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The Straits of Magellan






The Straits treated us to a typical welcome. We motored in calm conditions from Caleta Teokita, past the Faro Fairways lighthouse, but were soon reaching in 30 knots with higher gusts. Fortunately in Caleta Mostyn we found a sheltered corner where the rachas or williwaws were at least very subdued if not totally absent, while the water was whipped white around the corner. At Mostyn we once again topped up our water tanks, this time with added colour, making the water look a little like weak tea, though it still tasted fine.



Caleta Playa Parda was more typical of Straits anchorages. Impressively rugged granite slopes towered over the anchorage, producing rachas from all directions, swinging the boat randomly around our Bahamian moor. However, the scenery was very grand and it was possible to hike up to get wonderful views of the boat and the Straits. This should also have been the case at the well known Caleta Notch. However, a particularly fierce bit of weather kept us on the boat, reeling in time to the rachas. To top this off we escaped from Notch only to run under bare poles in 40+ knots through the Paso Tortuoso to Bahia Mussel, where conditions became more benign. So much so, that the next day we motored all the way to Ensenada Elsa, bidding farewell to the Strait to take one of the three Canales through to the route to Canal Beagle.




In Ensenada Elsa we made a discovery - probably not original, but pretty good for us. The only anchorage mentioned in the two excellent guides for Patagonia turned out to be little more than a rocky notch in the southern shore of the Ensenada, not a place in which we were prepared to spend a night in Patagonia. However, almost opposite on the northern shore we spotted a genuine Caleta, with nice protection from most directions. We felt our way in and found the depths and availability of trees perfect. We immediately began referring to it as Caleta Sunstone. The next morning we made a proper survey of depths from the dink and a sketch based on the radar image. It is always nice to add something to the accumulated cruiser knowledge, as a partial payback for all the work that others have done.


The next day we shot through the narrows of Canal Acwalisnan. It seemed that having left the Straits we had entered a whole different pattern of weather. The sun shone - at least occasionally - and the winds were also more moderate - sometimes. We expected to have a brisk beat to the west down Canal Cockburn to get to the well known Caleta Brecknock. Instead we had a pleasant broad reach.

Caleta Brecknock at the northern end of Seno Ocasion is like a huge quarry in the midst of high granite hills. In a notch on the SW side there is room for two boats to tie up very securely when the winds howl overhead. In the notch we joined 'Stenfis' with the Swiss couple Patrick and Sabina and their sons Stefano and Luca aboard. Like many young cruising families, their cruising years were limited both by finances and by the need to return to home in time for the start of secondary schooling for the eldest. In the meantime they were having wonderful time cruising throughout the Pacific and the boys were getting an education far more extensive in many ways than their peers at home. As an interesting twist, both Patrick and Sabina were setting an example for their sons by following correspondence courses themselves, so that the whole family sat down for 'school' each morning.




When Stenfis left, we were almost immediately joined by John and Sally on Taraki - much to Vicky's delight, as she was eager to hike heights which she knew they would also be attracted to. The weather was perfect, so with Tom acting as a willing boat-keeper the trio set off for a 'short' swing around the ridge tops. They returned shortly after dusk, exhausted, but delighted at having made the full circuit, with numerous stops for photo ops of the stunning views and the condors that soared past on the thermals.





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