Current position: 54 53.6 S 67 40.6 W, North coast of the
Canal Beagle – Tierra del fuego
“It’s 4 am and there is a tangerine sun pouring in through the windows of
the chartroom. Its light already and as we’re only three weeks from
midsummer it never really got dark. I have my thermals on, a dressing gown
over the top (yes I brought a dressing gown) and a hot water bottle stuffed
down the front. I’m on radio watch for our final 35 miles up the ‘Canal
Beagle’. Radio talk here is all in Spanish, which is a challenge but i’m
getting the hang of it.
The trip officially finished yesterday at lunchtime but as no-one onboard
seemed in a hurry to get off we stopped for the night in a ‘wee’ cove called
Harberton. I say ‘wee’ because it’s only permanent inhabitant is a fourth
generation scot called Thomas Goodhall and his wife Natalie Prosser . They
are descendants of the missionary family ‘the Bridges’ that came to teach
the native indians the ways of god. Theirs was one of the few successful
missions in Tierra del Fuego. Other attempts in the area resulted in
failure, and in one case, the mass murder of all the missionaries”.
Sadly today is the last day for Jenn Lamb so over to her to tell you about
the last 24 hours,
Last night having finally rounded “the gap” we entered the Beagle Canal, and
it was well worth the wait. Some lucky people, myself included, woke to the
stunning scenery of deep green forests on the shores and sunny snow capped
mountains behind, and this was mirrored on both sides. A strange addition to
the scenery was our close company, cruising ships. For a crew having not
seen land never mind civilisation for a few days this is mind boggling.
However we followed their lead and headed west, unfortunately straight into
the wind therefore requiring our engine.
Just in time for lunch we arrived in the quaint little village of Harberton.
Before its suggested, no we did not get lost and end up in Devon, though
some of the scenery looked uncannily like Scotland. We anchored up, ate
lunch and quickly ferried ashore in our dinghy for some well deserved
coffee/wine/local ‘Beagle Channel’ ale and cake.
Harberton is the place where the first estancia (estate or ranch) of the
island was founded in 1886. We joined a tour of the tiny village on which we
learnt that the Estanchia was given to an English missionary called Thomas
Bridges by the Argentine National Commission, as a thank you for his
services in shipwreck rescue and missionary work with the local indian
tribes. He set up a small working community for local Tierra del Fuegans. He
unlike some foreigners was accepted by some locals as he took the time to
learn their native tongue and even created a dictionary and a translated
Bible. The village was self sufficient and active in farming. The village
has been kept alive by the Bridges family and is currently managed by Tom
and Natalie Goodall. The population is now only 6-7 people in winter to
manage the land and this doubles to 13-14 in the summer months when the tour
guides arrive and the coffee shop opens.
After our tour, as advised by Cliggy and Clare (who remembered Harberton
from their 2009 visit to the south), we visited the Acatushun museo, which
is an exhibition developed by Natalie (a keen researcher), of interesting
fauna with skeletons of marine mammals. She collects up all the whales,
dolphins and seals that die and get stranded on Tierra del Fuego. The size
of some of the whales and dolphins is phenomenal and surprising seen as we
had seen so many on our travels. Attached to the museum was the working hut
where the animals were cleaned and placed piece by piece together again. As
fascinating as it was, no-one lingered long as the smell was almost
unbearable. We got an insight into what a old whaling or sealing ship must
have smelled like and watched two men boiling the flesh off a dead seal…
In the Cafe the rhubarb cake was fantastic and we could see the rhubarb
garden where it was grown from the window.
Anyway, that will be it for me, as unfortunately following our departure for
Harberton in the early hours of this morning we will heading a short way up
the beagle to Ushuaia, where I am very sad to say I will be leaving the
boat. I know it has been said many times, but it really has been a fantastic
trip (though only short for me) and a trip I will not forget lightly. The
work James, Clare, Cliggy, Jon and I’m sure some behind the scenes have put
in to getting us all here has been tremendous.
As for the crew, I have laughed until I cried and cried until it hurt. I am
going to miss them all individually for each of the traits that they bring
to the boat!
Love to all at home and see you soon (or not as I travel first by land).
NB: in other news. The first full roast was achieved aboard Elinca last
night. Roast pork with roasted spuds, veg and apple sauce!