25.12.07 – Xmas at Caleta Parda Chica

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With 4 lines ashore and 2 anchors down, we had our stern pulled in to within 10 feet of the weather shore. We were very secure but the rachas whistling down from the mountains were disconcerting – sudden, unpredictable, from all directions. Christmas dinner with the Alaskan yacht Faraway was a humdinger – roast turkey and cranberry sauce, followed by chocolate pudding and a game of scrabble. All as it should be, right down to the decorations. All that is, except for the extraordinary location.

Our yule gift today was sunshine. Heaps of it. Like excited children scurrying to the Christmas tree we hurried up on deck to take photos of this strange celestial phenomenon. The bay was a millpond with dazzling, whitecapped mountains and just a scattering of clouds. The high bluffs I had climbed in yesterday’s cold wind and mist now stand quite benign and very green.

The pilot book says with characteristic pessimism that sunshine and a high barometer hereabouts are harbingers of bad weather. As we motored back out into the Straits I did wonder what else could follow good weather in any case. But in Patagonia whatever happens tends to happen very quickly, we’re finding. The barometer is up and down like a yo-yo, with weather to match. Some of the cruising yachts we have met pay great attention to digitised weather maps (grib files) downloaded through sailmail on HF. The grib files we get tend always to show 25-40 kts of NW wind along the whole of the Patagonian coast. As long as you are travelling south in Patagonia it is really very straightforward. The prevailing winds are fresh to strong from the NW. Going the other way is altogether different. The luxury of putting up sails every day is denied the northbound yacht, which may have to wait, weatherbound, for days or weeks.

I’m sitting waiting for the rain squall to pass before setting out into the unknown. Bravely. Alone. I’m going to climb the steep slippery granite cliffs around our little bay. If I survive, I’ll have some photos for you, each of which will be worth thousands of words.

Forget elbows, I have tennis body.

The walking hereabouts is muddy and wet but really wonderful, what little I’ve done of it. At the last anchorage I scrambled up the hills for a couple of hours for a knockout view across the Straits to Desolacion Island.

PardaChica0176pm – I’m back from the dizzying heights, unbloodied but bowed. Lungs clean, nose dripping cheeks flushed. Clinging to the granite bluffs is a diverse collection of robust little bits of life. Amazing how nature works so hard at staying alive in the face of everything – the tiniest little moss tufts, daisies so small you need a magnifying glass to see them, forests of bonsai beeches about 6″ high and gnarled old trees creeping horizontal across some flat rock, hanging on by its fingernails and looking for shelter. None of them is even sentient. I wonder why they bother. PardaChica011

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