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Vire Nord is FOR SALE
The crew
Our route
Yacht Vire Nord
Azores islands
Portugal
Morocco
Canary Islands
Cape Verde islands
Brazil
Uruguay
Argentina
Chile
Juan Fernandez island
Easter Island
French Polynesia
Cook Islands
Niue
Tonga
Fiji
New Zealand
New Caledonia
Australia
Cocos (Keeling) island
Rodriguez

Voyage of Vire Nord - Vire Nord is FOR SALE US$70 000, www.steelyachtforsale.webs.com

Chile

From Ushuaia in Argentina it is a short sail south across the Beagle Channel to Chile. After completing the formalities in Puerto Williams, including your Zarpe, a kind of cruising permit/route plan, you are free to head off into the wilderness, although theoretically you must report your position twice a day by radio to the Armada de Chile. This is not feasible when you can only transmit on VHF, and manned lighthouses are often 300 miles apart, so after the first few days we could only check in very occasionally, usually only getting our position relayed to the navy by passing ships. Next civilisation we saw was Puerto Natales, nearly 6 weeks later so we were heavily laden with food, diesel and wine (we removed our flex water tank to make extra room). Drinking water is no problem as it rains most of the time and every anchorage has streams of pure mountain water from which to fill your tanks. We also had three 110m reels of  16mm polypro line mounted on deck for our shore lines and upgraded our ground tackle, so we had a 44lb Bruce and a 35 lb CQR in tandem, 6 ft apart on a single 60m of 3/8 chain we once anchored in 70 knot winds with this set up and an 8:1 scope, and despite the boat laying over violently at times, spilling our supper on the floor, we never dragged the anchor. The best anchorages are tight little inlets where you can tuck right in very close to the land out of the wind, often there is no room for the boat to swing, so shore lines are used in addition to, or instead of the anchor to keep the boat in place. In spite of the weather, we loved the Chilean Channels and agree it must be one of the finest cruising grounds anywhere. The Channels extend from the Beagle at 55 deg S up the West coast as far as the Chonos area at about 43 deg S - a wild network of 1000s of miles of uninhabited, often uncharted, mountainous fjords and islands on a coastline exposed to the full force of the endless succession of deep South Pacific depressions and the associated heavy winds and precipitation. For weeks at a time we saw no other boats or any sign of habitation, so you need to be self sufficient and have a well maintained, well stocked, reliable boat. The voyage from S to N is tough, as the prevailing N and W winds are funneled down the channels and the W side of the mountains. It tends to be either blowing on the nose at gale force plus, or calm both of which makes sailing tough, so despite a lot of trying, we ended up having to rely on the engine a lot and also had

many days when it was impossible to make any progress at all especially in the western Beagle and west end of the Straits of Magellan. The weather improved as the summer progressed, from continuous gales and rain in February to long  periods of calm, clear anticyclonic weather in March and early April. The only problem we had, apart from a few sleepless nights was the destruction of our wind generator when it was hit by flying debris in one hurricane force storm. We found the weather fax to be invaluable - with 3 charts broadcast from Valparaiso each day, we always had fair warning of any nasty stuff before it arrived, and didnt get caught out.

 

The main route through the channels is also used by commercial ships and is well charted, but an infinite number of detours and alternative routes can be taken. We explored many side channels and fjords, many of which end with glaciers off the Patagonian Ice Cap extending right down to the sea. Particularly spectacular were the ice choked Estero Peel (where Bill Tilman left Mischief while he crossed the S. Patagonian ice cap), Seno Helado, and Seno Eyrie where Vire Nord was rocked by large waves as huge seracs collapsed off the face of the rapidly advancing Pio XI glacier. We were often thankful for Vire Nords steel hull as we pushed through ice floes and occasionally touched rocks as we literally felt our way into uncharted anchorages. It was late May when we finally made it to Puerto Montt (41.5 deg S), where Vire Nord is now. By this time we were really too late to head W into the Pacific, as you want to be clear of the western Pacific cyclone area by mid October, so we decided to leave the boat for a few months and return to Canada to earn some money

Chile photos