|Parasitic Darwin's fungus on a beech tree|
Our first stop was 35 nm to the west of Puerto Williams at a pretty anchorage called Caleta Liwaia, more commonly known in the sailing community as ‘Eugenio’, named for the sole resident of the large island called Isla Hosta where the anchorage is located. Eugenio’s Estancia (ranch) is located a few miles to the west of the anchorage and we saw his cows and sheep grazing the lands around the anchorage daily. We even had a sighting of Eugenio himself on horseback surveying his territory one afternoon. The cove is beautiful. It has a nice, protected spot to anchor and secure the boat (2 lines to shore), and has easy hiking. We enjoyed poking around the ancient forests and looking for beaver dams, which were not difficult to find. The beaver was introduced to this area in the 1946 as a source for the fur trade and they have wreaked havoc ever since.
We saw evidence of them everywhere, although the only two we actually saw were being separated from their pelts on the deck of a neighbouring sailboat. It is legal (and encouraged) to hunt beaver in southern Chile and one of the locals is an expert. He offered us some meat, but we said no. I’m not sure we, as Canadians, are allowed to eat our national animal… What surprised us the most was the size of the trees the beavers were working on. Some of the holes they were had made were the size of Gary’s head!
After spending Christmas enjoying the solitude of the anchorage, we started looking for a weather window to move to the next anchorage 25 miles west. On what we thought was a suitable day, we got up at 4am, untied the lines, pulled up the anchor and hacked off the kelp in calm winds and seas, and motored out of the cove. Within five minutes we were beating into 15 knots on the nose. Then it was 20 knots. Then it was 25 knots. Then the seas started to build and our speed dropped to 2 knots while motor sailing. After making it 5 miles in 2 hours we decided to turn around and go back to the anchorage. It was still calm in the caleta when we arrived, but no sooner had we dropped the hook than the wind started to gust to 30 knots – and continued to do so for the next 30 hours without stop. We did a few more boat jobs, including rigging the staysail as we realized that we were going to need a different sail plan this year compared to previously.
The wind finally died down at about 4pm the next day so we decided to make a run for the next anchorage. What a difference a day can make! The channel was smooth and we had a nice evening motor, arriving in Caleta Olla just before dusk. Not surprisingly, we were greeted by a beaver while dropping the hook (2 lines to shore). We spent the next 5 days in Olla waiting for the next break in the weather systems which would allow us to continue west. Despite being fairly open, the cove is surprisingly protected in strong (30+ knot) west winds. There is a thin band of trees just off the beach that give an amazing amount of protection to the boats anchored just off the shore. You can hear the wind in the rigging and you can see it hit the water in front of the boat, but no wind seems to hit the deck. It was lovely.
|Guanaco on the beach at Caleta Olla|
While we were there we took the dinghy over to the far shore of the bay and hiked up the hills for a view of the Hollanda glacier and lake. It’s mostly open marshy field and pretty muddy going, but we saw a guanaco (llama-like thing), had a close encounter with a Caracara (hawk-like thing), and watched three Condors soar in the thermals. It was a lovely day.
And so ended the tumultuous year of 2021.
|Caleta Olla and beyond. River mouth on the right.|