After a relatively short stop in Puerto Williams we are about to set off again - this time just in the Beagle Channel. It was a really lovely week, with fantastic weather, and some of our friends also between charters to socialize with, not to mention a good friend of both Miles and I who happened to be passing through for a few days. It was such a treat to have a catch up down here with a friend from home. Plenty of beer and pisco sours were consumed, but we also had a fair amount of work to do. The cleaning of the bilges, the foulies, the forepeak, all the food containers and the inside and outside of the boat takes three days in itself, and then the servicing of the engine, the generator and the other maintenance that keeps the boat running smoothly. Even though we are only on charter for 2 or 3 weeks, we clean everything out between, partly to keep it clean and hygienic, but also to have a good check over supplies, and the condition of the boat. By completely scrubbing and cleaning the bilges every month, we are able to keep a very close eye on the hull and the pipework, and the amount of water that is coming on board. Any changes are quickly investigated and problems rectified.
Sunset in Puerto Williams
It was lovely one afternoon, when our agent came to take us for a drive on Isla Navarino. We headed west from Puerto Williams, the only road goes along the coast, and it was incredibly beautiful, the Beagle channel looking it's best in the afternoon sunshine. Jose had brought a pack of beer with him so we sat by a historic graveyard from the Yaghan tribe, soaking up the warmth of the autumn sun and chatting to Jose in our very average spanglish! One of the real challenges of operating down here is the bureaucracy and red tape that surrounds any and every movement of the boat. Since we are registered as more than 50 tonnes, we now have to pay a pilot to go in and out of both Ushuaia and Puerto Williams which is difficult to understand when we have been going in and out happily on our own for the past two seasons! However, this means that we also have to pay an agent to manage and book the pilot, and organize all the paperwork. Again, we have been doing this perfectly satisfactorily for the past two seasons, but the authorities say, and we do! Jose has been worth every penny (I'm not sure Skip would agree but from our point of view, it does make life very much easier) and for this charter, with Jose's intervention, we have been given special permission to sail west along the Beagle, and out through Bahia Cook into the Pacific, in order that we can then sail south, around Cape Horn and then back up to Puerto Williams. This makes a wonderful loop of about 400 miles, takes in the absolutely stunning western section of the Beagle with the glaciers, and then includes an offshore sail and a proper rounding of Cape Horn (weather permitting!). In the past this option has been closed to us, possibly for safety reasons, but we are hopeful that, if we don't have any problems or incidents, and we report to the authorities our position twice a day, we might be able to repeat the permit for future trips.
Provisioning the boat in Puerto Williams is challenging! There are a few small supermercados, with basic supplies, and on Fridays a ferry comes down from Punta Arenas with fresh food on board. I ordered the meat, fruit and vegetables, wine and beer in advance, direct from Punta Arenas and mostly it arrived on the ferry last Friday. The guests didn't arrive until Tuesday so already the food has had a two-day ferry journey, and then a 4 day wait in Williams during a mini heatwave. The quality was poor to say the least. All the soft fruit and veg and fresh herbs were already perished when we put them on board on Monday, the lettuce also had to be thrown away, a lot of the onions were rotten through and the meat is already pretty high. However, we have plenty of good potatoes, and other hard veg, two full lambs that we have strapped to the back of the boat, plenty of beer and wine, and a great group of Australians so I am absolutely certain we'll be alright. It just seems like such a waste of money when the food doesn't get eaten. It wouldn't make any sense to try and take it back, and for sure, there is no chance to replace it so that, is that!
The forecast looks breezy for the next couple of days and then settled again so fingers crossed we'll have an interesting, varied and active trip. We head off later to Bahia Yendegaia to Estancia Ferrari, where the Gaucho, another Jose of course, lives with his girlfriend. Maybe there will be some riding, or fishing, or asado...We'll keep you posted.
All the best,
Laura and Miles
Pelagic Australis rounds Cape Horn in gale force winds.
Stormy weather greets boat and crew’s South Georgia expedition.
A winter crossing from Cape Horn to the Cape of Good Hope, in a boat that’s built for just this kind of duty.