A few surprises in Caleta Olla (Days 4-6)
Two guanacos stood and watched us approach as we paddled the dinghy towards their beach. I was fascinated, I’d never seen one before and it certainly took my mind off my aching biceps. Eventually they loped away gracefully until out of sight.
We plodded up through soft ground, loosely following the shoulder until we could look down on the splendour of the Holanda Glacier. The vegetation suggested fairly heavy grazing but look as we might, we didn’t see any more guanacos.
The Holanda Glacier
We intended to head down to the lake at the bottom of the glacier but the terrain was too steep, so instead we returned along the contour about half way up the slope. The mosses and lichens were spectacular, species I have never seen before, in a wide spectrum of colours.
We stopped for lunch, below us lay a vast swamp with a large area of dead trees. We saw similar patches around Williams but haven’t yet worked out what causes the hydrology to change and kill the trees. It could be beavers, which were introduced many decades ago from Canada, for their fur.
Back on Caramor I had a little job to do. Our battery monitor went haywire on the way here. It turned itself on and off a few times, then displayed a voltage of 6,000 V before going blank. I wasn’t hopeful, it sounded rather terminal but Franco suggested I check the wiring just in case. When I opened the panel, there was water ponding in the tray below the engine, nothing to do with the battery monitor but potentially very serious. Franco thought it was the stern gland so we emptied the back locker to have a look but it was fine.
We started the engine and a waterfall gushed out of the sea water pump. Franco changed the impeller but there was still a cascade. We dug out the spare water pump that we bought at the same time as the engine, from the same company and were appalled to find out that it wasn’t the same model. It was a few centimetres shorter and the fittings for the pipes were smaller. If we installed it, there was a risk that the hose pipes would touch the alternator belt.
We were truly up ’shit caleta without a water pump’. Time to put our thinking caps on and improvise. In Stanley, Franco had purchased a load of lengths of piping for precisely this sort of emergency, unfortunately the diameter needed was the one size we were unable to get. The only pipe that would fit, on Caramor, was the shower pump-out which, luckily, we were able to shorten. It took quite a bit of time getting the angles to work but in the end we fixed it.
Water pump ‘bodge’
The forecast was for strong headwinds so we stayed another day in Caleta Olla. From the beach, we headed across a marsh and up parallel to a raging torrent. “Look a large budgie!” cried Franco. The ‘budgie’ turned out to be a condor. As we climbed the steep slope, the Francés Glacier came into view. Above us, on the ridge, a lone guanaco was outlined against the grey sky. By the time we had scrambled up, it had disappeared. We continued until we stood on a rocky shoulder from which we could see both the Holanda and Francés glaciers and then returned to Caramor to tea and scones.
Kath With the Francés Galcier in the background
Caramor in Caleta Olla
Better go now, we are expecting a call from the friendly navy officer who lives at the local reporting station. Every evening he calls us to give us the weather forecast.