Tuesday January 9th, 2001

Location

In Drake Passage, 110 miles south-east from Cape Horn, heading towards the Antarctic Peninsula

Latitude

57.00S

Longitude

64.10W

Course

180 deg True

Wind

NW light – expected NE by afternoon

Sea

Moderate

Air temp

10 deg C

Sea temp

4 deg C

Barometer

992 mbs


Its 1000 hrs, but the sun has been up for nearly 6 hours already. It’s developing into a fine and sunny day, with a moderate westerly swell and sparkling waters - a change from the previous few hours with squally winds to 35 knots and showers of heavy sleet and hail. But we expected nothing less and would have been disappointed if it had been too easy.

We left Puerto Williams on the island of Navarino in Southern Chile at 1100 yesterday - motored eastwards down the Beagle Channel past cormorant and seal colonies and hoisted sails in a light breeze with the open ocean ahead. After a month of smooth waters and quiet bays, to be on a heaving sea again comes as a bit of a shock to the system.

The Beagle Channel (Canal Beagle as it is known locally) is a wondrous place. We spent many days exploring the waterways and bays that indent everywhere. The glaciers were phenomenal; the waterfalls - too many to count; the dolphins so friendly and playful that the youngsters onboard spent time playing with them in the dinghy, touching their dorsal fins as they stayed very close alongside, underneath, and behind, even at speed. The scenery was the best I have ever seen, anywhere.

It took our breath away. To round a corner of a narrow seno (fiord), with tall, snow-covered mountains on either side and beech forests down to the waters edge, and suddenly site a number of glaciers coming right into the sea was something we will never forget. To motor slowly through the thick glacial ice near the foot of the glaciers, watching as huge chunks broke off and boomed into the sea, sending up clouds of spray and a good-sized wave, was more than memorable. Made more so because there was generally no one else around. No sign of human habitation. No sign of human influence on the land at all.