A new day delivers another grey morning of solid low stratus clouds clinging to the tops of the mountains on both sides of the fiord. Many chunks of ice are floating by our camp. We sit under the tarp and look out over the totally grey scene. With breakfast done and boats packed up we shove off the rocky shore and head over to the west side of the fiord.
There many bergs of fantastic color variations are pushed against that far side by the wind. We weave in and out of the widely separated pieces of Jorge Montt, shrouded in drizzle and grey. I wonder what these hues would look like in bright sun.
I am having trouble with the skeg on the my Explorer. I am unable to change its deployment once I have used it. It is now stuck in the fully extended position and my bow is blowing off the wind very badly. I am compensating with extended paddle, leaning and sweep strokes but it is very tiring. The repairs we made to the seat backs has given way also, so I am paddling without that as well. The five minute epoxy stick from my repair kit was convenient to use, but the resulting repair was a little brittle. The deck screws that had been used to repair the seatback the last time it broke just pulled out of the blob of epoxy we had tried to use to repair it. The seat back is just an annoyance, but the skeg was more serious.
Each berg and every side of each berg present a new a wonderfully subtle variation in blue hues and sculpted forms. I soon fall behind the others as I keep taking more pictures. Orienting the kayak for the best shot while the wind pushes me around is very difficult. The rain keeps putting droplets onto the lens and many shots are ruined. Of course I couldn't tell whether the shots were coming out or not as I can not see the pictures in the small view finder in enough detail to tell if the drops are causing a great problem. It was only after I got back to my computer and saw them blown up on the screen that I could really tell what had been trashed.
We paddle into a smaller side arm of the fiord. There several falls cascade off the steep side walls. One particularly gorgeous small one tumbles right into the water. We pull up on the shore where I chang the batteries in my camera and manually pull my skeg back up into the skeg well. The skeg rope is not functiong well. We paddle right up to the falls. As we paddle back out, we see that there is a cabin up the valley above the falls. Beautiful, but you better be able to stand the isolation.
The rest of the day we paddle under a heavy drizzle that at times included some very low cloud, d.h. fog. The 15 knot headwinds we expected from the weather forecast never materialize. Winds come up now and again, but they are sometimes from the north and sometimes from the south but none aree particularly strong.
We stop in another little cove along the western shore. A stream comes out of the valley and is blocked by a sand bar. We pull the kayaks up on the bar and wade upstream. Heavy vegetation makes travel along the bank impossible. Weather beaten trees lean out over the stream. These are the largest trees we see while we are out on the water. Once again we feel as if we are in a Dr. Seuss book.
In the quiet waters between the sand bars we see a black swan paddling along. Julio is able to see the bright red shield over his beak, without using his binoculars. This iss good because his binoculars had succumed to the omnipresent humidity. The once upon a time nitrogen pressurized lenses are filled with condensation and are quite useless.
We continue to paddle along the shore until we reache the little bay with the cabin and wrecked fishing boat where we had stopped for lunch on the way down. We make camp in the rain, set up the tent in the rain, ate dinner in the rain and went to bed in the rain. Did I mention it rains alot in Chile?
The next morning it is raining as we get up, have breakfast, pack the kayak and start to paddle again. We are expecting a day of strong winds up to 25 knots. There is some wind blowing in the morning but only at about 8 knots. But that wind increases as we make our way back up along the shore, past waterfalls coming down over rock faces. Midday we stop for lunch on a nice rocky beach. Kate puts up the tarp in the partial protection of the shore trees and we eat lunch in comparative dryness underneath. We even got a little sun towards the middle of the afternoon, but then the wind starts to really pickup. Paddling is quite hard.
Continue the trip..............
We push on until we get opposite of our crossing point over the exposed channel back to Vargas Island. We discuss going another five miles up the fiord in order to have a more downwind crossing the next day, but with the wind cranking up and the protection afforded by this lovely cove and fisherman's shelter that we found, we decide to end the day early. So we quit with only 8 miles under our keels for this day. Even so we are quite tired battling the headwinds for the past two hours. Kate makes a big dinner including baking corn bread. It was one of the best meals she made on the trip. The wind picks up and is probably blowing 30 knots. A raptor flying over our camp makes no progress upwind and finally gaves up and goes in another direction. Julio sees a buzzard flying over. He loses a feather in the strong wind. We feel good about our decision. We hope things calm down for our crossing the next day. That night the wind wistles through the pine trees overhead and rattles our tent nestled down deep in the grasses. We can hear the surf pounding the rocky shore in the cove behind our tent. It sounds bad for our proposed early start to the morning.
Back to the start of the trip...................