Day 30 The Search for Caleta Caramor
The weather forecast was wrong, no southerly wind, no wind at all … and light rain. We set off from Caleta Connor under engine and Franco laid out his plan.
On the chart he had spotted an unsurveyed bay on Little Wellington Island, on the western side of the channel we are navigating, with a few features that might provide good anchorages. We would get there early afternoon and the lack of wind and waves would be ideal for exploring this uncharted area.
The uncharted bay
As the bay opened up to our left, three synchronised torpedos traced towards Caramor. These dolphins were particularly playful and stayed with us the whole time we explored the bay, darting to and fro in front of Caramor’s bow or dropping back so as to race up to the front again. When we slowed down, they did too, swimming in slow motion or, at times, just lying on the surface snorting noisily through their blow holes their disgust at our lack of speed.
The first option was a large V shaped notch west of Sidney Point. As we approached, it looked promising except for the large lump of a hill (705m) behind it, with flanks devoid of trees. Franco and I have been sailing in the far south for long enough now to recognise a williwaw (strong down drafts) generator when we see one.
Notch west side of Sidney Point
The dolphins led the way towards the long inlet which separates Sidney Point from Peninsula Negra. Franco slowed down to go through the narrow entrance while I stood watch from the bow. The depth reduced to nine metres at the narrowest point and there were no underwater rocks. Once through the gap, the inlet widened and we discovered a pretty round island which doesn’t figure on any of the charts.
The inlet between Sidney Point and Peninsula Negra (with dolphins)
Franco was concerned that the dolphins were distracting me with their antics but in reality they were helping. Their white markings stood out through the water and helped me gauge the depth. Without something to refer to, it was hard to pierce the glare on the surface.
We were looking for a cove on the north side which would be sheltered from the prevailing strong northerly winds and where we could tie to trees, but there was none. The trees on that side looked stunted, unlike the well developed vegetation on the south side and we feared the inlet could be subject to strong gusts so we turned back.
Once out of the inlet we turned west towards Peninsula Negra. The dolphins briefly explored a small headland before racing back to Caramor. They nudged the keel as they swam past, knocking me off balance as I perched on the bow. I hadn’t seen them come and wondered for a second whether we had hit the bottom.
As we entered the creek, the depth suddenly changed from 80m to 30m. A small unnamed bay appeared on our right but it looked too deep so we continued to the head. We saw two possibilities on the south side and a tiny sheltered slot on the north side near the end. Unfortunately it was overhung with branches and although it would have done, it wasn’t a contender for the title of Caleta Caramor.
We headed very slowly into the second inlet on the south side. The dolphins stayed outside (a hint?). The bottom shelved very quickly on one side. We tried a little further left. No good, the shells on the seabed were coming up fast. “Reverse, reverse” I called out. Caramor goes forward very well but she isn’t so hot on reversing, but somehow Franco got us out.
We motored back to the small bay that looked too deep, the sounding at the entrance gave 14m and inside the bottom shelved slowly to 9m. This was absolutely perfect for anchoring. We dropped the hook and tied two lines to large trees. We had found Caleta Caramor.
Later we rowed over to the nearest inlet on the south side. The very narrow entrance had two rocks that stuck out into the passage and would be awash at high water. Once inside the depth was enough to sail to the end where it would be possible to tie to the trees. With such a tricky entrance, we don’t feel we could recommend this as an anchorage.
Caramor in Caleta Caramor
View of the entrance from Caleta Caramor
Caleta Caramor is ideally located on the western side of Canal Messier, on Peninsula Negra of Little Wellington Island. The approach is easy and the entrance presents no hazards. It is sheltered from all winds, with good holding in depths of 14 to 9 metres.