Mooring at Micalvi
The arrival of our friend Annemiek not only provides an excellent opportunity to explore the nearby Chilean glaciers but also to test the water of our next cruising area. Trainee Lars is keen to see the glaciers, too, and he decides to stay onboard. Together we sail 25 nautical miles back east on the Beagle Channel to Puerto Williams. The glaciers are the other way, but it is in this small town that we have to check into Chile. Within minutes of our trip, Annemiek is immersed in the marine environment that Lars and we have enjoyed for the past two months. Penguins, albatrosses and sea lions compete for her attention against the panorama of snow-capped mountains along the Channel. She can’t get a smile off her face and the camera out of her hands. Ivar, too, is happy. “Going east with westerly winds, how pleasant!”
The yacht club in Puerto Williams is something special. Not only is it the most southern marina in the world, but also its appearance is unique. The former navy vessel “Micalvi” was sunk close to the shore, so sailboats can simply tie up next to it. The interior is still intact and serves as a place for sailors to hang out and socialize.
Our check-in procedures take us all over the small town. Despite the heavy armada presence, Puerto Williams feels laid-back. There are a few shops and restaurants, a fire brigade, hospital, and a church. Even now in summer, it is very calm. The only other foreigners we see – besides fellow cruisers – are hikers who come here for a multi-day trek, the “Dientes de Navarino”. We, too, hike a part of it the next day and are treated to endless vistas over the Beagle Channel, captivating mountain lakes and granite mountain tops.
Hola Caleta Olla
The next day brings sunny, calm weather. “We won’t get better conditions to head west to the glaciers this week, so let’s go!” Ivar commands the crew after studying the weather forecast. Realizing Annemiek’s return flight is only eight days away, we’re now on a similarly tight schedule as the many charter boats that also cruise the Chilean channels and glaciers. We cross a mirror-flat Beagle Channel and are all delighted when we spot a whale, watching in awe at its size and graceful movements. It distracts from our aversion to motoring and nascent fears that this may be the only way to make progress on a westbound journey with on a tight schedule.
The good company once again overpower those feelings. When we arrive at our first stop, Caleta Olla, we anchor next to our American friends from SY Pazzo. Next to them is a Dutch boat, Eastern Stream, with Jaap and Minke and visiting family on board. A common friend had told us that they were sailing in this area and we are excited to meet them. The crews get together around a campfire on the beach that evening.
A glacier, the Ventisquero Holanda, feeds into a lake which is within hiking distance of the anchorage. Despite the grey and wet weather, the four of us set out in the dinghy to the other side of the caleta. From there, we follow a path along the beach and up the mountains. The further up we get, the more we can see of the glacier and lake. Sadly, the weather worsens and we get cold and soaking wet. But Ivar has the remedy: hot chocolate on board makes us forget the hardship quickly.