Day 20 Flying over the Alps in a sailing boat

Caramor - sailing around the world
Franco Ferrero / Kath Mcnulty
Tue 12 Jul 2016 02:05
53:37.52S 72:19.11W

With only the anchor to raise, we were off before daylight. The tide had turned at 6:15 and we were keen to make the most of the ebb. We passed the two Search & Rescue ships that had also chosen Caleta Murray to spend the night.

As we turned west into the Strait of Magellan, the sun crawled slowly over the mountains and lit up Cape Froward, the southernmost tip of the mainland. Never a great early morning person, Franco has seen more sunrises in the past eighteen days than he had the previous sixty years. 

Sunrise over Cape Froward

At last Caramor started to thaw. We kept an eye on the shore in case we saw movement but if the fisherman was out there, he had spent a very cold night.

At 9:30 we were called up by the Navy Sea Patrol. They asked us to join the rescue operation. Our task was to search the southern shore of the Strait as far as our crossing over to the Islas Charles and then to continue looking along the north shore of the islands. We immediately changed course and paralleled the coast a couple of hundred metres off. Through the binoculars, we scanned every crease of the land and investigated a white object in shallow water which turned out to be a plastic tarpaulin, but sadly we didn’t find the missing man.

The Strait of Magellan … conjures up, in my mind, a busy shipping lane. This image couldn’t be further than the truth. The landscape is vast and magnificent, no photograph can do it justice. It’s one of those places where you simply have to be to take it all in. Franco described the Canales as “Scotland on steroids, without midges”, others compare it to ‘sailing through the Alps’. Today, at times, it even felt like ‘flying above a bank of clouds among alpine peaks’. 

Flying over the Alps in a sailing boat

The fog bank ahead didn’t look inviting. It was cold enough in the sunshine. The tide turned against us around 1pm and Franco had the genius idea to eddy hop behind the islands. From 4 knots in the main channel, fighting the tide, our speed increased to 5.5 knots and at times we were going as fast as 6.8! As water flows past an obstacle, it doubles back on itself to fill the void that otherwise would have been created. Kayakers use eddies all the time to make progress.

We have entered the Francisco Coloane Marine Park, a protected area for humpback whales. Unfortunately they have all gone away for the winter and the ones we saw in the Beagle Channel when we first arrived in Chile were probably migrating.

Caramor was swallowed up by the fog. Although it seemed to be a fairly local phenomenon caused by Canal Jeronimo which joins up with Seno Otway and Skyring, we had no desire to remain in it any longer than necessary. We followed the shore of Isla Carlos III around to Mussel Bay. Our intended anchorage, behind a tiny island on the far side, was veiled in swirls of mist. With our customary flexibility, we changed course for the head of the bay, which was bathed in glorious afternoon sunshine. 

Head of Mussel Bay