Saturday, November 5, 2022

The HARD Way Part III

Two Condors were soaring well above the boat catching the gusts as the spray blew off the steep cliffs all around us. A Hawk, upset at where the Condors were floating swooped in and tried to harass one of them despite being one tenth of his size. The Condors paid no mind and continued to circle high above the bay Sea Rover was nestled into.

We had arrived in Puerto Madryn early that morning following an unplanned all night sail. The anchorage was much much better than expected and we all slept soundly for most of the morning. After watching the nature channel live for a good half hour we decided we needed to do something constructive so we transferred diesel from our portable gerry cans (all 10 of them) into the main tank. As always it was a horrible job. Luckily the condors kept us entertained and we managed to spy their nest almost directly above us in a scraggly 1000 year old tree sprouting high up on the cliff.

The three crew decided they had enough energy to stretch their legs on shore for a spell. I watched them from the boat as they scaled the ridge, rising higher and higher and further and further away. Like many anchorages in the area one could wander on the bare rock for many miles. A few squalls of torrential rain did nothing to dampen their enthusiasm and they proudly called me on the VHF from the top of a false peak. The telephoto lens showed them as specs among the towering peaks behind them.

We spent the next couple of days on board, waiting for the weather to improve. From the safety of our anchorage we could see giant spirals of wind and spray blowing down the channel. We were very happy to be warm and dry. We took the time to fix a leaking valve on the watermaker and did a few engine checks while Mark sewed more of the canvas. Given the beating Sea Rover was taking there always seemed to be lots of maintenance items to keep us from getting bored. We of course added a few more shore lines to keep the boat in place.

The following day after a wet, cold and early departure, that involved a couple of hours untying the spider's web of lines that had kept us safe over the blow we had endured at anchor, we headed back out in the strait to try to bash across and get within striking distance of the giant headland at the west end of Magellan. There was a possible window to round the next day and we all were keen to put this mammoth task to bed and actually start heading north in the more protected channels.

With gusts above 30 we still managed to get a bit of help from the board tight staysail and were happy with the 3 knots we were making in sort of the right direction. We finally pulled behind a smattering of small islets on the north side of the strait and were able to relax a bit as the swell and winds eased slightly. After a few navigation challenges in amongst the complicated uncharted island group we found a small cove listed in the guide book as "Caleta Extra"... Oh it was Extra alright.... Extra scary for Gary. Two crew went ashore with a bag of lines to prepare to catch Sea Rover as I tried to drive her back in to the cove no bigger than 15 m across. All of this with a pretty significant wind on the beam. Some how we managed to get the boat secured without running aground although I think we might have scraped the bow pulpit on one of the rock walls. As usual the crew all worked amazingly well together to keep our little boat safe.

We all slept well until the tide rose high enough to expose us to the howling winds above the rock slot we were nestled into. Undaunted with the winds we left the small space and ate breakfast in the pre dawn light enjoying the last few miles of calm before we broke out of the island group and were back into the full force of the strait. Spirits were high as we all knew this could be our last day in this very difficult part of the trip. Little did we know that the Hard way wasn't quite done with us yet...

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