Thursday, January 2, 2020
Gulfo de Penas... Done!
The crossing, despite the big seas was reasonably uneventful and we made it to anchor slightly before lunch. The only down side was the Champagne had to wait until dinner and the bacon was consumed this morning.
We've decided to detour to a small village inland called Tortel so we should be able to post a few pics from there in a few days. Until then you will have to be content with a word description of the area.
Having crossed the Gulf, the scenery has changed quite a bit. We saw this change slightly when we first crossed south of Chiloe back in the beginning of December. Around Chiloe the views are rolling pastoral hillsides with gentle hues of green. Off in the distance you could see the giant snow capped peaks and volcanoes but they seemed too far away to touch. Cute, brightly coloured homes, churches and small villages could be seen scattered everywhere. Small boat traffic was common. Once south of Chiloe into the start of the Patagonian channels the rolling hillsides vanished, to be replaced with towering cypress-covered spires. The forests seemed impenetrable and surely nobody could live here. Aside from 3 or 4 small villages and a few isolated hermits this is true. Land farming is replaced by fish farms, which cling to the hillsides as they spring from the ocean. Boat traffic is only for boats bigger than ours, and much less frequent. The snow covered peaks are close enough to touch just above the dark green hills.
Now we are south of Gulfo de Penas and it seems that even the trees have a harsh life. Living here would be extremely difficult - so nobody does. Fish farms may exist here but there are so many inlets and bays you'd need to know where to look to find them. Once out of the main channel south, boat traffic (aside from us) is non-existent. Everywhere we look all we see are giant, granite domes teaming with white waterfalls. This area was covered by glaciers not very long ago. As we continue south the glaciers will come down to greet us. Right now, satellite photos are the only reason we know glaciers are around us as the channels are too narrow and steep to see much past the polished domes before they vanish into the clouds. The constant torrential downpours that cut visibility to zero doesn't help either.
It feels like we are the only beings left in the world... In fact, it is quite likely that we are the only humans within a 50 mile radius. How many places on Earth can you say that?
A big milestone (crossing Gulfo de Penas) has been achieved, but we still have many more before we reach Puerto Williams. Stay tuned.