Day 76 There and back again
Chileans are hospitable and obliging. If they can help a visitor, they will. The weather did its best to be accommodating too, unfortunately the detail was lost in translation, instead of the southerly breeze we had asked for, we got a strong northerly with gusts and rain.
Plan A was to head north-east up Canal Puyuhaupi to the lodge of the same name and luxuriate in the thermal springs. However, none of the three telephone numbers for the lodge were working and we concluded that it was still closed for the winter. Plan A - cancelled.
The new plan, Plan B was to head north-west, crossing the vast Canal Moraleda to get back among the islands of the Chonos Archipelago. Franco returned from untying the shore lines and declared that his jacket was waterproof. It was spotting at the time. “Of course it’s waterproof, its the one Lisa and Anna bought you, it’s still brand new” I exclaimed. “More like a drysuit” he replied and went on to explain:
As he stood up in the dinghy to untie the ropes, Ding had shot out from beneath him, catapulting him head first into the water before parking herself neatly on the shore. Never one for a cold bath, Franco sprang out so quickly that the water didn’t have time to seep up his jacket. We were both grateful it hadn’t happened further south where the water was only just above freezing.
Caramor in Caleta Olea
We set off from Caleta Olea with a light breeze but as soon as we reached the more open Canal Ferronave, the wind picked up, with strong gusts. The visibility was poor and a rocky island loomed ahead. Franco checked the chart … it wasn’t marked. Although the charts lack accuracy and the odd reef, we hadn’t yet found a whole island missing. As we got closer we realised it was a salmon farm, some way out from the shore.
The uncharted island
The gusts eased as we sailed in the lee of the island but increased with renewed vigour as we entered Canal Moraleda. On the tiller, I had to focus hard to stay on course and the lack of landmarks confused my sense of direction, I had the impression we were turning right all the time. A glance at the compass allayed my fears, we were still steering north-west. The area we were heading for is congested with reefs, some only just awash. Navigating in those waters with the strong wind and poor visibility could be dangerous so we decided to turn back for Caleta Olea. It didn’t take us long, downwind!
The forecast for the next three days was for a mixed bag of weather caused by broken fronts passing through. We decided to stay put and wait for the sunshine to return. Meanwhile I succeeded in contacting the lodge which is open, so back to Plan A.
In Caleta Olea we kept an eye out for the otters. They didn’t appear while it was raining but returned as the sun came out in the evening, hunting for crab. Although our presence didn’t seem to perturb them, they didn’t come as close to Caramor as they had the other day. Maybe we had lost novelty value or had committed some kind of otter faux-pas. Had she been expecting the gift of a few fish for her pup?
Caleta Olea facilities: a small pool dug by the fishermen to collect water