Always the farthest peaks appear the fairest.
-Rockwell Kent, Voyaging
My alarm goes off at 0630. After preparatory rounds of galley (instant coffee), computer (weather download), and engine room (oil, coolant, transmission fluid), we pull the anchor more or less at first light. In the pre-dawn gloom I can’t use my normal hand signals from the bow to guide Alisa’s use of throttle and wheel while the chain is coming in.
I wear thermals and jumpers and rain gear and xtra-tuffs (the Alaskan deck boot) and a goat-roper (the Alaskan deck hat). The weather isn’t too cold yet, but I dress to spend the whole day on deck, rain or sun.
It’s Sunday, so after we’re under way Alisa hands a plate of pancakes and fried eggs up to the cockpit. Instead of a day spent on schoolwork, Alisa reads out loud to the boys, they draw and play. The wind is light and in our face, it’s a motor-fest. The bus heater pumps hot air into the saloon and aft cabin all day long.
Los canales slowly reveal themselves to us, turn from the abstractions of the chart into the actual, penguin- and sea lion-porpoising narrows that carry us south.
And that is the answer to all our questions right now: south.
We want to know what the Land of Fire will be like. We want to find the mystery and behold the splendor. To do those things, all we have to do is go south.
We’re passing fewer salmoneras, and the chatter on the VHF has dropped to almost nothing. Snow is starting to collect on the peaks of the closer mountains. Since we’ve left Quellón we’ve been the only boat in all seven of the anchorages that we’ve used.
We have a list of promising spots that we could explore here in the Chonos Archipelago. Given a leisurely summer, and a few months to be anywhere at all, we could have a wonderful time knocking around these islands and discovering the wonders that a leisurely examination would doubtless reveal. But the list of places that we don’t visit is always so much longer than the places that we do. And, to have lots of time in another place, we will spend little here. We have established the rhythm of traveling. We push it down the track each day.
At the end of the day we arrive in Caleta Millabú with enough time in hand for me to walk the boys on the beach for an hour while Alisa cooks. It’s the first place that we’ve seen that you might call spectacular: glacier-polished cliffs narrow overhead, high-capacity waterfalls. Next up will be the Gulf of Sorrows, a place that is fairly notorious among our friends with experience of threading the canals of Patagonia. The question we’ll have to answer is how many of the wonderful anchorages of the outside coast we’ll visit, versus how quickly we’ll want to scoot around to regain the protection of the fjords that will then lead us all the way to the Land of Fire.
When we left Alaska to sail to Australia with our toddler for crew, we thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. But then we had our second child, and bought our second boat, and sailed across the Pacific a second time. We’ve been living aboard for seven years now. Sometimes we wonder how long we’ll keep at it, but all we know for sure is that the end doesn’t seem to be in sight just yet. Click here to read more from the Twice in a Lifetime blog.