Arrival in Chile
"Good luck! ... and safe sailing!" added the voice from Stanley Port Control after completing the formalities as we crossed the reporting line on our way out of Port William, Falkland Islands. "Hey, Franco, another one who thinks we are nuts" I said.
Dolphins erupted out of the top of waves and belly flopped, seeking to make big splashes. A sei whale cruised nearby. Black-browed albatrosses glided between the waves in sheer bliss, while cormorants flapped furiously but made little headway in the gusts. They didn't seem to mind.
I felt rather smug, the night before departure I'd thrown together a one pot stew which would last us several meals. We didn't look so clever a few hours later when we were throwing it up over the side, Franco pledging never to set off in a hoolie ever again.
It didn't last long though, forty-three hours later the wind died completely and then we sighted Staten Island, off the Argentinian coast.
We worked out the tides through Strait Le Maire. We could afford to sail a few more hours before we would have to turn the engine on to ensure we arrived at the northern end of the strait by 9:30 pm to go through with the ebbing tide. It was essential that we went through WITH the tide as it flows faster than the speed we can sail / motor at. Shortly after dark as we sailed past the only manned lighthouse on the island, we were called up by a very friendly chap who took all our details.
Four hours later we were through and turned the corner into the Beagle Channel. The wind picked up and we were able to sail again. The breeze was fickle though, gusting up and forcing us to reef before dying completely again. We were still in Argentinian waters and had expected the occasional patrol boat but we were alone.
The sun rose over a stunning landscape of mountains and islands, with clouds painted onto the canvas. We approached Picton Island on the Chilean side, ahead, we could make out trees. TREES! we were so excited, we hadn't seen many of those during the past four months.
Caramor motored slowly into the anchorage in Caleta Banner. A fishing boat was moored in the middle of the inlet and the crew waived. The radio crackled into life, the newly rebuilt Chilean Navy station on the shore was calling us, they told us where we could anchor and asked for all our details.
Chilean Navy station on Picton Island
Fisherman’s camp in the shelter of the trees in Caleta Banner
Dinner was quickly dispatched and we crashed for a well earned sleep.