_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Marcy home Walvis Bay Angling Club club AFASyn Ushuaia Marcy and crew

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ushuaia in Argentina, the Southernmost City in the World, and Puerto Williams in Chile, the Southernmost Town in the World

Aeroclub Ushuaia hangar

With daughter Lisa onboard, we wanted to see penguins. No problem, we've seen lots of penguins! We passed a breeding colony as we made our way westward.

penguin island Beagle Channel

Finally we spied a much photographed lighthouse and knew we had almost arrived in Ushuaia. We were ready to enjoy the town.

Les Eclaireurs lighthouse

Ushuaia at night

Cruise ships come and go at the commercial pier across the bay.

Ushuaia cruise ship

Marcy was tied to the dock at AFASyN, the only game in town for yachts.


A DC-3 wearing Argentine Armada colors is parked at the nearby airport.

DC3 Cabo de Hornos

The dock is a busy place, as the Antarctic charter fleet comes and goes. Rafting can be intense and complicated maneuvers are carried out to extract boats at all hours.

dock maneuvers

Most of the boats, Marcy included, refuel with drums and siphon hoses.

refueling at Ushuaia

To spice dock life up, Ushuaia is a windy spot. One day the airport reported 74 knot gusts. As one can imagine, wind like that can play havoc with rafted boats. It's lucky that the wind usually doesn't last for more than a day or so and the waves are not serious. Peter assisted a catamaran needing to augment mooring lines.

Peter handling lines

The atmosphere at the dock is something like a climbing camp, with much gore-tex and down clothing. Skis and tents are loaded alongside the usual potatoes and gas cans. Many of the boats, almost all metal, are being prepared for the Antarctic or a long term cruise of the fiords and glaciers. There is a lot of excitement in the air. Most of the boats here are French. And there are famous sailors here, notably Isabelle Autissier of BOC/Around Alone fame and Patrick Taberly, brother of Eric. One Sunday when Marcy was flying her jack at the bow a French girl on a neighboring boat sneaked on board and jokingly tied the “Tricolour” to the staff.

Marcy goes French

The town itself is nice, reminiscent of a ski town. Which is appropriate because there are a couple of ski areas here. The traffic rules are unusual – at every unmarked intersection (and most of them are unmarked) the uphill and downhill traffic has right of way over traffic on the level street. As pedestrians, we had a heck of a time figuring out what cars were going to do until this was explained to us. Ushuaia is a tourist town, and people from many different countries visit. It attracts lots of young adventurous backpackers, many of whom walk the docks looking for a ride on a yacht to Puerto Williams or further.

With fuel and groceries replenished, it seemed like a good time to leave the hectic scene in Ushuaia and head down the channel to Puerto Williams. Only a half a day away across the Beagle Channel, it is a change of countries and a world away in atmosphere. We noticed one difference right away when we arrived, instead of the need for us to search out the appropriate offices to clear into Chile, all the officers came down to the boat. How nice!

Chile formalities

The yacht club at Puerto Williams is unique and very famous in the sailing world. The “dock” is a derelict cargo ship, the “Micalvi,” that is resting on the bottom.

Micalvi PW Chile

Peter enjoyed imagining hand cranking the 1930's windlass.

Peter with windlass

The ports reflected the mountains across the channel.

Micalvi port

The bar is a cozy cabin. Among long distance sailors, a casual mention of having enjoyed a “Pisco Sour” on the “Miclalvi” gains a certain respect. We earned our bragging rights and enjoyed our drinks with our friendly neighbors, Swiss and Austrian sailors.

Micalvi Pisco sour with Jacob and Geraldine

Puerto Williams calls itself “the southernmost town in the world” in competition with Ushuaia, which calls itself “the southernmost city in the world.” We have heard that there is a small fishing village further south, no doubt called “the southernmost fishing village in the world.” In any case Pto Williams is a walker's paradise. The roads have no traffic to speak of, there are trails all over the island, and beautiful scenery is everywhere.

Micalvi dock

Puerto Williams dinghies

PW signs

The town is relaxed - horses foraging loose in town lie down for a nap, and cows graze on the beach.

PW horses

PW cows

The practical Chileans made a bridge using an old steel hull.

PW boat bridge

Pto Williams is an Armada (Navy) Base. With the considerate English translation on this sign we knew exactly where we were.

PW navy sign

We hiked inland a bit, and enjoyed the wilderness.

Lisa hiking


Back in town, we realized that we need to get back to Ushuaia soon so that Lisa would not miss her flight back home. Filing our papers at the Port Captain's office we noticed that the view is spectacular even from this office. We look forward to returning a few weeks as we continue on south.

PW Port Captain view

PW boats

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Estancia Harberton

Estancia Harberton arrived

Upon arrival at Harberton we launched the dinghy and went ashore to arrange a ride to town. We received a warm welcome from Tommy Goodall and his daughter Abby and family. We were even invited to stay for dinner. With great company ashore and no fresh food left on the boat we didn't hesitate to accept. We were back at the boat before sunset, 10PM, and enjoyed a quiet night at anchor. The next morning we were up early. Peter had to cut a hole in the bulkhead to remove the exhaust mixing elbow from under the engine and was ready to go by mid morning. We packed our empty cooking gas bottle, and a small overnight bag and went ashore. The Piratour bus which brings people to see the penguins near Harberton had two seats available and they were kind enough to give us a lift for the two hour ride into town. With the dinghy stowed ashore and a last glance toward Marcy we were off.

Harberton estancia 1

Our time in town was well spent. As we arrived on Friday afternoon we were anxious to find a person to repair the boat part first. We found a welder, Sr. Castro, who was willing to take on the task and left our old part in his capable hands. With a hostel room for the night (showers and wifi too!) we visited the yacht club to inquire about a mailing address for some cables to connect our radio. By the time Lisa arrived we had a few groceries and a full gas bottle and were ready for our return to the boat.

We didn't recognize Lisa when she got to baggage claim. She had to wave at us several times before we realized that cute woman with short hair was someone we knew!

Lisa arrives Ushuaia

Sunday morning we got a taxi to take us back to the boat. What a relief to find Marcy safe and sound at anchor.

Marcy at Harberton

L n G return

We still had a few issues aboard making life a bit more like camping than home. With no motor we couldn't make water so we had to ration fresh water until Ushuaia. We still had no galley sink drain. It's amazing how many times a sink drain is used in the course of a day. But most importantly we were out of fuel and the boat was cold. Our last gallons of diesel were transferred into our heater tank when we arrived at Harberton. Andreas from the Piratour company was kind enough to bring more fuel for us on Monday morning and we wasted no time putting Lisa to work. We had to bleed the fuel line to fill the heater tank.

bleeding the fuel take 1

It was a messy job involving Peter sucking on his end of the diesel hose, Ginger blowing into the tank to pressurize it and Lisa turning the pump on and off to get the line clear. Finally, with heat in the boat we were able to turn our attention to exploring the area.

Harberton estancia 2

We walked out the road and over to the next bay to look for another boat we knew to be in the area.

L P n G Harberton

P n G at Harberton . tree moss

Harberton road

In addition to the incredible scenery we were impressed by the wildlife at every turn.

Harberton fox

Harberton raptor

The old road used by the family before the new road was built is a bit rough now.

P n L old bridge

We had time to explore the farm

Estancia Harberton 4
Peter examines the old English yacht . Harberton railway

and the Acatushun Museum also on the property.

Acatushun Museum

The boat jobs continued and Lisa was hauled up the mast to change out the telltales.

Lisa installs new telltales

We made oatmeal cookies with our last butter to thank everyone ashore for all their help.

thank you cookies

Our communication with our welder Sr. Castro wasn't quite good enough to figure out how to get our engine part back to Harberton. Ana, also from Harberton and Piratour, was kind enough to pick it up in town and deliver it to us at the boat. We felt very fortunate for all of Ana's help and hospitality.

Old elbow new elbow

With the elbow installed and the boat just about ready to move Abby invited us for a hike with two of her kids.

Thomas Abby Lisa Ana G n P

We set off across the fields and along the way Abby pointed out all the necessary plants for survival in the wilderness here.

Peter with Patagonian carrot . edible flowers

The spring melt had the rivers and creeks at full flood

spring melt

and the water table high.

Patagonia marsh

On our trip back there was a commando race to the car and many laughs shared by all

scramble home

funny moment

We stopped to inspect an old plane wreck and hear the story of the crash. We were impressed to hear that the pilot and passenger though both severely injured survived for 3 days in the snow after the crash before rescue. Frontier living is tough!

old plane crash

Too soon it was time to say goodbye to Harberton,Tommy and his family.

L P n Tommy

With luck we'll return some day soon.

Patagonia flower