Sailing the Darwin range – prologue

Here at the end of the world the summer season is ending, days are getting shorter and the trees are changing to autumn costume. Temperatures are still good at about 8, 9 degrees C. On sunny days that feels like summer.

Autumn is short but allows for a bit of leisure time for people working in tourism. Soon the winter season will begin and preparations for the new spring and summer seasons starts. But now for a moment it’s not work that dominates the days. It’s time to wander, explore and get lost.

I was asked if I would be interested to join an experimental 7-day sailing trip to the Darwin range in Chile’s Tierra del Fuego. It didn’t take much to convince me. And so on March 30 I embarked on La Pinta, with captain Ezequiel and sailor Carlos and a good company of 5 on a new adventure sailing the cold Beagle Channel waters.

Looking over the fjords and mountains with caleta Olla below.
Looking over the fjords and mountains with caleta Olla below.
The weather was as variable as the landscapes. Just in this week winter made it’s first announcement, whereas autumn would be more than appropriate for the time of the year. I said it before. Here at ’54 Latitud Sur there’s no law & order when it comes to the weather.

Fresh snow made for a perfect contrast against the blue sky and colouring trees. Big southeastern waves on the Beagle Channel rocked our little sail boat. The wind slowed us down, too. Clouds at times obscured our sight, but the views are so impressive that nothing can diminish its beauty. Huge hanging glaciers plunge down on the coastline like blue frozen seas of ice. Hail tickled our faces hiking up next to a waterfall to encounter a snowstorm in a beautiful barren landscape of rocks, lagunes and more glaciers. A sudden sun illuminated the fjords and inlets below us, making for another tremendous view.

One of a line-up of glaciers with the names of European countries, the impressive glacier 'Alemaña'.
One of a line-up of glaciers with the names of European countries, the impressive glacier ‘Alemaña’.
We found refuge from the wind in gorgeous bays, surrounded by pebble stone beaches, rocky mountains and wild forests. I found Tierra del Fuego’s equivalent of paradise in the bay watching Pia glacier. Here you won’t find white beaches and exotic palm trees, but you will find endless serenity in rugged nature. And if lucky like us, some dolphins, orcas, sea lions and other wildlife too.

On cold nights, we warmed up in the cosy quarters of the ship, with the heater warming our cold hands and feet and at the same time drying socks above our heads. To warm the inner spirit, we had splendid picadas of salami and cheese, red wine, jagermeister and a mix of beers. We shared filling dinners and good laughs around the small table, up till the fatigue of the day’s activities made us calling it a day.

Though we could not explore as far as we would have liked to – the weather was eventful to say the least – it was in all a beautiful sailing trip into the Fuegian wild. 

More about the trip, daily impressions and photos coming up.

wild coast
The wild coast of the northern arm of the Beagle Channel

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