Gulf yes but "De Penas" definitively not!
September 12, 2015
We waited a few days for its return, the wind from the North to allow an easier crossing of the Golfo de Penas, but unfortunately it seems that next week will be characterized by winds from the second and third quadrant.
So I decided to set sails. This is ironic, considering that we decided to reach Patagonia from the Pacific Ocean instead that from the Atlantic, to have favorable. Since we left Chacabuco we only experienced winds agains us!!
For today the forecast is 15 knots from south but from tomorrow around 03:00h it will swing to South / West and by 15:00h the wind will turn to the West, North/West reinforcing uo up to 30 knots.
While Golfo de Penas is characterized by strong winds, the ocean depth goes from several thousand meters of to less than 200, generating huge a waves. All made even more complicated by a constant current of about 2 knots that pushes towards the cost. It is a stretch of sea of only 80 miles, but all Chileans we met and who knew we were headed south commented: take quidado with el Golfo de Penas !!
From our anchorage till the entrance of Golfo de Penas I have 70 miles to go, so a total of 150 miles that, in view of the fact that they will all be against the wind, might easily become 220. So if we want to overcome the Gulf before 15:00 tomorrow (when bad weather is foreseen) we have to leave very early.
At 04:15h our anchor is up. 2 miles off the fjord we face 18 knots of wind. The autopilot set to 35° to the wind, 2 reefing lines on the main and 60% Genoa and we sail at 8 knots which takes the apparent wind up to 24/25 knots. We cross an area of shallow waters so wave is a bit 'annoying, but by 8:00h we are over 20 miles from the coast and the navigation is much more comfortable.
By 18:00h we are 15 miles North West from Faro Raper, which is few miles from the entrance of the Gulf of Penas. We did over 130 miles but only 75 towards our goal. Not bad though. But the wind keeps turning south bringing our bow increasingly east. I decide to tack.
Two hours later we sailed over 15 miles but only to the West and the distance from our target has grown by 2 miles. We tack again, but after two hours later we plot our position one mile north of the one taken at 18:00h.
What the f##**, this is not possible.
I tack again and this time I set the autopilot to 30° to the wind, rmeanwhile I release one reef to the main and the open the genoa to 80%. Despite the narrower angle I have more power to the sails and the speed goes up to 9 knots.
September 13, 2015
02:00h we are 25 miles away from the coast but this time eight miles closer to the target. I tack again while the wind drops to 13 knots, allowing me to release also the first reef to the main reef and to open the entire Genoa. Speed goes up to 9.5 knots. It is Ray watch time so I go to rest leaving him instructions to stay on the same angle to the wind.
04:00h Ray wakes me up informing me that the wind is gone. He asks me if he can start the engines. So I tell him to turn on the engines and point a course straight to the target.
At 6:00h the alarm inform me that my watch time is arrived. Before going to his cabin Ray comment is: all quiet, poor wind, not enough for an acceptable speed. He looks very tired. In fact the wind, as expected, comes now from West. The anemometer marks 10 knots which added to our speed of 5 knots it means that the real wind is above 15 knots. The problem is that the mainsail is totally sheeted in exactly as I left when we were sailing 30° to the wind. So i realise the mainsail, I open the gennaker and we jump back to 9 knots straight to the lighthouse of Isla San Pedro which marks the end of the Gulf of Penas.
We head to Caleta Ideal, 4 miles south of the lighthouse, our anchorage for the night. The day is gray but no rain, waves are not overly formed and having the sea from our stern, they did not trouble even remotely Angelique II.
At 13:15h, two hours earlier than expected, in few minutes the wind turn north and breaks to nearly 40 knots. We roll the gennaker and take down the main sail, leaving up only 20% of our Genoa , which is more than enough to push us to 11 knots of speed.
At 14:20h we are abeam of Faro San Pedro which inevitably calls us on VHF channel 16. << Velero en navigacion rumbo sur en fruente Isla San Pedro esto es Radio San Pedro. Me recibe, cambio? >>
Once you have answered They would ask to identify boat and to comunicate port of departure and destination, number of passengers on board and they would always close the communication askinf if you need any help.
I keep telling myself that I love sailing in Chile. The Armanda de Chile, as far as I'm concerned, is the most customer-oriented military force on the planet.
At 15:15h we drop the anchor in Caleta Ideal. Our log confirms that we have covered 222 miles, 2 more than I have forecasted.
Also Golfo de Penas is done. Gulf yes, but Penas definitively not!