We checked in and out of Puerto Williams on Tuesday 4th March. Puerto Williams is the home of the Southern most Yacht Club in the world. The Yacht Club Micalvi consist of an old Chilean Navy ship that has grounded and which one basically ties alongside. It is here the gateway to Cape Horn, Drake Passage and Antarctica. With a friendly atmosphere its a good introduction to Chile. After enjoying a first Pisco Sour at the Yacht Club the night before on arrival that Tuesday afternoon we started on our way up the channels.
The scenery was spectacular, lush green mountains reached high into the air, often snow capped. Walls of what looked like pines trees curtained the shore line one minute and then changed to a rocky musk coated terrain the next . We were motoring through the most beautiful fjords.
Glaciers came out of the sky and reached down to the icy waters edge. For as far as the eyes could see there was one impressive snow peak after another and where the snow stopped a water fall cascaded.
Seals, Penguins, ducks and birds were everywhere. However life ashore seemed non existent.
Most days we were up and on the move just after eight am. There was no point being up any earlier as darkness was still present at that hour. We spent the days clocking in the miles to head north then just before dusk we would find a safe caleta in which we would snugly tuck our way into and tie up for the night. This wasn’t always an easy task, but as the weeks went by we all became accustom to our roles and it became like clock work. No matter what the weather was like outside in our little beautiful caleta life would be calm, still and very warm inside.
If I was to sum up the Patagonian Channels I would without a doubt compare its beauty to that of South Georgia and Antarctica. It was unique and impressive in its own way.
It took us exactly four weeks to navigate the 1400+ nautical miles through the channels. The only night on route was spent crossing the Gulf de Penas which proved to me a very tiring long bumpy night. It was probably the worse night experienced so far on board Louise.
If there was any negatives in our four weeks of navigating the channels it was the weather. Wow it could be impressively nasty. In the south the wind would blow with such fierceness that the rain that almost always accompanied the wind would be blowing horizontal. A few days when either untying or tying up the weather would show us who was boss and we would be soaked completely and cold to the bone. Hale stone showers were regular during the worst of times.
Three weeks out of the four were either wet or grey and miserable. Thats a high percentage of time to spend in such blink conditions. Fortunately the days when the sun shined it showed us the true beauty of this magnificent area.
Entering Puerto Montt on Tuesday the 1st April was another great feeling of accomplishment. It was a successful completion of another spectacular leg aboard Louise.
Puerto Montt is the commercial and administrative capital of the Lake District that stretches out along the bay. A rather industrial fishing port with a billion dollar a year salmon farming industry that offered us a safe and friendly haven for Louise. Apart from that unfortunately there isn’t a great deal of other attractions. On a good clear day the snowcapped volcanoes Calbuco and Osorno could be seen towering in the distance. Lush inland beauty and spectacular volcano vista’s were only a matter of km’s aways. However again the weather in Puerto Montt was rather wet and blink most of the time.
It even says in the guide books that the weather in Southern Chile is not that desirable, however the hospitality and friendliness of the Chilean people made up for this, which is most definitely true. Where else in the world does your butcher practically hug you when he realises you speak no spanish or the hair dresser kiss’s you at the end of your appointment….For me only in Chile.
We said goodbye to mainland Chile on Tuesday 13th May. A new adventure awaits.