At anchor Caleta Beaulieu, Seno Pia (E arm)
This morning I awoke to the anchorage full of small chunks of ice that must have drifted down from the glacier in the still air of the night. Some of it had been caught up in one of my shore lines but it was only small stuff, there was only a light breeze blowing so it wasn’t putting much of a strain on the line.
The guide book mentions a short hike hereabouts so this was my mission for the day. The description in the book said I just had to make my way through a few meters of dense growth and then I would be on a path leading to the rock summit with views all round. It said the walk should take 20 minutes, was arduous but the views were well worth it. This all sounded very reasonable so I packed the small backpack with some water, a few crackers, cameras, oh and a hammer and a stainless steel hook. The last item had nothing to do with the hike, I was taking the hook ashore because I wanted to find a rock where I could bend the hook over a bit more with a few persuasive blows of the hammer.
The tide was out so I hauled the dinghy up the small shingle beach a ways and threw the anchor over a fallen log., then began to beat my way through the dense growth for what I expected was to be a few meters before finding the well trodden path. After a few hundred meters I still had not found the path, and thought maybe the authors idea of a few meters is a little different from most of us mortals. I pushed my Indiana Jones hat back on my forehead and pushed on. It seems if there is hard way of doing something, especially when it comes to hiking I will find it, just ask my brother John. I have hiked many difficult miles to find a secluded campsite only to have a family walk through the next morning with little children and to have been told I was camping next to a car park a hundred metres away. Well today proved little different. I eventually found the well marked trail and followed it to the rock summit. I guess I went past the guide book’s lookout because it certainly took well over 20 minutes. In several places the path was completely lost and I wondered whether I was just imagining it. Nonetheless eventually we came out at a rocky peak replete with small stone cairn. I added my obligatory stone, looked around at the magnificent view, Sylph a speck down in her cove, the glacier to the north, another much bigger rock to the east of us, and the sound to the west, and in the distance through a gap in the mountains I could just see a patch of Beagle Channel. I unpacked lunch and realized I had carried the hammer and hook all the way up here iwth me. Ihad intended to do this job on the beach and then leave it in the dinghy. Oh well, this rock looked pretty solid so I hammered away at the hook unitl it was the desired shape and then had lunch - water and crackers, delicious! And then started the descent. My bushcraft still leaves a lot to be desired and it didn’t take long before I lost the path, imaginary or otherwise. At one point I came out onto a cliff face and realized this definitely was not the way I had come. I normally take the little handheld GPS when hiking out in the wilderness like this but as the guide said it was only a 20 minute hike I decided it was unecessary (all that extra weight and space I needed for the hammer and hook!). The trail had to be to my left and I continued along the cliff edge, crawling through thick vegetation, stepping through springy spongy mosses and climbing over fallen trees. I eventually reconnected with the path and continued to folllow it down to the cove. All of a sudden it petered out and there before me lay my dinghy. I couldn’t believe it, if I had looked straight ahead of me when I got out of my dinghy I would have seen the path but because I was expecting to have to climb though several meters of thick growth this is precisely what I did, plus some.
There is supposed to be a tree hereabouts where yachts place signs recording their visit. This morning before setting out on my hike I had started preparing a piece of ply to make a name board to add to the tree, but despite looking all along the foreshore and exploring around the bay a little, including rowing along the shore in the dinghy, I could find no sign of the tree. It probably is like the path and is staring me in the face, but I can’t see it. I will save the sign for somewhere else. In fact I think I would like to find the spot where Josh Slocum recorded Spray’s visit to these waters - now that would be standing alongside and rubbing metaphorical shoulders with a giant of a sailor.
In my searching I did find the remains of a campfire with plenty of firewood about. The thought crossed my mind that this would be a very enjoyable way of saving a bit of gas so decided that I would cook dinner ashore this evening. After doing a little planning for tomorrow's sail (if the weather is OK), I grabbed some left over stew, a bottle of wine, a box of matches, and some petrol. I used to have some fire starter but had given it away back in Salvador having had it on board for a couple of years without ever using it. Typical!
And this evening I once again demonstrated that I should stick to sailing. Despite a generous amount of petrol to the kindling it took three attempts before I had a good bonfire going. (Janice, I hang my head in shame, but you would have liked the fire when I eventually got it going). I reckon it would have been simpler just to have cooked the evening meal over the petrol fire, though of course not quite the same atmosphere. But it was well worth it. I sat beside the warm fire, smelling the smoke and feeling it permeate my hair and clothing, sipping on my wine, the stew simmering in the pot over the now burnt down coals, admiring Sylph calmly sitting to her anchor, the glacier in the background, the quiet only occasionally broken by the rumble of some ice massively inching its jerky shuddering way down towards the sea and, after maybe several hundred years or more, its eventual demise.
All is well.
Smoke! Not smoked fish, not smoked kipper even, but only plain old smoked skipper. Unfortunately he is alive, not that that necessarily deters a ruthless predator such as myself but the truth is I am getting on and while I reckon I could just about take the smoked kipper, I mean smoked skipper on, I am a cat of my word, I owe it to Mary. So he survives another day despite returning on board smelling half cooked, not to mention half baked. Hard tack yet again, oh well, the heater is on at last, time for a ….. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.