Day 32 Evi has a bad hair day on the way to Bahia Mallet

Caramor - sailing around the world
Franco Ferrero / Kath Mcnulty
Sun 24 Jul 2016 02:43
52:09.55S 73:35.57W

For the past few days we have been hiding in the pretty and very sheltered Caleta Colworth. It rained so much that we were homesick for Wales. The fishing boat ‘Don Chollo’ came alongside, “Would you mind charging our mobile phones?” they asked. They gave us three centollas (king crabs) to thank us. I then traded the release of Pedro and Alvaro with Franco in exchange for making scones. We ate poor Ernesto for lunch. Franco tells me it is a really bad idea to name your seafood.

Sunny spell in Caleta Colworth 

‘Don Chollo’ returned for the phones just after 5 and the friendly skipper said they would anchor around the corner. A couple of hours later, the fishing boat was still there, tied to one of our shore lines! We put out an anchor and four lines and they just tie to one of ours, Franco was not amused. He had noticed them eyeing up our thick lines with appreciation earlier in the day. 

At last the strong winds were easing and we were looking forward to today, the forecast was for a south-westerly F4-5, perfect for sailing northwards.

A windless Canal Smyth awaited us at daybreak. Under engine, Franco handed the tiller over to Evi, the Raymarine EV1 autopilot. She immediately attempted to turn Caramor around. At this point I was still at the bow, stowing the anchor. My experience of the incident was Caramor lurching towards the rocks, followed by a lot of cursing as we returned to our course. This happened a couple of times.

When I got back to the cockpit, Franco explained that the autopilot wasn’t working. As we observed it, we noticed that it was 180˚ out, then we realised that its compass was working back to front. As we turned east, going from 0˚ to 45˚, the autopilot compass was reading 180˚ to 135˚. A few days ago, it had worked perfectly. What had changed? I wracked my brain until it felt inside out.

There was still no wind when we passed the tanker ‘Glengyle’ who saluted us with three bursts on her whistle. Occasionally a gust would funnel through the Canal from the North! There does seem to be a natural law in the Chilean Canales: ‘whichever way you are going, the wind will be against you’. We have met several yachts that travelled from north to south and motored more than we have.

Before taking Caramor apart to check the autopilot wiring, I had one more trick up my sleeve: ‘reset factory defaults’. It worked. Temporary insanity, bad hair day or time of the month, if anyone out there can explain how an electronic compass can become reversed, just like that, we would love to hear. 

At 10:45 the wind picked up to a good F4-5 and Caramor took off at 6 knots on a close reach for the remaining eleven miles to Bahia Mallet.

Bahia Mallet was used by the Kaweskar canoe people as a short cut between Canal Smyth and Canal Union. They used to carry their canoes and all their possession over the narrow strip of land joining Peninsula Zach to Peninsula Munoz Gamero, thus avoiding a hard 20 miles paddle.

The canoe portage route between Bahia Mallet and Canal Union