Dana Felicia was anchored outside Club de Yates de Higuerillas, north of Valparaiso while the easy and efficient check-in was performed. Later we anchored in the central bay of Valparaiso, where Marina Deportivo Baron kindly let us use their facilities while sails and rigging were repaired. There were no harbour or haul facilities available matching our boat size. This also made the rigging work difficult.
Valparaiso is a big and charming city, built on the mountain sides surrounding the bay, with many interesting old wooden houses. The business is much dominated being the closest harbour to Santiago and the home for the Chilean Armada. There are many, for a European, strange rules here in Chile e.g. it is only allowed to fuel in very few places, and we had to arrange for it and sail extra 16 Nm. Only with the help of the friendly owners of marina Deportivo Baron it went smooth in Higuerillas Marina. It also quite often happens that the Armada closes the harbours for small vessels in case they consider the wind force dangerous.
Next short stop was Valdivia where we came into waters without the unavoidable swell prevailing in Valparaiso, and could make the last rigging repairs. The trip down was mostly done by motor, and in moderate and occasional rough sea. The C-Map charts were good outside the coast, but were to our surprise a ¼ Nm offset inside in the river towards Valdivia; however the marking is good.
We were now eager to arrive in Puerto Montt for haul out and getting antifouling paint on, but due to our draft and lack of the right paint at the planned spring tide window, we missed it, and had to settle only for buying and storing the paint onboard and have a diver’s cleaning, in the hope that we can manage the Patagonian waters and Antarctica until we get another opportunity to haul out. With a Zarpe specifying Puerto Williams to be our next port of call we began the journey south.
Sailing through the Chilean Patagonia is fantastic. The scenery with narrow waterways, many islands and rocks, some of which are quite barren and others have low forest. Behind are on all sides high snow clad mountain tops, and the further south we came the lower the snow came down; however the days also got longer. There are many dolphins, seals, penguins, different smaller whales, and birds – petrels, seagulls and albatrosses. Further south also eagles and condors were spotted.
Sailing here is difficult due to tidal currents, uncompleted charting and occasionally very strong winds funnelling through the channels and williwaws with hurricane forces add to this. We only sail during the day and rest in the small bays at night. The water is very deep at the anchorages; there is lots of kelp, and the holding limited, so shore lines are a must in order to secure the boat. Often only our 150 m shore lines are used. In some places the water was full of tannin from the forest, which made it almost black, and the shoreline is mirrored in the water giving a kaleidoscopic effect, which I have only seen before in the rivers and fjords on the west coast of Tasmania.
The weather changes very quickly, and sometimes quite violent. We have experienced lots of rain but also sleet, hail, and snow. We have had winds from all corners and almost with all strength thinkable. The temperatures have been between 15 and 0 degr. C and gradually decreasing the further south we go.
After a couple of weeks we reached Puerto Williams which is the most southern town in the world totalling a few thousand inhabitants, and is one of the busiest ports in Chile. It was founded on the island of Navarino in the Southern part of the Beagle Channel in the 1950ties as a naval base, is much protected from all winds, and is now a normal Chilean town though still much dominated by the naval base. There are no bridges or roads to Navarino, and the Armada gets its goods by own supply ships. All other supplies are shipped in once a week from Puerto Arenas, the biggest town in the Magellan Strait. There is also a small air field connecting the two towns.
We stay at the friendly and famous Yacht Club Micalvi, which is housed in an old cargo ship built in the 1920thies, and now set aground in the river mouth. All visitors are tied up alongside this ship. It is a spectacular place and the most southern Yacht club in the world. It is full of flags with inscriptions from sailors who have rounded Cape Horn or visited Antarctica.
Opposite the Beagle Channel to the North West lays the Argentinean town of Ushuaia, which is much bigger, and where supplies can be bought in larger variety. From here there are daily flights to Buena Aires.