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

Saturday, February 27, 2010

all OK on Marcy

We are anchored in the Chilean channels about 100 miles south of Isla Chiloe. All is well on Marcy, we had no tsunami in our area. Our shore station for email was down (probably no power) for the day, but is now back on the air. Thank you for your emails.

Ginger and Peter


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sailing the Beagle Channel

Ushuaia dog

Weeks of rubbing elbows and fenders with all the boats in urban Ushuaia made us ready to depart Argentina for Chile. We wrangled with “government bureaucracy” for the last two weeks of December and it was a relief to finally get underway again. Though we did have to haul the Argentine flag to the top of the mast to satisfy the Armada safety inspector before we were allowed to untie the lines!

Argentine flag

Had we been headed south, Peter would have lashed a lamb somewhere as a traditional way to carry meat into the deep-freeze climate in the south.

lamb for Antarctica

To Ginger's relief it isn't quite cold enough for “outdoor refrigeration” in the Beagle Channel so we had to settle for vacuum packed beef in the fridge. Lucky for the cows in Puerto Williams we left Ushuaia with more beef than one person should be able to eat in a month. In fact, we had so much Ginger even had to taste a few bites of it. She liked it....

Marcy Micalvi 3

We enjoyed our trip to Cape Horn and the quiet uninhabited islands around the cape.

Cape horn monument . marcy caleta martial

On our way back from Cape Horn we stopped at Puerto Toro and enjoyed a hike to an old cemetary.

Marcy at Puerto Toro dock

p toro cemetary

One more stop (required by Armada) for paperwork to travel from Puerto Williams to Puerto Natales and we were finally on our way west in the Beagle Channel. Our first couple of days were short hops between tiny anchorages barely out of the wind. Several times we anchored for a few hours and then carried on as the wind subsided.

caleta Olla

After entering the NW arm of the Beagle Channel our travels were rewarded by close up views of glaciers and waterfalls. It seemed almost like cheating to see these sights from the comfort of the cockpit without having to hike even a few feet.

Brazo Noroeste glacier

brazo Noroeste waterfalls

Noroeste glacier 2

We encountered our first floating ice soon enough and were lucky to have an unusual following wind as we sailed in to anchor near a glacier.

Seno Pio

After setting our anchor and shore line we decided to stay a couple of nights while the wind howled out in the canal. We took advantage of the great views from above our anchorage.

Cta Beaulieu

Peter explored the bay by dinghy.

Peter and Hootie cta beaulieu

For lighter winds the best time to travel in the canals seems to be early in the morning, so we rose before sunrise and headed west in the channel early one morning

Brazo Noroeste sunrise

Several anchorages along the route provided excellent opportunities for hiking as we enjoyed some sunny weather.

Peter cta lagunas . Ginger hiking patagonia

With the hilly terrain we were afforded many views of Marcy at anchor.

Marcy cta lagunas

Atracadero anchorage

One of the most unusual anchorages was Caleta Brecknok with steep rock walls and hanging lakes, one barely higher than sea level.

cta brecknock

Of course, after the sun.. comes the rain. We are in Patagonia for summer and the coldest winter we've seen on this trip has been summer in Patagonia!

setting 2nd anchor

It's great weather for ducks!

steamer ducks patagonia

So, we don our rubber boots and foulies and go hiking in the rain.

Peter Brecknok

copihue chilean national flower



Monday, February 08, 2010


We're anchoring a lot these days, since we're coastal cruising as opposed to sailing ocean passages. Patagonia is full of beautiful coves, protected from waves if not violent wind gusts. Similar to our home waters of the Pacific Northwest, glaciers have carved out a wonderful variety of nooks and crannies perfect for sheltering mariners. A boat could spend years exploring this area and never stay in the same cove twice.

Marcy in cove

Most mornings, weather permitting, we pull the anchor and head out. Depending on conditions, we go a long way or not – usually there is another anchorage available very close by. At this latitude the days are long, so we are never tempted to try to enter an anchorage at night. This is good because the charts are not complete so the sailor must rely on “eyeball” navigation. We rely also on the “Italian Guide” officially known as "Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide" by Mariolina Rolfo and Guiseppe Adrizzi. The Italian's sketches are quite accurate and give much more information than the official charts. This guide is really nice work, almost a coffee table book with photos, history, and advice of all sorts. It is so universally used by the sailors in this area that during the radio net reports on the “Patagonia Net”each boat calls in position by the book number, i.e. “anchorage 8.10” rather than “Bahia Borja.” We met the authors on their boat Saudade III when we were in Ushuaia.

Many of the sketches in the "Italian Guide" suggest that skippers run out shore lines as well as anchor. Some boats carry spools of line enhancing the “high latitude” look, a fashion statement sort of like huge wheels and banks of lights on a 4x4 truck.

Pelagic line handling

On Marcy, we use a simpler and less expensive system. We flake our shore lines on deck, lashing them to the stanchions. We have two polypropelyne lines (floaters) and two nylon anchor lines (sinkers) that can be used if needed. As we gain experience, we are using shore lines less and less. It's a lot of work to launch the dinghy and run out multiple shore lines for an overnight. Perhaps if a long stay of days or weeks was anticipated it would make sense, but we find that the holding is usually good and swinging to the hook is comfortable and safe. And leaving in the morning is certainly easier!

setting shore line

We anchor carefully. There are wonderful big luxuriant healthy kelp patches in many of the anchorages here - we remember when Puget Sound had kelp (and fish!) so we try not to uproot any. We carry a machete to clear the chain of loose floating kelp mats that sometimes drift down, but we don't hack at attached kelp. We never “set the hook” with reverse motoring. This wrong headed practice doesn't make a bit of sense, because dragging the anchor plows the bottom ripping up grass, kelp, and anything else. Besides, the anchor needs time to settle in, especially in grass. Dragging the anchor around under power does nothing for security, and makes the hook likely to encounter a rock or debris to foul and jam. And what good is it to choose a precise spot to anchor in and then motor around in reverse all over the bay? We've seen some remarkable performances.

We also set scope carefully, the ratio of rode set to water depth, so that there isn't an excess of chain lying on the bottom. As our friend Darrell on "Wiz" pointed out to us a long time ago, chain on the bottom isn't really doing much good for holding. And in this environment, dragging chain across fragile grass isn't doing any good for the flora. So we usually set a three to one scope, unless it's blowing a gale with waves, in which case we run out a bit more chain until it doesn't snub with violence anymore. Using too much scope is also sort of antisocial because the boat charges all over the anchorage (especially with rope rode) making it difficult for the next guy to figure out where to anchor.

Our day to day anchoring equipment has proved to work well in all sorts of different conditions. We carry 300 feet of 3/8”chain on a 66 pound Bruce on the bow. Only once (on an open roadstead in South Africa) have we wished for a longer chain, and then it was easy enough to add a rope rode on the end of the chain. In most anchorages we use less than half of the chain, which is marked with paint and bits of spinnaker cloth in a code indicating length. We have a little 35 pound Danforth that we often use with rope rode for a stern anchor or a second anchor on the bow to prevent swinging to gusts.

setting danforth

Sometimes on long passages we store the anchor down below – to remove weight from the bow for better sailing and to plug the hole in the deck that the chain goes through for better watertightness.

Ginger does most of the anchor work on the foredeck. She knows how dangerous chain and rope under load can be, and works very, very carefully. We've encountered several sailors with injuries caused by anchoring equipment and don't want to have any incidents onboard Marcy.

ginger anchor sc isl

So far, knock on wood, our record is very good - no real injuries (a bruise and a sprain or two) and no real dragging (a couple of feet here and there.)