Friday, June 19, 2015

Peak Moment

"Peak moment in our cruising careers," I said to Alisa.

She gave me a look.  I normally deny having anything to do with "cruising".  Maybe it was living in San Francisco that did it.  Long story.  Anyway.

"No baby, I mean it," I continued.  The boys were asleep, so they couldn't give me grief for calling their mom a baby.

"We got a zarpe for Puerto Williams!  We are so in the moment!  This is it!  Straits of Magellan, babeee!"

I was a little worked up.  This Patagonia stuff has just been getting better and better.  Every leg is so much more than the last.  I can't wait to see what the utter south has in store.

I want to sail south down these canals for ever.

Meanwhile, it blew hard again last night.  Stopped completely at noon today - stopped like a Republican trying to understand science.  Not a lick of wind since noon, but when I dropped by the armada in the afternoon to get our permission to leave, they told me the port was closed.  High winds and all that.  (I didn't even think of pointing out the window at the millpond where Galactic was anchored.)  Port might be closed until Monday, I was told.

So we'll see what happens when we actually try to leave tomorrow...

Sailing around Puerto Natales is so much like sailing your yacht to Colorado in the US.  I just can't shake that comparison.  I'm sure I haven't quite captured it in the pics, but it's very apt.  But it's Colorado with saltwater, and flamingos, and bigger mountains.

This area gave us our one taste of the other Patagonia - estancias, four wheel drive tracks, big empty spaces.  It's so different from the canales.  To get here, you more or less navigate to the other side of the Andes.  If you sail to Patagonia and you bypass Natales, shame on you.

On our way to being denied entry to Argentina
Fueling at the terminal pesquero, and of course someone
gave us a bacalao
In retrospect, we used up all of our good weather in Natales, and didn't have much left over when we poked around the surrounding areas.  Which wasn't such a bad thing, as getting chores done from a yacht anchored in Natales during a stretch of bad weather doesn't bear contemplation.

Heading up Seno Última Esperanza, our hopes were high for scenic over-kill.  But the clouds that were hanging just at the edge of the mountains, both when we came and went, weren't going to leave just because we were there.

We were so excited for this little bit of snow.  What did we know about what was coming?  It was enough, with about 30 knots of wind behind it, to keep us from seeing Lago Azul.

We had to make do with a little tourism at the National Park after we pulled in to water the barky at the dock.  In the summer the place is buried in tourists, but this time of year the rangers were very happy for some new faces.

The family reacting to icefall on the glacier
Back in Natales, the weather had turned, and not for the better.

Alisa read my last post and said, "you made that sound pretty casual.  I remember when we were at the mast during that first big blast and all I was thinking was that the only thing that mattered was that we both hold on.  That and whether boats that are knocked down at anchor come up as quickly as boats that are knocked down at sea."

And it's true - that night she was talking about was pretty violent.  We were in the best anchorage in Natales for the conditions, and everything came out fine.  But when it started blowing up again last night, Alisa and I definitely gave each other "not again!" looks.

The next day, the boys had school recess playing in the snow on deck.  It doesn't show in the pics, but a dinghy ride ashore wasn't on in the weather we were having.  I felt a bit sorry for them, being confined to that little space for their snow play.  But they didn't know any better.  They were in heaven.  Little Alaskans who don't know snow.

The next day we got ashore for a proper play in the snow.

And that's us and Puerto Natales.  We didn't see the famous cave of the Milodon, and we got no closer to Torres de Paine than the pic at the top of this post.  But that's fine.  Those places have enough people looking at them, and we are happiest with the little out of the way places that we find.

Through our stay here, I've been working hard at the science side of things, enjoying the luxury of doing research with the ability to look things up online, where every scientific discovery is documented and every question about statistical techniques is answered.  What luxury.

I find myself, though, ready to get back to our quieter life in the canales, and I'll be very happy to be tied in somewhere when the next blow comes through.  Somewhere like Caleta Mousse, at the doorstep of Angostura White.  That's us tied in there in the pic below, and time and tide and the whims of the Capitanía de Puerto allowing, that's where we hope to be tomorrow.

Andean condor.  We saw 16 at one time on this day.


  1. Mike - your photos are simply breathtaking! Priceless experiences for your boys :-) Love to you all from all of us

  2. Mike; Alice y niños, les envio muchos cariños. cuidense mucho, los envio por el hermoso viaje y sus paisajes. jaime harcha

  3. Mike mucha suerte

  4. Do you follow, they have some great Tierra del Fuego pictures from May. I bet you will end up seeing them on your travels.
    Cheers Drew