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Arrived Valdivia!

After just over 13 months in the Chilean Channels, Mollymawk has finally arrived in Valdivia. The journey from Puerto Williams north to the city of Valdivia is one that can be done in a week, and very few people spend more than three months – but we like to take a close look at the places we visit. In the course of this year and a bit we’ve still barely scratched the surface of this unimaginably vast, largely untouched wilderness…

Mischief’s Misadventure (in the Upper Peel inlet)

When Bill Tilman set off across the South Patagonian ice cap his ship was left in the command of one W. A. Procter. Tilman never refers to him by any other name, and so Procter he shall be to us also (although I happen to know that his name was Bill). Of Mischief‘s entire crew this man was the only one besides the owner who had done any offshore sailing before they set out for South America, and he had…

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Tweedledum (Estero Calvo)

If you take another look at that satellite image of the Peel inlet and Estero Calvo you’ll see that in the corner of this little cove which we had now entered there is a motor vessel – and to our surprise we found that it was still there, four years after the photo was taken. It’s name was Capitan Constantino. It was obviously intended to take people to look at the glaciers – it was entirely filled with ranks of…

A Little Drama (Continuing up the Peel Inlet)

Considering that the sun had showed us his face only once before during our voyage north from Natales, that golden evening in front of Amalia was especially serendipitous. By dawn the following day normal service had been resumed. Above our masts the clouds hurtled past, and the rain drizzled down obscuring even the little glimpse that could otherwise be had of the glacier. The weather forecast, obtained via our satellite phone, had predicted a north-westerly force six. Our plan now…

Before Our Very Eyes (Amalia Glacier)

Tilman didn’t think much of Puerto Bueno. For Sarmiento it was “a good port”, for Skyring it was “an excellent haven”, and for Edward Allcard it was “well-named” – but Tilman was unimpressed. A place which has long figured as the penultimate goal [or] the … springboard into the unknown is often given in one’s mind unwarranted attributes, says he; and he then explains how various places in the Himalayas which seem, from their position on the map, to be…

Tilman

At Puerto Bueno we turned away from the trail which Pedro Sarmiento laid out so many centuries before, and we also parted company with His Majesty’s survey vessel the Adelaide and with the pioneer yachtsman, Edward Allcard. Both the Adelaide and Allcard were intent on following the most direct path through the channels – the one effectively in the wake of the other, for Allcard had nothing but the Admiralty Pilot to guide him – but we, meanwhile, were keen…

Return from the Wilderness

Greetings! After three months wandering in the wilderness of the Chilean channels and the Golfo de Penas, Mollymawk has surfaced. I think my mum and dad really thought we’d gone for good this time!

Pedro Sarmiento (Along Canal Sarmiento to Puerto Bueno)

So, now – finally – I’m going to tell you about Sarmiento. Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa is commemorated in various places throughout Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia; and so he should be, for he was the first true explorer of this region. Magellan it was who found the passage through the tip of southern South America – but he failed to return from his voyage, and he didn’t even leave a logbook for us to peruse. One of Magellan’s officers,…

Trousers and The Man (From Caleta Dixon, via Canal Harriet, to Caleta Moonlight)

Once again, it was Tania who first spotted the dolphins. They were feeding at the back of Dixon Cove when we entered. Their tall, elegant fins immediately betrayed them as being from the species known in English as Peale’s – or, as I prefer to write it, Peales. Although they promptly disappeared – causing us to think that we had frightened them – on the following morning they came back and gave their strange visitor a thorough examination. And when…

Escape! (From Puerto Natales to Estrecho Collingwood)

Having renewed our visas by nipping into Argentina for a couple of hours, we were more than ready to leave the so-called port of Natales. Alas, the weather – and the authorities – had other ideas. Whenever the wind is above force six the Armada shut this place; you can come in, but you can’t go out. It might be argued that there is good reason for this nannying, because some of the local fishing boats are really not fit…