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Towards Magellan Strait

We left Puerto Natales on October 20 at 05:20.

25 miles separated us from Angostura White, the second strait that provide access to the Region de Ultima Esperanza where the currents are very violent. We had to be there by 10:45,r 15 minutes before the change of tide, when the currents are quite balanced . A breathtaking sunrise welcomed aboard Simona, our new fellow for this cruise that would take us to Punta Arenas on the Magellan Strait.

We met Simona thanks to our Facebook page. She comes from Fidenza, a beautiful town between Bologna and Milan. She travelled alon for half of the world, to join us here. For us she is already a legend.

Once overtaken Angostura White we sailed along Canal Union to reach Canal Smyth, a long channel full of treacherous shoals which leads right where the Pacific crashes off the coast of Isla Desolación, marking the western entrance of the Magellan Strait.

On October 21, few miles north of Isla Simpson we saw the shape of a ship apparently being stranded in one of these treacherous shoals. She is the Santa Eleonor (former USS Riverside) built in 1944 by Ingalls Shipbuilding Corp. in Pascagoula. Originally used in the Pacific for the transportation of troops and wounded by the US Navy. She was later acquired by the Grace Line, who used it to transport passengers in the route Buenos Aires - Valparaiso. Under the command of Captain Ernesto Ruiz Muñoz, on 31 March 1968 she crashed on the rocks of Paso Shoal and sank. Crew and passengers were all taken to safety by the tug Colo-Colo

The anchorage for the night is Puerto Profundo, a narrow fjord on the south east coast of Isla Manuel Rodriguez, a few miles from where Smith Canal flows into the Strait of Magellan. The fjord, from the chart looked like very narrow, but in the notes of our pilot was listed as the most protected anchorage in the area.

Forgetting that Angelique II is as wide as two medium size mono hulls we ventured in. Damn it was really narrow. Access to the fjord was certainly less than 10 meters wide compared to 8 meters of our hulls. Fortunately Angelique II has outstanding maneuverability and we were able to get in without any problem. Profundo is a magical place. The anchorage is at the end of the fjord, nestled between high walls of a 20 meters and offers shelter from than any wind direction. Furthermore climbing on the eastern shore of the fjord you have a clear view about the weather conditions on the Strait. The water is crystal clear to the point that Ray for a moment thought to be a few thousand miles north and endured for a dive and a short swim. At just 5 miles south from Puerto Profundo lys Faro Fairway, inhabited throughout the year by a staff of the Chilean Navy who controls the traffic in and out of the Strait. We have therefore decided to call on the radio and ask for permission to visit the lighthouse. Having said that we called on VHF channel 16 and a readily military has responded with the usual courtesy and invited us for the next day to reach the lighthouse on the island (Isolote Fairway).

The next day, a sunny day with no wind and allowed us to leave safely anchored Angelique II and to achieve Isolote Fairway with our dinghy. Once arrived on the rocks below the lighthouse we found Luis, waiting for us, the man responsible for the station. Secured the dinghy he invited us to climb up to the lighthouse. A steep path led us up to the top of the hill on which stands the white building. To our surprise out of the door a young woman with two children were waiting for us. Luis, Petty Officer of the Navy has asked to spend two years of surveillance service in Faro Fairway with his young family. Now you must understand that the nearest town to faro Fairway is Puerto Natales, about 200 miles in one of the more difficult sea in the world.

This wonderful family decided to spend a long period in a state of almost total isolation. In fact they receive a visit once a month by a navy patrol that supply them with food. But the more frequent visits, about 1 time to week, are by fishermen operating in the area and reaching the lighthouse to call by radio their families. On the other hand they have a good internet connection with which allow them to communicate with the rest of the world. The energy is supplied by a generator while fresh water is supplied by the abundant rain always present in this region. Luis Job is for the most part centered on controlling vessel traffic in the area. Each vessel transiting the area is contacted and asked to identify and communicate port of departure, port of destination, date of arrival and the number and nationality of the crew and passengers. Then there are the normal maintenance activities required by the lighthouse. Enthusiastically dona Flora invited us in their living room and we talked telling each other's experiences that have brought us to meet right there at the end of the world. Then Dona Flora told us she was preparing empanadas and invited us to enjoy this delicious dish with them.

After lunch Rafael, as a seasoned scout led us to the discovery of his island and as a good shepherd poorly tolerated the excesses of Ray who occasionally tried to precede him, reminding him that the island is dangerous and that he had better follow his steps. But Rafael is not only a very skilled scout, but he also proved to be a consummate gentleman, offering several times his little hand to help once Vale and the other Simona, his true passion. So between a story and a walk it has become time to face the five miles that separated us from our anchorage where a fabulous cake prepared by my wife to celebrate my 55th birthday was waiting for us. We greeted our wonderful guests with a lump in our throats. Another small treasure to add to the most important treasure chest that we carry on board Angelique II. The one where we guard the memories of the fantastic people we cross in this great adventure.

The next day, once managed to pass our boat between the clamps of Puerto Profundo we regained the open to enter The Magellan Strait while waving again by radio our friends in Lighthouse Fairway. Only in my teenager dreams I had been able to see me in command of a ship, sailing through the Strait of Magellan. The sea and the wind at least for that day decide to celebrated my joy. A light breeze of around 15 knots from NW pushed us at 5 knots. Around 12h we passed a fishing boat which Valentina decided to call by radio to ask if they had fish to sell. Very kindly they responded that they had not fish but "Sentoia" the delicious Chilean King Crab. So while she was still on the radio we saw the boat making a 360 ° turn and heading toward us. Once they got sideways to our boat we realized that they had prepared two large bags crammed of sentoia’s legs and claws. We tried to reciprocate the courtesy by giving them a couple of bottles of Chilean wine. In the afternoon we reached Puerto Angosto where the old Joshua Slocum had to wait a month before setting his sails to reach the western mouth of the Straits. Unfortunately, once left Puerto Angosto he was hit by a terrible storm that pushed him back till Canal Chockburn, 150 miles to the south. From there through Canal Magdalena he returned to the Strait that had then navigate to 2 times, alone and without engines back in 1986 !!

Once secured the boat we visited the river which was diving into the sea just down at the head of the bay. For days we had no rain so we needed to refill our water tanks. Back in the boat all the crew was commanded in the kitchen to deal with the King Crabs. A good portion was prepared with a tomato sauce, preceded by an aperitif based on king crabs accompanied by a tasty pink sauce prepared by Simona. The rest was cooked and prepared as preserves in olive oil.

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