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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…

Passage to Juan Fernandez

Our passage to Juan Fernandez was expected to take a week, but in fact we covered the distance in under three days! When we set out from the Rio Valdivia, on the morning of the 2nd, there was no wind – and nor was there forecast to be anything more than a force two in that vicinity for the foreseeable future. Outside the rivermouth, at about midday, we shut down the engine and waited to see which way the current…

For the Sake of Auld Lang Syne

Nick gathered up the paperwork, and prepared to set off to do our clearance. Finally, after weeks and months of talking about leaving, we ready to go – more or less. Leaving with us aboard Mollymawk would be two Chilean friends: Manu, a hippy from Concepcion, and Yona, a fisherman and lost soul from the fiords. It just so happened that it was Manu’s birthday, and she suddenly realised that this meant that her ID card was due for renewal.…

Farewell and Adieu

The tide was expected to turn at 17.00 – and so that was the hour at which we planned to cast off our lines and begin our journey away from Valdivia. To be exact, we would flow down the river on a current swollen by the moon’s additional influence. But in the river’s entrance we would pause for a moment or three; because, to be frank, we were still not ready to set off across the ocean. After a year…