I have decided to make a short diversion from out planned track to stop at
Punta Arenas, primarily to top up the propane bottle so that we can continue on
without worrying about eating cold food out of cans or worse. While there of
course we will top up with other essential stores and fuel. To this end today’s
goal was to get across the Magellan Straits and to mainland Chile.
The weather forecast for the day was predominantly fresh westerlies though I
expected that the wind would tend to be more northwest in Magellan Strait due to
the funnelling effect of the channels. Getting underway went as per normal
routine except as the anchor was almost home the winch started to slip and I had
to bring it in the last few meters by hand which fortunately once I had cleared
all the kelp off it was not too difficult. There could be only one explanation,
the keyway had not engaged properly and in fact thinking about the way the winch
goes together I could only conclude that the key must be lying at the bottom of
the winch casing buried in oil. It is looking very likely that I will have to
pull the whole winch apart after all. But that would have to wait.
Once away we motored the first few miles to get out of the wind shadow of the
land, initially picking up a very pleasant breeze but not surprisingly as we got
out into the broad reaches of Magellan Strait the wind veered into the northwest
and freshened significantly requiring a couple of reefs in the mainsail and some
heavy furling to the headsail. Also the tide was running strongly against the
wind so the seas were short, hollow and steep. One good thing about Sylph’s
classic lines is that her fullish bows handle these conditions quite well. She
may not be as fast or point as high as modern boats but she takes a sea on the
nose relatively comfortably.
With the fresh breeze and favourable tide it only took us a few hours to get
into the relative shelter of the mainland where the seas flattened out and the
wind became generally lighter though very gusty and had me putting in and taking
reefs out every half hour or so.
We eventually made today’s destination, Bahia Mansa, dropping anchor at 3.40
p.m. The bay is a base for many Chilean fishing boats and the gaily painted
boats in their bright blues and reds make for a picturesque setting. I would
estimate there are about 50 boats here. The bigger ones are moored out in the
bay, rafted up alongside each other, smaller ones are dried out on shore. Gulls
as ever where there are fishing boats wheel about screeching and fighting over
the fishermen’s offal. Ashore there are only a few small dark houses with the
exception of a bright blue building standing on the western hillside of the bay.
This apparently is the yacht club though no one here owns a yacht. Maybe I will
check it out tomorrow before continuing on to Punta Arenas.
Once at anchor I had another look at the anchor winch, pulling apart
yesterday’s work. Sure enough no key in the keyway, it must have fallen out as I
was assembling it. I thought I had been rather lucky in it all going together
pretty much first time. What I am a little baffled by is how it managed to work
for as long as it did. There was no way I was going to be able to retrieve the
key from inside the winch housing so I looked though all my tool boxes and
various mechanical supplies for something that could be made to work. My eye
fell upon a spanner, “Hmm if I cut part of the jaw off it should be just the
right shape.” I was reluctant to ruin a spanner to make a jury key but after
more fruitless looking around for something better and staring for a good while
at the winch thinking I should really just pull it apart and retrieve the
original key, I got out the hacksaw and in a few minutes had my substitute key.
I then fiddled with the winch for a good hour trying to ensure that the keyway
all lined up properly and that I wasn’t going to repeat yesterday’s mistake and
have two keys sitting in the bottom of the winch. Well it seems to have worked
but am a lot more sanguine about the results, no three cheers this afternoon. In
fact when I get to Punta Arenas where I should have access to a few supplies I
reckon I will pull the winch apart and do the job properly.
All is well.
Bouncing around again, I actually got thrown across the boat at one point,
highly unsatisfactory. And still on hard tack rations. I know there is fish
nearby, I can feel it in my bones, I can almost smell it. I am going crazy.
What to do? Only one thing … zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.