Scott and Mary are anchored in Caleta Ideal waiting for a window to cross the Gulf de Penas (Gulf of Pain)

Caleta Ideal , Chile

Scott (YT) and Mary Flanders left Gibraltar on 16 September 2006, and we’ll be following their journey every step of the way, thanks to this unique online “blog”. For a complete list of all the couple’s blog entries click here 

After an eventful Christmas and New Year spent exploring the caletas of Chile and battling the waves of the Southern Ocean, Scott and Mary are now anchored in Caleta Ideal with their friends on board SV Hawk, Beth and Evans, waiting for a window to cross the Gulf de Penas (Gulf of Pain)

Friday 4 January
At times waiting for windows is a necessary nuisance. Not this time. With our newest cruising buddies anchored next door (SV Hawk) it has been a social whirlwind visiting back and forth, with meals, garbage burning on the beach and so forth. Stories have flowed, not about wild seas and eye popping ordeals, but mostly about people and destinations, the people us cruisers meet are fascinating and a big part of our cruising life. Out here, you are not shelved in order of imagined net worth, possessions, age or other insignificant details that seem so important to some ashore. We are all peers sharing this life-changing pursuit of adventure, introspect and wanderlust. When it comes to destinations, like everything, some are better than others but both Hawk’s and Egret’s destinations are always half full, to full.

Beth, an author, took the time to help YT with writing, something I enjoy more and more. I have even toyed with the idea of writing a book of some sort to inspire new boaters, and boaters to be, to join our lifestyle of long distance powerboat cruising. Beth explained the business of authorship, financial aspects, reality and so on to me and when it comes to time versus economics it is probably not worth our while, but never say never.

Writers have been hugely influential in our monumental decision to sell all and join the long distance brigade. Beth has written four books, includingBlue Horizons, Dispatches From Distant Seas (www.bethandevans.com), a book I advise you read slowly to allow her words to sink in. She describes how cruisers to this part of the world are changed forever and why Hawk and so many have returned. And the Deep South is a small portion of the book.

Hawk travels by sail. She is no nonsense, purpose built yacht designed to exactly fit their lifestyle. She does her job well and has carried them without fail for the past ten years. Reading between the lines, if you insert a modern ocean going passagemaker with the comforts we enjoy you could duplicate most of their travels if you wished, and all of the destinations by different routes. Some of their routes neither Egret nor we have the capability or ability to duplicate.

11:30am local
OMNI Bob has been sending short updates about Egret’s Gulf of Pain crossing. Last night’s message said there appears to be a window opening late this afternoon as the wind clocks around, then closing tomorrow evening with another deep low forming south.

This morning I checked the gribs and they concur. Beth called a short time ago with Chilean weather updates from nearby Faro San Pedro (Faro – Lighthouse) where there is an Armada station. The Chileans are advising 6-7m seas at this time. The Chileans have good weather forecasting, so now we wait. Currently it is blowing nearly 30 knots in our protected anchorage. Offshore it must be a mess. OMNI Bob has an uncanny ability to be correct almost every time but like every important weather decision, we have to look at every weather tool available, and then make the call. Even after we have made a decision, if we decide to go we still have the option early on to return to the anchorage. This anchorage is open enough and we could return safely under radar at night if need be. Time will tell.

As the miles and years go by, and our experience, abilities and acclimation grow, weather to us for short runs isn’t always as important as it once was. This is not the case in the Deep South. Here you don’t fool around. I can remember sitting on anchor in Georgetown, Exuma (Bahamas) when an expected 25-knot northerly was due to arrive causing much nail biting and concern throughout the anchorage.

Afternoon
The wind rose to a near sustained 35 for a while but now it is dropping as predicted into the 20-knot range. The Chileans reported gusting 45 offshore two hours ago. We have decided not to leave until very early tomorrow morning, if we leave at all. We will watch the weather very closely. Tomorrow morning Hawk is moving to a nearby caleta to start the trickiest part of their journey south. They plan to spend the next year in the Deep South. We envy them.

Gulf de Penas is the dividing line between the milder northern part of the Channels and the cooler, wind scoured southern area. Geographically the topography changes to low rounded hills and fuller vegetation as you move north. Grassy areas appear every now and then too compared with zero grass in the south.

Just now an 80ft Swan sailboat based out of Puerto Montt, Chile has arrived in the nearby Messier Channel after crossing the Gulf de Penas. Hawk knows them and relayed the message that it was the worst crossing ever with winds of 50 knots and huge seas.