Thursday, July 2, 2015

Spray Was Here

We got the perfect day to enter the Straits of Magellan. And what a notable day it was, to reach this legendary bit of water.

The Faro Fairway lighthouse keeper was courteous and friendly when I hailed him on the VHF as we sailed by. I wished, not for the first time, that my Spanish was up to being chatty on the radio. When we first arrived at Puerto Profundo we heard him reading the weather over the radio while a kid made a ruckus in the background. How intriguing to sail by their island now and to see that they had quite a bit of room to run around, and to wonder what family life might be like in that remote place. It was calm enough for us to land and visit the lighthouse, but the winter days are short and we wanted to use every hour of good weather for getting into the Straits, so we traveled on.

The sun cleared the clouds on the horizon to illuminate the snowy mountains on either side as we made the turn into the Strait. Who couldn't feel the moment? This was the very stretch of water where Magellan gave the Pacific Ocean its name.

The sun was enough to get the boys in the cockpit, so I had the rare treat of their company as we motored deeper into the Straits. A passing container ship hailed us and asked, very nicely, just what the heck we were doing there in the winter, anyway.

And as a final touch, we tied in for the night in Puerto Angosto, where Joshua Slocum anchored the Spray on his second attempt to leave the Straits of Magellan behind him.

Slocum was here for something like a month, and made six unsuccessful attempts to set off from this spot before he finally got the weather to get away.

~~
We got no internet, no no.
We're as out of touch as we can be,
Yes, yes.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Waiting

You'd be disappointed if you could just sail into the Straits of Magellan. What would the world be coming to?

We've been waiting in Puerto Profundo, just north of the Straits, for five days now.

When we were first tying in here, on a very gusty day, we toyed with the idea of parking Galactic on the side of the caleta, stern up on the rocks. Surely we'd be more secure in the gusts that way? But good sense prevailed, and we hastily enacted a plan to do what dragging anchor and inefficiently-angled shore lines could not, namely keep us off the rocks.

We shifted berths on the next morning, taking advantage of the calm hours to move to a caleta that had been too gusty to enter when we arrived, and which would give us a strait shot to the mouth of Puerto Profundo if we should feel like leaving in the dark.

For days now we've been watching the forecast promise high pressure and calm conditions for July first. The colors that go along with poor weather on the forecasts - the magenta of 30- or 40-knot winds, the puce-yellow of seven-meter seas - are nearly enough to make you seasick in the calmest anchorage. By contrast, good weather is depicted with the happy green of a 12-knot wind barb and the tranquil blue of a two-meter swell. Looking at that graphical promise of better conditions to come, I've started to imagine July first as a day of mai-tais on the lido deck, a day when we'll tie into palm trees in our chosen caleta.

We'll see what happens.

Meanwhile, we've been running the odd family experiment of spending all of our waking hours on top of each other in the saloon, which is quite cozy with the diesel heater glowing in the corner.

It would be easier if our boys (talking to you, Eric!) didn't fight all the time. Much easier. And it would be easier if, while they were squabbling, Alisa wasn't trying to teach them school and I wasn't sitting at the chart table, drowning out the family noise with the earbuds, and doing science on my laptop. But it's more or less always been thus for us. I'm very happy to have the science work, and we're generally quite happy with how the Tasmanian curriculum, as enriched by Alisa, is working for Elias. And when the boys decide to play nicely together and have an uproarious boy time, well, then we're in heaven.

We've also managed to get off the boat for a walk nearly every day, and for the boys to throw snowballs at each other, and at us.

That's one lesson I remember from mountain climbing in Alaska - weather days are much nicer if you manage to get out of the tent.

~~
We got no internet, no no.
We're as out of touch as we can be,
Yes, yes.

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Milestones

We've noted a couple of milestones this week. First, we've passed solstice, so the shortest day of winter is behind us; though we may still be getting shorter daylight as we continue to move south.

Second, we've seen the eighth anniversary of our departure from Kodiak. We only lived in Kodiak for seven years, and I'm sure that neither Alisa nor I expected to be gone so long when we set out on Pelagic. Alisa made pudding for dinner on the anniversary night and Elias asked everyone to share their favorite place of the trip. I came up with Hobart, as that's where we brought Eric into the world and into the crew. Hobart would have scored high points with everyone regardless. And as for some of our other favorites, they underscored the vastness of the South Pacific. How do you evaluate Iluka, New South Wales and Rapa, the Austral Islands, on the same scale?

And now, improbably enough, we find ourselves just north of the Straits of Magellan.

We need the weather to play nice when we enter the Straits, as they funnel and accelerate the prevailing westerlies. We're getting a very nice break between two lows just now, but most of the good weather arrived at night, and we weren't willing to leave this anchorage in the dark. So we'll check the updated forecast just now, but based on the forecast that we saw yesterday we expect it to be blowing a gale by this afternoon.

We operate on the border of feeling that if we wait for perfect weather we'll never move and not wanting to get caught out in really bad conditions. For the day that takes us into the Straits, we're leaning towards the latter. So we'll likely be waiting here for several days for another chance.

When it's beautiful here it's really beautiful; when it blows it really blows; and when it rains it really rains.

~~
We got no internet, no no.
We're as out of touch as we can be,
Yes, yes.

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