Catching Up With The Blog

Mina2 in the Caribbean - Where's The Ice Gone?
Tim Barker
Fri 17 Feb 2012 01:52


Position: Puerto Williams, Beagle Channel, Chile

Date: 16 February 2012


First of all: UPDATE ON TRAMP:

As I was typing this blog whilst motoring (yet again) west up the Beagle Channel from Puerto Williams in Chile back to Ushuaia in Argentina, Fernando called me on deck. “Isn’t that your friend John on Tramp?” he asked. A small boat was sailing slowly past us half a mile a way, heading east. I called Tramp on the VHF, whilst turning the boat to rendezvous with him. Yes, he had spent a day and a half rebuilding his broken rudder by cutting up his floor boards, sufficient at any rate to get him back to Puerto Williams. I motored round Tramp and checked out his handywork. It looked good, and John looked happy beyond belief. And so was I. The DS and I’ll be returning to Puerto Williams in about 5 days time when we’ll be able to get together with John over a pisco sour or three in the Micalvi to celebrate his safe return.


Back to the blog:


One of the problems coastal navigating rather than bobbing about on the ocean blue is that you often need to change direction or you hit something hard. The navigation requires constant attention. And once one gets into port, you have to spend most of your time either in the company of bureaucrats or sorting out problems. Hence little time to fashion a blog for you, for which my humble apologies. The President for Life of the Mina2 Blog Fan Club sent me an email saying that my daily blog was, for her, like a mug of Ovaltine – without it she couldn’t get to sleep. So, if nothing else other than to ensure Barbara a good night’s rest, here we go again.


I need to back pedal to before the drama of the Mayday rescue. We were, if you recall, in the delightfully pretty Caleta Cinco Estrellas – 5-Star Bay. We were snugly tied in having been escorted to our little pool by a school of friendly dolphins and we’d been for a kayak around the bay.


This seemed the perfect spot to sacrifice the middle bits of Dolly Mk2. Fernando and I went ashore to find some dry wood to make a Chilean asado (BBQ). We identified a delightful spot of lush grass, moss and stones close to the boat, and started building the bonfire that would become the glowing embers over which Dolly Mk2’s delicate ribs and chops would be cooked.


I cannot believe the mistake I made. I have more salt water in my bloodstream than I have blood. In terms of being at one with Nature’s aquatic rhythms I’m right up there with Magellan and Moitessier. But over time, as the water level rose and our patch of idyllic grass, moss and stones was getting smaller and smaller, I realised that I had completely miscalculated the tide. Our flaming bonfire, soon to be barbecue, was in grave danger of being swamped. I tried my Canute routine, ordering the tide to stop rising, but rise it did. By the time we had Dolly’s carcass smoking away over the embers, Fernando and I were standing by its side ankle deep in water, the ripples now lapping millimetres away from the embers. But Mother Nature was clearly just giving me a lesson and didn’t want to spoil our meal, and we heaved a sigh of relief as the water first stopped rising, then ever so slowly started falling. Close call, and Dolly was as delicious as ever.


After gorging ourselves on the crispy, yet succulent, ribs of the lamb, Selina and I were sitting in the cockpit, the stars twinkling overhead. The waterfall was rushing down the mountain and splashing into the pool just feet from our stern. For me it was one of those magical evenings. For Selina it was clearly an irritation. “God, this is a noisy place” she said “last night I couldn’t sleep for the sound of thunderous roars from the glacier, and now this. At what time do they switch this bloody waterfall off?”. For all her so-called green credentials, I’m afraid that Selina is at heart a city girl.


The following morning we went for a walk up the surrounding hills, not least to get some photos of Mina2 sitting in her snug pool. This really is a hiker’s paradise and perhaps if we return here on our second cruise beginning next week, we will try something a bit more challenging.


The next day we left for one last look at another glacier, before heading back to send Christine, Fernando and Selina back to their respective homes (actually, Selina doesn’t have a proper home at the moment. She’s probably dossing in a yurt somewhere).  As we approached the entrance to Seno Garibaldi we heard the Mayday call, described in an earlier blog, that changed our itinerary somewhat. Instead, after the drama, we went to Seno Romanche and tied up in Caleta Morning near the entrance to the fjord (the other bays in Romanche are charmingly called Caleta Midday and Caleta Evening). Because of the day’s excitements we arrived late at 1950 so had no time to explore the surrounding area.


The whole of the following day we sailed, rather than motored, for the first time I could remember. Returning east we now had the wind behind us – and what a wind. It was shrieking at 40-50 knots, but with just a bit of headsail up we were screaming along. As we passed the various Coastguard stations we were told that all yachts were being instructed to head for the nearest haven, but we charged on regardless – we were having far too much fun to stop. Notwithstanding, I think it was the coldest sail I’ve ever had – including Antarctica. The temperature was approaching freezing but we were constantly being lashed by torrential rain/sleet and the wind chill factor was something else. We stopped off for the night at a pretty little nook in the rocks in some islands near Navarino and continued the next day in much more moderate conditions to our Chilean destination of Puerto Williams and the Micalvi. And today we have to backtrack the 25 miles to Ushuaia to clear back into Argentina.