Chile: Anchorages in East Patagonia

An interesting report from our regular contributor, Dan Stroud, who has made the challenging voyage to Patagonia single-handed.

Published 4 years ago, updated 1 year ago

view of the beagle channel from on board SV Aisling
The Beagle Channel

A few things of possible interest from the east coast of Patagonia.

At Isla Leones, at the entrance to Golfo San Jorge, SW of Cabo dos Bahias, there are two bays suitable for anchorage as per mentioned in the “Blue Book”  – Lat 45 02 72S, Lon 65 37 20W

There is Caleta John Woddal and Caleta Inglesa. Woddal is the smaller of the two. Both offer shelter from west and south west wind and swell. Caleta Inglesa is exposed to northern swell and wind.

Caleta John Woddal

Woddal has tying off points ashore, one directly on the beach with a piece of rope attached to a metal stake in the sand, and one either side on the rocks. The north east tying off point is near a metal bar that stretches over a small gully in which you can tie your tender painter and climb the rock. This is best done at high water as there is a 5m tidal range and it’s hard to reach at LW. Both tying off points in the rock are 18mm rebar wedged into the rock and are well found.

Caleta Inglesa

Caleta Inglesa is a larger bay with a colony of penguins. There is a rock that appears in the SW quarter of the bay at low water that isn’t charted, its relatively close to the beach but could be potentially dangerous when covered and hidden.

I would recommend arriving at LW as the change in coastal contour and exposed rocks becomes clear.

I’m not convinced that the holding is that good in either of the bays but it is a good refuge and keep your eye on your position. I was there for 5 days, the island is uninhabited with a abundance of wildlife and very peaceful. There is an abandoned lighthouse on top of the island which was interesting to walk around.

The approach to these bays must be taken with caution in regard to very strong (5kt) tidal flows and overfalls etc. This includes the channel between the Isla and the mainland as well as to the south east and south.

Being new to this, I probably have myself to blame, but I was struck by how far the tidal drift carried me off course when crossing Golfo San Jorge to the point where I ended up 8 miles off Cabo Blanco instead of the 20 that I had planned. I am trying not to use electronic nav aids in my voyages and I guess the fact that my DR was so different to my celestial fix alerted me eventually but with lack of sun at times, the point in this is that I think it began about 12 hrs before I arrived,  I found out all the above the hard way!

Estrechó de la Maire – Tierra del Fuego.

Notoriously challenging for good reason it seems! I wanted to arrive to the northern section of the Strait just before high water, as the ebb flows SW.  The winds were blowing 25kt north westerlies and the closer I got to the straight, the bigger the seas became, and I was only making 3 kts SOG plugging the flood tide quite a distance from the actual Strait, maybe 20miles before, in which case I arrived later than planned. Literally halfway through the Strait, 10 kts SOG, the wind died completely then turned to the SW. Within 30 minutes the going was impossible in wind over tide conditions. A 15kt breeze from the SW was kicking up 1.5m waves at 3m intervals. I was running out of tide time and had to take refuge in Bahia Buen Suceso to the East. I have waited 2 days for calm conditions In order to continue.

Bahia Buen Suceso

Bahia Buen Suceso is a swell sheltered bay with excellent holding in 6m that gets violent winds from the SW/W/NW that come down through a couple of valleys. As mentioned, excellent holding. There is a permanent residency of Marines living on the beach to report to upon arrival.

I have been sending two emails per day to the relevant area prefecturas from Mar del Plata, to Comodoro Rivadavia and finally to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego. Bahia Blanca coast guard independently contacted me by mail when I was in their area. The Argentine authorities seem keen to be in contact and to receive regular updates. I haven’t officially entered Argentina immigration wise but have had no problems reporting that I am at anchor waiting for suitable conditions to continue.

Dan Stroud

SV Aisling

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of or the World Cruising Club.

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