Mountainous views, Tábanos and a World War I hideaway

22nd January 2016

41:48.90S 073:04.00 W

A tern perched on a polystyrene fishing float
Tern on a fishing float

We have had a change of scenery this week from the low rolling islands on the west side of the Golfo de Ancud to the steep fjords of the Andean foot hills on the East side of the Gulf. We had hoped for a nice sail across the thirty miles or so of open water from the Islas Chauques to Isla Llancahue but there was almost zero breeze and therefore we puttered across enjoying the weather and the respite from the Tábanos.

Close up of a Tabano fly
A Tabano

Tábanos are a large fly about 20mm long that have huge teeth that they use to take great big chunks out of you. Well actually they don’t have teeth at all but they do bite to suck your blood. Other than that they are harmless and more annoying than any real danger. They appear soon after the warmth of the Sun is felt and make their presence known until sunset. Luckily they don’t seem to like to come in under the sun-shade and into our cockpit; but go out on deck and they are after you. Paula operates the windlass when we drop or weigh anchor and turns the foredeck into a Tábano slaughterhouse during each manoeuvre. The wild slapping of flies, and use of very sailor-like language, does not help me interpret her, usually very clear, hand signals though.

A view with the Andes mountains in the background
The mountains east of Hornopiren

Otherwise this is a stunningly beautiful area. The grand mountains of the Andes meeting the sea in a similar landscape to that found in the channels further south but with warm and pleasant weather and little wind. The mountain wind patterns do make themselves felt with 15 to 20 knots of breeze around midday as the air mass warms and flows, and there is a risk of strong katabatic winds in some anchorages. The anchorages are deep with shore-lines necessary in some places. To give ourselves an easy life we decided, after looking at some of the other anchorages, to base ourselves in Caleta Andrade where we could anchor with enough room to swing 360 degrees and from there made several day trips.

View of the entrance to Estero Quintupeu
The entrance to Estero Quintupeu where the Dresden hid after the Battle of the Falkland Islands

We made a trip to Estero Quintupeu where SMS “Dresden” hid after escaping the Battle of the Falklands on 8th December 1914. It is a very beautiful estero and it’s fairly easy to see why it was chosen as a hideout. I remember reading somewhere that the crew had denuded a hillside by felling every tree that they could lay their hands on and one area did look to be younger forest than the rest. I know that over 100 years has passed but I understand that much of the forest around here can be 300 years old so it is possible to see the scars of such an action for a very long.

Fishermen working from a boat
Fishermen hand-lining in the Golfo de Ancud

The entire coastal area around the Golfo de Ancud is heavily used for aquaculture and more traditional forms of fishing and this northern section particularly so. Yesterday we sailed west and north to the Isla Puluqui area and even in the 300m deep parts of the Gulf were continuously dodging line, buoys and boats.

large raft of mussel rope floats
Mussel cultivation – floats as far as the eye can see

To reach our anchorage in Estero Chope we had a marathon session of picking our way through massive rafts of mussel cultivation buoys.

From here we plan to move, this weekend, to a little marina near Isla Huelmo. We’ll take a trip to renew our visas and prepare and provision for our voyage towards Polynesia.

A Pelican on the water
a Pelican

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