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Yearly Archives: 2018 − Travelblog


Patagonia under sail 2018: triplog and fotos

Following to the triplog and photos of our Antarctic expedition with SY Anne-Margaretha in early 2018, we have now got the Patagonia triplog with associated photo collections and some short storytelling online. With the log, stories and photos, you can join us retrospectively at no cost and enjoy Patagonia’s wonderfully wild landscapes and waterways with no “risk” of wind and waves, seasickness and cold – have fun!

Patagonia 2018, SY Anne-Margaretha and Rolf Stange: triplog, stories, photos

Hiking on one of Patagonia’s many remote islands.

And yes, we are fairly confident that this Patagonia adventure was not the last one of its kind, there is still so much to discover! We have no dates fixed yet, and it won’t happen as early as the next austral season (2018/19), but we’ll return to Patagonia, no doubt!

Golfo Corcovado to Puerto Montt

Admittedly, the final leg of our voyage was not what we had been hoping for. We had pictured some beautiful sailing in subtropically calm waters and a nice final stop on the island of Chiloë. Instead, we got one last beating by the weather. Winds around 30 knots (40 in gusts) and straight on the nose, of course. The Golfo de Corcovado did not give us whales and views of volcanoes, but maritime Rock’n’roll in shape of some rough seas, a lot of rain and speed that went down to 1.8 knots at time. Not quite what we wanted. (Addendum: in Puerto Montt, the crew found parts of ropes and fishing nets on the propellor. That explains of course why we made so poor speed when the wind was against us!)

Things improved significantly during the last morning: the wind changed direction and thus its character from a pain in the rear to the sailing wind that we had been hoping for. The sea calmed down, and we picked up speed to make 7-8 knots between Chiloë and some smaller islands towards Puerto Montt. After the wild, lonely landscapes further south, it seemed pretty civilised around here: many smaller and some larger settlements on the islands and more ships than we had seen before in many days. Penguins, pelicans and sea lions were with us on the last miles.

We went alongside in Puerto Montt only a few hours behind schedule, and a really great, beautiful and interesting voyage came to an end, which was duly celebrated with fresh apple cake made by Julie. I am pretty sure that I speak for everybody when I say that we would have loved to continue together. There are so many more Caletas in Patagonia …

But as it was, we said goodbye and farewell. Many big thanks to all fellow travellers, to skipper/boat owner Heinz Wutschke and his good crew, Astrid, Julie and Piet for many stunning days on the back side of Patagonia!

Gallery – Golfo Corcovado to Puerto Montt

Click on thumbnail to open an enlarged version of the specific photo.

No doubt, this is to be continued. In 2019, we have already got Scoresbysund in east Greenland with Anne-Margaretha on the schedule. There has already been talking about other parts of east Greenland or Lofoten for the future, and I am sure this is not to be the last time in Patagonia! It was far too beautiful for that, and there are so many more places to discover in this stunning part of the globe.

So this is the end of my polar blog for the moment. The author will continue his arctic adventures for a couple of weeks in the book writing factory (yes, there are projects going on). Thanks for reading so far, and see you again when the arctic season starts with Antigua!

Canal Moraledo & Isla Canal

As if a sunset on a calm fjord between many islands was not already a show of perfect beauty. How does it get even more beautiful? Dolphins.

On Isla Canal, we invented the term „three-dimensional hiking“ because we were moving in the dense forest somehow in a diffuse matrix of branches, bamboo, rotten roots and surprisingly large cavities between them. A very gradual transition from the mostly air-filled space at the top and the more or less solid bottom. Often less solid.

Good fun!

Gallery – Canal Moraledo & Isla Canal – 01/02 April 2018

Click on thumbnail to open an enlarged version of the specific photo.

According to the weather forecast, we should now have had lovely sailing wind from the south. In reality, we are crossing up north against the wind and some rather rough seas. Still 180 nautical miles to go to Puerto Montt. We will see.

Seno Aysén – 01 April 2018

Happy Easter! The anchor went down late night. Which was great, we had been sailing for quite some time since we had left our anchorage at the Isla Jungfrauen. And it was good to get to walk again on solid ground! Nature has almost got a tropical aspect, it is so green and lush, big fern trees are growing everywhere like palm trees, and parrots are making a lot of noise.

Seno Aysén - 01 April 2018

Our own Easter bakery at work

A second landing takes us to some hot springs, the Termas de Punta Perez. It used to be an unknown place in the wilderness until a few years ago, now tourism has left obvious traces. We are obviously getting into more civilized waters again, Puerto Aysén is not too far away and tourist boats and fishing vessels are crowding the waters.

Caleta Gato - Seno Aysén - 01 April 2018

The forest in Seno Aysén looks almost tropical

The hot springs do not form natural hot pools. It is hot groundwater coming out between the stones, so you can burn your bum as you sit in shallow water while your feet get frozen at the same time. It is not really that tropical yet!

Termas de Punta Perez - Seno Aysén - 01 April 2018

Really hot Hot Springs

Gallery – Seno Aysén – 01 April 2018

Click on thumbnail to open an enlarged version of the specific photo.

Archipelago de los Chonos – 31 March 2018

Good to be in sheltered coastal waters again! The surf on the outer coast was very impressive, not a good place to run aground, as countless ships did trough the centuries. We had our bearings right and entered Bahía Anna Pink (one of those lovely placenames again), the entrance to a system of channels through the Archipelago de los Chonos. The sea got completely calm during the morning, the water was like a mirror again mid-day.

Canal Pulluche - Archipelago de los Chonos - 31 March 2018

Green trees covering the mountains in the Archipelago de los Chonos

The sun was shining warmly and T-shirts and shorts were seen on the sun deck. Maybe it was just the impression under the coincidence of today’s weather, but everything seems to be milder than south of the Golfo de Penas: the air is warm, the forests are covering the hills up to higher altitudes, the land appears green, lush and mild. Nevertheless, penguins are swimming around in considerable numbers and further inland, there is one of the biggest non-polar ice-caps of the Earth. Maybe it is really just the weather of today …

Canal Chacabuco - Archipelago de los Chonos - 31 March 2018

Sunrays hit the water, Canal Chacabuco

Canal Errazuriz - Archipelago de los Chonos - 31 March 2018

Sailing in the late evening and during the night, across calm waters and in moonlight, is very atmospheric!

Gallery – Archipelago de los Chonos – 31 March 2018

Click on thumbnail to open an enlarged version of the specific photo.

Peninsula de Taitao – 30 March 2018

After the sunny hikes on the Isla Jungfrauen, we had to wait out yet another day while the storm was raging out there on open sea.

It was pouring rain for most of the day, so the on-board cinema was by far the best thing to do.

Peninsula de Taitao - 30 March 2018

Wind, waves and Albatrosses: sailing at open sea around the Peninsula de Taitao.

Yesterday, we could finally set sail again. We have to get this next leg done, across the Golfo de Penas and around the Peninsula de Ta Ito. We still have 500 nautical miles ahead of us to Puerto Montt, and the days are going quickly.

Peninsula de Taitao - 30 March 2018

Albatrosses have an enormous wingspan of more than three meters!

The open sea is always something people see with mixed feelings: some have to retreat to their cabins while others are enjoying wind and waves. Representatives of both groups are present on board. But the sailors and photographers amongst us had a lot to enjoy! We made good speed with up to more than 8 knots, wind and waves in constantly changing light conditions and many, many seabirds. From the small petrels to the Grea Albatrosses (Wandering, Northern and Southern Royal Albatross) and a lot in between.

Gallery – Peninsula de Taitao – 30 March 2018

Click on thumbnail to open an enlarged version of the specific photo.

Isla Jungfrauen – 28/29 March 2018

We have got the Golfo de Penas ahead of us and thus an open sea passage which will take about one and a half days without the protection of the coastal waters that we have enjoyed so far. It is obviously important to have a good weather window for that, which we were supposed to have now, but reality was different. The wind and sea were quite rough already in the channels, and the latest forecast spoke a quite different but very clear language.

Isla Jungfrauen

Waiting for the wind to calm down, Isla Jungfrauen

So there is not much to do but to wait for better times regarding the open sea passage. Something that is great at the time being (later, we will have to catch up again, though), as we have got the Isla Jungfrauen nearby, which has the beautiful Caleta Virgin. The name of the island („Island of virgins“) is interesting, but it does not keep the promise, as we have found out by now. But the island has got the beautiful Caleta Virgen, which turned out to be a great place to stay safely with a ship and beyond that, it is a great place for hiking! Once you have got beyond the usual few metres of dense coastal forest, the landscape opens up and offers many great hiking opportunities over hills and smaller mountains with stunning panoramic views, some lakes, wind-beaten trees and a lot of amazing places to discover. An unbelievably beautiful hidden corner of the planet! We were all a bit tired after the last night, but that was quickly forgotten in the beauty of the scenery. And in here, the weather is great! The Caleta is well sheltered, so hardly notice anything of the strong winds and heavy seas outside (on the mountains, you can hardly stand at times) and the sun is with us most of the day. Lovely!

Gallery – Isla Jungfrauen – 28/29 March 2018

Click on thumbnail to open an enlarged version of the specific photo.

As mentioned, we will have to catch up again time-wise, the days are going and they are not coming back. But we could not have found a better place to wait for better conditions, and when you see the photos, I guess you don’t believe that we are stuck here for weather reasons.

 Isla Jungfrauen

What you can’t see in this picture: Due to strong winds you can hardly stand on some of the higher spots.

Isla Jungfrauen

There’s definitely no better place for a day of waiting.

Puerto Edén – 27 March 2018

Suddenly the weather is on our side again and Caleta Colibri lets us go. The advantage of the quick weather changes is that the weather changes quickly.

After a night and many miles we reach Puerto Edén, which really looks like a bit of a garden Eden on a day like this, under a blue sky and with mirror images on the water. We haven’t had too many days like this!

Puerto Edén

Simple but colourful huts in Puerto Edén

Puerto Edén is a small village with a few hundred inhabitants, most of them descendants of the indigeneous population of this area. The usual, tragic history of colonial murder and diseases has not left many of them alive, and practically nothing of their culture. Instead, there is Puerto Edén, which started its existance as a small airforce base and still has a military presence. Beyond that, it has a number of simple but colourful huts near the shore, which looks beautiful. It is lovely to walk around and enjoy all the views and colours and the weather which feels really mediterranean on a rare day like this. Unfortunatly, my Colobri photo from yesterday (or the day before? Time is flying, it is amazing!) has lost a lot of value as a rarity today, as there are a lot of Colibris around here and the dedicated photographers got rewarded for their patience.

Gallery – Puerto Edén – 27 March 2018

Click on thumbnail to open an enlarged version of the specific photo.

There are even two shops, but both of them fit into a small room. But there are fishermen who come directly to the boat to offer their fresh catch. Delicious!

In the afternoon and during the night, we make sure that we get further north. We have to, there are still many miles to go and the weather is perfect and of rare beauty.

Caleta Colibri – 25 March 2018

Caleta Colibri is not a place for long hikes. The forest is so dense that it is simply impossible to get anywhere. I have tried it. It does not work.

But there are several interesting places. In one place, people obviously spent a lot of time eating mussels. There is a big pile of them. Who and when? That’s something we’d also love to know.

A pile of mussels on the beach of Caleta Colibri

Where do all these mussels come from? Unsolved questions in the Caleta Colibri

You can climb up a tree and it does hardly look different from standing on the ground. Many of them are so densely covered with mosses and all sorts of plants that it looks like the ground. It is all green, everywhere.

And, yes, Caleta Colibri lived up to its name! A small group of dedicated photographers waited patiently to get a chance, and we were rewarded. I would guess it was a Green-backed firecrown (Sephanoides sephanoides), according to our book „Bird of Chile“.

Gallery – Caleta Colibri – 25 March 2018

Click on thumbnail to open an enlarged version of the specific photo.

Now the wind has to calm down a bit so we can continue towards Puerto Edén. That is the next place we are heading for and the first place since Puerto Williams where people are living. We have to go shopping, we are running out of chocolate and beer.

Hummingbird in the Caleta Colibri

Nomen est omen: Caleta Colibri

Canal Tres Corres – 25 March 2018

After a real Sunday morning breakfast (scrambled eggs and fresh rolls!) it was time to move northwards again. Wind and rain in Canal Pitt, stunning light later, sun and blue sky alternating with some light clouds.

The wind is supposed to pick up again strongly tonight, so we decide to hide in Caleta Colibri. A lovely place for a calm night. And maybe the name keeps the promise ..?

Canal Tres Corres

A lovely bay with a promising name: Caleta Colibri, Canal Tres Corres

Gallery – Canal Tres Corres – 25 March 2018

Click on thumbnail to open an enlarged version of the specific photo.

Caleta Villarica – 24 March 2018

After a long day out and a forecast with a lot of wind for the night, what we needed was a good Caleta to provide a sheltered anchorage for a night.

Caleta Villarica can be recommended for that purpose. It starts a bit like Deception Island: you approach a steep coast, a narrow entrance with rocks in the water, steep cliffs on both sides (a bit greener here than on Deception Island), everybody starts placing bets if the ship will actually fit through it – of course, it works, the skipper knows what he is doing. Then, a lovely bay opens, a real pirate hideaway. A lovely place to make a ship stormproof for the night.

Caleta Villarica

Will it fit? It will! Caleta Villarica

Walking in these forests is not for the faint-hearted. We could have used a chainsaw, ropes and a ladder for that little walk which in open terrain would have taken maybe 10 minutes. Indiana Jones would have been amazed by the density of this rain forest.

As always, the view was worth it!

Dense forest in the Caleta Villarica

Indiana Jones would have enjoyed this: Dense forest in the Caleta Villarica

The bay of Caleta Villarica

The amazing view over Caleta Villarica was worth the struggle through the bush

Gallery – Caleta Villarica – 24 March 2018

Click on thumbnail to open an enlarged version of the specific photo.

Amalia Glacier – 24 March 2018

Puerto Bueno lived up to its name and gave us a beautiful and calm night. Very pleasant. Which was followed by a stunning sunrise and a new weather forecast, which gave us some more time before the next period of strong wind is supposed to come. So we could set course for the Amalia Glacier, which was great, because we had all been looking forward to it. We went under sail and sunshine with the view of the Campo de hielo, the inland ice of Patagonia, in the distance. Great sailing.

Sunrise in the

Sunrise in the “Good Harbour”, Puerto Bueno

We were followed by dolphins on the last miles to the famous Amalia Glacier, a stunning blue ice cliff leading up the the snow- and ice-covered mountains in the area of the inland ice. Again, we were lucky with the weather and had great views; often the whole mountain scenery is hidden low clouds. Another great day!

So, tonight it is supposed to be windy. We have set course for a small bay where the wind should not bother us too much. All these great anchorages here in coastal Patagonia are really a treasure. A great convenience and always a scenic pleasure.

Amalia Glacier

The cliffs of the Amalia glacier

Gallery – Amalia Glacier – 24 March 2018

Click on thumbnail to open an enlarged version of the specific photo.

Canal Sarmiento – 23 March 2018

The wind should have calmed down over night, and so it did indeed. Not that it was really comfy, standing outside and steering the ship. Still 30 knots of wind on the nose of ship and helmsman, plus a bit of rain and the occasional bit of hail. Patagonia.

But then came different times! Blue skies and sun! We followed various waterways for many miles to the north, enjoying weather and scenery on deck. Paso Victoria, the long Canal Sarmiento and other big, beautiful channels most people will hardly ever have heard of.

Canal Sarmiento

Blue Sky over Canal Sarmiento

Broken land. Many these channels are drawn like with a ruler, a straight line. They follow huge faults, that is geological cracks, in geometrical patterns; sets of fault lines follow certain directions and then there are several of these main directions. Altogether forming patterns that you can clearly see on the hillsides and on the map. The vegetation is a bit more sparse here, especially on some light-grey mountains with rounded tops, which appear to consist of granite or some similar crystalline rock.

The latest weather forecast causes mixed thoughts regarding tomorrow. Our plan is to visit the famous Amalia glacier, which is said to be beautiful. But the new forecast promises a lot of wind already tomorrow. We will have to see how that all fits together. We will see. In the end, nature rules.

For the moment, we decide to drop the anchor in a little, silent bay called „Puerto Bueno“, hoping that the name does not promise too much.

Gallery – Canal Sarmiento – 23 March 2018

Click on thumbnail to open an enlarged version of the specific photo.

Peninsula Zach – 22 March 2018

After several hours sailing northwards in Canal Smyth, the wind picked up beyond 50 knots, straight on the nose, of course. After criss-crossing a few miles and gaining nothing but chaos on the galley, we gave up and went rather into a lovely bay to anchor. A small pod of dolphins (Dusky, probably) accompanied us on the way into the bay, and once there, we were welcomed by a curious Marine otter. A very friendly place!

Marine otter, Peninsula Zach

A Marine otter welcomes us near the Peninsula Zach

And it did provide the shelter that we wanted. Calm waters and no wind, except from some occasional gusting. We waited for a strong rain shower to pass through and then we went out to explore the area a bit. The name is promising: Peninsula Zach is named after Wolfgang Zach, the master carpenter in Longyearbyen who is building those great picture frames from Spitsbergen driftwood of which we had a few on offer last year (and we will have some more again later this year … ) so, a promising place! We were curious what Peninsula Zach would have to offer, but it had to be good anyway.

We were not to be disappointed. Peninsula Zach is almost an island. Our anchor bay is separated from the bay on the other side by just 200 meters of dry land (it was actually pretty wet). It is a walk of ten minutes before you reach a little hill from which you have a view towards a bay in two opposite directions. The remaining directions are occuppied by mountains. A stunning panorama!

View from the Peninsula Zach

The panorama over the Peninsula Zach was worth the short but wet walk

The coastal lowlands were lovely with its low forest – less dense than elsewhere – and wetlands, but we went a bit further. From an elevated perspective, the views were even better. The view to the southeast was towards a wide-open valley with a river, lakes and a lot of wetland areas. The sun sent a bright beam down onto this landscape of water.

Stunning!

Gallery – Peninsula Zach – 22 March 2018

Click on thumbnail to open an enlarged version of the specific photo.

Then it started to rain again, and we made sure we were back on board in time for the Piet-show (the daily masterpieces of Piet, our cook).

… by the way: Peninsula Zach was named after Franz von Zach, a Hungarian astronomer who joined the famous Beagle with Captain Fitzroy on the first expedition, from 1831 to 1836 (Darwin was on the second expedition).

Dolphins, Peninsula Zach

Dolphins accompanied us on our way into the bay of Peninsula Zach

Isla Hose – 21 March 2018

Calm night, well sheltered? Forget about it … that works well as long as the anchor is holding, but once the wind starts blowing strongly from the wrong direction and the anchor is dragging, you suddenly find yourself at ungodly early times undoing shorelines from trees on steep, slippery shores in the darkness and so on. Well, some time later the anchor – both of them, to be precise – went down in the middle of the larger bay, and everything was fine again. Back to bed for another little while.

Isla Hose

View from Isla Hose over the Patagonian archipelago

A windy day, which kept us inside the bay in Isla Hose, enjoying life on board and later making some walk on the island. For some of us who had an uncontrolled outbreak of motivation for hiking it turned out to be a good bit of a walk, following a couple of hilltops, crossing small wetlands, very dense forests and steep slopes. Good fun!

Isla Hose

A walk through dense forests on Isla Hose

Gallery – Isla Hose – 21 March 2018

Click on thumbnail to open an enlarged version of the specific photo.

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