Saturday, May 16, 2015

A Single Piece of Petrel Down

At the anchorage where we finished the crossing we met Patrick, a singlehander on Cephalais II. He had been sitting in Caleta Ideal for a week, waiting for a chance to cross to the north, with only the short-range forecasts relayed by the San Pedro lighthouse to guide him.

Patrick was finishing a tough trip from the south. In Punta Arenas a wind shift left his boat exposed to the full fury of the Straits of Magellan while he happened to be ashore dining with a friend. Repairs took two months.

Our second night in Ideal felt insecure. The rig shuddered and the boat swung. Although we have a very good anchoring setup, we would prefer to be tied to shore in some little nook rather than swinging in the gusts.

Leaving Ideal was a difficult decision. We were conscious of our inexperience in these waters, and the golden rule of never leaving a secure anchorage in bad weather. After we picked the hook Patrick followed, acting on his decision to go wait in the village of Tortel for a while.

We fairly flew down Canal Messier, the main north-south route in this part of the canales. Nine and ten knots through the water, with the opposing tide bothering us not at all. Alisa kept me company under the dodger with its made-for-Patagonia back door/rain shield. No school, and the boys were for (literally) the first time in our sailing career abandoned to the electronic nanny of the iPad. They watched the French cartoons that I downloaded in my failed campaign to turn them into little Francophones.

That was last season. This season I'm concentrating on my failure to turn them into Spanish speakers.

I haven't seen this many shades of gray since the Aleutians, said Alisa.

Giant petrels swooped behind us. A single piece of petrel down went scudding across the waves, passing us in the wind.

We declined the offer of the first three good caletas we came to. We're out here, traveling fast, I reasoned. No reason to stop. We came to rest in Caleta Morgane, a little nook surrounded by absolutely primeval rainforest. A creek pours foam and tannin into the ocean just off our stern and four shore lines hold us exactly where we want to be.

Elias helped with the lines, pulling out slack for me while I rowed them ashore. He shouted not-quite-to-the-point questions and misheard my replies. The diesel stove warmed us all up and Alisa made green chicken curry.

After the boys went to sleep we recapped the day. We just need to keep making good decisions, I said. We're learning so much every day.

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

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