Tuesday, January 9, 2001

Puerto Williams, Chile II

With little warning and no fanfare, we set sail. I’m busy petting one of the yacht club stray dogs, stroking his sweet spot with his leg kicking double time when Henk calls out, “Care to join us?” Everything is stowed, the already rotting box of tomatoes is dumped in the garbage and we jockey out of the yacht club anchorage. Goodbye to cheap red wine, smoky pubs and the last hot shower we’ll see for a while.

Gray skies weep over the mountain tops, parting to reveal a dusting of fresh snow. We’re aleady beyond the anticipation and excitement of our departure from Ushuaia. Willimyn is layering tomatoes in her lasagna platter, folks wander below to read and write, or sip tea in the warm galley. We catch a little bit of current and the boat picks up the beginnings of the ocean swell.

An ancient forest clings to wind-scoured cliffs, trees bent over by centuries of gales howling in off the Atlantic. But in these sheltered bays, we motor a steady six knots over seas that mirror a featureless sky.

All was going along more or less swimmingly yesterday, until all of a sudden it wasn’t.

Motoring on leaden, mirror calm seas past Navarino Island, no mare than a light swell swaying us as fat raindrops fell straight down. It was only gradually, without much drama, that the wind started to build, and the seas developed a nasty chop. Up on deck, we watched as the boat slowly turned 180° and began an ugly wallow. The rain pelted the deck watch, but I was happy to have myself, the horizon and my dinner all in happy accordance.

As we pitched and rolled, the boat grew silent and more than a little sullen as first Piet, then Annie and most spectacularly Jan sprinted to the head extravagantly puking up dinner.

With much crashing and cursing, we’re under sail, heeled over 45° to port, sending the sick one circle lower into hell.

After ten, the clouds grow even more leaden, but the only sounds we hear are the crash of waves, lines snapping in the wind and the eggbeater sound of our wind generator blurring in the gale.

Toward midnight, the winds drop off to below ten knots, and we motor under sail to Herschel Island, anchoring in Martial Cove until dawn.

No comments: