Towards Golfo de Pena
September 6, 2015
We decided to Sail along an alternative route to reach Golfo de Penas. We will follow a series of secondary channels, some of which have not even been fathomed and even if reported on charts, there is no depth indicated.
But having read enthusiastic reports of boats that have sailed these waters we also want to experience the thrill of sailing "out of the beaten path", as if Patagonia is not already sufficiently "out"!
Once we left Estero Elefantes we entered Estero Tuahuancavec, a long narrow fjord. The day is sunny but no wind. We proceed motoring. From Estero Tuahuancavec we enter Estero Barros Anna who, through Canal Ultima Esperanza, to reach Canal Carrera del Diablo, very evocative names of what is waiting for us.
For the night we anchor in Caleta Diablo, a bay with a little access just wider than Angelique II which, once passed, opens to a wonderful and protected and circular basin. A stream flows into the bay and once the dinghy is in the water we decide to reaching its mouth.
The tide is low, as well as the water in the creek bed, so pulled up the engine we try to go upstream addling.
After half an hour we reach a small waterfall coming down from a pond that feeds our creek.
Nothing extraordinary, but we fill this life with little things just like that and all together, in their simplicity, make it unique, at least to our eyes.
September, 7 2015
Today we head Canal Carrera del Diablo where a narrow passage provides access to Canal Alejandro.
The problem is that the narrow is really tight and the current seems to reach 2 digits speed: The Bible of Patagonia, the pilot's book written by two Italian, suggests to make it only at slack time.
The problem is that being this a secondary channels, it is not listed in current tables published by the Armada de Chile. So we decide to anchor in a bay few miles south and to go with the dinghy to take a look.
It's raining, so we wear our "lobster color like” PVC overall and with the cowboy we move. Vale remains on board tuned on VHF channel 72 in order to communicate with us through our portable radio.
The Cowboy decide to take along his fishing rod, not knowing tide times it might happen to wait few hours to identify the slack. Once there the situation appears even worst than I expected. I can not even think what would have happened if we had come here with the boat. The tide is ebb and the water compressed into the narrow seems a swollen river with lots of rapids and reel. Moreover, the irregular shape of the coast creates a series of streams of water that flow in the opposite direction to the output current.
We try to reach the north shore of the pass, but the current begins to suck us towards the center. I head the bow toward the exit, but the current continues to push us back. I accelerate, but nothing to do, we go back again.
A shiver runs through my back, I give full throttle, like in the old days, to all 15 horses of my outboard and despite the dinghy is already gliding we can earn only a few meters to the bottom, luckily enough to get us out of the grip of the current.
Damn, that was close. We stop in front of the entrance of the pass, on a side where the current is almost virtually absent, we tie the dinghy to a tree and wait to see what happens. Ray begins to launch his line in the water but "damm, there are no fishes in this ocean."
After half an hour of waiting, the situation is still the same, but rain stopped and a pale sun makes the situation less annoying. We start speculating on the reaction that the boat could have trough the rips, so the "two idiots in Patagonia" decide to see what happens to the dinghy if it slips into the middle of that mess and make it even more idiotic, we pull up the engine and start paddling. Few paddle strokes and the current has already taken us.
We try to keep the boat with the bow in the direction of the current acting on the paddles, but the effort is futile. The little dinghy starts to turn on itself as it advances towards the “river”. Exceeded the initial horror, the situation appears grotesquely funny, while rolling toward a large rock that bisects the waterway, completely unable to handle the situation The waltz lasts only a few minutes but to us it seems an eternity. As we move away from the narrow pass, the current decreases and takes us away from the evil rock. A simultaneous big laugh comes out of our faces, "let's do it again." Repeated idiocy we stop again to wait to see if the current calm down, indicating the passage from low tide to high. 1 hour after of the rapids did not remain almost anything, the sun is still high and I decide that it is time to try so we inform Vale via radio to make the boat ready for sailing. Half an hour later we are 200 meters from the narrow passage. Ray follows us with the dinghy in case we need a third motor.
Angelique II aligns with the bows in the direction of the current, the two daggerboard are down, the engines at maximum rpm. Log speed is 8 knots but the GPS says we make 13, a sign that there are still 5 knots of current. The two hulls run like on a rail, we face the first turbulence but just a few degrees of the bar to keep the boats on their route. Less than 3 minutes to chill back and we're off: well done crew !!
By 17:30 we reach Caleta Odilia where we enjoy a well-earned rest.