Please select your home edition
GJW Direct 2020

A late winter and early spring cruise through Patagonia

by Lars & Susanne Hellman 23 Dec 2022 20:48 UTC

OCC Roving Rear Commodores, Lars & Susanne Hellman, s/v SEA WIND, left Puerto Williams in Chile on August 24 heading toward Puerto Montt in Chile, hoping to arrive sometime in November.

Sea Wind left Puerto Williams in Chile under blazing sunshine and light winds. It's still winter down here, however, and the weather can change from reasonable to a snowstorm in a heartbeat. We will now be heading north along the Patagonia coast on the Pacific side and our final destination in Chile is Puerto Montt at the very end of the Patagonia channels. True enough, on the second day we woke up to a formidable snowstorm and 10 cm of snow covering the boat and this continues for two days. Then, as suddenly as it started, it disappeared and a spell of reasonable weather allowed us to continue westward in the Beagle Channel. The Beagle Channel provided an endless amount of different types of anchorages, from deep fjords with massive glaciers at the heads to islands with snug coves and barely room for one boat.

But again, it is winter and the temperature is hovering around 5 degrees C at daytime, and less at night. We are constantly hammered by headwinds and squalls with rain, hail or snow, or a mixture of all three. Again, our thick floating coveralls are invaluable in these kinds of conditions and we cannot imagine sailing without them.

We eventually learn how the weather pattern works. After about 14 days of pretty terrible weather with winds from N-NW there's a change and SW winds bring in clear skies and actually very nice weather for 1-3 days. That's when you can really make some distance and also enjoy the spectacular surroundings with the high snow-covered peaks of the Andes in the east and the magnificent islands, mountains and fjords along your way.

We managed to time one of these spells of good weather when we crossed the Strait of Magellan and had two beautiful days of enjoying one of Joshua Slocum's famous anchorages and also celebrating Susanne's birthday.

After the Strait we were able to continue under relative shelter all the way up to Puerto Eden. It's one of the most isolated communities in the world with about 250 nm to any other populated place. The population has shrunk from about 300 to only 80 over the last 30 years. It's a nice change though after eight weeks in total wilderness.

After spending five days in the civilization of Puerto Eden we finally got a weather window to continue north under relative comfort. We also struck it lucky before we left Eden as we managed to buy 450 liters of diesel from a local "businessman". That was the last diesel available on the island and it was just what we needed to get our fuel tank and all jerry cans full again. Perfect! Now we should be good all the way up to Puerto Montt. It's always nice to eliminate stress factors such as "will we run out of fuel or cooking gas etc". Food though is not an issue on Sea Wind. We are still well stocked up and we have half of the eggs left, "still going strong" after ten weeks.

Four days after leaving Puerto Eden we were in position in Caleta Lamento del Indio, just south of Golfo de Penas. We have managed to time a perfect weather window to cross this 80 miles stretch of potentially very dangerous or at least very uncomfortable open water. We set off under perfect sunshine and a light wind which eventually develops into a nice southwesterly fresh breeze that took us over the golf, past Cabo Raper and then into the sheltered waters of Bahia Anna Pink. We finally drop anchor in Caleta Milabu on Isla Clemente.

What a place! This is what we have been looking forward to for so long now. We have sailed 600 nm north. From 55 to 45 degrees S. From winter to summer and the weather is finally starting to change.

We don't mind snow, ice, and glaciers, on the contrary, but after almost a year in such conditions, it's nice to feel the sun warming your cheeks and drop a few layers of clothing. Caleta Maillabu also provides perfect hiking opportunities. After some struggle with bushwhacking through the dense forest at lower elevations, you soon reach higher grounds and an absolutely gorgeous landscape opens up with high mountains, waterfalls, and lush meadows, including all kinds of birds, flowers, insects and reptiles. Now we have only inshore cruising left in the waters of the great island Chiloe and its surrounding until we reach Puerto Montt probably sometime in November.

As we are writing this text the OCC yacht Touche from Denmark is arriving and anchoring next to us. We have never met before but have had email and Facebook communication for over a year now. They have been sailing through Panama to Easter Island and then to Puerto Montt in Chile. They are now on their way south and we are heading north, so this is a perfect opportunity to exchange thoughts and experiences.

This article has been provided by the courtesy of Ocean Cruising Club.

Related Articles

The Reverend Bob Shepton sails up the Thames
An eye-opening voyage he had never experienced Honorary OCC Member Bob Shepton has sailed far but had never experienced a sail up the Thames. As Patron of the Novara Project, he jumped at the chance to join as crew on this eye-opening voyage. Posted on 20 Mar
OCC announces 2022 award winners
And recognises the Schwartz family adventures with the Barton Cup Now that cruising has returned to somewhat normal territory, the OCC Awards Subcommittee has found numerous achievements to recognise. Posted on 28 Jan
Warmest years and warmest ocean on record
2022 had much stand out news for many of the wrong reasons 2022 had much stand out news for many of the wrong reasons, two of them being climate oriented: the oceans were the warmest in recorded history and the last 8 years were the hottest on record. Posted on 18 Jan
100 anniversary of notable early circumnavigations
In 1923, Irishman Conor O'Brien and American Harry Pidgeon were both girdling the globe In 1923, Irishman Conor O'Brien and American Harry Pidgeon were both girdling the globe in boats they built themselves. Posted on 16 Jan
Commodore Escrich welcomes the first yacht
Shimshal is the first vessel to sail to Marina Hemingway this year Commodore Simon Currin, with his wife Sally, skippered SHIMSHAL into Marina Hemingway on New Year's Day 2023. Posted on 10 Jan
State of the Oceans Report
From pollution and habitat degradation to the impacts of climate change The report explores the state of our world's oceans, from pollution and habitat degradation to the impacts of climate change, Sustainable Development Goals, and protection of marine environments. Posted on 24 Dec 2022
Rethinking Baltic Cruising
Avoiding Russian waters and savouring the Scandinavian Baltic OCC Roving Rear Commodore Andrew Curtain, s/v PILGRIM SOUL, reflects on avoiding Russian waters and savouring the Scandinavian Baltic. Posted on 23 Dec 2022
From Guernsey to the Scottish Isles and Back
OCC Roving Rear Commodores Reg and Nicki Barker report on their summer's cruise OCC Roving Rear Commodores Reg and Nicki Barker, s/v BLUE VELVET OF SARK, report on their summer's cruise in their regional waters Posted on 22 Dec 2022
Across the Atlantic and on to Scotland
Sue and Andy Warman return to the UK after some 66,000 miles of cruising abroad OCC Roving Rear Commodores Sue and Andy Warman, s/v SPRUCE, return to the UK after some 66,000 miles of cruising abroad. Posted on 21 Dec 2022
From Ibiza in the Med to Graciosa in the Canaries
OCC Roving Rear Commodore Rhys Walters gets a grip on single-handing OCC Roving Rear Commodore Rhys Walters gets a grip on single-handing s/v ZORA while Niamh prepares for their wedding. Congratulations Niamh and Rhys! Posted on 20 Dec 2022
Ocean Safety 2021 - FOOTERMarine Products Direct 2023 - Calypso FOOTERHenri-Lloyd 2022 December - SW FOOTER