Into the Beagle Channel

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sat 10 Apr 2010 00:35

Position: 54 54.11 S 068 09.75 W
At anchor Caleta San Rose
Wind: East Nor’ East, F4 - gentle breeze
Weather: Mostly sunny, mild

Days run: 30 nm

Today we got an early start to the day, for we are now starting our journey through the Chilean Canals in earnest, and are embarking upon the last leg of Sylph’s world voyage.  Once through the Chilean canals we will be into the Pacific Ocean, the last ocean (mind you a rather large one) that we have to cross. After breakfast and a few last minute chores we slipped from our neighbours alongside the Micalvi and were clear of the inlet just after nine. I called up Pto Williams Radio as required and advised them of my intentions and requested permission to proceed. Well the first thing they came back with was that I am not allowed to anchor in the place I had nominated as my destination for the evening. “Hmm, I wonder why?” I thought and offered an alternative nearby cove. Nope, that one is not allowed either. Nor the next I proffered. “OK,” I asked, “where can I anchor?” It seems the only place that is permitted on Isla Navarino is Pto Williams and Pto Navarino. Great, now they tell me! I plucked an ETA out of the air for Pto Navarino, which in hindsight bore no credibility whatsoever but seemed to satisfy the radio operator and we continued on our way.

Our first sail with the Chilean courtesy flag hoisted in the spreaders had us covering the same territory we have previously sailed twice before. Initially we had light headwinds and while Sylph’s performance is much improved with the new mainsail, we are still working with an old headsail and being an older style heavy displacement boat do not point as well or foot as fast as many of our lighter fin keeled brethren. So it was not too long before a nice sleek French aluminium sloop, the Norvik, which had been a neighbour of ours for a couple of days, overtook us on their way to Ushuaia. We took photos of each other and will exchange them later via email. I hope old Sylph comes out looking half as good as Norvik did with her beautifully cut spectra sails - the rust stains on the spare jib we are currently using definitely will not present Sylph to her best.

Later in the afternoon the wind swung into the east which meant a quarter run, wing on wing, down the channel. I seriously contemplated continuing overnight to make the best use of the fair breeze but on looking ahead through my charts decided this would be unwise as once a little way past Ushuaia the scale becomes rather on the small side which is not very conducive to safe navigation at night. So, as the sun approached the western horizon, I found a nearby anchorage, Caleta Santa Rosa, and headed for it for the night (even if it isn’t on the very short list of approved anchorages). The entrance into the cove is extremely narrow and as I approached and studied the chartlet in the cruising guide I decided it looked eminently feasible to enter under sail. After almost sailing straight past the small entrance I dropped the jib and reached in under main alone with an ideal breeze.  Rocks were mere meters away on either side and kelp slid along the hull to port as we shot through the small gap which was the cove‘s entrance. I tightened up a little as we entered, washed off a little speed and as we approached the centre, dropped the mainsail and then the anchor. A very satisfying way to end the day's sailing.

Now I have to send our position report into the Chilean Navy. What will I say I wonder? I guess I will make something up. Apparently it is common practice for yachts to anchor pretty much where they please even where it isn’t permitted and then report their actual position without causing any problems. It sure is a strange system the authorities run here and I can see I am going to take a while to get used to it. Reminds me of a photo I saw once of a lawn which students were walking over and picnicking upon, and a police man standing right beside a sign which said “Do Not Walk on the Grass.” The point being it is not necessarily the stated rules that are important in a culture but rather the unwritten ones, which of course for an outsider can take a while to work out.

Now I am enjoying a nice can of Boddington draught, a small present from Roger. Thanks Roger.

All is well.

Bob Cat:

The things | have to do to score a little bit of fish. I am sure I pitch my complaints at just to the right frequency to make a human’s ear ache, but it seems to have little effect on the skipper, perhaps he is deaf as well as … well maybe I had best not go too far. After all eventually I did get a little bit of tuna this evening, not the most delicious morsel that has passed by my canines but better than the hardtack I am daily forced to devour.

Speaking of fish,

Dear Adrian,

In response to your email below. Maybe you would like to clarify what I can only assume is an unintended ambiguity in your missive. Are you implying that you are good company and I am not. I am sure this is just a very poorly expressed sentiment on your part, and very un-English I might add.  In the interest of continuing peaceful trans-Atlantic relations I will assume you were drunk on tea, toast and marmalade after your return to merry old England.  As you would know, my President (God Bless America) has recently been awarded the Nobel peace prize, but even such a gracious diplomat as our President can only go so far in overlooking such serious slights to the our sovereign dignity. Let it not be said that I am rattling sabres, but please, either send some fish or choose your wording more thoughtfully (preferably the former, then say whatever you like).

Feline felicitations,

Bob (the Cat)


And now I am going to do what I like ……zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


Dear BC,

Keep an eye on him. You know how it is with us humans.....tend to go into a
decline without good company.

Best wishes