Posted on Jan 29, 2016
In the early days of January, Francisco, the Master of the Nautical Club Micalvi in Puerto Williams presented to an envelope with the letterhead of the Armada de Chile, the Chilean Navy.
The sender was the First Class Lieutenant, Eduardo Moreno Letelier, Commander of the patrol boat Alacalufe, inviting on January 29th to the festivities organized by the Armada for the 400th anniversary of the discovery of Cape Horn.
In fact, the discovery of Cape Horn dates January 29, 1616 when Willem Cornelisz Schouten of the Horn (his hometown in the Netherlands), a veteran Dutch captain, rounded the Cape with an expedition left one year before (Unity - 360 tons and 65 men - and the Horn - 110 tons and 22 men) in an attempt to find a way to the Indies alternative to the Strait of Magellan, which was under the exclusive control of the Dutch East India Company, having the monopoly of all trade to and from the Asian continent.
The event was presented in the elegant saloon of Micalvi Club and was attended by the skippers of the other boats, moored at the Micalvi, specifically Manta from Finland; Patagonia from Chile; Pelagic Australis, from Australia; Polar Wind from Chile; Sonabia from France; Tokerau from Chile.
The program Foresee to set sails from Puerto William on the 26 of January to gather again in Caleta Martial on Isla Hershel, 20 miles away from Cape Horn on the 27th. The 28 is conceived as a free day, where the participating yachts could sail around the Cape and returned to Caleta Martial for the night.
On the 29 all participating yachts must be by 08:00h in front of the Cape Horn Light House to attend a celebration at sea.
The Event will end on Sunday 31 with a cocktail at the "Officer Launge" of the Armada in Puerto Williams.
We are in the middle of the preparations for the expedition to Antarctica, so we managed to set sails only by 22h of the 26, heading directly to the Cape.
Unusually a light breeze from the west blowed all night, shifting from downwind to abeam as we advanced along the east coast of Isla Navarino.
After having left Lennox Island to our right, we crossed the 26 miles of Bahia Nassau, passing Cabo Austin and Paso Mar del Sur and finally arriving by 10:00h on February 27 under the lighthouse of Cabo de Horno.
Having excluded the possibility to anchor we put the dinghy in the water and while I kept Angelique II at a distance of about half a mile from Caleta Leon, half the crew landed on the island to get to the lighthouse.
An hour later Valentina called me on the radio to ask to send the dinghy to Caleta Leon to bring them back on board.
Completed the recovery of the crew, I left the command to Valentina to go myself ashore accompanied by Matteo and Luis who had remained on board with me during the first landing.
Once at the top of the cliff through the steep staircase that connects it to the landing area of Caleta Leon, we set off along a wooden walkway leading up to the lighthouse where we were met the Lighthouse man who lives there with his family.
As well as the family met last October in Faro Fairway in Strait of Magellan, he had applied to be assigned to one of the lighthouse in the Magellanic region where the Armada foreseen the presence of families.
Their wait was rewarded by being assigned to the prestigious Faro del Cabo de Horno in the very year of its 400th anniversary.
Visited the lighthouse and signed the register of visits, we set off towards the monument that stands on the Cape, just overlooking the Drake.
Despite the gray sky and an annoying drizzle, I might have stay hours watching the Drake crashing on the cliffs of the Cape in a state of trance; inevitable if like me you grew up on “bread and seawater”, you have come all the way from your home on board of your floating shell sailing for 30,000 miles.
But the sense of responsibility prevailed on emotions, reminding me that Valentina and the rest of the crew were right there under the Cape, awaiting our return.
Once on board we set off towards Caleta Martial, just 10 miles north, a meeting point with other participants yachts and the patrol ship Alacalufe.
As soon as we completed the anchoring operations, we were contacted by radio by the ship Alacalufe welcoming us and inviting us, along with all the other crews to a Asado (barbecue) on board for dinner.
Regardless the 25+ knots of wind, at 19h by dinghy we boarded the Alacalufe that, unlike all the other boats had anchored well away from the beach.
Waiting for us on the bridge we found Lieutenant Moreno, his second officer and virtually the entire crew, with the exception of those in charge of the asado.
With the usual kindness and hospitality they offered us to visit the boat, the bridge, the officers' quarters, the canteen, the kitchens and above all the second deck where the sailors missing at our welcome were working around a huge barbecue.
Launched in 1989, the patrol ship Alacalufe with its 107 tons and its 33 meters in length is assigned to the department of Puerto Williams with Maritime Police and Rescue tasks.
While the other crews were joining the party, overflowing trays of good meat were running between the "barbacoa" and the dining tables and in particular the one jus in front of the kitchens where our crew was accommodated.
Given the amount of meat that my kids gobbled that night, it seemed clear that Angelique II diet had to be revised, thereby significantly increasing the proportion of red meat if I wanted to remove any risk of mutiny once set sail for Antarctica.
The evening passed absolutely pleasant and informal, especially considering the location, with Captain Moreno great landlord.
The next day many of the other yachts sailed to the Cape while we continue to work for the preparation of our upcoming expedition.
In late morning we greeted by radio the departure of the Alacalufe and welcoming the larger Patrol Ship Cabral under the command of the Corvette Captain Jorge Minuetti Leon.
With its 532 tons and 43 meters in length, the Cabral was built in the Armada de Chile shipyard in Talcahuano and entered in service in 1996 as a patrol boat. In 2000 it was implemented on board a modern hydrographic equipment, thus turning the Cabral into a hydrographic research unit.
Once complete their anchoring maneuvering the Cabral contacted us by radio to invite us to a cocktail on board and offering as well the transportation service from our boat to the Cabral with their auxiliary boats.
So by 19:00h we were deck when a beautiful Zodiac Milpro (the line of Zodiac boats dedicated to military use) led us comfortably and dry aboard the Cabral, where we were pampered with the usual 5 stars hospitality, perhaps a little more formal the one offered by Alacalufe, but certainly outstanding.
We left the party relatively early because the next day we were expecting an early wake up to reach Cape Horn by 07:00h.
In fact, at around 5 am we were ready to set sail together with all the other yachts.
With just the mainsail the 20 knots of wind from the West pushed us on a broad reach to over 9 knots, thus losing immediately contact with the flotilla.
Passed the Isolote Carrasco, the wind shifted to a close reach forcing us to give one reef to the main and to open just a bit of Genoa, enough to keep our speed.
Arrived to the Cape, ibesides the Cabral and the Alacalufe, 3 others Armada units were at anchor:
The Patrol Ship Hallef of 107 tons and 33 meters long, under the command of First Class Lieutenant Litoral Marcelo González González;
the modern patrol boat Marinero Fuentalba, of 1,800 gross tonnage and 81 meters long, under the command the Frigate Captain Jorge Castillo Fuentes;
the Transporter Aquiles of 4,760 tons and 103 meters long, under the command of Frigate Captain Gonzalo Rodríguez Vicent, on which the Chilean authorities sailed and on board of which was to be held the ceremony at sea.
The sky was still leaden, the rain had stopped and the other yachts, bare poles, were sailing around the Aquiles. We on board of Angelique II, we decided to enjoy that unforgettable moment hoisting all the canvas we had and launching us in a slalom at 12 knots among the Chilean Navy units.
Around 9h an helicopter of the Navy began shuttling between the island and the Aquiles, a clear sign that the ceremony ashore had ended and that the authorities were returning on board for the celebration at sea.
In fact, after just half an hour, we were contacted by radio by the Cabral who invited us and other yachts to move to the stern of the Aquiles.
Meanwhile the wind had swept away the clouds and a clear skies welcomed the highlight of this celebration.
And so, as a silence fell around the Cape, from the Aquiles’s top deck a Chilean flag made of flower petals were tossed into the sea, followed by a few cannon shots that officially closed the Celebration of 400th Anniversary of the Discovery of Cape Horn.
It was now 11, and while the crews of the other yachts reached the Cape with Armada dinghies, we decided to set sails to Puerto Toro, where we would spend the night before heading to Puerto Williams; we had already visited the Cape and the preparations for our departure to Antarctica recalled us to our mai due.
The celebrations ended Sunday, January 31 when the Capitán de Navio Patricio Espinoza Sapuna, Governator Maritimo of Puerto Williams, in the context of a farewell cocktail offered in the premises of the Armada in Puerto Williams, rewarded the skippers of the participating yachts with a beautiful memorial medal which was coupled by a second medal offered by the local Club Nautico Puerto Williams.
Many of the sailors met in Patagonia deride and snub those who fly to Puerto Williams to board charter boats offering cruises to Cape Horn.
They say that to pretend to have sailed the Cape you have to sail it in the context of a real journey and in fact there is an association called The International Association of Cape Horners “for sailors who have rounded Cape Horn. The rounding of the Horn will have been part of a non-stop passage under sail of at least 3000 nautical miles. Their course must have passed through the latitude of fifty degrees south both west and east of Cape Horn”
I have no idea how many people in the world really have the requirements to get into that special ranking; not many and certainly none of detractors.
However I think that the emotions the Cape provide are worth a trip, even if flying to Puerto Williams and then chartering a boat to the Cape.
Take it from someone who reached the Cape on board of his own boat, starting from his home and that by now doubled the Cape three times, including one in the context of a 3,000 miles passage that touched 65° South of Latitude.
This is a link to the Official Video of the Event, made by the Armada de Chile
Posted on Jan 2, 2016
January 26, 2016
We have been here at the end of the world for 2 months now, enjoying this region so far away and so different from anywhere else. It is full summer, but around here every day you can experience the four seasons. In Ushuaia they have a saying that makes it perfectly the idea: "Amigo no te gusta el clima? Espera cinco minutos". The first week of January in Puerto Williams we got up to 25 degrees C, in the second week 20 cm of snow.
In these two months, we have crossed several time the stretch of sea between Ushuaia and Puerto Williams, between Argentina and Chile, to the point that we know by name the agents of the Immigrations and Customs in both countries: "aqui estas el Angelique II. Como vais amigos? ".
Without touching the susceptibility of our Argentine friends, we must say that we prefer way more Puerto Williams to Ushuaia. It is much smaller, cleaner, quieter and has a small community of sea Gipsys from which to listen to the most amazing and fascinating stories. Ushuaia is instead a small town now totally devoted to tourism and which, consequently, lost the charm of the "port at the end of the world". On his "Costanera" (the waterfront) you can enjoy a glittering Casino, a Shopping Mall and a pier dock where the "giant ships" that stop in their cruises around the world or the "large" ships that offer cruises to Antarctica . The city center is a succession of shops with prices worthy of Via Monte Napoleone in Milan. Ushuaia, unlike Puerto Williams has a really effective marketing. Argentines have built a brand with a reputation equal to the most renowned tourist places of Europe. The result is that people believe that the end of the world is in Ushuaia and that it is the starting point for exploring the wonders of the Beagle Channel and Cape Horn.
So everybody arrive in Ushuaia to discover that, besides a couple of expensive tours in large power ed catamarans to see a colony of penguins on a rock, a semi glacier and a lighthouse on an island they call 'lighthouse fin del mundo '(which has nothing to do with the true Lighthouse at the End of the World, which is located on the Island of States), the City offers shopping and only a few decent museums.
In fact, all that has built a well-deserved fame of the end of the wotrls is located in Chilean territory. The Island of Navarino with his Diente (one of the most famous circuits of Trekking Patagonia), but also Puerto Williams, the southernmost town in the world, Puerto Toro the souther (23 souls) inhabited place on Earth, the great glaciers Italia, Espana, Romanche, Almana, Olanda, De Agostini, to name a few, are all in Chilean waters, likewise are the Beagle Channel, the Strait of Magellan and Cape Horn.
So guests arriving in Ushuaia and willing to enjoy everything necessarily have to reach Puerto Williams. And here is the rub!
Because the two cousins (Argentina and Chile) since long, long time love to spend time with jokes and teasing each otheri, one of which is to make it virtually impossible the connection between Ushuaia and Puerto Williams. The only service authorized by the two countries until last year was proposed by a small agency of Ushuaia which offered the passage of the Beagle Canal aboard inflatable rafts. But this year, the Chilean authorities have decided to lock it, so all the people who, having read on the internet of this connection, get confident to one of two ports with the idea of reaching the other side of the channel but become the real victim of the tricks of the two cousins. The satisfaction of this type of tourism is not really their concirn.
On one hand Ushuaia is increasingly addressimg mass tourism on the other Chilean authorities, beyond the official statements are simply uninterested in the development of any form of tourism in South Chile. But the market always finds spontaneous forms to fill gaps in supply, so with the arrival of the high tourist season a new "business" opportunity arised for pleasure boats in the area, both local and foreign. Since last November it was enough to remain docked at the pier of either Ushuaia Yacht Club or Micalvi in Puerto William to receive dozens of requests every day from people who needed to reach the other shore of the Beagle, with a market price of US $ 150 per person, settled by the previous official carrier. So in an absolutely illegal form vessels have begun to shuttle between the two ports with 6/8 passengers at a time, not only grateful for having solved a big problem but also extremely happy to have been sailing in the Beagle rather than cross it aboard a raft. We have to admit that in a couple of occasions we halve also responded to these requests of "help".
But on the docks of Ushuaia and Puerto Williams you also meet many young people in search of a passage to Antarctica. The call of the white continent here is very strong. Both ports are only 600 miles from the Antarctic Peninsula and Charter boats or the huge Passenger Ships have offers certainly not within the reach of a young backpaker. Three weeks on a charter boat rather than two on board a passenger ship is worth an average of US $ 10,000, so the young travelers looking for alternatives, offer themselves as dishwashers, improvised cooks or any other possible job just to be able to reach the white continent in more accessible ways.
The unexpected departure of Ray had created a small problem to our antarctic projects. Valentina did not want to face this experience alone and none of our friends had answered the call for adventure. So as more and more young people were offering volunteers job on board of Angelique II in exchange of a passage to the Antarctic, the idea of taking some with us took shape. The only drawback was that no candidates had previous sailing experience. However the desire to realize this dream that shone from their eyes and their words were strong enough to make them appearing to our eyes all potential Schackleton.
So we decided to scout some young, motivated, smart kids on board with us, for a two months cruise trough Patagonia, Antarctica abd the Falklands. Two months among the roughest seas of the planet for a unique experience. I must admit that it was not difficult to find them.
Let me introduce our crew
My name is Matteo, I'm 30 years old and I grew up in Albarello d'Adige (VR) in a peasant family where since I was a child I learned to work hard and not to be afraid of blisters. I consider myself lucky for all this because I the opportunity to grow naturally, healthy and even wild, far from materialistic technology. I graduate as an IT technician and work for about ten years as a repair technician for office machines and one day, about a year and a half ago, I decide to leave family, friends, work ... safety and leave for a trip to South America, having no idea about what it would lead to. I'm I fool? No, I just wanted to live and see what was out there, on the other side of the fence, then jump it like a wild horse and run free. The basic points of what will prove to be a unique experience were simple and clear: I wanted to dedicate my time to people less fortunate than me, to travel out of comfort, to learn, to know myself, to be free and to lose myself in South American nature, step by step I will find it incredible. I left on November 5th 2014 from Venice, experiencing ups and downs between fear and excitement. Little by little along the way I gain confidence in myself, awareness of who I am and what I know.
The solitude with which I first quarrel and then I become friends, making her an inseparable travel companion.
I travel to Peru and Bolivia where I work as a volunteer for an Italian association that helps the natives in remote areas of the Andes, in Ecuador knowing for the first time Amazonia and where I live with a semi-indigenous family, in Colombia where, always as volunteer, I work in an organic farm that produces coffee. Then I go to Brazil and Uruguay, exploring fantastic beaches and knowing special people and in late Argentine working for two and a half months for room and board in a hostel and then cycling, following the Ruta 40, to get up to Ushuaia two months later. During the stay in Brazil, a Brazilian couple tells me about their experience in Antarctica, triggering a series of images in my head and it is sufficient a brief search on the internet to understand that I want to push myself to it. After several months since the first time I spoke about it, in Ushuaia, I was lucky enough to meet Giambattista and Valentina, an Italian couple traveling for four years with their catamaran and launched towards the Antarctic continent. Without thinking much I decide to propose to follow them in this fantastic experience that will be unique and, for me, unrepeatable.
Their welcoming is the best, the crew of young people is fantastic and as they would say in South America there is "buena onda". I can only thank Giamba and Vale for this occasion and for now I imagine what will soon be real.
My name is Luis, a Catalan boy in search of the meaning of life.
When I started this trip I imagined to face it in solitude to think how I had arrived up to here and above all where my life would have gone. After spending several months traveling, I realized that it is much better to share these moments with the people I meet on my way and that goes my own way.
Giamba and Valentina come into my life here. I do not know them very much, however, for what I could see, they are a nice couple, patient, understanding and willing to share their lives with other people.
In my case they offered me what I needed at this specific time. The adventure of my life, an epic journey that I will always remember.
I am an Australian who after working as an engineer for 10 years has made the decision to abandon everything to travel the world for one year (I started in February 2015) and enjoy some of the wonders it has to offer.
You can see all the photos of my adventures on my blog, www.earththisamazingplace.com
To finish my trip, I had imagined visiting the Antarctic with one of the 11-day commercial cruises, before completing my trip with the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.
However, after meeting Giambattista and Valentina and the rest of the crew in Ushuaia, I realized that what they were about to undertake was for me one of those opportunities that happen only once in your life and that there would be no better way to complete this year-long adventure.
Fortunately Giamba and Valentina were so kind to accept my proposal to board Angelique II for 10 weeks and so I canceled all my previous plans, postponed my return home (sorry Mamma) and I joined their The Lifetime Cruise :)
I can not wait to embark on this adventure for Chile, the Antarctic, the Falklands and face it with a fantastic group that intends to travel the same way: thanks Giamba and Vale for this opportunity.
I am 28 years old and I was born in Turnovo in the Czech Republic. It is my hometown, but I call "home" wherever my feet rest. I studied law at high school and textile engineering at the University of Liberec. During my studies I did a lot of travels, especially in the United States and the European Union. I am a mountaineer so most of my trips were aimed at climbing. But I have always practiced water sports like rafting, canoeing, kayaking and more. Why did I get on board Angelique II? I believe things do not happen by chance. At the beginning of our trip I did not expect to visit Puerto Williams, yet here I am. I let fate guide my steps. Once the wind has pushed me to the end of the world, I have no doubt that my destiny is going to Catamaran in Antarctica with people I have never met before. Opportunities like these happen only once in my life. Let's do it!! Maybe I'll fall in love with the sea and the sail and become a sailor.
I do not really know what to write and I feel like I'm in school forced to do a task that I do not like. People who know me, know how I am. who does not know me, simply does not know.
Should I write about how I got to Micalvi in Puerto Williams and saw this beautiful catamaran with a breathtaking sunset in the background and later, after I met his captain with the signs of the sea in his face?
I should write about how at that moment I told myself I want to be like him?
Or should I write about how my life changed when I was 16? I was ready to be a swimmer and a successful climber. But then one day I woke up in the hospital with double fracture on my spine with over 80% of my body that could not move. And at that time I experienced things that should not be lived at 16! Things like wishing for the moment of the morphine sting to calm the pain. But how can you allay your fears when you know that you almost certainly will not be able to walk anymore? I'm realist. I had a lot of time to think about my time at the hospital, when my vision of life and myself changed. I've tried a lot of things in life, going to the night club and having fun with the girls, defecating in a plastic bag next to a friend hanging from a cord to a wall or just working like a mule. But there is something about me to say, if I want to do something, I do it !! I never say "maybe"! Do it now or never! And do not think about whether it's right or wrong. So here I am Antarctica. I just go! I do not expect anything from this trip. I bought hot shoes and a pair of warm socks. I love my girlfriend and in my life I want to build a house with my own hands and I hope to have a lot of children. I want to have a dog, bees, sheep, horses .....And now I want to sail around the world!
I am the only Latin American of the expedition, I come from Medelin in Colombia.
I decided, or rather, I was lucky enough to join this exciting trip after almost 10 months spent looking for a boat that would take me to the white continent, although in all truth I feel like it was the boat to choose me.
This adventure looks like the perfect trip, my twenty-ninth birthday will be in just 17 days, sailing the white continent. What a great gift! In the last stage of the expedition will be exactly two years that I left home for an uninterrupted journey. The crew already seems to me a family of 8 members that promises to be very welcoming. What a nice way to celebrate these 24 months of travel that have enriched me.
I have learned a lot everywhere, but I have a large part of what I am in my life before traveling even if leaving the routine was the best decision I made in my first 29 years. I do not know if I will go back to my job as a veterinarian and a teacher and even if I continue my studies in medicine, I only hope to continue enjoying life at full speed.
The departure for Antarctica is scheduled from Puerto Williams in early February, at the first favorable weather window on the Drake Passage, a few weeks later than expected by our initial programs. In fact on January 29th we have been invited by the Chilean Navy to the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of Cape
I still can not believe I'm here, having sailed my boat from home. But that our presence coincides with the celebration of an historic event like this is truly incredible.
So while waiting for this celebration I decide to set sails for a cruise to the glaciers of the Beagle Channel, also to give time to our young crew to get used to life on board and some training which will come handy later on in this extraordinary experience.
Posted on Dec 31, 2015
2015 although it was entirely spent in the "Pacific" has been the most adventurous year in our lifes.
Enjoy our short tribute to 2015 here
Posted on Oct 15, 2015
On November 8, we set sails for the most expected leg of this long cruise. 400 nautical miles from the mythic Strait of Magellan that would take us down to Puerto Williams, the southernmost town on the planet, the End of the World.
A route that has always been uncrowded. Vessels directed from the Atlantic to the Pacific and vice versa do not go further south of the Strait and since whaling was finally banned, the only boats sailing these seas are the ferry that once a week from Punta Arenas supplies food the Chilean community of Puerto Williams, a dozen fishing boats (only for 6 months a year), some research ship traveling to and from the Antarctic and the increasing number of yachts that each year during the Southern Hemisphere summer reach these waters.
Once left to port Island Dawson those heading south, take Canal Magdalena which, through a narrow passage takes to Canal Cockburn, a channel to be addressed with respect and attention because being completely open to the Pacific Ocean. From there you get into Canal Brecknock, finding again shelter from the big Pacific waves. Than you head East through a maze of islands until Bahia Desolada which gives access to Canal Ballenero which leads to Canal Beagle (Brazo Noroeste). Once in the Beagle Channel the worst is over; only 170 miles among the more beautiful and fascinating of the entire Patagonia will separate you from Puerto Williams.
For the afternoon of November 9 forecasts were announcing a low pressure system which, for a few days, would bring strong winds from N / NW so we decided to get to Canal Brecknock in a single leg in order get to the safe anchorage of Caleta Brecknock, before the arrival of the low.
For the first 80 miles until we had a favorable wind on a broad reach, but once entered in Canal Magdalena the breeze that had cheered has gradually turned into a strong 30 knots close hauled wind. With two reefs on the mainsail and jib to 70% we proceeded close hauled towards Canal Cockburn, which turned into an unusual match race with an invisible opponent: 18 tacks in 18 nautical miles. Fortunately with the dawn wind even reinforcing up to 40 knots veered, allowing us to sail 17 miles on a single tack.
Once in Canal Ocasion the new course brought us again a broad reach, therefore we totally eased the mainsail and furled in the jib. Once in Seno Ocasion we also dropped the mainsail and motored the last 2 miles to our anchorage.
These fjords wedged between high peaks, are often subject to large and sudden gusts of wind that can easily reach 70/80 knots or more. Once in the head of the fjord I noticed a strange anomaly on our electronic map: the GPS reported our position on the coast! Obviously we were still in the water with 40 meters of sea below us. It was Navionics chart which runs on a software I use since many years on our MacBook and the same electronic chart also runs on our big Mac desktop, on the Raymarine plotter and on our two Ipads, each with its own independent GPS. I immediately turned on all other devices and all gave the same error. In all my years at sea using Navionics I never encountered a similar problem. It was a few dozen meters error, but enough to get you anxious if you come here at night and with 50 knots of wind !!
Once dropped the anchor we started to take our aft lines ashore to ensure to Angelique II a quiet and well-deserved rest. The forecast was predicting winds up to 50 knots for the next 3 days and despite the pilot's book reassured us on our anchorage, we added other 2 stern line ashore, providing Angelique II with a hurricane proof anchorage.
We spent four days in Caleta Brecknock waiting for favorable weather conditions and we will remember as one of the most beautiful anchorage in this trip. Wedged at the head of Seno Ocasion, Caleta Breaknock is surrounded by a chain of mountains which the water which unceasingly flowing from the snowy peaks to the sea, has honed over the centuries.
We left Caleta Brecknock on Nov. 13 at 5 am. We knew 35 knots of wind were waiting for us that day, however we also new that our course would have allowed us a downwind passage for the whole day. So we gave two reefs to the mainsail and we left. To exit from the anchorage was complicated, the wind wedged between the walls of Seno Ocasion, was gusting up to 50 knots and exactly on our bow. With both engines to the maximum rev we could barely push Angelique II to 2 knots. Besides access to Caleta Brecknock it was so narrow to not allow allow tacking. Once we reached Canal Brecknock we could finally bear away and on abroad reach we were sailing in absolute comfort although constantly above 10 knots, to the point that the “Fuegino”, a large ferry which operates between Punta Arenas and Puerto Williams, had hard time overtaking us.
We reached Caleta Emilia in early afternoon, anchoring close to a small fishing boat, no longer than 8 meters, with three fishermes on board. They spent in the Beagle Channel the entire King Crabs fishing season, which happen to be in full winter from June to November. Every 15 days a vessel from Punta Arenas visit them to collect the catch and supply them with food. Needless to say, two minutes after completing our anchoring operations, two of them had were already sidewise our boat to present us with King Crabs.
Caleta Emilia is located on the northwestern coast of Isla Obrien, marking the access to the Brazo Noroeste (Northeast Arm) of the Beagle Channel, 40 miles of sea h providing access to the more beautiful glaciers which from Cordillera Darwin run down at sea: Glacier Ventisquero, Glacier Garibaldi , Glacier Espana, Glacier Netherlands, Glacier Romanche and many others. However along the Channel itself countless smaller glaciers reach its waters.
So on the 15 of November we set sails towards Seno Ventisquero, a 10 miles long fjord which leads up to Glacier Ventisquero. Fortunately the day, even if overcasted, had no wind leaving the fjord unencumbered by ice which breaking away from the glaciers falls in the sea where it is pushed by wind and current up and down along the fjord.
Once again, our electronic chart represented us well away from our real position.
Seno Ventisquero offers no safe anchorages for the night, so in the afternoon we head south back to the Beagle Channel.
We anchored on the east coast of Isla Chair, where our Navionics electronic chart reached its apotheosis. On the chart a tiny Isla Thomson was displayed, that in reality does not exist. The true Isla Thomson is located two miles south and it is a large island. What is represented on the chart, next to our track is the coast of Isla Chair, at greater zoom level. In short, the error at that point was more than one mile which displaying two islands instead of one as it appeared in our eyes, for a few minutes left us quite confused.
The next day we set sails to Seno Garibaldi, reaching in almost 2 hours the namesake glacier. Another day with little wind that allowed us to really get close to the glacier. Moreover, the Garibaldi, lying in a bay with a very narrow access not always is accessible due to ice. By now we have seen several glaciers, but the feelings are still strong and with the arrival of summer and rising temperatures, the frequency with which the blocks of ice break off and fall into the sea, increases. The glacier lives and unfortunately recedes, complaining. A constant lament, the clatter of the ice breaking is continuous and then, from time to time, a deafening roar announces the imminent crash in the water of a piece of the wall: the birth of an iceberg.
Even Seno Garibaldi offers no safe anchorages for the night, so in the afternoon we decide to move to Seno Pia, a large fjord with two arms which gives access to three beautiful glaciers: the Netherlands, Italian and Romanche. Seno Pia also has one of the safest and most beautiful anchorage of the Beagle, Caleta Beaulieu which offers a magnificent view on the Romanche Glacier. Reached the anchorage we found a French boat already met in Puerto Natales. A couple who like us is at sea since 4 years, but arriving here from Polynesia. Unlikely us they did went back home to get some winter clothing as they did not think to install a heating system on board. Having said that they are so in love with these landscapes that have decided to sell the boat to start climbing the most beautiful mountains and glaciers of the planet! We spent several days at Caleta Beaulieu enjoying several sunny and warm days.
On the 18 of November in the morning we hoisted our sails to cover the last 100 miles separating us from our final destination: Puerto Williams. Since we left Puerto Montt on August we have we sailed over 2000 miles through a territory among the more beautiful and wild that I have seen in my life. But what will leave an indelible mark in my heart are the people I came across in these 10 months in Chile. The sense of hospitality, generosity, altruism of the Chilean people is unparalleled, at least in my experience.
Posted on Oct 13, 2015
We left Puerto Natales on October 20 at 05:20.
25 miles separated us from Angostura White, the second strait that provide access to the Region de Ultima Esperanza where the currents are very violent. We had to be there by 10:45,r 15 minutes before the change of tide, when the currents are quite balanced . A breathtaking sunrise welcomed aboard Simona, our new fellow for this cruise that would take us to Punta Arenas on the Magellan Strait.
We met Simona thanks to our Facebook page. She comes from Fidenza, a beautiful town betwee Bologna and Milan. She travelled alon for half of the world, to join us here. For us she is already a legend.
Once overtaken Angostura White we sailed along Canal Union to reach Canal Smyth, a long channel full of treacherous shoals which leads right where the Pacific crashes off the coast of Isla Desolación, marking the western entrance of the Magellan Strait.
On October 21, few miles north of Isla Simpson we saw the shape of a ship apparently being stranded in one of these treacherous shoals. She is the Santa Eleonor (former USS Riverside) built in 1944 by Ingalls Shipbuilding Corp. in Pascagoula. Originally used in the Pacific for the transportation of troops and wounded by the US Navy. She was later acquired by the Grace Line, who used it to transport passengers in the route Buenos Aires - Valparaiso. Under the command of Captain Ernesto Ruiz Muñoz, on 31 March 1968 she crashed on the rocks of Paso Shoal and sank. Crew and passengers were all taken to safety by the tug Colo-Colo
The anchorage for the night is Puerto Profundo, a narrow fjord on the south east coast of Isla Manuel Rodriguez, a few miles from where Smith Canal flows into the Strait of Magellan. The fjord, from the chart looked like very narrow, but in the notes of our pilot was listed as the most protected anchorage in the area.
Forgetting that Angelique II is as wide as two medium size mono hulls we ventured in. Damn it was really narrow. Access to the fjord was certainly less than 10 meters wide compared to 8 meters of our hulls. Fortunately Angelique II has outstanding maneuverability and we were able to get in without any problem.
P.to Profundo is a magical place. The anchorage is at the end of the fjord, nestled between high walls of a 20 meters and offers shelter from than any wind direction. Furthermore climbing on the eastern shore of the fjord you have a clear view about the weather conditions on the Strait. The water is crystal clear to the point that Ray for a moment thought to be a few thousand miles north and endured for a dive and a short swim. At just 5 miles south from Puerto Profundo lys Faro Fairway, inhabited throughout the year by a staff of the Chilean Navy who controls the traffic in and out of the Strait. We have therefore decided to call on the radio and ask for permission to visit the lighthouse. Having said that we called on VHF channel 16 and a readily military has responded with the usual courtesy and invited us for the next day to reach the lighthouse on the island (Isolote Fairway).
The next day, a sunny day with no wind and allowed us to leave safely anchored Angelique II and to achieve Isolote Fairway with our dinghy. Once arrived on the rocks below the lighthouse we found Luis, waiting for us, the man responsible for the station. Secured the dinghy he invited us to climb up to the lighthouse. A steep path led us up to the top of the hill on which stands the white building. To our surprise out of the door a young woman with two children were waiting for us. Luis, Petty Officer of the Navy has asked to spend two years of surveillance service in Faro Fairway with his young family. Now you must understand that the nearest town to faro Fairway is Puerto Natales, about 200 miles in one of the more difficult sea in the world.
This wonderful family decided to spend a long period in a state of almost total isolation. In fact they receive a visit once a month by a navy patrol that supply them with food. But the more frequent visits, about 1 time to week, are by fishermen operating in the area and reaching the lighthouse to call by radio their families. On the other hand they have a good internet connection with which allow them to communicate with the rest of the world. The energy is supplied by a generator while fresh water is supplied by the abundant rain always present in this region. Luis Job is for the most part centered on controlling vessel traffic in the area. Each vessel transiting the area is contacted and asked to identify and communicate port of departure, port of destination, date of arrival and the number and nationality of the crew and passengers. Then there are the normal maintenance activities required by the lighthouse. Enthusiastically dona Flora invited us in their living room and we talked telling each other's experiences that have brought us to meet right there at the end of the world. Then Dona Flora told us she was preparing empanadas and invited us to enjoy this delicious dish with them.
After lunch Rafael, as a seasoned scout led us to the discovery of his island and as a good shepherd poorly tolerated the excesses of Ray who occasionally tried to precede him, reminding him that the island is dangerous and that he had better follow his steps. But Rafael is not only a very skilled scout, but he also proved to be a consummate gentleman, offering several times his little hand to help once Vale and the other Simona, his true passion. So between a story and a walk it has become time to face the five miles that separated us from our anchorage where a fabulous cake prepared by my wife to celebrate my 55th birthday was waiting for us. We greeted our wonderful guests with a lump in our throats. Another small treasure to add to the most important treasure chest that we carry on board Angelique II. The one where we guard the memories of the fantastic people we cross in this great adventure.
The next day, once managed to pass our boat between the clamps of Puerto Profundo we regained the open to enter The Magellan Strait while waving again by radio our friends in Lighthouse Fairway. Only in my teenager dreams I had been able to see me in command of a ship, sailing through the Strait of Magellan. The sea and the wind at least for that day decide to celebrated my joy. A light breeze of around 15 knots from NW pushed us at 5 knots. Around 12h we passed a fishing boat which Valentina decided to call by radio to ask if they had fish to sell. Very kindly they responded that they had not fish but "Sentoia" the delicious Chilean King Crab. So while she was still on the radio we saw the boat making a 360 ° turn and heading toward us. Once they got sideways to our boat we realized that they had prepared two large bags crammed of sentoia’s legs and claws. We tried to reciprocate the courtesy by giving them a couple of bottles of Chilean wine. In the afternoon we reached Puerto Angosto where the old Joshua Slocum had to wait a month before setting his sails to reach the western mouth of the Straits. Unfortunately, once left Puerto Angosto he was hit by a terrible storm that pushed him back till Canal Chockburn, 150 miles to the south. From there through Canal Magdalena he returned to the Strait that had then navigate to 2 times, alone and without engines back in 1986 !!
Once secured the boat we visited the river which was diving into the sea just down at the head of the bay. For days we had no rain so we needed to refill our water tanks. Back in the boat all the crew was commanded in the kitchen to deal with the King Crabs. A good portion was prepared with a tomato sauce, preceded by an aperitif based on king crabs accompanied by a tasty pink sauce prepared by Simona. The rest was cooked and prepared as preserves in olive oil.
Posted on Oct 13, 2015
7 October 2015
It 's alway nice after a long period at sea to go back ashore, but what happens to me for some time now is that after a while, the "land" starts getting to small to me and feel the irresistible lure to drop again my mooring lines. Because what counts, as many have written, it is the journey and not the destination.
So today we went back at sea to explore the channel that names this whole province of Chile: Ultima Esperanza, the Last Hope. First stop will be Estero Eberhardt, a fjord which access passes trough Angostura del Diablo, a very narrow passage.
Another evocative name. Here in Patagonia we never experience names like a Angostura “No Problem” or a Angostura “Here Everything is OK".
Estero Eberhardt is named after Hermann Eberhardt, the first pioneer who in 1989 settled in this region to implant a sheep farm. Former cadet of the Prussian Army, sentenced to 20 years' hard labor by the Father (fortunately not discounted), pilot of ships in the Falklands, Patagonian breeder and discoverer of "Cueva del Milodonte, Hermann has lived a fascinating life, which I recommend you to discover through the pages of "In Patagonia" by Bruce Chatwin.
Estancia Consuelo, his ranch, is still active even though his descendants are gradually veering activity towards tourism, offering hospitality and organizing excursions on horseback. Puerto Consuelo is the head of the fjord where a wide valley stretches towards the peaks of the Andes.
The gray sky and wind gave the landscape, if possible, a more severe look. But above all the silence, the absolute and impressive silence gave the impression of being out or, at best, on the edge of the world.
The Estancia still shows signs of a rich past. Fences, large buildings for shearing, stables for the horses of the gauchos, but all sadly abandoned. From the readings of Chatwin I know that here somewhere there must be the famous Cueva del Milodonte, which prompted Bruce to get so far to unveil its very own enigma.
Once anchored, we land with the dinghy over a small pier where a boat clearly intended to carry tourists is moored. We hear voices coming from the boat and we approach. So we meet Rudi Eberhardt, a descendant of the old Herman, who with the help of a fellow is working on the tourist boat engines. Rudi in fact repairs engines and boats in the area.
We ask him how to get to the Cueva. We must take a piste that starts from the Estancia, continue for about 1 km, turn left at the first piste, continue until we meet another piste where turn left again and then continue to the Cueva. In total, about 7 miles. A nice walk for tomorrow.
8 October 2015
The sun is still not high in the sky when with Ray we start our march to the Cueva, while Valentina decides to stay in bed to “watch” Angelique II. The sky is completely clear of clouds and a stiff breeze from the northwest makes the air temperature quite bubbly.
We set off on a track that runs through the wide valley where is located Estancia Consuelo. The landscape around us is very different from that encountered so far. The dense and high vegetation that featured channels and fjords until few days ago, has given way to a much more arid landscape.
The hills and mountains are bare and the few trees only visible close to the more sheltered slopes, look like small bonsai, with long and leafless shrubs that the relentless Patagonian wind models at will.
In a couple of hours of walking we reach the Cueva. The Milodonte, extinct about 10,000 years ago, was a huge herbivore, like a big bear higher than 3 meters. In 1889 Herman Heberard recently settled in the neighboring valley discovered this cave a fur coat, belonged precisely to the Milodonte.
A series of legends and stories followed one another in the discovery, some even told of recent sightings, but more recently science laconically sentenced that the extinction of the giant goes back 10,000 years ago. The nice view was certainly worth the walk, but I prefer to remember the Cueva told by Chatwin compared to that seen with my own eyes.
10 October 2015
The forecast shows light winds for the next 3-4 days, so we decide to sail Estero Ultima Esperanza to reach the Balmaceda and Serrano glaciers. Through a topographic map, we notice that the head of Estero Ultima Esperanza hosts the mouth of the Rio Serrano, a large river that flows out of Lago del Toro ( the Bull Lake) in turn separated by an isthmus of only a few meters with Laho Pehoe at the foot of the Torre del Paine complex, the most spectacular tops of the entire Patagonia.
We immediately see ourselves involved in a new adventure, to reach Torre del Paine by water !! The day is one of the finest Patagonia has given us so far and with our two engines at 2,000 rpm we advance at 7 knots. I find it hard to stay on course, confused by an horizon that no longer find the sea, replaced by a magical upside down world. As the fjord narrows and the sun rises, so the upside down becomes a huge sheet of opal glass of cobalt green shades. Left Balmaceda glacier to port, we head directly at the mouth of the Rio Serrano which we reach in the early afternoon. We dock on an old disused, looking wobbly pier but where 2 Park Rangers intent to recover their fishing nets reassure us, confirming that we can safely dock for the night.
11 October 2015
The plan was to leave early in the morning, we had to go up the river for about 15 miles to reach Lago del Toro and from there, if we can overcome the inner continue on Lake Pehoe for about 6 miles to arrive at the foot of Torre del Paine. The tank of the dinghy is full but we safety took with us a gerrycan with another 30 liters of fuel. In a backpack we stowed our waxed fisherman overall, 2 sleeping bags, water, fruits, chocolate and sandwiches. We took with us the handheld VHF radio, a first aid kit, spare ropes and binoculars. We also took two big fenders, the idea is to use them as rollers to let them slip under the dinghy when we will have to cross the isthmus that separates the lake Toro from Lake Pehoe.
At 6:30 the outboard is running. Vale decides to leave the Two Idiots in Patagonia alone to enjoy this adventure. We begin to go up the Rio Serrano, the current is relatively strong at the mouth. The river banks are still in the shade and the temperature is around zero !!
To be back with the day light we have about 14 hours, so we decide that at 12:00h the latest we will turn the bow downstream, wherever we will be. Going upstream we must pay attention especially to the tree trunks ripped from the shores which remain stranded and then represent the real danger for our propeller.
In this season, the river is still dry, as we realize from the banks which now go far beyond the river. After half an hour of motoring we face a great bend of the river. The current accelerates violently, a clear sign of shallow water. We try to pass on the inside of the curve where it seems that the current is less strong. We slow down for fear of touching the river bed but the speed is not sufficient to advance, and I struggle to keep the dinghy en route. We try again facing a higher speed but ...... bang, we hit the bottom with the motor foot. We pulled over on a dead (a bend of the river sheltered from current) pull up the engine, fortunately intact and try again with the paddles. But nothing to do, the current is too challenging even for the Two Idiots in Patagonia.
So we decided a new strategy. We bring back to the bank and jump in the water (just above the ankles of our legendary fisherman boots) dragging the dinghy by hand. So we proceed for about 300 meters, until you pass the curve, where current and depth enable us to restart the engine. We proceed for about one hour, we should now be a little more than two miles from Lake Pehoe.
The sun heats now both sides of the river and the temperature is less severe. Next to us, however, it appears what looks like a real rapid. For the entire width of the river we see waves on the river bed, clear sign that at that point the water impacts against a number of obstacles. Once again we draw the dinghy on one of the bank to check the area from the shore to figure out how to deal with this second difficulty. Nothing to do, there is no way to get over this rapids. The river is still dry and the banks are too high to imagine dragging the dinghy by land.
We are forced to give up. Too bad, we already see the Grey Glacier and also the peaks of Torre del Paine, nevertheless also for the Two Idiots in Patagonia is time to give up. So turning the bow downstream, we sadly begin the descent.
Posted on Oct 12, 2015
26 Settember 2015
I always look at the bright side of things. My bottle is always half full. Having had to give up the exploration of Estero Peel’s glaciers, it opens the opportunity to get to Puerto Natales by September 30, in time to celebrate Vale’s birthday in a “civilized” way, after a month of absolute solitude.
There are only a little over 100 miles to go and weather forecast shows very little wind all week, meaning we have to motor all the way to Puerto Natales. We also have to overcome Angostura Kirke, one of the most difficult straits in Patagonia. So this morning we set sail very early with the aim of reaching Puerto Bueno, a well-protected anchorage at the beginning of Canal Sarmiento, about 30 miles away from here. The sky has been overcasted for the entire day, but no rain and temperatures much more pleasant than the ones we experienced in Estero Peel.
Puerto Bueno is a mile long bay, which stretches along the North / South axel of the mainland coast, access to which is bordered by a passage between two islands off just 150 meters. The anchorage we choose is on the caleta which opens on the northwestern coast of the bay, protected from all four quadrants.
Its dimentions do not allow to swing on the anchor, making it necessary to secure the boat with two stern lines ashore. North East of our anchorage the coast draws another more sheltered cove, but the shallowness prevents access even with boats with little draft as ours. In return west of the second cove, the map we noticed the presence of a lake, a great chance to collect a bit 'of fresh water.
It is now many months that we no longer use the desalinator to produce our water, practically since our arrival in Chile. Thanks to the rain, rivers and lakes, the water is certainly not a constraint here. The lake is just a few meters above sea level, and feeds a stream of water which flows into the small cove.
We reached the stream with the tender and then we continued by foot along its choir until we reach the lake. Despite less than optimal lighting conditions of the day, this afternoon walk was like plunging into a palette of colors.
Those used by mother nature for painting over this piece of land dwarfs the best Van Gogh.
27 Settembre 2015
Today we can say with certainty that spring is arrived in Patagonia. A day which over of the hours has given us a clear blue sky, completely clear of clouds.
The east coast of Canal Sarmiento surrounded by the perpetually snow-covered peaks of the Campo de Ielo, provided us with a set for the exceptional advertising campaign “Altre Svolte“.
As a matter of fact “Altre Svolte” has just been released, a collection of life stories published by GiveMeAChance" (www.givemeachance.it) opening with a story written by Vale.
While you can by online the book trough GiveMeAChance website, all revenues from the sale of the book are donated to the Mamma Trovalavoro Association (mammatrovalavoro.com).
The anchorage for the night, Caleta Monnlight, provided the icing on the cake to this exceptional day.
After having sailed almost 4 miles upstream a narrow fjord on the northwestern coast of Isla Piazzi, we reached this small cove by the amply deserved magic name.
The water around us became a "mirror on the wall" reflecting landscapes that, with the passing of hours, turned more and more in fairy tale colors.
28 Settember 2015
Another sunny day on our way to the Region de Ultima Esperanza (Last Hope Region).
Another evocative name and other 1,000 stories lieing behind it.
This vast province of Chilean Patagonia belonging to the Magallanes y Antarctica Chilena region, takes its name from one of its fjords, “Estero Ultima Esperanza", so named in 1557 by the navigator Juan Ladrillero who on his way back to the Atlantic from the north of Chile was desperately looking for a way to the Strait of Magellan, their "last hope" of finding the Strait.
As a matter of fact this fjord leads nowhere, as anywhere lead all the other fjords and channels that wash the shores of this province, whose access by sea is provided by two narrows, Angostura Kirke and Canal Santa Maria, respectively north and south of Isla Diego Portales.
Both, only fifty meters wide (Ladrillero really had to be desperate to think that one of these tiny straits could provide access to the Strait), these straits are considered the most challenge to navigate in entire Patagonia, due to currents exceeding abundantly 10 knots which creates eddies and rips.
The reason for this massive power resides in the fact that all the great mass of water contained in the fjords and channels of the province, has to go through these "needle eyes" to join the Great Waltz tide of Patagonia.
Not to mention that in Estero de Ultima Esperanza pours all the water generated by one of the largest complex of glaciers in Chile, those of the famous Campo de Ielo.
In addition, this region is home to the only town in more than 1,000 kilometers of coastline, Puerto Natales, gateway to the Tower of Paine and an endless series of glaciers, lakes and rivers that make up the largest and most visited national park of Chile.
So, if you wonder why are we going to shove in this hell, here you will find the answer.
We have chosen to access it from Angostura Kirke which we reached in the late afternoon anchoring few hundred meters before the strait in a small indentation of the coast, big enough to shelter our bows from the current.
We will wait here until tomorrow to face the strait at slack (change of current) which should be at 11.45 as reported by the "Table of Tides" published annually by the Oceanography Institute of the Armada de Chile.
Today just in front of Isla Middle Canal which provides access to Angostura Kirke with 2 engines running at 3,200 rpm were struggling to advance despite the log would mark 9.5 knots !
30 Settember 2015
At 12h we were comfortably at anchor in Puerto Laforest, an anchorage in Canal Senoret, right opposite the Armanda offices in Puerto Natales, so once landed we went immediately to cope with formalities and then we walked towards the center of the town.
Puerto Natales is now one of the busiest tourist centers of Patagonia.
Not all shops are open, the tourist season has just opened, and the city is still awakening from winter hibernation.
The atmosphere is totally different from anything we've experienced in recent months in Chile.
For the first time I feel in a less true environment.
The landscape is obviously the same, everything just as dramatically wild as Patagonia can be, but people, houses, cars, shops are so looked after, incontestable sign that Puerto Natales is now a showcase of Turism World Industry.
We want to celebrate Valentina’s birthday with a nice lunch so as we usually do, we asked for suggestions to a young local who directed us to a restaurant very popular among locals, where he told us they prepare an outstanding asado (grilled lamb).
So after an hour from landing we were already with ou legs under a table ready to order our asado.
The birthday cake was instead celebrated on board, baked by my lovely 34-year old wife.