Trapped in a Boys Own Adventure

Steve Powell
Sun 6 Feb 2011 22:06

And trapped we are... We have managed just 20 miles up the Beagle Channel since leaving Ushuaia, and it looks as if we will be stuck here for at least another 2 or 3 days.  First we had to head East back to Porto Williams (25nm) to clear into Chile, then we sailed back West passed Ushuaia (25nm) and then on to Caleta Ferrari (20nm), our first planned stop. Seventy miles to achieve just twenty, what a pain, and hard miles at that, as we passed Ushuaia on the return the wind picked up and we had a full 30kts on the nose with a short, steep sea heading right at us. We took more freezing water over the bow than we ever did crossing the Southern Ocean. It reminded me of the Solent on a really bad day, but the waters colder. We tried motoring into it but with the wind, sea and tide/current against us our speed dropped down to just 2kts at times. So then we tacked across it making better speed and a more comfortable ride but adding miles, so the 20nm journey became 30nm. So our journey became 80nm to achieve just 20nm. We very nearly gave up at one point and went into a bay, only to realise when we saw all these flags on military bases that we were back in Argentina, and that we didn’t want! So we gritted our collective teeth and soldiered on. A great sigh of relief was heard on UHURU as we slid into the calm waters of Bahia Yendegaia, and on into Caleta Ferrari.

Well we arrived here three nights ago, Caleta Ferrari is a beautiful little hideaway just up a Bahia (fjord or bay) on the north side of the Beagle channel. There is a small ranch here that is run by Hose’, a classic Chilean Gaucho (cowboy), and his Belgium girlfriend Anemie, who apparently sailed in here with her husband of 14 years and never left!. Looking at Hose’ with his classic gaucho moustache, dark menacing eyes and rather large knife in his belt, I am sure the husband didn’t complain too much. They have more animals than you can count, dogs, cats, horses etc, Just like Ladycross really. They also basically live off the land, with wild cows and horses that they kill for meat, amazing Southern King crabs called centolla and all the fish they could want. They rent horses out to passing yachts and offer fishing advise. They also generously gave us full use of their crabs nets which Mike  and Chris then learned how to set with Hose’.

So the last couple of days has been a full on Boys Own Adventure.

Botty, Chris and Mike riding up into the mountains of Patagonia to go trout fishing.

Botty demonstrating his expert fly casting technique, and once again Mike demonstrating his expert fish catching technique!

Just when we thought it couldn’t get much better Chris and Mike went out with Hose’ to check the nets and we had a massive haul of centolla.

Chris and Hose’ with one of the dozen or so centolla (Southern King Crab) we netted and supper with Hose’ and Anemie in their ranch house that evening, half a lamb, some beef and a lot of wine. We saved all the fish and crab for today.

I had planned to leave early this morning and start going west again, the forecasts haven’t been great but there was a small lull predicted for this morning and the general weather pattern here is for light or no wind early building through the day then dropping again in the evening. So I thought we’ll head off early keep going until it gets too rough and then we can jump in one of the many protected coves that litter this area.
We all got up just before dawn and set off at first light. There was little or no wind as we motored the couple of miles down the Bahia to get out into the Beagle channel, so I was confident. As we neared the turn things started to look a little different and no sooner had we stuck our noses around the corner we were hit with a sledgehammer wind of 45kts, screaming down the Beagle, directly from the West, our route!! It was all being funnelled down through the mountains and no weather forecast can deal with this situation, no matter how good they are. Well it didn’t take Captain Fluff too long to decide “bugger this, I’ve had enough”, about six minutes really. (Dougie, that’s the ‘2 minute rule’ times three!)

So we headed back to Caleta Ferrari with our collective tails between our legs, and set down to a long lazy Sunday.

But hey! We have half a ton of crab, four beautiful brown trout, several kilos of mullet and four magnums of Sake.

I have no idea when we will be able to get out of here, tomorrows forecast is even worse, but after stuffing ourselves with the freshest, tastiest Southern King Crab in the world along with one magnum of sake for lunch. And with the prospect of grilled trout and another magnum of sake for supper.

‘Frankly, my dear, I couldn’t give a damn’


Steve & a very well fed, drunk and happy crew.

6th February 2011