With the wind and waves pounding away at I tent all night last night, I oversleep in the morning and Kate is calling us out of a reverie. I expected with all the racket outside of the tent last night that the conditions would be too bad to make our crossing on this day. Now we are late for our agreed start because I have overslept. Julio and I pull on our drysuits inside the tent vestibule and scurry over to where Kate has prepared a simple breakfast to get is going quickly. The wind has come down some from the previous night's blasts. I wonder what it looks like in the exposed channel that we must cross this morning to return to Vargas Island. I can see white caps on the open water.
To the north is a broken sky with bands of clouds aligned with the wind. They are all heading to the east in a big hurry. Patches of sun mix with patches of rain as the clouds rise up on the steep mountain sides.
Not much is different by the time we are ready to depart. The wind is still blowing, but not as strong as last night. White caps are still visble on the open channel. We decide to go ahead and take a look at the conditions around the point where the full force of the wind will be sweeping down the 30 mile channel.
.As we go around the point we find that the winds have moderated. It is only blowing about 15 knots with s few gust to 20. Surprisingly there isn't much of a swell running and things look fairly settled for the crossing. To the northeast a cloud is dumping some more Chilean sunshine into the fiord. A gorgeous full 180 degree rainbow of incredible width arcs down to the sea surface. We paddle up to the last point of protection and maintain station while we stare as the rainbow keeps deepening. Some 25 pictures later we are ready to start across the open channel.
We pull into a small beach for bladder relief which is always a comedy with layers of clothes under the drysuits. Something material can easily get stuck in the huge zippers. Then a wrestling match akin to trying to get out of a straight jacket occurs as the occupant fights to remove said material from the jaws of the voracious zip. In this picture, Julio's dry pants are around his ankles and he is penguin walking over the rocks. A water droplet is strategically centered, making it appear that something ribald is occuring.
Spitting rain accompanies us as we paddle along the west shore of Vargas Island. Steep walls with twisted trees dangling from high crags make up most of the shore.
Julio does a little exploring over the nearby ground. It looks lush but is just some moss, lichen, grasses and shrubs hanging onto the granite. There is almost no soil, one inch at the most. The bottom layer is dead moss or peat. The trees have wide spread root systems, scratching for a purchase in the cracks between the smooth granite boulders.
Kate has no information about this side of the island as the NOLS group does not come this way. We are exploring on our own now. The next place we know that we can definitely camp is near our first camp of the trip. Because we are feeling cranky due to the poor sleep we got with all the wind from last night, we decide to stop early and set up the camp and tarp at a small beach we have come across. There is a small stream with a vigorous waterfall. Although it doesn't look like much of the beach will survive high tide, and a strong wind from the east could send some surf here that would be tough to get out through, we decide to chance it and stay here for the night. Kate makes the best lunch we have had - Burmese Death Bombs. Apocalyptic sounding but very tasty.
Julio makes an entry in his journal:
There were several “sun squalls” today. Enough to dry out some more of our gear. I don’t want to sound like a weenie, but my back and abs are achy and my left ulna is sore at the wrist from the feathered paddle and tight wrist gasket. The boat behaved OK in real conditions but in mild winds it weathercocks more than it should. The skeg is a pain—poor to control, deploys spontaneously and usually does not retreat fully so it takes a beating on landings. Hank and Kate are without seatbacks. Repairs worked briefly, then failed in both boats. Seatbacks had been installed with drywall screws. My hatch covers don’t leak, but the hatch housing is cracked so during wet crossings, the rear hatch takes on about a quart to two of water. Spray skirts are nice, made by Reed, but also leak.
We go into the tents for a short siesta. By afternoon the sun is out partially and we decide to head to the western indentation that almost cuts Vargas Island in half. We explored the eastern side on the second day of the trip.
The wind is blowing WNW still at about 10 to 20. Paddling into the headwind we make it over to the start of the canal. Turning downwind we glide easily about 4 km into the canal before deciding to leave enough time for an upwind return. That return takes about three times as long as the easy paddle into the canal.
Continue the trip...........
With more spitting rain we have dinner under the tarp. More rain during the night leaves us hoping for better weather for heading back to Isla Theresa - our last camp out on the islands.
Back to the start of the trip...................