Vire Nord is FOR SALE
The crew
Our route
Yacht Vire Nord
Azores islands
Canary Islands
Cape Verde islands
Juan Fernandez island
Easter Island
French Polynesia
Cook Islands
New Zealand
New Caledonia
Cocos (Keeling) island

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


From Uruguay we went up the Rio de la Plata to Buenos Aires, where we were relieved to arrive in June 2002 and settle down for a 5 month winter break.


Most of this time was spent working on the boat, preparing for the wild conditions to come as we continued south to Patagonia.  We also replaced the old Sailomat with a Monitor that we bought used from some friends in Brazil, added 20 m of anchor chain and a bigger (44 lb) Bruce anchor, serviced the transmission, had the genoa recut and a storm staysail made, painted, varnished, added a stainless stern frame for the solar panel and our new wind generator. A busy few months, but we still had time for some travelling inland and to enjoy the delights of Buenos Aires, also the great people.  

Finally everything was ready and the time was right to set off down the nasty Argentine coast a scarey area in which to sail very little good shelter, serious weather, strong currents and high tides, so any shelter that is there often tends to dry out at low water. We stopped at Mar del Plata, Necochea, and Puerto Rawson, visited several remote Patagonian desert anchorages on the N side of Golfo San Jorge, and spent Christmas in Puerto Deseado where the wind howled every day. Despite being very cautious and patient with the weather we still needed to heave-to several times, including a rough night off the entrance to Puerto Deseado, where we sat in a howling 45 knots for a few hours before the tide turned and we could enter the port. At least the strong winds in this area are generally from the west and therefore blow offshore. Lots of other boats we met had problems along this coast, and several turned back north. Our nerves were restored after a peaceful Christmas with plenty of Argentine vin rouge, and we carried on in the next weather window a 4 day crossing direct to Isla de los Estados, the remote island off the SE tip of Tierra del Fuego, at 55 deg S. Despite all our fears, we were lucky and actually had a very calm trip; we even found ourselves becalmed off the Straits of Magellan near Cabo Virgenes, where we changed up from the small yankee to the big genoa not at all what we were expecting !

 Arriving in Estados is great - it looks a wild and unlikely destination on the chart and is only about 100 miles NE of Cape Horn, but the inner anchorage at Pto Hoppner on the N coast is totally protected. We sat there for a week in virtual calm, watching the clouds fly overhead as the wind outside howled, often reaching 55 knots according to the radio. With 4 lines to shore, the woodstove warming the cabin, and beautiful snowy peaks all around we felt like we had finally arrived in the Real Patagonia. After this, the worrying exposed crossings are over, as from now on you are into the famous Patagonian channels not exactly relaxing cruising grounds, as the weather gets a little wild at times and it is very remote, but at least there are plenty of shelterered anchorages in which to take cover. The change is abrupt from the arid desert scenery and blue skies of the east to the wet, windy, glaciated wilderness of the Beagle Channel and the Pacific coast.


Between Estados and Tierra del Fuego lies the notorious Estrecho de Le Maire: about 20 miles wide, relatively shallow, wide open to the waves and winds of Cape Horn and with currents flowing up to 12 knots, it can generate impossible sea conditions when bad weather opposes the tide. Unfortunately as we started our crossing the wind backed to the SW and, naturally, picked up to gale force. It was close to slack tide, but even so, by the time we finally made it to Buen Successo on the Tierra del Fuego shore, every freezing cold wave was breaking right over Vire Nord, from bow to stern as we were hard on the wind with 3 reefs in the main + staysail. Not pleasant conditions in the cockpit ! Good foul weather gear is essential in these parts. Open to the E, but with reasonable shelter from the W and good holding in sand, Buen Successo is a small bay half way through the Estrecho and became our home for the next 5 days as we were pinned down by a series of westerly gales, unable to even get ashore, with winds often well over 50 knots. At least we were in good company our French friends on their beautiful 50 ft steel schooner (a Damien) Libertaire were stuck there with us. Captain Fitzroy on HMS Beagle apparently also had the same problem when they passed this way. Finally we got away, rounded the SE point of Tierra del Fuego and headed up the Beagle Channel under sail in light easterlies to reach the port of Ushuaia just in time to meet our new crew member, Mikes  father, who joined us for the next couple of months.


From the toursity port of Ushuaia (the most southerly city in the World and Gateway to the Antarctic) you exit Argentina and head back E to enter Chile at the small navy town of Puerto Williams on the S shore of the Beagle Channel.