fender that came into contact with it bounced up on to the jetty leaving Sarema’s side open to malicious attack by a lifting pad eye!!!??? which was also the very thing that had lifted the fender. There were several pad eyes on the side of the jetty, difficult to notice before it was too late, and all left without tyres, matting or anything to protect visiting vessels against impact! The lack of tyres at the head of the jetty was hard to understand especially since there were big tyres all along the other side of the jetty where Armada’s own vessel was moored. 

There was a sickening sound as the eye scraped the paint off Sarema’s side simultaneously pushing it inwards. What a rotten thing to happen!!! - and we didn’t even get our permits extended. We were told to go to Puerto Natales where they have Customs and Immigration. It will be interesting to see what kind of a jetty is waiting for us there!

Anchoring in Patagonian Waters

In Patagonia, it is customary to anchor for the night due to the narrowness of the channels and not so reliable charts. The sailors’ ‘bible’ Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide by Marjolina Rolfo and Giorgio Ardrizzi describes hundreds of anchorages, all visited and checked out in detail, providing their GPS position, protection, depth, bottom, and whether or not shorelines are required. In most cases, two shorelines tied to trees are essential because Patagonian waters are subject to violent gusts and sudden squalls (williwaws), and in some anchorages there’s not enough space to allow the boat to swing at anchor. We bought in Puerto Montt two horizontally mounted rollers with more than 100 metres of line on each which have guaranteed us a good night’s sleep.

The mooring procedure is as follows: after dropping anchor, Pekka reverses Sarema close to the shore, the closer the better. Once inside the cove, Riitta takes the dinghy and rows as quickly as possible to the shore with the first mooring line and secures it to a tree. This is easier said than done, especially when the wind is blowing, because rocks, impenetrable rain forest, thorny bushes, lack of trees or rotten ones, and the ubiquitous kelp often render the task difficult and time-consuming (nerve-racking!). Once the first line has been securely tied to a tree, there is no such rush with the second one. Finally, the lines are adjusted properly. 

Early the following morning, one of us rows to the shore to untie the lines and the other one pulls them in. The dinghy and the rower get a free ride with the last line.

Now, all we need to do is to weigh anchor, and we’re off! 

Wildlife Watching?!

When I (Riitta) see a white spot on a mountain side or a white dot in a tree, I (still!) automatically grab my binoculars in order to view it closer but however hard I look at the spot or dot, it doesn’t turn into a mountain goat, a Dall’s sheep or a bald eagle. 

We have now come more or less 550 nautical miles from Puerto Montt and seen far too many mussel and salmon farms but only a few solitary Magellanic Penguins, a couple of dolphins (Lagenorhynchus), and hardly any sea lions. There is nothing to complain about our surroundings which are absolutely spectacular, mind you - but where are all the wildlife? 

I’m sure Patagonia will eventually reveal her true beauty also wildlife-wise, and I know that I should not be whining, but… Our problem is, of course, that we are spoiled rotten - by Alaska!

All the caletas or coves in which we have anchored so far have had bugs, slightly bigger than banana flies, that bite off a piece of the skin and suck blood like mosquitos. Even Bugger Off, a natural mosquito and bug repellent from Canada that we have successfully used elsewhere, fails to rid us of these pesky creatures. We don’t know the bugs’ real name but we call them Chilean Wildlife!

Across Golfo de Penas

Chiloe, 17th of November

We stopped over in Chiloe to buy a new, hopefully long-lasting depth sounder and to meet Mani, a living legend among Finnish sailors. Mani Suanto is one of the two Finns who, back in the 90’s, were the first to sail to the Antarctic and, at the moment, as far as we know he is the only Finn alive who has done that. 

Caleta Ideal, 3rd of December

From Chiloe we continued towards the notorious Golfo de Penas. The name translates most appropriately as the Gulf of Hardships or Pain. Although we had spent three nights in Puerto MillabĂș waiting for a decent weather window, we were not very much surprised when, while already on our way, we heard on VHF Armada’s warning about a ‘temporal’ gale in the area predicting 40 knot winds. About 28 hours later, as we finally reached Caleta Ideal in the south side of the Gulf, the winds suddenly abated, the skies cleared, and we dropped anchor in the most glorious sunshine.