April 30, Caleta Yagan

Extract from Liam’s diary:
‘Today we left with a forecast for increasing wind from the northwest to 40 knots. But so far we have been motoring or motor sailing, doing 6.5 knots with light wind and no substantial rainfall. We got out past what is known as El Laberinto – an unchartered maze of islands, islets, and points that is open to the Pacific and the atmosphere is something amazing. Everything is misty, visibility is low, and the rocks and islands are grey in the grey sky and the grey sea. They emerge slowly from the clouds and the long ocean swell rolls in, obstructing view and pitching the boat about in the rain…’
After a long, cold, rainy day of sailing we reached what seemed like a good anchorage. And it was. It is just that it wasn’t sheltered at all and we soon found out but it was too late to move.
We did the usual tie up, an anchor and two shore lines and went inside. The next morning Ian and Liam went ashore and doubled up the lines as Ian was worried that the strong winds would snap them up. Luckily it didn’t happen but nobody was about to take any chances.
That day we couldn’t go anywhere because the weather was fowl and we had no choice but to stay where we were despite the strong winds. That second night was probably the worst night of this trip. We got williwaws (strong wind gusts) of over 70 knots (140km/h) that tilted the boat from one side to the other like it was a matchbox. The winds started in the late afternoon and lasted throughout the night. I remember the boys were playing chess when the winds started, forcing them to hold the board at an angle to balance. It didn’t put them off. Then Mario and I were playing backgammon and same thing happened. One of us would hold the board at all times and balance it with the rocking boat. I remember we didn’t have a dice and I was wondering how to make one until I saw a piece of candle and decided to carve it out of that. Then Mario and I made another ridiculous overly confident bet (it happens a lot) which I lost miserably twice. First, we agreed to play three games and I said I could beat him three consecutive games, and I nearly did but he snatched the last game from me. I couldn’t leave it at that, and a ridiculous continuation followed. We played another three games at the same terms, but this time we bet double or nothing. The loser would wash dishes for x days. While playing we exchanged a lot of verbal threats and offenses aimed at discouraging the other and the worst lot definitely belonged to me for a change. I beat Mario at his own game, but it was all in vain as he snatched the very last game from me again. I lost twice. What humiliation.
That night we had trouble preparing our food and keeping the plates on the table. At every gust everything would just slide down forcing us to jump in an attempt to catch it all before it splashes on the floor. We just tried to gulp it all down before the next gust hit us. And I also felt a bit sea sick.
That night we lost our wind vane, a solid piece of metal designed to work as an autopilot. It just snatched off, that how strong the wind was. We also lost the front floor board of our dinghy. I am surprised the whole thing didn’t just fly away. The wind just took it up in the air as it was a flimsy kite. And it isn’t. It is a rather heavy rubber boat.
We kept cursing (a word too strong as we weren’t that mad) Giorgio, the author of the guide book for putting that place as a save anchorage. It might have been safe but it was far from sheltered. The guys are just telling me that we didn’t have trouble getting to sleep but I remember hearing the banging of the wind wondering if our shore lines would hold. Ian reminded me that he had put an extra shore line worried that one of the existing ones might snap. I was glad to get out of there the following day.

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