A Hidden Bay in Patagonia

I am writing this from the mid-Patagonian coast somewhere near the tiny hamlet of Tortel. On board are the team of three scientific divers from the Huinay Foundation, Aris, Mette and Rodrigo. This is a continuation of a set of surveys of the benthic fauna of the Patagonian coast, started some years ago by Vreni Haussermann, chief scientist for the Huinay Foundation located further north in Comau Fiord. First though, a recap of events since leaving Beaver Island.

We bade farewell to Jerome Poncet, breaking into his stern maintenance schedule on Golden Fleece (with which vessel he plans a circum-Pacific tour later this year) by giving an impromptu ukelele-cello concert on the rugged shore in front of Damien II and Golden Fleece. Our skills were certainly showing as much rust as the two boats combined but it mattered not, Jerome managed to croak out the words to the tunes we were trying to play and the spell of splendid isolation was thus broken for some fine moments. The climax came when a puff of wind blew the music off my stand in the final notes of Swallowtail Jig. As I reached to rescue the wayward sheets I fell off my precarious perch atop an old oil jug which loosed an avalanche of rocks onto my carbon fibre bow. Oh well, time for a new one I guess. Away we went with the wind finally in the northwest, reaching Puerto Williams 3 days later to re-enter Chile. A brief respite there and we began the long haul back to Puerto Eden some 700 miles north where we have chosen to base the boat for the next series of expeditions into the channels west of the Southern Patagonian Icecap.

We were delighted to have the company of Sandra and Gonzalo, two excellent musicians who are volunteering their way around South America to gain experience in their chosen professions of architecture and engineering of the sustainable variety. For this trip though they were required to sing and play guitar as much as possible onboard Saoirse up the coast of Patagonia to prepare for a small concert and music workshop series for the benefit of the school and community of Puerto Eden. After an impromptu evening of music before we left the last time, it became apparent that no-one in the community had ever heard live music, so we had resolved to do what little we could to change that!

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