On the last day of January 2023, the trimaran of the circumnavigation expedition of the Tomsk Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society for the first time left the narrow fjords of Patagonia for the open expanse of the Pacific Ocean. The brave navigators were met by fog, rain, and high waves in the Gulf of Peñas. The crew members told the readers of the RGS’s website about their impressions of this meeting.
The expedition's trimaran headed for the Gulf of Peñas by the narrow and little-explored Gonzales Strait. After the adventures on Tierra del Fuego, sailing along the natural channel was nothing new for Evgeny Kovalevsky, Stanislav Berezkin, Egor Muzileyev, and the dog Pasoka. But the gulf itself is open to strong winds and storms coming from the vast expanses of the Pacific Ocean. In fact, it is already a part of it.
The length of the gulf is about 100 miles; you will have to sail along it for at least a day. This circumstance worried the circumnavigators – if a headwind blows during the passage, they will be trapped. However, according to the forecast, the weather should be favorable in the next two days. The crew put their faith in their skills and that the forecasters were not mistaken. By evening, the waves are noticeably growing, which indicates the proximity of the open ocean.
“There waves are getting big. This is already the Pacific Ocean, although still in the gulf format, but already the water behaves differently. We move away from the shore to the opposite edge of the gulf, which looks like a wrinkled hook lowered down. The waves become wide, powerful, and harsh. They hit the trimaran. I'm starting to feel sick. It's not without difficulty that I finish my watch," admitted Evgeny Kovalevsky.
The nights are still cool, but not as much as it was in the extreme south of the continent. The Gulf of Peñas was crossed on the morning of February 1. The vessel is moving at a speed of five knots per hour. When the waves are strong, seasickness manifests itself more acutely.
“A shiver is running through my whole body. Four hours are spent as if in a delirium. I’m feeling really bad. Several times I wanted to wake Stas up to take over from me, but I refrained. But I didn’t have any strength left to watch the dawn," Kovalevsky noted.
In three days, the circumnavigators expected to reach the major industrial and cultural center of Chile – the city of Puerto Montt.
“We are sailing along the Chilean coast. The Pacific Ocean stretches to the left. The rocks on the right are hiding in the clouds. Sharp teeth peek out of the coastal haze. Rock outcrops are visible along the entire coast. The water pounces on them and shoots up. It looks spectacular, but also dangerous. If you pass too close, the wind can throw you into the rocks. Stas, as the captain of the trimaran, constantly reminds us to stay away from the rocks," Kovalevsky said.
On the morning of February 2, fog covers everything around. They have to go by onboard instruments.
“To all the warm clothes I’m wearing, I add storm pants, a windbreaker, a raincoat, and neoprene gloves, because I don't want to wet the leather ones. Rocks are peeking out of the fog. The clouds are strung right on top of them. Oyster farms on the left. It's been raining and drizzling all watch, my hands are freezing. I light the stove twice, warm my hands on the fire,” Evgeny Kovalevsky shares his feelings.
Soon, headwinds and currents reduce the speed of the trimaran. The travelers have to take the vessel to the skerries. Stanislav Berezkin is plotting a new route almost "from scratch", focusing on the wind-wave situation. The channels here are of different widths and lengths, and the winds blow in them differently. The flow pattern is also very complex; you have to to choose a course by trial and error.
“If the speed drops below three knots, you need to try to choose a different path,” notes Kovalevsky.
The crew's favorite, the dog Pasoka, continues to amaze the circumnavigators. They are used to feeding the pet from their table. It turned out that the four-legged sailor can eat condensed milk and even raspberry jam.
“We decided to check whether Pasoka eats condensed milk. I was eating with a spoon myself, then with the same spoon I scooped condensed milk and handed it to Pasoka, who was sitting by me. She does eat it! We cross out condensed milk from the products that Pasoka does not eat. The same fate befalls raspberry jam," said her owner Egor Muzileyev.
By the evening of February 2, it becomes clear that the trimaran will not have time to reach Puerto Montt at the expected time. They will have to make a 60km detour and go to a place with a beautiful name of Puerto Cisnes ("Port of Swans" in Spanish).
“There are two tasks. First we need to buy gasoline. However, we do not have pesos, so we will have to solve the problem of exchanging dollars, which is quite difficult in the middle of nowhere. The second task is to correct the project milestones in the contract with the Presidential Grants Fund," Kovalevsky said.
In the meantime, the crew of the RGS’s round-the-world expedition is enjoying the magical landscapes and wildlife of Chilean Patagonia.
“Sea lions and seals, penguins, dolphins, cormorants, seagulls are literally attacking us. And we are glad, especially Pasoka. She feels better now, because she gets cold easily. It’s gotten a little warmer, and Pasoka began running out onto the deck," Kovalevsky noted.
On the morning of February 3, the trimaran safely docked in the harbor of Puerto Cisnes. We are waiting for news from our travelers.
On July 1, 2021, Siberian travelers Evgeny Kovalevsky and Stanislav Berezkin set off along the route of the first Russian round-the-world expeditions of the 19th century: Ivan Kruzenshtern’s (1803-1806), Yuri Lisyansky’s (1803-1806), Otto Kotzebue’s (1815-1818, 1823-1826), Vasily Golovnin’s (1817-1819), Fedor Litke’s (1826-1829), Faddey Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev’s (1819-1921). The international project of the Tomsk Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society "Following the paths of Russian explorers" is dedicated to the 250th birthday anniversary of Krusenstern and the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica by Russian sailors. These events for a long time determined Russia's leadership in the development of the oceans and the discovery of new lands. You can learn more about the project and provide all possible assistance in its implementation on the website of the expedition.