Thursday, November 17, 2022

Finally some distance North made

We woke up to a drizzly day but little wind so we untied the lines and slid out of the indent and into the main flow of the channel. The forecast was calling for wind later so we had planned to stop just around the corner. Any decrease in latitude was always a good thing no matter how small the change was. This would need to be how we approached the narrow channels going forward. Inch by inch, mile by mile. We curved around to the north and into one of the few open bays remaining for quite some time. The wind was stronger against us now but we were able to motor sail a reasonable angle and with a couple of tacks had passed both planned stopping points for the day. Onward we continued, tack after tack but our speeds were still good and by the end of the day we had progressed a solid 45 NM to the north.

We spent the night in an open anchorage with another fish boat and were up early the next morning moving north again in reasonably calm seas. By mid morning we had passed out of Seno Union are were winding through a labyrinth of narrow channels again. This shortcut allowed us to avoid some of the more open waters in Canal Sarmiento yet even upon entering the Canal we found the winds not as strong as expected. Again we were able to keep our speeds up by motor sailing tight tacking angles in winds under 20 knots.

Having made much greater distance than expected over the past two days, I left Mark at the helm and went below to sort out the best longer term plan given the forecasted weather. There was a significant system moving in that would keep us at anchor for 2 or 3 days. Our options were to continue in the channels over night and make it to Puerto Eden well sooner than expected or take our time and spend a few days exploring Estero Peel, an area of tidewater glaciers we had missed on the way south. Stopping had the added bonus of a rendezvous with a new cruising boat Touche who we had been emailing with on a regular basis. Not stopping meant the possibility of a short hop from Eden after the system passed and a surprisingly good weather window for crossing our next big hurtle, the gulf of Penas. This was a forecast 7 days in advance though so the likelihood of it being correct was almost zero. We decided to check out the glaciers.

We anchored close to one of the massive walls of ice flowing into the ocean and got an early start the next morning. In glassy calm weather we floated at the toe of the glacier and enjoyed a breakfast among the bergie bits. Mark was able to fly his drone and get some great footage of our spectacular location while I took movies of dolphins playing with our stationary boat. Large waves would pass under us occasionally as house sized pieces of ice crashed off the face into the water in front of us. It was a very memorable morning.

We could feel the weather was changing though and decided it was time to move on so we started north again and after a quiet night in a very tight anchorage we awoke to fog so thick we couldn't see the shore 15 feet away. Our early start to the day was seriously stymied by visibility but after waiting 3 hours we were finally able to just see the shore so we got under way relying heavily on radar. Despite a later than planned start, we had current with us for once and no wind so we made good time to the next anchorage where our new friends were waiting.

We had used slightly more diesel than planned by detouring to check out the glaciers but this was of little concern as we expected to have no problem getting diesel in Puerto Eden a few hops to the north. We enjoyed a couple days at anchor waiting for the storm to pass with our new friends on Touche. Swapping stories of the various places we'd both been and trading valuable intel for them going south and us going north made time pass quickly. As always though the rest stop eneded and it was time to continue on our different paths.

The forecast still showed the perfect weather window for passing the gulf but now it was out of reach even if we motored over night and skipped Puerto Eden. We would have to catch the next one as skipping Eden was not an option now because of the required fuel stop. If only we'd known how difficult that would be, maybe we would have made different choices...

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