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We didn’t want to hang around too long in Puerto Williams as it was heading towards Winter so we made the most of our time there stocking up with fresh food including 30kgs of Potatoes and 18kgs of flour (we weren’t going to run out again)!! We were giving ourselves up to 3 months to get back to Puerto Montt as we knew that there would be days when we just wouldn’t be able to sail anywhere due to the heavy weather.

El Vagabond was rafted up 6 boats out from the Micalvi as a number of yachts were being left there for the Winter season and we had great fun trying to carry all our shopping plus diesel cans across the other 5 yachts…

We had carried some Boat bits back from the Falklands from Chris to hand to Pelagic Australis - Skip Novak’s larger yacht and we were entertained very generously one evening by the skipper Miles and his crew (Laura & Dave). They had just got back from a trip to Antarctica and had some wonderful tales of the area.

After 6 days, we were stocked up and ready to go. We left Puerto Williams on 18th April and slowly proceeded along the Beagle Channel. The Sea was dead calm and there was no wind so we just motored slowly along enjoying the tranquillity.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, we were hit by a 35 knot wind with accompanying choppy seas and we quickly turned back a mile to take an inshore passage to the nearest anchorage where we stayed for a couple of days…

We were now in ‘Glacier country’ and we enjoyed staying in various anchorages alongside beautiful tidewater glaciers. We had touched a Rock at slow speed when we were approaching Diablo Pass where the Beagle Channel splits into it’s North & West arms and Roger had to don his wetsuit and dive under the Boat in Caleta Olla to check we had no hull or rudder damage (as we had reversed off and got caught again).

Luckily, only superficial damage and Vicki was standing ready with the hot water and towels when he emerged from the freezing water.

This was a very nice anchorage but we had trouble finding decent trees for our shorelines – one tree actually snapped during the night and we seemed to spend the whole of the following day re-anchoring in the poor holding !!

Caleta Beaulieu in Seno Pia was the most spectacular anchorage we had seen to date. We took the Rib almost to the edge of the glacier and growlers were tumbling into the Sea just yards from us as we watched the glacier calving. There were dolphins playing all around us and they were so energetic with their antics on the bow of the Rib that we had to come down off the plane as we thought they were going to bounce us all right out of the dinghy !!! This was a great place to spend our Easter weekend…

Our last stop in the Beagle Channel was on Isla Chair where we ended up staying for 8 days. We had 2 anchors and 4 shorelines and were well sheltered from the almost constant 65 knot Westerly winds – lovely !!

It felt a real achievement to get going again as we travelled 18 miles the following day in cold, wet and windy conditions. Again, the forecast for the next few days was 60 + knot winds so another 4 line tie was required. We stayed here for 4 nights with snow blizzards and williwaws sweeping around us and managed to pull up another tree with our stern line one night. We were beginning to wonder if we were truly mad to be enjoying this trip…

We made slow progress over the next few days trying to dodge snow and hailstorms and reached Caleta Brecknock on 9th May with a 40/45 knot North Easterly blowing violent williwaws at us as we tried to anchor. We were rather pleased with ourselves for getting a demanding 4 point tie up sorted without hitting any rocks and this time there were no raised voices or angry words exchanged between Skipper and crew !! It had taken us 3 weeks to get here from Puerto Williams when the journey only took us 7 days going South…

Saying “Goodbye to Tierra del Fuego” we left Brecknock for the Magellan Straits and, again, used the forbidden Canal Acwalisan where we saw a couple of whales. We got our timing right for the Magellan Straits and whizzed along there for a few days enjoying three anchorages along the way turning North into Canal Smyth by the Islotes Fairway Lighthouse – a bit better visibility this time !!

The forecast was not looking good so we decided to stop in Caleta Teokita again. We got snugly into the cove with 4 shore lines plus our 2 anchors and sat tight for 4 days (which was getting to be the norm for the weather patterns) waiting for the big winds and hailstorms to blow through. Roger and Monty were back on Waterfall duty and we managed to top up our tanks with 350 litres. We left Teokita with our decks covered in snow and had to plough through the iced up water… The next few days were very cold with light NW winds so we motored steadily North. We stopped in Caleta Victoria (well, we had to !!) and managed to walk Monty along a lovely big beach at low tide. During the second night, we experienced big williwaws again and the force actually made one of our shore lines rip out one of our stern cleats…

Two weeks later saw us back in Puerto Eden (which looked very picturesque in the winter sunshine) topping up our diesel and buying another 3 frozen Chickens plus a couple of Pork Chops and some onions this time. We awoke and left early following a fishing boat out of the tiny harbour only to return half an hour later as a thick fog had descended and we couldn’t see a thing. We waited for a few hours and left again at midday only to get a couple of miles away to Angostura Inglesa which is a narrow winding pass linking Canal Messier with Paso del Indio and where the fog had not yet dispersed. Eventually we got moving in time to find an anchorage for the night. We felt like an icebreaker in the morning as there was thick ice all around us and pulling up the anchor through ice did seem a bit odd. It was also very cold and we were now wearing 2 pairs of thermals under our many layers of clothing….

On 5th June we arrived in Puerto Francisco in Seno Baker to wait for our weather box to cross the Golfo de Penas. Unfortunately, we had just missed one opportunity and knew some nasty weather was due so we tied up nicely with 4 shorelines and waited…. A couple of days later, we heard a dinghy coming towards us – wow, another yacht in our neighbourhood. A French boat – Passe Partout with Michel and his wife Penny on board. A lovely couple who we had a few drinks with and then a few more – these were the first and only people we had seen in over 7 weeks (other than the Diesel man and Grocer in Puerto Eden). Michel was the ex-skipper of the Classic Yacht “Nordwind” and had been the Skipper for Antigua Classics Week in 2007 when Trevor (Malarkey) and George (Double Waters) were crew. What a small world…

14 days later (!!!) we left Francisco to cross Penas and were on the last leg home. We had big 4 metre swells to start with and, although the Sea was uncomfortable, it wasn’t dangerous despite the 45 knot winds earlier in the day. The 15 hour night seemed never ending but we suppose that it was almost the shortest day…

So, we were back in Bahia Anna Pink almost back to Puerto Montt. The weather had changed and the winds were once again predominantly from the South. At last we could get in some decent sailing again. We couldn’t believe how much we had been forced to motor on this trip as the winds South of Penas always seemed to be from the North.

We had found during our trip that the Chilean Charts were not always in line with our GPS and it was only to be expected that at some point we would collide with an unexpected rock. Unfortunately, we hit one at 5 knots which was not a good idea. We were very cross with ourselves for not keeping a better watch but it just wasn’t supposed to be where it was… The rock stopped us dead in our tracks and we were very lucky not to be holed. Thank goodness we have a nice strong heavy hull. We later established how much damage had been done when we hauled out in Puerto Montt…

We were now getting the miles under our belt and travelling every day. Sadly, we were seeing Salmon and Oyster Farms all over the place congesting and spoiling a number of anchorages. We were also seeing a number of fishing boats and we realised that the beautiful tranquillity and solitude that we had got so used to enjoying was now at an end.

Finally, on 2nd July after 76 days, 1,284 miles and 37 anchorages we were back in Puerto Montt. Our Patagonian experience was at an end and, although our Falklands detour had prevented us from heading West to New Zealand this year, it had proved to be an incredible adventure and we had loved almost every minute…