Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The start of our Island Hopping

[Kyle]Knowing our next sail was going to be overnight, long and upwind, we made a point of sleeping in a bit. Just a bit, though. The beauty of Quintupeu was too much to want to sleep through.

We awoke to a mirror of flat water reflecting the snow-capped peaks above. We remained the only boat there. {Maryanne:Quintupeu is known as the place the German war ship the Dresden came to hide in the first world war, and aside from its spectacular scenery is famed for its very narrow entrance - the war ship only just scraped in}

View of Quintupeu (& Begonia) from atop the mast

I was relishing the idea of a nice, slow day when I had a millisecond of a thought that this would be the calmest anchorage we would see for a while. I tried to forget it, but once it was there, I couldn't. I needed to make a trip up the mast and I knew I probably wouldn't get another convenient chance for a while. Once I had decided to do the job and had the tools out, I added a few more other things to the list. Suddenly, we had a busy day planned and would have to keep moving in order to depart on time. We wanted to get into the deep water of the Gulf of Ancud before dark as the the fishermen have a tendency to string their gear all over areas less that 200 meters deep. Their favorite float color seems to be black, which is particularly annoying. The water here is much too cold for swimming, so becoming entangled is way more difficult to deal with.

Since it was so calm, we raised the mainsail before we even pulled up the anchor so it would be ready to catch the wind outside. That turned out to be a big mistake. By the time we were half a mile from where we pulled up our anchor, the afternoon winds started as if a giant switch had been thrown. Within a few seconds it was blowing 25 knots from dead ahead. The mainsail made a huge racket as it flapped back and forth like a flag, shaking the whole boat along with it. The only way to calm it down was to “tack” back and forth to keep it filled. As we neared the narrow entrance, there wasn't enough time to run forward and douse or even reef the sail in the space between rock faces.

Out of the entrance in the larger sound of Comau, the wind slammed in from the north (the forecast was for light winds from the south). We used the first available stretch of water upwind to put in ALL of the reefs at record speed. That's better!

In the lee of Isla Llancaue, the wind swirled around the whole compass as it angrily fought itself over which direction it should blow. Begonia spun helplessly in circles as the rudders were too slow to correct for the changes. Eventually, the tide swept us into a slightly more stable area and we were able to get moving again, although we were constantly having to adjust both sail area and trim to do so.

A bit further on, while squinting into the sunset, I spotted three soda bottles ahead. Suspicious, I popped out on deck to have a look behind the jib and found a whole line of them. I was able to turn to parallel them, but we were pointing so far upwind, we were barely moving. The line ended up being a ¼ mile long net strung across the whole width of the channel. Damn fishermen!

A mixed sail - mostly at night

Maryanne took the first watch. The south wind arrived and she spent the first half of the night tacking into it. It was a pretty miserable night. It's cold down south and the strong wind from there arrived with icy rain and built up a choppy sea that threw us around and kicked up equally icy spray. Just before she gave up and woke me, she went on deck to put in yet another reef and her phone fell out of her pocket, bounced off the deck and disappeared into the night. {Maryanne: Totally my own silly fault but such a loss: my podcasts, my translation tool, my maps, ugh!}

My watch was more of the same awful conditions. At least I had put on my 'everything' outfit before I got cold. I was so relieved when the first light of day started peeking through breaks in the clouds to the southeast. In the distance, I could see the distinctive snow-capped peak of Volcan Corcovado. It never ceases to amaze me anew each time I see them that we are sailing in sea water so close to the Andes.

When we arrived at our anchorage in the bay that almost bisects the island of Apiao, It was just starting to turn into a nice day for sailing, which neither of us had the energy to appreciate properly. We just wanted to get so a nice, flat, secure anchorage, where we could rest for the night before doing any further exploration.

Arriving at the anchorage we find our first Fuegian steamer duck in action.

In the anchorage, at the northern extent of their territory, we got our first view of Steamer Ducks. They can no longer fly, so they just flap their way across the surface of the water looking kind of like high speed paddle steamers. They are so heavy, that they float way below the waterline on other ducks, making them look like a bunch of duck heads swimming around. A blurry photo of a family would make a decent Nessie.

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