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Exploratory afternoon at Puerto Profundo

Magellan Straits and start sailing northwards along the Patagonian Fjords.   

We woke up close to the Pacific entrance of the Magellan Strait. Good weather, an unusual Southeasterly fair light wind, and calm seas, conditions that soon made for setting canvas… never spoil a fair breeze whenever it blows. 

Between last night and this morning, topsails and topgallants are sheeted down and hoisted, first sailing downwind until leaving behind the so-called Paso del Mar and turning northwards around Tamar Cape. Lower and middle staysails and inner jib come into play then, together with bracing from square to sharp on starboard tack. 

Now, gradually we are leaving the Magellan Strait and getting into narrower passages between islands where typical evergreen channel forest grows close to the sea. Above that, grassy slopes and snowy mountaintops in the distance. A labyrinth of Patagonian waterways, fjords, and glaciers falling to the sea from the Andes, Campos de Hielo, and then to the north, to Chiloé Island. 

Close by we leave behind one of the 25 lighthouses located at different strategic points of the Straits and the rest of the region, working for safe navigation in the area. Located at the Fairway islets (between Isla Manuel Rodriguez and Peninsula Muñoz Gamero), it shows the way to the entrance of the narrows and fjords that stretch northwards from the Magellan Straits to the north of Patagonia along the Pacific coast. There, Chilean Navy personnel are stationed permanently, with a yearly crew change. 

As the ship turns north, she loses the wind. The south-easterlies that blow today are being shadowed for the moment by the lands of Peninsula Muñoz Gamero. The slight seas and rippled surface turn into mirroring waters. Time to douse first all the square sails we had set, then also the staysails, leaving them hanging on their gear ready to be hoisted again when finding some more wind. 

Europa is heading now towards Puerto Profundo, where we have a couple of hours to spare and try to go ashore this afternoon. 

As we have already seen, the labyrinth of islands and channels in this area just calls out to the explorer inside. There are so many untouched beautiful areas here waiting to be discovered, enjoyed, and then left alone just as they were! 

And that’s what we did. Setting foot on the rocky shores of one of the islands that encircle this deep bay. Right there a Des Mur’s Wiretail seems to get curious about our presence and stays around for a while, a rare sight at those southern Patagonia latitudes. For a short moment also a Green-backed Firecrown flies by. A very promising start for this exploratory landing. Up the rocky hills, climbing up from the coast, a great scenery unfolds. The network of little channels, bays, and islets, the evergreen forests of Coigüe, Canelo, and Cypress, and the soggy tundra and pit moss valleys, all give the impression of untouched, untamed nature and ancient landscapes, worth having an extra bit of time to cruise around and scout after the afternoon short hike finished and we are all back aboard. 

In the dimming light of the dusk, with the Fairway area and our landing spot behind, next is to sail through the tight and zigzagging Paso Shoal. Well charted nowadays, in the past represented hazardous navigation. As a witness to this, the Hazel Branch and Santa Leonor shipwrecks lay here, with their rusty hulls sticking out of the sea surface while they rested on the shallows and rocks. 

After the sailing through Paso Shoal, we joined the much wider section of the Canal Smyth. Running for 96 miles, it is linked to the ocean by Estrecho Nelson, and southwards to the Magellan Straits. 

Lieutenant William George Skyring, Captain Fitzroy’s second in command on HMS Beagle, sailed this channel in the schooner Adelaide in 1829. He named it after Captain W.H.Smyth, one of his commanders. 

We kept on our way under a gorgeous sunset, with stunning views over the high mountains of mainland Chilean Patagonia. Overnight the Europa speeds up using her engines in the flat seas and calm conditions along the puzzle of narrows, channels, and fjords. It will take until at some point tomorrow late afternoon to reach the next spot where we can have the chance to take it easy again for a couple of hours. 

Geschreven door:
Jordi Plana Morales | Expedition Leader

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