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The Detour (The Chilean Channels – Part VI)

We ended last week’s offering with the story of a fight to claw our way to windward and the subsequent casual relinquishment of all those hard won miles. So, why this detour from the ‘main drag’, winding its way from the Straits of Magellan north through the channels to Chiloe? Whither away Mollymawk now?

Smyth Channel (The Chilean Channels – Part V)

From the Straits of Magellan we followed our heroes north into the Smyth Channel. More specifically, we were now sailing in the wake of the schooner Adelaide and one Lieutenant Skyring.

The Exploration of the Magellan Strait (The Chilean Channels – Part IV)

With the discovery of the route around the bottom of the continent, the Straits of Magellan became something of a backwater. As the centuries rolled past, mankind gradually moved away from barbarous nationalism and embarked on an era of scientific exploration – albeit still with commercial objectives – and it was in this new Age of Reason that men such as Philip Parker King and Robert FitzRoy were sent to make a proper investigation of Tierra del Fuego. And then,…

The Discovery of the Magellan Strait (The Chilean Channels – Part III)

From the Beagle Channel several much narrower waterways wind their way north into the Magellan Strait, joining it just west of the infamous Cape Froward (the southernmost point of continental America). Arriving here, the traveller is no longer just trailing after FitzRoy and Darwin; he is sailing in the wake of dozens of heroes. Magellan was the first, of course. Or at any rate, he is believed to have been the first. According to a Venetian gentleman who was sailing…

Whaleboat Sound to Brecknock (The Chilean Channels – Part II)

The Chilean channels are famous for their wild beauty, but for the crew of Mollymawk the scenery is only part of the attraction. For us, the history of this region is equally alluring. To be sailing along the route first discovered by Magellan; to be anchored in the very place where the Beagle moored; to be traversing the sound where Robert FitzRoy searched so frantically for his stolen whaleboat – for us, these things add a special dimension to the…

Goodbye Beagle (The Chilean Channels – Part I)

If there’s anything on Chile’s Pacific coast – any place, or any sight – which exceeds the awesome beauty of the glaciers in the Beagle Channel, then we’ve yet to come across it; but, that having been said, this whole region is a fabulous wonderland of wild grandeur.

Chile’s part in Shacklteon’s Success

Do you know, it was just one hundred years ago that Ernest Shackleton and his men were down in Antarctica, trying to cross the White Continent? Well it was. And the centenary of the event is being celebrated not only in Britain but also in Chile, because this country became inadvertently involved in the undertaking. Shackleton’s first adventures in Antarctica were as part of Robert Falcon Scott’s team. Whereas Scott began his career, at the age of just thirteen, as…

Holiday in Tahiti – Part 2

Having returned to Tahiti, Caesar, Nick and Jill have begun the task of reclaiming their boat from Mother Nature’s grasp. Last week we saw them scrubbing away algae, wiping away mould, and chipping away rust. But there was much more to be done before the skipper would allow the family to put to sea.

The Return to the Sea

(Long Read – 3,000 words) Finally – at long last – we’re back on the boat! I’d always imagined that when the world fell apart – when Global Warming hit hard and the droughts and storms made food scarce, or when Capitalism toppled over, or when the bombs began to fall again or Fukushima blew apart – then, I imagined, we cruising bums would be well set up. With our own means of international transport and with the lockers always…

Robinson Crusoe’s Isle (but not really)

When they pointed it out to us from the village, Selkirk’s Look-Out seemed to be not very far away. We had come ashore to do the official paperwork incumbent upon any new arrival to the Juan Fernandez islands, and we were not equipped for a hike. We had just one small bottle of water between the five of us and no food. Still, the path up the back of the valley did not appear to be very steep, and the…