Day 14 Lack of moral fibre (but plenty of tree fibre)

Caramor - sailing around the world
Franco Ferrero / Kath Mcnulty
Sun 28 Aug 2016 01:55
The sunshine peeping through the clouds and the total lack of wind in Caleta Neruda this morning was not what we had expected, given the forecast for strong northerly winds which usually bring rain.

We took in our three shore lines, raised the anchor and set off. As we rounded the small peninsula that protects the inlet, the breeze picked up to 15 knots. By the time the main sail was hoisted, the wind was blowing 25 knots, the top end of a Force 5, and the sea chop was considerable.

Due to ‘lack of moral fibre’, to borrow the phrase Bill Tilman used to explain why he had failed to reach a summit, we turned around and ran for the delicious shelter of Caleta Neruda. Caramor is a ‘pleasure yacht’ and we are on holiday. Bashing to windward with two reefs in the main is not fun, and here, unlike on the open ocean, we have a choice. 

I re-attached our lines to the same trees, at least I didn’t have to clamber up vegetated cliffs to find suitable trees this time.

Caramor in Caleta Neruda

Since we started heading north after Puerto Natales, the trees have been getting taller and the vegetation denser. A few days ago, I was scrambling up what looked like a fairly steep bank to find a good anchor tree when, about three metres above the sea, I realised there was no solid ground, I had been climbing up tree branches, plastered together with moss, lichen, dead wood and other sundry vegetation.

To attach the second rope, I waded up the stream and found a sturdy fallen log. I looked up, I was inside the trunk of a tree, its buttress roots coming down all around me. They didn’t even touch the ground, growing instead out of dead logs covered in springy moss. 

Practically all the trees and shrubs are evergreen, strong colour in the pale winter light, a good thing for us as had the trees been deciduous and bare of leaf, we may not have found the landscapes as beautiful. I have been searching for the words to describe this rainforest and each time I lose myself among the lichen. Photos aren’t much better, it is as if the camera is overwhelmed by the sheer mass of vegetation. 

In Britain our landscapes are managed and have been so for thousand of years, conservation organisations specify how much dead wood owners should leave for wildlife. The Patagonian forest is primal, untouched, deadwood is everywhere, providing nutrients and rooting medium for the next tree generation. The indigenous canoe nomads occupied a very narrow coastal strip, they have been replaced by fishermen who occasionally saw down a tree close to the shore for firewood. You don’t need to walk far into the undergrowth to say “no human has ever been here before me”.

Franco on aerial walkway