November 16, 2005
Beagle Channel-Northeast Arm-5451S 6939W
Getting the shaft back in proved to be easier than I hoped. We were underway by noon and sailed to Ilsa Jamie while the wind blew 30 knots for two days. We still had plenty of fuel and food so we decided to skip visiting Puerto Natales but took the side trip up the Seno Los Montanas with soaring peaks of raw rock, wind twisted trees and glaciers that flowed down to the sea. We tried anchoring in two locations but the gusts were so strong we could not steady the boat to get shore lines set so we motored back to Jamie.
The next day we punched through the waves into Union Bay and into the channel heading south. As we ventured toward the Straights of Magellan the weather improved. The scenery changed from mountainous to a multitude of small rocky islands. With the time saved by skipping Puerto Natales we have been on a more relaxed pace.
A week ago we entered the Straights of Magellan. Today the famous channel is used by super oil tankers. We passed one each day and radioed as required and they in turn relayed our position to the Armada. At Cape Froward, the Southern most land in the continental Americas, we turned south to the channels leading to the Beagle Channel. Our side trip up Seno Chico to see the glacier was memorable. That night we were anchored and tied to shore in a cove big enough for one boat. The sides of the cove went strait up in shear rock as high as one could see in the low cloud. Just as we sat down to eat a fierce thunderstorm arrived along with three fishing boats. Without a word, they rafted up next to us and threw additional lines to trees on shore. We took their lines and made up a secure raft as wide as the caleta. Water falls fell down on all sides. As they left the next day they gave us a large crab and an octopus which were welcome changes to our diet of chicken and pasta.
On the 11th we entered Caleta Brecknock at 5232S and 7154W and spent the next day exploring the mountains. It was the first real hike we have had for awhile and confirmed how out of shape we are. We enjoyed getting off the boat and now try to do it at least every other day.
We have been anchored in Seno Pia for the past two nights. Our arrival was a shock. As we came in Jeannie said "oh my God!" She could see the mast of another sailboat on our approach. As we rounded the land we saw not one but two sailboats and a cruise ship! By the time we got our lines down one of the sailboats left. Before the other got away we jumped into the dinghy and went to introduce ourselves to Rodger on Austrlais. He runs charters to the Antarctic. We invited him over for a beer and picked his brains. We are less than a hundred miles to Puerto Williams where we will leave Onora for ten days while we fly home for a short visit.
Yesterdays was perfect with light winds and warm enough to take a layer off! We hiked up the mountains overlooking the Pia glacier. The glacier glowed iridescent blue and periodic low roars spoke of the internal reshaping that I imagine the warmer weather accelerates.
We sat in the pilot house having our anniversary dinner last night. The full moon came up over the glacier still glowing from the late sun at this latitude. Ansel Adams would have given an arm for the scene.
November 17, 2005
We are anchored in Caleta Olla. We jumped in the dinghy and went onshore to find a trail that lead to the Hollandia glacier. The view from the top of our hill looked down over the glacier which spilled into its own ice berg filled cobalt lake and moraine that separated it from the Beagle Channel. The view down the channel must have gone on for twenty miles with only wild snow covered peaks rising out of the water with glaciers running back down. In the center of it Onora peacefully swung at anchor.
November 22, 2005
Puerto Williams, Chile
We arrived in Puerto Williams today and tied up to the Club Micalivi, an old small ship that the Armada ran aground to create the 'Southern Most Yacht Club in the World.' We tied up next to Charlie on Ocean Tramp, a native of Maine who married a Chilean woman and has lived here for twenty years despite the fact that she has moved on. Charlie does climate research- measuring temperatures and examining tree rings to track nature's cycles. He remains affiliated with the University of Maine.
We had Charlie over for dinner. He is a quirky fellow who seems to gather his thoughts and spill them out like machine gun fire. In response to my question about global warming, Charlie reported his observation that it is getting cooler down here. The other boats included a couple from our morning Patagonia Cursing Net. We invited everyone on the boats over for pisco sours and snacks. The international mix included Germans, French, English, a young Argentinean girl and a US single hander, Rob on Restless. Rob is a laid back fellow. At the age of twenty five he left the states with a plan to sail around the world in two and a half years before settling down and starting his career. That was eighteen years ago.
Rob assured us that it was time to finish this chapter and head home by way of South Georgia, South Africa to see old friends and then home. He planned to leave before our party but the party would be fun so he decided to stay.
The party ended at eight and everyone moved to the dock. We were invited to join. A French couple had a lamb they had slaughtered and were roasting it on the barbeque. Everyone else had made dishes and brought lots of wine along.
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