Fri 17/02-2012 Day 172

One of many practical light houses

Pos: here
Loc: Isla Rennel
Acc: tent
Dist: 68,1 km
Start: 7:20 End: 21:00

The story of a Fjordland odyssee…FUCK! I first paddled into a wrong channel, as my Garmin GPS Blue Chart fucked up, and then paddled into a 13 km long, wide, but fully uncharted channel into a dead end.30 km paddling for nothing!!!

I eventually found out by looking at my electronic real chart in my laptop what was wrong: My last campsite, which I named correct Isla Baverstock, was not the big Isla Rennel which name didn’t appear on my GPS chart, and it was not connected to it.

But my GPS chart showed only one island, both islands connected into one, and I assumed I was at the bottom of the long island, which I now found out to be named Isla Rennel.

The second mistake, the channel I turned in eventually to the right was not even shown on the “real” chart (no.10.000, 1:500.000)!!! But it showed a long dotted line from Cabo Palmer north west, along Canal Cutler, ver carta 1003, which I didn’t have…so my big wide 13 km dead end channel was not on the 10.000 chart at all!

So after I left my camp bay, with the last small lighthouse island inside the bay which I saw, actually, I simply turned left and paddled north west along the coast, assuming I was already on the north side of the long Isla Rennel and in the right channel. But actually I had to cross over to Cabo Palmer for another 3,5 km, and then turn north west!

I didn’t notice I was on an island, crossed the gap between Isla Munoz in heavy rain over a lot of small islands, assuming this was the next big bay shown on my GPS chart. I decided soon after that to paddle to the other side of the channel, as I noticed on my GPS track I was paddling out of the island contours. But this was nothing unusual in such (normal) imprecisely charted area!

But my track became more and more “overland”, and I assumed there was something wrong! Was the GPS so wrong here in this area? I couldn’t figure out what themistake was …but I paddled north west, so this was not too bad. My GPS chart didn’t show any long dead end channels or fjords, so I assumed even when I was in that one channel more south, at some point I’d be able to turn north east again, and hit the right channel, as all channels are connected here and no dead end is shown any where.

The chance to turn north east came soon – and it was on almost the same latitude as the gap between Isla Hunter and Peninsula Zach, where I had a “date” with a guy named Juerg who would be so nice to bring me a few gas cans I was asking for two days ago! This meeting place was supposed to be on the south east corner of Isla Hunter. I now paddled fully into the correct direction! The distance went down fast, I was going north east like all the connections between the channels are pointing to, and the channel looked not much smaller than any of the other ones! I paddled, and still knew there was something wrong…

The channel eventually turned north west again after maybe 7 km, but soon there was a chance to turn north east – into the first dead end! I climbed out, as it really looked like an easy portage – for the first time in Fjordland the land scape seemed to be accessible! I climbed easily about 10 m uphill, and found myself on a flat plateau with soaking wet moss, and a few flat rocks in between. All in all you could walk well! I was hoping the flat gap would be very narrow, but after about 350 m I was maybe half – and could see the other big channel, which definitively looked like the right one!

But there was one more chance – to paddle another 5 km further into this channel, to eventually turn north east again to meet the main channel, as I was assuming…it was still about 300 m wide, and looked like there would be a gap in the mountains at some point…but nothing! I was now fully in the dead end…

Now I felt it was time to pull out my computer and to search for the right electronic chart, sitting in the drizzly rain under my towel…and then I found out what I was describing above. I was shattered! I had only two options – to do this possible portage of maybe 800 m – I was already 715 m close to my meeting point with Juerg! But by myself? And I didn’t walk to the end yet…3 times walking with heavy gear and the boat…

Or I’d paddle the full 15 km back to Canal Cutler again, and then turn north west, until I really would hit an open small cross channel which was on both charts to be seen…

As it was fortunately very low wind, I opted for the latter…I paddled my ass off to regain the lost km, and flew along with 7-8 km/h on dead calm water. I saw dolphins all day, but this time, they didn’t bring me luck!

I wanted to paddle as long as possible, to make the most out of the calm day and to make the most the day despite of the lost km…but finding a campsite eventually proved to be the next challenge! Before, there were a lot to be seen, but now, under time pressure, I eventually had to opt for a marginal one on a gravel beach. But it should stay dry on high tide at 0.30 am, and I am lying horizontal on quite some big stones, but it feels ok and is clean and dry.

I didn’t eat or drink as soon I found out some thing was wrong, I had only breakfast and one apple, stress makes me not hungry…in my tent I rather had my cold lunch then, and then I started typing this stupid confusing story…

Maybe I can meet Juerg tomorrow a bit further north to get my gaz cans…maybe he lost patience with me! Really stupid story…

11 comments on “Fri 17/02-2012 Day 172

graeme joy

Wow, what a frustrating day Freya!!Lost? I think not – just temporarily geographically embarrassed I would say. Hope you catch up with Juerg & the stove fuel. Good luck


Frustrating Unnecessary Courageous Kayaking

Most impressive journey – happy onward kayaking, best of luck and like all others the main thing is you are safe and sound and in high spirit.
Alles Gute und viel Glück aus Dänemark.


What a pain in the whatsit! So frustrating to go the wrong way just when the weather lets you make progress!

Jörg Hofferbert

Hey Freya, that´s all better, than an accident. You will find the normal way again. And the labyrinth becomes soon less in the north. Main thing you are okay.


So ein Mist aber auch. Hoffe, dass der GPS dir den richtigen Weg zeigt. Es ist bestimmt nicht leicht in den Fjorden. Hoffe, das du den Treffpunkt findest . Viel Glück aus DK7


F**k indeed! It’s life that you have GPS problems just when you need to be somewhere on time to pick up gaz cans. But hey, it’s better that you are late and safe than anything else.

Chuck H.

Really frustrating experience, as are all wild goose chases. These kinds of navigational ambiguities in the amazingly complex Chilean Fjordland are part of the reason why that “pink island” seen a few days ago ended up where it is. At least your boat is harder to run aground, and (of course) you’re tough enough to recover quickly from these little setbacks. Better luck tomorrow!


Freya, did you change your GPS setting to the datum used by the paper chart when you left Argentina? Chile’s datum is not the same datum as used in Argentina. Your GPS will not align with the ground if you do not have the GPS set correctly. Chile has at least three datums, one with three different projections.

PSAD56, SAD69, WGS84

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