Loc: Isla Vancouver
Dist: 50,6 km
Start: 7:20 End: 18:15
I’m back on track in the main channel! Thank goodness, the odyssey has an end, though with a heavy detour…and thank goodness the weather was so easy…
Last night was no really good sleep, as my “perfect” camp high on the rock platform was not that perfect – as it became actually quite windy! Not much, but enough to rip on my unsecured freestanding tent. I had to place all my heavy gear bags carefully on the snowflaps from inside, to make it less noisy. Not that I’d be flying away, not that, but without guy lines in even 10 knots of wind a tent is moving every way and all flaps are flapping…
I knew after the turn of the tide after 1 am the wind would calm down as well, and eventually I simply put in my ear plugs to have at least a bit of a quiet rest. The previous night was already very short, so today I’m actually quite tired.
The morning woke me with a perfect sunrise into a deep red sky! But this meant as well the still clear blue sky was covering soon with clouds. But fortunately, it stayed still dry! There is nothing like a dry camp and gear…
I had to do quite an open crossing to the south eastern corner of isla Vancouver to get back into the main channel. The sea was first dead calm, but soon a westerly breeze came from my left shoulder, and eventually for the last hour the sea was whipped up quite a bit in that wide open space! Nothing dangerous, and as it was more or less following, it was nice again. But if you are spoiled by dead calm seas, you are yearning to be in the shelter of the big island again.
That area was like a cross road of fjords, littered with a few islands, but quite open. If I’d been coming from the main channel’s southern side, I’d have had to do a longer open water crossing.
But eventually I celebrated my turn around the south eastern corner of Isla Vancouver back into the main channel and “civilization” with a call to Peter. I rather look after my sat phone batteries and won’t call him that often, but the long term forecast says mostly all days under 10 knots of wind! It must be this northern area now, I can’t believe the same weather can be further south…
Well, this means I’d be in Puerto Eden to recharge my batteries in about 5-6 days, and I’m on the last bit of my second out of three sat phone batteries. Enough! Laptop batteries are still plenty as well. I rather carry more batteries than a solar panel in this area and in my style of long day paddling, this makes more sense to me! Though Brunton was so nice to sponsor me a great panel, I had to leave it behind after I noticed it was not compatible with my laptop in Argentina.
Food is still plenty as well! With some housekeeping, it may even reach until Puerto Montt…but I’m hoping to resupply a bit in Puerto Eden.
Because of my unwanted detour, my meeting with Juerg on his sailboat from Puerto Natales, who was so nice to get me more gaz cans for my stove, failed, very sorry! But now with this better weather I’m very sure I’m also lasting with what I have to Puerto Montt. I’d just like to be well on the safe side…so far I have never run out of any resource or supply. Good planning, good packing, good housekeeping and a reasonably sized kayak are the secrets!
Being back on the well marked and frequented channel after three unwanted days “off the beaten track” feel actually quite good. Not to talk about my Navy permit was not for that other channel…sorry, it just happened! 🙂
In the other channel, the only sign of humans were two leftover mooring lines in the trees from some yachts, but this was quite at the entrance. And on the second day, I actually saw the remains of an old wooden hut! Who the hell was living there..big leftover bones were lying around – from which animal? How can a person survive in that place, and why? Apart that spot, there was no litter to be seen on the beaches, as probably very few boats have ever been passing along there!
And for sure not any channel marker…I was joking my last day on the correct channel about the many lighthouses, buoys and channel markers, that a boat would need them…hahaha, I’d have needed them myself! But rather I needed an original paper chart and not only my Garmin GPS Blue Chart printed…but again, the badly charted areas are done now, as long as I’m staying properly in the main channel! Btw., the whole of the south western corner of Fjordland was like that, and many more areas.
Then as soon as I turned into the main channel again, the first lighthouse showed up, and a small fishing boat loaded with gear drove at high speed past me. You may assume the captain would be seeing me and waving driving quite close by? Or do they also have already an auto pilot, and the captain is watching a video while the boat is driving itself? Maybe…
Finding a campsite today looked more easy, as the southern end of Isla Vancouver is quite low with many bays. I chose an inlet like the one I was camping in further south for three full nights. The entry to this one was, half an hour before full low tide, too shallow to paddle into, and I had to drag my loaded kayak over a sandy bar of mussels. The furthest end in the sheltered inlet, about 300 m in diameter, had the river access, which meant as well a dry leveled spot of just about tent size covered with deep grass just besides the river mouth. The only spot to camp!
I had to chase the usual pair of ducks away, the larger one full white, the smaller one black and white. I assume the fully white one is the female?? They are not as shy and stupid as the gray ducks with the bright orange beak, which run over the water with legs and wings moving like hell, right across your bow, instead of running away from me!
Landing on the exposed gravel I found the same effect I had in that other inlet, and even better – I was landing on an area with an about 2 m wide trampoline again! It feels so funny!
Time to sleep now, without wind shaking my tent, water noise or unleveled surface! My body is quite sore after those long days! This morning, on jumping from a rock to the next while packing my boat, I strained that same nerve in my left butt cheek again, which felt a bit painful all day. But it will get better soon! Besides that, I’m fit like a fish in water…