One Fine Day

A fine day in Estrecho Nelson

A fine day in Estrecho Nelson

The 23rd was passed swinging at anchor in Caleta Darde. It was quite comfortable, especially for peace of mind after the wind backed to the West and I was able to veer more chain.

Under way early on the 24th saw us initially covering ground previously traversed

in our last attempt to pass this way. This time we took the eastern pass around the Otter Islands through Canal Mayne then Paso Summer. In Paso Summer we passed a container ship on her way south the crew of which were particularly friendly giving us a toot on the horn and shout and a wave (I don’t think we were in their way). Other than the ship we saw just a few whales, humpbacks earlier then possibly some Sei but we are not sure.

We passed through Paso Victoria and moored in Caleta Dixon where we expected to spend a day waiting for a frontal system to blow through. Caleta Dixon, located near the southern tip of Isla Newton is open to the SE and gave us a view of the channel with the flash of a couple of lighthouses visible at night. This is near the point where the channel that leads to Puerto Mont branches off so there is a little more ship traffic. It was quite a pretty cove with lots of noisy kingfishers (Pescador Martin Grande) in the trees.

The 24th was to be an engine servicing day. First, though, we filled the diesel day tank and all the jerry cans with fuel from the keel tank and took stock of where we stand. Not too bad we still have 380 litres. A new day-tank and a proper fuel transfer pump system is one of the modifications on the list for Valdivia when we get there as at the moment we have to use a submersible 12V pump dropped through the filler into the keel tank; a messy and inconvenient operation at best.

The engine needed a service and I wanted to investigate some extra vibration that I noticed at low rpm as we moored the evening before. After poking around and not seeing anything I started the engine to have a close look and immediately spotted the problem a weld had broken on one of the engine bed supports (the engine bed is the reinforced structure that the engine sits on). I have a welder aboard but no generator to power it so welding wasn’t an option; therefore I spent the rest of the day using up some of the stock of “bits that might come in handy one day”, cutting, bending, drilling and generally knocking into shape a strong-back that I could bolt into place to support the weld. The result is stronger and stiffer than the original; the replacement of which is on the list but has now been promoted to very near the top of the list.

The front came through during the late evening with a blast of wind and rain. The rain deposited 25 Litres of water into the dinghy which was then filtered into the water tanks.

Off again on another early start. We usually get up at first light on moving days have breakfast and are getting underway when there is enough light to see the hazards on the way out of that night’s mooring. Propelled by a favourable current we took a sheltered short cut up the West side of Isla Newton which is un-surveyed but known to be safe and joined the main, marked, channel at Paso Farquhar. We were passed here by “Barry” a large container ship muscling along at 17 knots – I wonder who “Barry” was?

We were now into Canal Sarmiento an almost dead straight 60 mile long section of channel. We had light head winds so were in the usual configuration of main strapped in tight and motor making fair progress as there didn’t seem to be much current. We passed Bahia Wodehouse where Tillman and crew repaired “Mischief’s” engine, as told in “Mischief in Patagonia”. The next bay along “Abra Lecky’s Retreat”, also a Tillman stop after they took all day to cover the same distance we had just covered in an hour or two – what a difference the day and weather makes around here. Lecky’s Retreat is named after a Mr. Lecky who as a young lieutenant was surveying these waters in the 1870s. Lecky went on to write “Lecky’s Wrinkles in Practical Navigation” which was something of a navigation bible in the days of the sextant almost right up to the GPS era; I have a copy among my book collection at home.

We had made good time when we reached our goal for the day, Caleta Moonlight Shadow, so after a bit of head scratching and calculating decided to continue on to Caleta Damien. As it was we made good time with a friendly little breeze to propel us swiftly across Estrecho Nelso, where the photo was taken and then along the coast of Isla Vancouver.

Paula won’t forget Caleta Damien as she managed to slip into the water while returning to the dinghy after attaching a shore-line. I heard a yelp and the whoosh of her lifejacket auto-inflating and grabbed the camera but missed any entertaining shots. In fact she barely went over her waist so it wasn’t that dramatic but it does illustrate how tricky some of these mooring manoeuvres can be. I had noticed that the water temperature had been steadily increasing over the course of the day and was at around 14 degrees C; a couple of degrees warmer than the air temperature so the shock wasn’t too great.

We are moored up under the trees as it’s another passing front day so windy now and windy and wet later. We attempted to go for a hike this morning but the forest is impenetrable here and the islands are so steep sided that there is no beach. Paula just checked her crab pot but all she caught was a big (25cm) purple five-legged starfish that had made short work of devouring the mussels that she had put in as bait. We also have the kingfishers here for company and a humming bird is errrrr humming around. There are also mosquitoes about but it has to be still for them to be a pest so no problem today.

If anybody reading this, if anybody reads this, has any questions or wants to get in touch then please leave a comment on the post and that will get to me even in the middle of nowhere on the boat; or it should if the technology is all working correctly.

2 Comments on “One Fine Day

  1. Hi Chris,

    I am following your voyage and enjoying a lot your comments.

    You’re a really good writer.

    Cheers from Montevideo and God Speed.


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