This and That

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Tue 13 Apr 2010 01:04

Position: 54 55.09 S 069 29.83 W
At anchor Caleta Morning
Wind: mostly west, moderate to fresh (F4-5)
Weather: Overcast, occasional patches of sun and drizzle
Days run: 17 nm (38 nm sailed)

Last night a weak front came through,. Our anchorage had a small rocky islet right astern of us looking very menacing with the freshening wind so I took the precaution of putting an extra bit of anchor chain out for some peace of mind, then went back to my warm bunk.

This morning I woke up to receive the weather fax, which comes in at seven, to peruse over breakfast, a substitute for the morning newspaper. The weather fax had nothing too ominous about at, just headwinds so I thought it best to make the most of the day and get underway. I had planned on making our next stop Calita Olla, about eight miles up the Beagle Channel and advised the Chilean Armada accordingly giving them an ETA of 1800. They questioned this as it is only around the corner so to speak, I knew I was being over cautious but didn’t want to set myself a difficult target so just replied - "Headwinds".  And really I did not know what conditions I would encounter once clear of the sheltered anchorage, my guide advises that the narrow passage past Isla Del Diablo can be very difficult. Once more we sailed from anchor, I initially put two reefs in the mainsail, until we could better assess conditions once out into the channels. Andin fact once clear and into the stream conditions were not too bad so I shook out one reef and unfurled a bit more jib.

Many tacks later we had negotiated the narrows between Isla Del Diablo and Isla Gordon and were approaching Caleta Olla. It was only 12.30. I decided to press on to the next nearest anchorage, Caleta Morning, another 10 miles upwind. I thought I might be pushing my luck a bit however reckoned if I re-assessed our position in a couple of hours if we weren’t making reasonable progress than we could easily turn around, run with the wind and be back in Caleta Olla in plenty of time before dark.

We continued to make reasonable progress, the new mainsail undoubtedly helped a lot. I gave up entering our tacks into the log , I just didn’t have time. I thought of keeping count out of interest but very quickly even lost interest in collating this little statistic. I have no idea how many times I have tacked today, at the very least I would say 30.  And the wind strength has varied quite a bit, the direction only a little - always a headwind. We have had reefs in and out all day long. Mostly in, but towards late afternoon the wind moderated considerable and the last part of the afternoon was under full sail. In fact we had to motor for our final approach into the Caleta.

Despite the headwinds and many, many tacks it has been a great sail. The wind was fresh but never overly strong, a little gusty at times, but well within Sylph’s stride, in the gusts she just heels a little, water sluices her side deck, we feather into the wind until the gust passes and then settle back into the steady push to windward. Swoosh, swoosh, swoosh, the steady rhythm goes as Sylph pushes the small seas aside.  And in the channels thus far the seas have been pretty smooth so it makes for a comfortable ride, in fact I reckon climbing to windward in a fresh breeze and smooth seas is fun.

And the scenery which formed the backdrop to our sail was magnificent. This part of the Beagle Channel should be called glacier alley. We passed three major glaciers in these few miles and a number of smaller ones. I recall at one point preparing to tack, we were rapidly closing the steep shoreline, I cast an eye over my shoulder, a matter of habit to ensure our path was clear, and just opening into view behind a headland was a grand glacier tumbling down into the sea, one huge solid chunk of translucent pale blue ice glistening in the sunshine that had at that moment chosen to break through the almost eight okta cloud cover. I paused for a moment, uttered an involuntary “Awesome!”, then remembered I had to tack.

As it turned out I was pushing my luck a little in trying to make Calita Morning. The wind was fading along with the light so I swallowed my pride, started the engine, handed sail and motored the last few miles to our destination. As we approached a number of mottled grey dolphins escorted us into the protected inlet. At its head a waterfall cascaded noisily to end its journey. My guide mentioned a very small cove within the cove, its major advantage being it had less depth which in turn meant a lot less anchor work, which with a manual anchor winch is never far from my mind when planning the evenings stop. On approaching this tiny cove I could see some lines stretching across it. Obvioulsy fisherman had set them there for their own convenient use. I thought to make use of the convenience myself and avoid anchoring altogether. I ever so slowly motored towards the line, in the dead calm and still conditions we glided to a stop beside the line, thick kelp cushioning us from the rocky shore. I used the boathook to pick up the short tethers attached to the main span and now we are cosily tucked in this little pocket out of harms way. As I shut down the engine the dolphins lazily swam by, taking a deep breathe as if to say welcome, but at the same time expressing a little disappointment that we were not going to play with them.

Once secured I got straight into cooking dinner, a curry seemed ideal after a cold windy day. Then, half way through cooking we ran out of gas. Bother!  And I was just wondering today how much more propane was in the gas bottle. Well now I know - none. I have a second bottle, it is half the size of the main bottle but should be enough to get us to Pto Montt - I hope. We definitely won’t be baking any bread for this leg of our voyage.

All is well.

PS  I have just been on declk to look around sand make sure all is OK.  I shone a spotlight into the water as it is a little shallow here abouts.  The crabs!  Lots of them, I am not going to guess how many, some on the bottom but most of them on the kelp, all different shapes and sizes, their little eyes shining bright red reflecting the beam of the spotlight.  Life upon life!


Bob Cat:

What a day!  First we were leaning this way, and then we were leaning that way, than this, than that, than this, than that. It just didn’t stop. I couldn’t stand it. First I threw up breakfast (no great loss, it is barely worth keeping down at the best of times). But then, my kitty litter, it was unapproachable, it was just too much, I .. I , oh the indignity for such a cat as I … I ... I , oh what shame, I had .. I had .. an accident. You do not know how hard it is for me to say this but I need you, dear reader, to know the ignominies I go through to take care of this fellow creature’s emotional well being. I may be a grouchy old cat (according to some), but Miss Mary, as ever, I remain your obedient servant.

And it seems that indeed one gets used to almost anything. After a couple of hours of leaning this way then that, etc, etc, I actually ended up back where I started from for the day - the V-berth, and still managed to get a decent days sleep in.

And now the heater is going, all is very still, so time for a good night‘s….. zzzzzzzzz ....  

PS  Crabs - aren't they a bit like fish?  Oh forget it, this is the Sylph ...  zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.