s/y Nine of Cups
Patagonia: Puerto Montt to Puerto Williams, Chile
December 2005 - February 2006
Some terns catch a ride on the bergy bits floating by.
We finally got a reasonable weather
window to head south from Concepcion.
Though we still motor-sailed, we made
progress. We intended to spend New
Year's Eve in Valdivia, but the weather held
and instead made it to Puerto Montt in 5
days, arriving in time to spend New Year's
Eve with Mike and Cath of the Canadian
yacht, "Breila" at the home of a most
hospitable Chilean couple, Cristian & Laura.

We remained in Puerto Montt until
mid-January  which gave us the opportunity
to get ready for the trip through the Chilean
canals, do a little sightseeing and visit with
cruising friends.
Puerto Montt is the "gateway to
Patagonia".  Though we spent some time
sightseeing and celebrating, we were also
concerned about making ready for the
long cruise through the Chilean canals. We
purchased lots of extra fuel jugs from
another cruiser and filled up on diesel. We
provisioned heavily...especially on smoked
salmon, a specialty in the area. Two reels
with 100 meters each of poly line were
mounted on stern...a necessity for
anchoring in the canals. The deck was
never so full of "stuff".
Puerto Montt -41S28 / 72W56
"Arboles banderas"...literally "flag trees" line the
shore and leave no doubt as to which way the
wind usually blows.
A view of colorful downtown Puerto Montt
The copper-topped Cathedral faced
the main plaza.
A little inland travel
We met up with Jack and Jo Cooley
from "Mystic Adventure" who
happened to be land traveling in
southern Chile. We rented a car and
drove north to Puerto Varas and
Valdivia one day.

Left, a scenic view of Lago
Llanquihue. Had the clouds lifted,
Vulcan Osorno would have been
visible in the background.

Right, Igelsia del Sagrado Corazon
demonstrates architecturally the
strong German influence in the area.

Left, the lighthouse at Fuerte Nieblo
on Rio Valdivia overlooking Bahia
Corral. The fort was built in 1645,
the lighthouse was added in 1900.

Right, a view of the pedestrian mall at
the colorful Feria Fluvial in Valdivia.
Seeing  and identifying our first albatross was a
momentous occasion, but then, of course, they
became commonplace. They're majestic.
The Chilean Canals - Patagonia
We left Puerto Montt early on 15 January, a cool, gray overcast morning and headed
down the Seno Reloncavi. We had made the decision that we would fast track down the
canals with the idea that we would have a more leisurely time on the return trip since our
goal was still to head west to New Zealand in the late spring. With that in mind, we
negotiated Golfo de Ancud the first day and crossed the wide, unencumbered Golfo
Corcovado at night entering Canal Moraleda and our first anchorage, Estero Altracadera.
Finding the tiny, narrow and well-camouflaged entrances to the published anchorages
proved to be a challenge at times. We used the
Guide to Patagonia and Tierra del
by Ardrizzi and referred to by cruisers as the Italian Guide,which proved to be
the best cruising guide we've ever seen or used. Other resources were the
charts and the Guide to Chile: Arica to Tierra del Fuego by Staples and
Gooch.  Anchoring in tight quarters requires lines ashore to keep from swinging into rocks
and land. It took us over an hour to get settled in the first time and we figured we'd have to
improve drastically if we wanted to survive in the canals
. The Chilean Armada requires a
authorized written permission, to navigate the canals. The route must be
pre-approved and twice-daily contact with the Armada via email and/or radio is required.

The night crossings of the wide open waters of Golfo Corcorvado and Golfo de Penas
would be the only transits made at night. Otherwise, we took advantage of the long
summer days and made way from 6am to 9pm, taking laydays only for weather.
The narrow entrances to the canals were often hard to spot
and sometimes required a leap of faith to negotiate. The GPS
waypoints and directions in the "Italian guide" proved to be
Golfo de Penas (Gulf of Sorrows or Pains) is considered a rough
stretch of unprotected water and we waited at anchor for three days
in anticipation of a reasonable weather window. Our crossing was
storybook perfect with little wind and calm seas. We reached the
entrance to Canal Messier in early morning, the sky ablaze with a
glorious sunrise.
Caleta Connor boasted an arbol famosa, a tree
to which many cruisers had affixed a sign showing
they had visited. David quickly carved and
painted a signboard on a scrap of wood and
midst a heavy downpour, we rowed ashore and
added our name to the pack.
Negotiating the Angostura Inglesas (the English Narrows) required
waiting for the proper tide time and strict attention to channel
markers. The views all around us were phenomenal.
Dolphins were a common sight, but always welcome. We
consider them good luck and enjoyed their company and
the entertainment they provided. Above, they
accompanied us during our transit of Canal Wide.
Puerto Eden is a tiny town tucked under the shadow of snow covered
mountains. It provided one of the few places along the entire 1200
mile route to buy basic provisions and top off our diesel supply.
Above, an ominous sky over Islote Fairway as we
"turned the corner" from Canal Smyth and entered into
the Strait of Magellan.
Our approved route:
*Puerto Montt
Seno Reloncavi
Golfo de Ancud
Golfo Corcovado
Canal Moraleda
*Estero Altracadera
Canal Errazuriz
Canal Chacabuco
Canal Pulluche
Canal Abandonados
*Caleta Mariuccia
Bahia Anna Pink
Cabo Raper
Golfo de Penas
Canal Messier
*Caleta Connor
Angostura Inglesas
*Puerto Eden
(* anchorages)
Paso del Indio
Canal Grappler
Canal Wide
*Estero Dock
Canal Concepcion
Canal Innocentes
*Caleta los Hermanos
Angostura Guia
Canal Sarmiento
*Caleta Damien
Canal Collingwood
*Caleta Bernard
Paso Victoria
Canal Smyth
Paso Sumner
Canal Mayne
*Caleta Darde
Estrecho de Magellanes
(Strait of Magellan)
Paso del Mar
Canal Toruoso
*Bahia Mussel
Paso Ingles
*Caleta Beaubassin
Canal Magdelena
Canal Cockburn
*Pto Niemann
Canal Brecknock
Canal Ballenero
*Caleta Silva
Canal O'Brien
Brazo Noreste
Canal Beagle
*Caleta Sonia
*Puerto Williams
Reflections on beautiful Brazo Noreste
Age old glaciers swirl gracefully from mountaintop to sea. And
now we know where the color "ice blue" comes from.
We arrived in Puerto Williams, the southernmost "municipality" in
the world, on February 8th, 23 days after leaving Puerto Montt.
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The most spectacular sight on the trip was
the traveling through Canal Chacao, the
narrow waterway which separates the
island of Chiloe from mainland Chile. We
were escorted by innumerable Peale's
dolphins who performed their fantastic
tailwalks on the mirror smooth water.
Birds of South America
Coast Hopping in Chile
The name Patagonia comes from the word
patagón used by Magellan to describe the
native people whom his expedition thought to
be giants. It is now believed the Patagons
were actually Tehuelches with an average
height of 5′11″ compared to 5′1″ average for
Spaniards of the time.
Of the 21 species of albatrosses recognised by
the IUCN, 19 are threatened with extinction
Recommended reading...

  • In Patagonia is Bruce Chatwin's exquisite account of his
    journey through "the uttermost part of the earth," that stretch
    of land at the southern tip of South America, where bandits
    were once made welcome and Charles Darwin formed part
    of his "survival of the fittest" theory.
  • Sailing Alone around the World  is Joshua Slocum's
    account of his monumental circumnavigation of the world...the
    man to ever circumnavigate the globe alone.
Continue the adventure in
Tierra del Fuego