May 3, Strait of Magellan Day 1

This was an important day for us. We made an extraordinary (by any standards) progress (80miles) and had our first night sail. The conditions were bad, rather rainy and gloomy. But we were still as happy as bunnies. After a few hours we reached a section of the channel that opened into the Pacific Ocean. Nice but rocky. The large swell coming from the ocean pushed us from side to side gently rocking the boat. Up and down, up and down. After a while it did get Mario. He got sea sick and sat still in the corner of the cockpit, focusing all his remaining energy into not throwing up. It took me a while but towards the end I also felt a bit dizzy and just cuddled in a corner of the cockpit, facing backwards and focused on the mountains in the distance. That got me through the rough area.
At some point I can’t remember whether it was before, after or during the swell we went around a large rock in the middle of the water. We were all impressed with the way the ocean waves were crashing into the rock.
Then Liam tells me we sailed at 7kts/h for a long time before we reached a narrow area that we had to go through. Now the following section of the story is related to me by Liam as I was sleeping at the time. The narrow section of the channel had to be crossed at a specific time of day in order to catch a lower current speed. The current changes every six hours and at the time we were there it was against us at 8kts/h. It was pretty late and we couldn’t wait until the current actually reversed in our favour but we did wait around for about an hour to let it subside and reduce its speed. At the right time we dived into it. Unfortunately I was asleep and nobody woke me up so I missed all the fun but here is how the boys described it to me.
Liam says ‘On the right side you could see a lot of turbulence but we went to the left side and it looked twisted, inclined….as if a river was flowing around the island. It flowed down from a higher level. But it wasn’t like a river; the whole plain was like that. It was really, really cool! I don’t know how to explain it, it was really bizarre. I have never seen anything like that.’ Another thing that Liam just mentioned is that it had been snowing.
After I woke up they had to rub it in my face of course. They came running telling me how cool it was and I just said there asking why they didn’t wake me up. I asked them to do so if we ever came across something spectacular again.
From there on we motored until we entered the Strait of Magellan where we started sailing again. By that time we had decided (read Ian had decided) to sail through the night as the weather was favourable. At some point towards the end of the day just before it got completely dark Ian, occupying his usual spot in the cockpit shouted ‘A whale!’ at which I dashed through the cabin and made my way outside. I kneeled onto the bench; neck stretched overboard looking in the direction Ian had pointed to us. It was the very first time I had seen a whale and it was all very exciting. It was only a small, puffing thing in the distance but we loved it. We could just see the steamy mist coming from its blow-hole. It was too far away to see the body and it was getting dark. But it made our day.
Later that evening we had dinner, slowly preparing for our night watch. Liam says we had a lentil/potato/meat stew for dinner before everybody went to bed and Liam took the first and the last watch. That day I spent mostly sleeping, trying to warm up but when I woke up it was time for me, Ian and Mario to take over. After Liam’s report Ian basically told us that we could go to bed, but since I had slept all day I felt a bit guilty and besides I could leave him alone on a night sail. Mario felt the same way and probably even more so being a man. We refused to go to bed although I felt pretty sleepy and we sat outside, sailing.
At about 2am we were motoring as hard as we could but we weren’t making much progress. The wind was getting stronger, were tired and it seemed like the best decision at the time. So, we turned back and headed to a caleta that we had passed some couple of miles back. On the way back we were flying at 8.5kts/h on sails only. The wind was in our favour and we went back to the little spot in no more than 30 minutes. It was a rather wide anchorage and we just slipped in there without any troubles. As we were approaching the final anchorage Ian flashed the light to our left and I saw a small fishing boat anchored near the shore of a small island, or a peninsula (it wasn’t clear in the dark).
I stood in front of the boat, flashlight in hand, occasionally lighting the water that was immediately in front of us, keeping watch for kelp and underwater rocks. I remember it was windy and rainy, and it was whiplashing my face, every rain drop pinching my frozen face.
It was 2.30am when we released the anchor and settled for the night.

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