Day 66 Good tidings
‘Tide waits for no man’, but a cunning sailor might catch two.
The alarm went off at 5:30 am and we set sail by moonlight. We intended to make the most of the ebb to push us north out of Estero Elefantes. We arrived at the junction with Canal Costa just as the tide was turning.
Franco ‘I don’t do dawn starts’ Ferrero
The tide floods into the Chonos Archipelago from the Pacific Ocean. As a rule of thumb, it heads east, then north through the channels. The one exception is Estero Elefantes, where it flows south because that is the only way it can go, as it is a dead end. The ebb does the opposite.
The tide had started to flood northwards up Canal Costa and we hitched a lift. As a result we were able to sail 35 miles in light winds with help from the tide.
Sailing goose winged up Canal Costa
The weather was fantastic again, for the fifth day in a row and we are being careful not to burn. Shipping traffic is increasing as we near Chacabuco. Mostly work boats servicing the many fish farms and the skippers usually wave or give us a blast on the horn. A big difference to the UK where many fishermen see yachts as a pain.
Over the past couple of days we have had a few interesting encounters with wildlife. In Bahia San Rafael, Franco saw a 2m long shark which swam right alongside. It’s only the second we have seen since we set off in May 2014 and a shallow inland lagoon was the last place we expected to find one. Then last night, as we arrived in Estero Odger, a gull was sitting quietly on the water, surrounded by frantic splashing. As we watched, a cormorant surfaced, only to dive again, this time emerging immediately under the poor gull. It surfaced again, and, this time kicked water into the gull’s face before disappearing and coming up a few inches behind the poor bird, which now and then would attempt to peck the tormenter. Gulls and cormorants often sit together in eddies or on sandy spits, and we have never seen this kind of behaviour. We wondered if the cormorant thought he was a gull and was performing some kind of fancy mating dance. The gull clearly felt no passion for the cormorant. Chicks can imprint on the wrong species, for example ducklings raised by hens may think they are chickens and can develop a water phobia. In penguins, gentoo x chinstrap hybrids are not uncommon. There is a theory as to how this can happen. Both types breed in the same rockeries. Chinstraps are quarrelsome and sometimes an egg rolls away. A gentoo finds the egg and adopts it. A chinstrap hatches to gentoo parents and learns the gentoo call. When it returns to mate, the chinstrap will use the call it learnt and attract a gentoo mate (apparently looks aren’t important in the penguin world).
Franco putting the sail away
This afternoon, as we turned into Seno Aysen, the channel that leads to Chacabuco, five or six large flappy birds were diving around the tide eddies. Over time we have come to identify the local birds by their flight but we hadn’t seen these before; our first squadron of pelicans! They are seldom seen this far south.
We pulled into a delightful Caleta Santiago, and before long we had neighbours.
Our anchorage buddies