54 47.776S 69 37.722W

17 February 2014

What was that! We hit the bottom. No we're in more than 100 metres of water. As David jumped into the cockpit, the remains of a burgy bit - a little floating piece of ice - was drifting out from under our port hull. A look at the bow showed a tiny scratch and no dent on the stainless steel plate that holds our prodder bobstay.

We have arrived in Seno Pia, 80 miles west of Puerto Williams. Truly "arrived", after 2 years of preparation we are here. A pod of dolphins escorted us for 15 minutes into the bay in front of our magnificent glacier. Dulcinea is anchored in 13 metres of water with 2 lines tied to trees on shore.

The channel outside Seno Pia is 200 metres deep, and inside it is between 100 and 150 metres, but at the entrance the old terminal moraine comes to 7 metres from the surface. The only difficulty is that the charts are nearly a mile out from the GPS position. Ah well, if we were Capt. Fitzroy on HMS Beagle, the charts might have been further out still. We are constantly amazed that the old sailing ships could navigate these channels with contrary winds nearly all the time, and no engine.

Tom & Dave had a good sail from Uruguay to Tierra Del Fuego, anchoring 3 times from Mar Del Plata to the Le Maire Strait while sitting out SW fronts, we still made it in 8 days. Then the wind dropped as we past the offshore oil platforms. Big whirlpools and tiny whales feeding marked the entrance to the strait (which is said to run at 8 or 9 knots in spring tides). We got through on the last of the ebb tide and anchored in Bahia Buen Suceso.

Next morning we were greeted on shore at the 4 huts behind the beach where the Argentine Navy keeps watch on shipping, and invited in for coffee & a pleasant chat. Then we climbed the hill to the north and looked out over the Strait before returning to Dulcinea at 1.00pm. Janet was due to arrive in Ushuaia next day, so we pushed on through the afternoon to anchor at Bahia Sloggett which does not have a good commendation in the cruising guide and was decorated by a bright red sailing boat wrecked at the foot of the cliff 1/2 a mile away.

Next morning we woke to find the green/brown hillsides turned white. Well Cape Horn is only a day's sail away. We left at 6am and motored into the E entrance of the Beagle channel. Before midday, we had strong to gale winds on the bow and rain & snow hitting our faces. Thank goodness for long underwear & those thick floater jackets!

Amazingly the old pictures of the indigenous people show them mostly naked except for painted stripes!

We gave up and turned into a tiny bay on the side of Isla Gable where we dropped the anchor which scoured a swath of kelp off the bottom without slowing Dulcinea's aftward progress. Then we headed for Puerto Almanza, where everything became amazingly calm. We sent a message via Iridium satelites to Neil in Calgary, who sent an email to Janet to warn her not to expect us.

Noon the next day, Janet arrived at the AFASyN dock as we motored up to it.

Unfortunately 4 days before Tom's flight home was not long enough to check into Chile, travel west to the glaciers, and then reverse the process to return to Ushuaia in Argentina for the flight. So we spent the time walking, shopping, and eating. (Oh! and repairing the dinghy where it had caught a rock back in Buen Suceso). Eating - the Parillada (BBQ restaurant) at the E end of St Martin really does give you all you can eat of beef, lamb, sausage, and black pudding - Yum!

Tom & Dave walked to the Ushuaia Ski Hill, which is one lift travelling a little slower than we walked, and then on up to the "Martial Glacier" too, but just to some snow patches. Jan nursed the cough that she had brought from Calgary. 2 days later, all 3 of us walked to the National Park west of Ushuaia.

This is the first place where Dulcinea's 63ft length has not looked big. Many sailing boats are offering charter trips through the Channels or across the Drake Passage to Antarctica. They are mostly metal, big, and tough. One smaller metal cruising boat was called Quijote, so we managed a picture of Dulcinea lying next to Quijote in the Ushuaia moorings!

Sad to see Tom leave, but he should be skiing with his family now in Canada. Jan & Dave checked into Chile at the pretty town of Puerto Williams, spent a day walking up behind it, and checked out for a 6 week passage through the Channels to the west & north.

Last 2 nights were in Caleta Olla, and tonight we are tucked up in Seno Pia. The 200 metre shore lines have worked really well - bought in Capetown, spools made for us by PierSalvador Marina in Brazil, and uncoiled first in the river at Puerto Williams, they have been far easier to handle than we had feared.

We have been lucky with weather this week. Light winds in the Beagle Channel, and a clear sunny day yesterday was spent walking up beside the Glacier at Caleta Olla.

Seals bark on the rocks, dolphins play in the passages, beaver (castor) dams clog the valley with lakes, comorants & penguins stand around, albatross roost on the water or fly above, condors circled just over our heads as we climbed, & a guanaco (a native llama-like animal) barked warnings to its friends. Beaver were introduced from Canada by Argentinians hoping to set up a fur trade, but without any preditors, they ran rampant and caused havoc with some drainage. Unlike Canada, there is also little to eat the numerous berries, which is the better for us.

When the wind changes Dulcinea's mooring becomes packed with pieces of ice. David filled the dinghy's petrol tank with diesel yesterday which made a terrible lot of smoke and no power! Otherwise all is well

Love to all from

Jan, Dave, & Dulcinea