Been a while since I’ve added to the blog I suppose, as we haven’t actually had a lot of advances in our journey. We’re still in Williams (that’s the summary!).
I said at the start of the year that we’d be sailing to Brazil shortly, no small proposition in view of Argentina’s continued closure; we’d have had a rather lengthy as well as stormy sea journey, without much prospect of stopping in Argentina on the way. But this ceased to matter when Brazil also closed finally (having been one of the last with little pandemic response). Who knows when they’ll open as the situation’s still poor apparently. That’s the east coast of South America shut at this time.
We’re sometimes asked why we don’t instead take the Pacific side, since we’re at the point where Atlantic and Pacific meet here; but apart from the fact that our plans are more on this side, it sounds like a lot of the Pacific’s shut currently. Friends haven’t had success on either side.
After so much time in Williams, and after much work on Space Oddity, we started the year by taking the boat on what was (for us) her first long sailing journey. The famous Canal Beagle or Beagle Channel cuts through Patagonia slightly above South America’s most southern cape (the Horn of course). In fact it consists of two forking channels which have a landmass of reasonable size, Isla Gordon, in the middle. In the course of a month we ascended one arm and descended the other arm and went round Isla Gordon in this way.
Another year’s start, soon to be followed, on the 6th of January, by a second anniversary of our coming to Williams to buy Space Oddity. It looks like by chance this may also be the date, tomorrow or the day after anyway, of our leaving the world’s southernmost city. We’ll be spending a month or two sailing in the Beagle nearby initially. We’ll be back to Williams before we leave wholly.
Our boat, in fact, has masts, in spite of the impression some might have been getting lately. It has two wooden masts (but it’s a yawl, so that’s one and a half, really). We lowered them to varnish them, six months back, and hold-ups happened and snows came. This was a problem in that varnish doesn’t set in such low temperatures. So we were mastless through the wintertime (we’d likely have been stuck here anyway). Did reduce the wind-in-the-rigging noise.
Winter in the south ended outside work for a while, so I finished a less structural boat project lately, one started last winter but discontinued since. This was to draw a chart of the world onto our central wooden table, admittedly not the most essential project aboard Space Oddity. But it’s something which can be done while the snow’s blowing by, if made harder by the short hours of light in the day. And here’s the result finally.
It’s been over a year since we installed our boat’s wood-burning stove, and since I wrote about that whole slightly-eventful procedure, so let’s report after months of running the thing continually. First a little of what’s involved in fuelling our wood stove (in case anybody wondered what we do with our time). Then I’ll talk about how it’s been as a boat stove.
When we bought Space Oddity we had plans to sail to Brazil and then haul the boat there, somewhere better equipped than here in the remote south of Chile; but it became clear we’d have to do something about the weeds on the bottom anyway, or we wouldn’t be travelling too speedily. We decided to haul in Puerto Williams eventually; then the start of lockdown shut down such ideas for a while. We were able to haul in late April, once restrictions had relaxed partially. This left the last of the early-autumn sunny days, after which the weather turned wintry. Continue reading “Boatwork in quarantine”→
Autumn’s my favourite of the seasons of Patagonia, the nothofagus trees creating incredible colours here, and the weather less wet than in summer (and warmer than winter, of course). Quarantine’s meant we’ve been a bit less busy, so I shot some pictures this time, mostly while walking the doggy. These leaves are falling as we enter May.
In March first reds/yellows appear in leaves
March – the harbour shores are still green mainly
The red colour descends from the higher hillsides, because of the colder air there
In April the autumn colours predominate
The forest is nothofagus about entirely, though there are subvarieties apparently
Above the trees are Argentina’s mountains on the Beagle’s other side
Chilean fishing craft in front of the Beagle
Colours coming down the hillside
The trees are at their brightest for a week or two only, before the leaves turn brown and blow away
The red slopes behind the city are shifting into brown by start of May
The news of the Covid-19 disease, and then the first cases of the disease, seemed to reach South America somewhat behind Europe or North America. UK friends were filling Facebook with coronavirus memes before we could appreciate these fully, and Brazil’s president’s supporters still suspect the communists of inventing the whole story, even after the US president has reluctantly started to advise that everybody stay inside. Here in Chile, as perhaps in other places, the news and the first cases formed a start from which the rest escalated rapidly. One day the neighbour’s saying it sounds like it’s only some sort of a cold really, the next he’s shouting through a mask from two metres away.
Last Monday (9th of March) Puerto Williams had a dramatic day, by the standards of this little isolated city: a number of orcas chased two whales onto the shores, and went on to kill them eventually. Orcas are seen in the area rather occasionally, and while whales are common in the channels of Chile, they don’t often enter the bay. They tend also not to be sei whales as these ones were, being the smaller humpbacks normally.