The lighthouse on the peninsula

Caramor - sailing around the world
Franco Ferrero / Kath Mcnulty
Wed 5 Oct 2016 01:19
Peninsula de Tres Montes is separated from Peninsula de Taitao by a long sea loch ‘Estero Slight’. At the entrance to this loch is Punta Obstruccion, a knob of land that juts out and constricts the approach. Caramor is anchored in the shelter of this protrusion. At the end of the loch a one mile wide strip of low lying wooded land connects the two peninsulas. On the other side is the Pacific Ocean. 

There is a lighthouse on Cape Ráper at the start of Peninsula de Taitao. Its beacon warns ships not to approach this dangerous and poorly surveyed coast. The keepers are a navy family selected to live there for a year. They monitor ships passing by and provide a weather broadcasting service. We decided to pay them a visit. 

We jumped into the kayaks and paddled the six miles to Puerto Slight at the end of the loch. After a quick lunch, sat on whale vertebrae, we left the boats on the beach and set off at a brisk pace through the forest. The sign on the beach had said “Faro 6.8km”. The weather was fine … so far, but a gale was forecast and we wanted to be back onboard Caramor before dark, around 8pm. We couldn’t hang around.

Kath paddling in Estero Slight

The track to Cape Ráper was very muddy and at times disappeared under torrents. The slightly musty smell and the leaf litter made me think of autumn back home but the trees were very different; evergreen, dense, tall, with moss and lichen smothering everything.

Franco on the track to Cape Ráper

The forest sunk back and ahead we could hear the roar of the Pacific. Although the ocean looked placid enough, the surge rolled in inexorably and exploded in a mass of spray on the rugged coast. The vegetation on the steep slopes above was eerie, dense distorted bushes growing in strange unnatural shapes, with the bare sticks of salt damaged trees standing tall above the fray. 

Up, down, we followed the path, well used by hoofed beasts which we never saw. Time was ticking by and we were still a long way off. Franco mentioned that it was a shame we couldn’t go for a bike ride at the end as that would make a fine finish to our triathlon. Eventually the lighthouse came into sight as it started to rain. Large clouds hung ominously over the sea, possibly an approaching weather front. We turned back, neither of us fancied kayaking against a northerly gale. 

The lighthouse is on the next headland

Back in Puerto Slight, it was a different world, it hadn’t rained and the loch was flat calm. As we changed into our kayaking gear we watched a humming bird feeding on yellow flowers in a bush. A light southerly breeze (“where did that come from?” we wondered) pushed us gently up Estero Slight. A young sea lion barked at us, he had set up his harem on fallen logs by the water’s edge. 

Kath under a giant fern