Caleta Beaulieu

Position: 54 47.77 S 069 37.80 W
At anchor Caleta Beaulieu, Seno Pia (east arm)
Wind: ???
Weather: Overcast, occasional patches of sun and drizzle
Days run: 14 nm (20 nm sailed)

The morning’s weather fax indicated fresh westerlies but nothing too strong. I was tempted to stay for a day in the beautiful Caleta Morning, but all the coves are beautiful so I decided I had best make the most of the reasonable weather, we need to keep moving and there are undoubtedly going to be significant periods where we will be forced to stay at anchor and wait out strong winds before we get to Puerto Montt. Over breakfast I cursed myself for not having topped up the propane bottle before leaving Ushuaia, now I have something else to worry about which was totally avoidable.

Before we got underway I had one small job to do, yesterday in looking up at the jib I had noticed a small bit of sunlight showing through a seam, a sure sign that some stitching was coming loose. The aphorism, “a stitch in time saves nine” could not be truer when applied to sails, a few loose stitches can soon turn into a huge gaping hole requiring many hours of work to repair, especially if it has to be done by hand, not to mention the disaster that might ensue from a critical sail failing at the wrong moment. This small job was soon completed and by 10 a.m. we had thrown off the convenient fishermen’s shore lines, motored clear of the kelp and were heading back out into the channels. As we left the caleta I cast an eye back to admire the scenery one more time, the still calm water, the waterfall tumbling into the cove’s head, trees to the shoreline, snow capped mountains behind, nature untouched by man (except of course for an innocuous bit of rope tied to some trees).

Out in the Beagle Channel there was virtually no wind. Regardless we have to conserve fuel as well as husband the old engine so I shut it down and we drifted while we waited fro some wind. Initially we had a light easterly which I set the sails square to, wing on wing, the jib poled out to one side, the main guyed out on the other. This didn’t last for too long,the wind died completely and for a while we were drifting backwards in the almost ever present easterly current in the channels. Then a puff of wind once again from the east had us regaining the lost yards - we certainly would not have covered a mile by this stage. Once more the large glacier to the north of us passed by for the third time. The breeze ever so modestly increased such that I even tried the wind vane for a while. But this didn’t last long either, looking ahead I could see some white caps. Now this meant either a tidal disturbance or some wind coming towards us. I knew it could not have been the foprmer in these waters so I had to assume it was some wind - from the west. I dropped the pole, sheeted in the sails and fell off to starboard and waited. Sure enough within a few minutes, after a short calm, the wind arrived. The wind was against us, back to tacking mode but we were moving at last. The wind freshened requiring a reef in the main and a partially furled the jib for about two hours but as we approached our destination for the night it started to ease again and I set full sail again to keep our speed up. The seno (sound) has a bar across it, apparently an ancient moraine caused by the glaciers a long time ago so while the sound is large the navigable entrance is small. The cruising guide as well as giving a recommended GPS position also had a nice sketch to indicate the safe water, it is nice not to be totally dependant on GPS.

Once inside the sound the water deepened again to over a 100 meters. I persisted in trying to sail for a while but the wind was just too fluky, with mostly no wind at all. Grateful for having a functioning motor I turned it on and motored the last few miles to where we are now.

On arrival I followed the book, dropped the anchor in the recommended position, put the dinghy in the water and ran a couple of lines ashore to the trees. Now I wish I could say this all went smoothly and in a seamanlike manner, but I have to confess that I have yet to sort out a satisfactory way of handling these long shore lines without getting them in a hopeless tangle. Many boats have reels on deck, which is a good solution if you live down this way but not so good if you mostly cross oceans as Sylph and her crew do. I have coiled these lines in various ways, tying them up so as to prevent them getting into a mess but as yet to no avail. An extra person would of course make a difference, they could feed the line out while I rowed ashore but as I don’t have one of these convenient additions on board we shall have to devise a system which BC and I can handle alone. We will work it out.

And the anchorage is once again beautiful. We could be anchored in a small lake, surrounded on all sides, steep mountains climb to the east and south of us, a small forested spit of land protects us to the west, and a large glacier tortuously writhes down the ice capped mountains to the north of us.

Tomorrow we shall have a rest day.

All is well.

Bob Cat:

A rest day tomorrow, good idea skipper! Certainly today, while an improvement on yesterday, was anything but restful. All is peaceful now however, the skipper even gave me something other than hard tack for dinner, actually quite tasty. So in all not too bad a day, Now if he would only turn the heater on. Oh well, I will just curl up in the V-berth for a quiet … zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.