Patagonia Cruising Notes & Overall Route Guide

Our trip around the bottom of South America and through Patagonia was from East to West (Atlantic to Pacific). Due to the end of the Pandemic era and associated complexities, we skipped some popular stops in Argentina, so those places will be omitted from our route and our guide as we did not experience them first hand. This guide will cover our time after leaving Brazil and arriving in Uruguay where we finished preparations to sail directly from there to Chile and into the majestic freedom of the fjords and canals of the wilderness for over six months, when we experienced amazing new cultures, storms, strong winds, extended time alone in the wilderness, beautiful anchorages, challenging waves and currents, icebergs, torrential rainfall, below freezing temperatures, and a view of our natural environment few experience, before arriving at a dock again in Puerto Montt.


Our Patagonian sailing experience noted in this guide will begin at roughly the latitude of the Falkland Islands in the Atlantic and end at Puerto Williams, Chile. Moving in this direction is against the prevailing winds and currents. Moving North and West in this area takes more time and is more difficult than moving South and East. Keep this in mind as you plan your voyage. We will attempt to include as much information as possible to help you on your journey. Everything from where we sourced fuel, parts, and provisions, to the anchorages we used, hikes we took, and the weather we encountered.

Cruisers entering this area should be experienced at and feel confident and comfortable with navigation in large tides and currents, visual navigation, radar navigation, and navigation using a depth sounder. Boat maintenance and repair is also very important. Your vessel should be in excellent condition, pay extra care to sails, running rigging, standing rigging, engine and steering, auxiliary dinghy and engine, and anchoring equipment. One should also have spare parts and knowledge to fix or at least jury rig these vital items at sea or in remote areas with the tools and crew on board. Between Ushuaia and Puerto Montt, there no real yacht services or parts available. Any services found will likely be focused on commercial fishing, and your boat will be treated as such.

You should also prepare yourself and your crew. It is cold, wet, and windy. Time ashore is very limited, and where you can hike in many places be prepared to bushwhack. Proper foul weather gear and layering is a must, as are good high waterproof boots and warm waterproof gloves. We also suggest a fleece face covering or balaclava and at times googles are needed while sailing through hail storms.

Once you and your boat are prepared, you can enjoy the journey of your lifetime. It is a truly mind altering experience to sail in Southern Patagonia. We have sailed across oceans, but never before have we experienced this feelings we did while in the remote areas of the Chilean fjords. You will see nature as you never have before and begin to truly understand the experiences of the first explorers that sailed this area and wrote the first books long ago.


In this guide we will reference the materials we used to navigate the area. Much has changed since some of the materials were updated. The pandemic shut this area down for years, which in combination with the changes to the artisanal fishing industry in 2016 by salmon farms and large corporate fishing efforts, has left many of the towns in this area in an economic slump. In this regard, many of the references have changed. Service providers are no longer there or people and phone numbers have changed. In some places buildings and docks have changed as well. We will attempt to provide new information where we can.

Cruising Guides

The best cruising guide for the region is known as “The Blue Bible” here in Patagonian Chile and Tierra del Fuego. The comprehensive book, “Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide” by Mariolina Rolfo and Giorgio Ardrizzi, (Ours is the 3rd edition) is in our opinion the go-to source if you intend to cruise this area in a yacht. It is an accumulation of years of sailing knowledge in the area and should be on board any sailboat cruising these waters.

Link to Buy: Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide

Link to Buy: RCC Pilotage Cape Horn & Antarctica

Link to Buy: RCC Pilotage Chile

Several others have also written cruising guides for this area and for Antarctica, Falklands, and places more remote, some are very rare, but we do not have them on board. Copies may be sourced by speaking to local boats out of Ushuaia or Puerto Williams who make frequent charters in the area.

Tide Tables and Chart Supplements Courtesy of Armada de Chile







Navionics Waypoints Courtesy of Capt. Narciso of s/v Kaap Hoorn





Our Timing and Duration

April 7th – June 21th (75 Days)

Anchorages, Ports & Towns

  1. Piriapolis
  2. Puerto Espanol
  3. Puerto Toro
  4. Cape Horn – Isla Hermite
  5. Puerto Williams
  6. Ushuaia
  7. Caleta Liwaia
  8. Caleta Olla
  9. Seno Pia
  10. Caleta Aklush
  11. Caleta Silvia / Puerto Egano
  12. Caleta Brecknock
  13. Caleta Tarmac II (North)
  14. Puerto Nutland
  15. Bahia Mussel 1
  16. Bahia Fortuna
  17. Caleta Columbine
  18. Puerto Mayne
  19. Puerto Bueno
  20. Bahia Hugh
  21. Caleta Neruda
  22. Caleta Refugio
  23. Caleta Graw
  24. Puerto Eden
  25. Caleta Sabauda
  26. Caleta Yvonne
  27. Caleta Mariuccia
  28. Caleta Vidal
  29. Puerto Aguirre
  30. Caleta Olea
  31. Caleta Brooks
  32. Isla Jechica
  33. Caleta Momia
  34. Puerto San Pedro
  35. Estero Pellu
  36. Puerto Calbuco
  37. Puerto Montt (Club Nautico Reloncavi)

Route Length

Total length TBD by reviewing logs. Approximately 12oo miles by quick estimate.

Fuel Usage

Start: Puerto Williams 700 Liters (60 Gal Primary Tank + 30 Gal Secondary Tank + ~90-95 Estimated Gal Jerry Cans)

Refuel: Puerto Eden +460 Liters

Completed: Puerto Montt 158 Liters Remaining

Total Used: 1,002 Liters.

Used for Heat: ~30%

Used for Propulsion: ~40%

Used for Electricity: ~30%

At least half of our fuel was used for heat and electricity generation. Keep in mind there is almost no solar power generation in this area in the winter. A trip through in the summer would lessen the fuel requirement slightly if a boat has a good solar system (self sufficient in the Caribbean) and it is possible to sail more hours in daylight in good weather windows. We did heavily use the autopilot, navigation computers, windlass, refrigerator, and freezer. Our video editing computer ran for many hours each day connected to Starlink and was a huge draw. Our Chinese diesel heater also consumed electricity and ran much of the time. The use of a non-electric drip heater (Refleks or Dickinson type) and lessening power consumption by not carrying frozen food and not working online/videos would yield considerable fuel savings. We feel we could do the trip comfortably with half the fuel in that case.

Our engine is a 76 HP Yanmar with Turbo. It consumes 1.5 Gallons per hour when running at 7.5-8 knots of boat speed plus alternator. We do not have a generator on board, and used its alternator for electrical generation. Motor sailing and without the alternator running, we tend to consume about .85 to 1 gallon per hour.

In short, the longer you stay in the fjords, the more fuel you will use for heat and electricity. Our goal was not to make a fast passage, but to enjoy the area and spend as much time as possible exploring the area. The boat sails much better with less weight of fuel, but skimping on fuel and having to ration the use of the heater can turn an enjoyable experience into a humidity filled moldy hate mission quite quickly.

Other boats that we know making the trip this year consumed the following

2400 Liters (60’+ monohull making a fast transport passage)

500 Liters (36′ monohull sailing and motoring)

1100 Liters (45′ catamaran reported mostly motoring)

1000 Liters (40′ monohull fast delivery passage, no sailing)

Fuel Stops are limited to:

Ushuaia, Puerto Williams, Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales, Puerto Eden, Caleta Tortel. Be prepared to pay in cash (Chilean Pesos) for fuel and provisions in remote areas. Of note: were able to pay for some provisions in Puerto Eden via wire transfer, but it was a somewhat complex endeavor. With the expansion of Starlink in this area, more options for payment may before available in the future.


In our opinion, with a good sailing boat the complete trip through the fjords could be done completely under sail (without using the engine at all, or just for anchoring) moving East to West. HOWEVER, it would take ages. The amount of tacking, maneuvering, and sail plan changes required is immense. It would at least add several weeks to any planned trip, if not a month or more to wait for the required weather windows. Keep this in mind while planning.

Shore Ties and Anchoring in Patagonia

We carried and used the following:

2x 100 Meter 3/4″ (19mm) 3 Strand Floating Lines

2x 110 Meter 1/2″ 3 Strand Floating Lines

2x Cables to Wrap Rocks

Rocna 33kg Anchor and 80 Meters 10mm G4 Chain Spliced to 60 Meters 5/8″ 3 Strand Nylon

2x 15 Meter 3 Strand Nylon Dock Lines

2x Spare 30 Meter Double Braid Lines

Also aboard were standard length dock lines, spare sheets and halyards and a spare anchor, chain & rode.

Note: One can swing at anchor in many places. The passage can be done without shore lines. With that said, if there are at least two on board, the anchorages are more enjoyable when completely tied in, and where else can you do this? We were happy with our setup. If spending extensive time here (more than one season) we would increase the size of our bow lines from 1/2″ to 3/4″.

Anchorages and Ports

1. Piriapolis

Piriapolis is a tourism centric town, and in the off season (austral winter) many of the restaurants and shops are closed, however if you are OK with limited selections, lower prices, empty beaches, and essentially the run of a relaxing small town atmosphere, the winter is just fine here albeit a bit chilly when the wind is from the south.

Entry to the harbor is straight forward and easy. There is good depth almost everywhere and the charts are accurate. One area of caution is to take care near the harbor walls. It is built with giant rocks and concrete in a pyramid formation, under the water these rocks fan outward. Don’t get too close. This should also be noted if backing against the break walls, at low tides your rudder may make with the underwater rocks. We had a friend that damaged his rudders here.

Overall Piriapolis is a good stop over for boat work or minor provisioning. The harbor prices are fair to keep a boat here, but the fixed height piers can be a challenge during extreme low tides. Be prepared to have at least 1 or 2 long dock lines (50 ft) to tie off to the bouys med moor style. As with any other South American country, the check in process includes your standard walk around to the Immigration/Customs, Navy, and Port Captain to acquire stamps and pay fees.

The harbor has a good sized travel lift and hydraulic trailer, but still use old fashioned wooden poles and shims (they call them “tacos”) to support your boat. If you have any special concerns on boat support or movement, sling placement, etc. make sure to provide these in a written document, translated into Spanish. It is almost impossible to schedule in advance if you have not arrived. Communication is in Spanish only and emails are not always replied to, however upon arrival everyone is helpful and nice. This may be changing as there has been a recent change in port management (it is government owned and controlled and hence is subject to different management based on the political party in charge).

It is important to note a few things if lifting the boat. A liability insurance policy which covers the boat on the hard is required if you intend to lift out. Policies to cover this, if yours does not, can be purchased locally if required for a reasonable price. We ended up purchasing a Uruguay policy through Mapfre which covered us for sailing as well all the way down to Ushuaia. Also, you can not sleep on the boat or stay overnight in the boatyard (when on the hard), other land based accommodations will be required. Lastly, the yard is specific regarding work hours which when we were there were roughly from daylight to 8pm. There are multiple security guards on site 24 hours a day, which is great for security, but don’t expect to accomplish that one last project before the end of the day as a few of the guards take their jobs, at least in our opinion maybe a bit to seriously when it comes to yacht owners trying to finish the last coat of paint at twilight.

Don’t forget to visit Alejandro and his son Gabriel at SAMS Nautical Supply just down the street from the marina for things you need. Alejandro has crossed many oceans and Gabriel races often in the local regatta circuit. Both are knowledgeable and helpful, and his store has most essentials, but also caters to the many local fisherman and his inventory requires adjusting as such. It is possible to ship things into the country here. Taxes can be waived for Yachts In Transit but a Uruguay licensed broker is required for this. We sent in sails, electronics, etc. It is best to do this all in one large shipment as the great expense is in the brokerage and handling fees. However our items arrived on schedule and were delivered directly to our boat in the port via a sealed truck and lots of stamped paperwork.

There are good tradesmen here, but as with anything in South America or anywhere else for that matter, discuss the expectations, scope of work, timeline, and cost before starting any project. We suggest using WhatsApp and documenting things in writing. Uruguay has an excellent legal system, and agreements in writing are held to a high standard. The workers are very proud here, which is a good thing in a way, but sometimes take any sort of direction or specific requirements mid work as criticism and may react accordingly. The safety precautions, finish work, materials, are normally below what would be seen in a North American or European boatyard, but excellent work can be accomplished with good communication and a bit of extra time. For example, our bottom painter, Chris, has the skills to service yachts anywhere in the world, and took excellent care to deliver a top level finish if asked for. As an added bonus, his father worked in the marina and helped establish the travel lift here which was brought in for the original Whitbread Round the World Race!

Uruguay in general is a wonderful country. We rented a car and drove around. It is a safe country and the people are very friendly. There is good food, wine, and the beaches are amazing. Any tastes can be accommodated for from those that enjoy the city and fine hotels to those that enjoy the countryside and van life expat surf bums. As with anywhere in some areas of the cities, take the same precautions as in the USA. The international airport is very good. Health care in Montevideo is very good and we even found private healthcare here is more affordable than in the USA. We visited the British Hospital and found its standards to be as high as any in the USA, received more personal care, and much more economical.

Overall, Piriapolis and Uruguay are places worth visiting!

Contacts and Helpful Stores:

Boat Painter

Rental House/Apartment






Rental Car

Shipping Broker


Location of Customs, Armada, Port Capt.

2. Puerto Espanol

This anchorage is the first good anchorage after passing through the Le Maire Straight from the north. It was our first rest stop after during the sail directly from Uruguay. It is also a good stopping point, if coming from the South or West to wait for favorable tide and conditions to enter the straight. Holding is good on a mud/sand bottom and one can and should swing at anchor here. The land does funnel wind, so be prepared for strong gusts, especially with a strong Westerly or Northerly wind. The beach landing was difficult due to breaking waves but would be possible. It is protected from the North and West but is open to the South East. We only stayed here briefly to rest before pressing onward into the Beagle Channel.

3. Puerto Toro

This is very much an outpost, but a wonderful stop. One large dock/pier, protected in all but strong north winds, prepare to leave the dock if the wind is forecast to build from the north. Dock is empty when crab (centolla) fishing is not in operation, but one side should be left clear for military boat arrival. The Armada “alcamar” (light house captain) will invite you to dock. have large fenders available as the pier is a working pier and does expose barnacles at low tide. There is plenty of draft, even at low tide and the approach is very easy. Two large navy mooring buoys are also available if you prefer not to dock. Anchoring was not suggested here due to poor holding.

A good place for hikes. Only 2 permanent civilian residents. The rest are naval personnel and caribineros (state police). Small fisherman church. There is a small store here that stocks a few frozen items, snacks, and sodas. Empanadas or bread may be possible to buy if asked for. Bring a few fresh veggies and chocolates for the kids from Puerto Williams for gifts to the Alcamar and his family, and maybe share a few beers with the Caribineros and you may be the most popular people in town for the days you are there. Everyone was very nice and helpful here.

Some big backcountry hikes are possible here.

4. Cape Horn – Isla Hermite

We stopped at this anchorage after rounding Cape Horn from the East to West. It is well tucked up in the center of the archipelago. On the chart it seems to offer little protection from North winds but was surprisingly a very solid place in all directions. It is very well protected. Its only downfault is the encumbering kelp here. The “Blue Book” says one can swing at anchor here, and while it is likely possible, we would not recommend it as there is too much kelp. One should set the anchor and back into the cove in one shot, careful not to be blown into the rocks with the williwaws, securing a shore line quickly. While bringing up the anchor here we collected so much kelp that our 33kg Rocna anchor was floating on it! We suggest because of this one choose the more often used anchorage at Caleta Martial as a primary goal before or after rounding the horn.

5. Puerto Williams

This place was hard to leave! If you are looking for an out of the way place, surrounded with natural beauty, with a small town atmosphere, this may very well be one of the best places on earth. Did you think you can find a place where there are still wild horses running free, this is it. Most of all, for sailors, it is the home to the famous Yacht Club Micalvi, the southernmost yacht club in the world. The future hasn’t arrived here yet, but we can see it beginning to encroach in the form of cruise ships.

If you have youngsters aboard, make sure to contact the Cedena sailing school ahead of time. There is a wonderful sailing instruction program there and they are happy to have short term exchange students! Sometimes they have a sailors barbecue, so be on the lookout for smoke from the chimney on a Friday or Saturday night. Bring a contribution and something to share and your own drinks.

Ordering parts in and flights in/out are difficult. Post is slow due to its arrival by the ferry from Punta Arenas, which can take an extra two weeks above any quoted online shipping time. The airport is small, and there is at the most one flight a day to and from Punta Arenas, and that is on good days. It is best to bring anything critical with you aboard your boat.

Checking in here as your first port of arrival is easy. The main port is very open with plenty of room to anchor, although it is deep. There are a few mooring buoys placed by the Armada which visitors can use in the outside harbor, on the west side, near the airport. Contact the Port Captain by hailing “Puerto Williams Radio, Puerto Williams Radio” on VHF channel 16 (radio is pronounced rah-dee-oh). Let them know if you intend to enter the smaller harbor which is the best home for yachts. Here you can take a mooring ball or raft off of other boats at the Micalvi. Stay mid channel when entering the smaller harbor, the edges shoal quickly, especially near the large red buoy on shore by the road.

If you properly radioed the Armada on arrival, they will arrange for officials to meet you on the deck of the Micalvi. From there it is a short walk to the Port Captain’s office, Immigration, Customs, and finally back to the Port Captain where you can obtain your next Zarpe (sailing papers). We found all officials to be helpful and friendly here. There is a small charge for docking here.

There are several stores for provisions. A very good grocery store called Simon & Simon. Entel prepaid SIM cards for Chile could be found at the blue & yellow store across the street. There are multiple vegetable stands and bakeries and hardware stores. All of your basic needs can be attended to here, just don’t expect them to have everything in stock, it is a small town after all. We found two places which provided laundry services. US propane tanks could be filled by leaving them at the Micalvi where they would be picked up and re-delivered full. Fuel was best done by jerry cans. It is possible to take your dinghy to the rocky beach in front of the fuel station, but better to arrange for a pickup truck to shuttle you. We were able to rent a car in town and explore the island quickly. Great hikes are also a short walk away from the Micalvi.


Cedena Sailing School


Sailing Routes GPS from Narciso


Provisioning Simon & Simon

Hardware and Clothing

6. Ushuaia

Ushuaia is a full service town. There are hotels, restaurants, a casino, and many touristic activities. The airport has several flights available. Ushuaia is the hub for Antarctic sailing charters and many large cruise ships. Checking in here is an adventure of its own, requiring several stops across town and lots of copies of paperwork. The officials were all friendly, but very official. Expect to spend at least 1/2 day, and up to two days depending on your time of arrival, navigating the maze of chicken procedures.

There are excellent grocery stores and beverage suppliers. Expect to find a great selection of meats and wines. Provisioning here with the US dollar and in cash gets your the Argentine “blue dollar” exchange rate, which can make your dollar go much further for purchases. This is especially true surrounding provisions.

Don’t expect much here though in the way of chandlers. There is no store for yachts here. We found only stores catering to day skiing tourists and no hardcore gear outfitters. Some good hardware stores can be found to supply ropes and more commercial worker type outdoor gear.

The Club Afysn is the best dock in the area, but beware that it can be very busy with Antarctic charter boat operations, almost all of which use the club as their base of operations. Because it can be busy, we recommend you contact them ahead of time if you plan to dock. When we arrived the moorings were full and rafting was required. Some services are available, but any decent sized sailboat is better served in Buenos Aires, Piriapolis, Itajai, or Puerto Montt. The Antarctic charter yachts lean more toward working steel ships than yachts, keep this in mind if arriving in a smaller or light fiberglass boat. The club is a very long walk from town, and taxis do not like to come all the way out there. Prepare for a wait for a ride in to town. We were lucky enough that a generous member offered to drive us to town a few times.

There is another dock which caters to sailboats closer to town, a shoal draft is required there.

We didn’t stay long, just enough really for a passport stamp run to renew our visas for entering the fjords after a long stay in Puerto Williams. We did find the time to sneak in a helicopter tour at the nearby airport, which is highly recommended.

Before entering the Chilean Fjords from the East, one must return to Puerto Williams to check back into Chile. This maneuver also provides an excellent visa extension to allow for maximum time enjoying the wilderness. Keep in mind there are no services past Ushuaia for at least 300 miles if backtracking to Punta Arenas, and over 600 miles if the next planned stop is Puerto Eden.

WhatsApp For Club Afysn

7. Caleta Liwaia

This was our first stop when headed west from Puerto Williams. The entrance is somewhat hard to see at first, but is clear of obstructions mid channel. There is little kelp in this anchorage and landing ashore is easy. There is plenty of space here to sort out your first try at shore ties. It is well protected from Westerly winds and calm when the Beagle Channel is roaring. There is possible hiking available on shore on cow trails if you are willing to push through the brush a bit.

8. Caleta Olla

This is a wonderful bay to stop in. It is well used by charter boats in the region and for good reason. The entrance is easy, it is very well protected, and the sand holding is excellent. Landing on the beach shore is very easy. It also has great hiking and is in close proximity to a large glacier, the first one you will see upon entering the Northern Arm of the Beagle (Paso Bravo Norte).  The beach is shallow and does extend out far from shore, take care when backing in here. We saw Guanaco here and took a long hike up the mountain.

Past this caleta you are entering into very remote waters. The Navy does patrol here in ships, but one does need to be well prepared here and take safety first.

9. Seno Pia Glacier

This large fjord has multiple anchoring options. Although the entrance can be initially intimidating, there is plenty of room. All shoals provide plenty of depth for most yachts to easily navigate. Large cruise ships even enter here. If you are lucky you can find a rare day to have this whole fjord system to yourself, on others there can be multiple charter boats and cruise ships. There is excellent hiking with a trail starting just behind where we anchored.

Beware of ice here and the neighboring fjord. While we were here the bay froze over and we were frozen into our anchorage for a short time. We also encountered large truck sized growlers which have calved off of the three large glaciers.

It is possible to swing at anchor here, but due to the depths we found backing in with shore ties up to the trees was best.

10. Caleta Aklush

Dolphins abounded here. This is a small nook in an uncharted bay on an island in the center of the channel. There is some kelp and one should be quick with a shore tie if it is windy as williwaws will come over the top of the island and spread into the narrow anchorage. The anchorage is free of major obstructions but due take care and stay mid channel on entry and exit. The beach shoals quickly, we dropped our anchor in 35 feet of water and backed into 15 feet of water. It is easy to go ashore here. This island can be explored by foot and has excellent views. We found an old fisherman’s survival hut, one could have a small campfire ashore here if they were so inclined.  If there is a strong easterly (very rare) this bay could become dangerous to stay in.

11. Caleta Silvia / Puerto Engano

This is the last stop before crossing the very exposed Canal Ballenero. Boats are guided in by two manikins dressed in yellow overalls, a spooky sight upon entrance in the wilderness. Many boats that have stopped before have left their mark here on a few trees. There is a wonderful stream and waterfall for fresh water. Land on shore is easy, there is quite a bit of kelp in the inner harbor though. It is possible to swing at anchor in the outer harbor.

One may have to wait several days here for a weather window to cross the canal, which is open to the prevailing westerly winds and can cause dangerous or at least difficult sailing conditions.

12. Caleta Brecknock

This was our next stop after Caleta Silvia. It is perhaps one of the most beautiful fjord anchorages of the area. It is simply stunning and must be seen for itself. We anchored and backed into the small nook and secured ourselves with 4 shore lines. There are other spots available, including tying to the rock wall, which we passed on! Maybe next time. The williwaws here can be quite extreme. Entry to the caleta is easy and free of obstructions.

The hiking and trekking here is absolutely amazing. We only stayed one day, which was not enough. We wish we could have spent much more time here exploring the small lakes and wind stripped glacial rock formations.

There is no radio contact here due to the surrounding high mountains.

13. Caleta Tarmac II (North)

Our next stop as we decided to take the uncharted Paso Aguila and Canal Barberra to the north. This is a narrow anchorage with only room for one boat. We encountered strong winds here as we waited out a deep low pressure system. This was the only place where we put out more than 4 shore lines, and we wouldn’t have complained if we had more than 6! We were getting tossed around by wind gusts and williwaws as it was blowing over 60 on the other side of the islands just out in the ocean.

It was easy to land on the beach here, and one can explore a bit, especially by dinghy or kayak, but there was thick brush which made penetration into the islands upper areas extremely difficult if not impossible.

Although uncharted we found no major dangers here, with the exception of a large rock on the south side just at the tip of entrance to the anchorage. It is surrounded by kelp, so stay out of the green stuff and you are OK!

14. Puerto Nutland

Aside from the funny name, this is a great spot. Some shore hiking is available in the small bay. There is also a salmon stream for fishing! It is a bit open to the NE, so be aware of the weather. This is an excellent spot at the North end of Canal Barberra to wait for the proper tides to pass through Paso Shag. There is another glacier nearby which would be a great side trip for a day sail.

15. Bahia Mussel 1

Bahia Mussel is famous for its Humpback Whale sanctuary. In fact we did see 3 large whales on our way to this anchorage. They were huge, and were on a crossing path with our boat, so we stopped and waited for a bit to allow them to pass by.

There is considerable kelp here, and we also found a fisherman’s line was across the anchorage. We anchored and backed up to the fisherman’s line, securing our stern to it to allow us to take our time with our own shore lines. We waited through another considerable storm here, which caused some storm surge, flooding the surrounding anchorage and submerging our shore tie locations which were above normal high water. We found this anchorage well sheltered and an excellent place to wait out strong weather. One has a view here of the Magellan Strait so the conditions outside can be easily monitored and ships can be seen passing by.

It is a good place to wait while timing the passage through Paso Tortuoso’s strong tidal currents. One can go ashore here and walk around a bit. The Armada has an outpost on the other side of the island, which we did not approach, but it almost seemed like we were back in civilization!

16. Bahia Fortuna

Although we wanted to spend more time in the deep south, it was time to get moving Northward, as by this point supplies were starting to run a bit low. We decided to take an excellent weather window and motor sail overnight in the Magellan Strait and push as far North as we could to avoid yet another passing low pressure.

Bahia Fortuna is an excellent spot to stop. No shore lines are needed, but it is a deep-ish anchorage. While we were there a supply tug also came in and anchored next to us in the night. This is a place that can be entered at night and with radar if needed. It may not be good in rare east winds.

17. Caleta Columbine

This is another easy stop not requiring shore lines. It has a nice beach to land on and stroll, with some possible decent hikes. There was some kelp which prevented our anchor from setting the first time. We anchored a bit deeper than normal and found the holding to be OK. This bay is open to South winds and can get choppy in a moderate to strong southerly, as it did for us, causing us to leave in the darkness.

18. Puerto Mayne

This is an amazing protected set of coves which seem like two small lakes. Anchoring is difficult as it is very deep, but there are several locations to choose from in the “Blue Book”. We found our location had excellent holding and we shore tied to the rocks behind. This was an extremely well sheltered location and felt as if we were on a pond. Lots of exploration is safely available by dinghy, kayak or paddleboard here. There were many dolphins which called this harbor home. This is a place we would have liked to stay a few more days to explore in more detail. There are a few streams which likely offer good fishing, and firewood can be found here.

19. Puerto Bueno

This stop is appropriately named. Puerto Bueno is well charted and very safe. There is a small lighthouse which marks the entrance. Take care to enter on the South side of Isla Payner as the North side is a false passage which uncovers at low tide. It is an excellent and well sheltered stop, offering several anchorages depending on the forecasted winds. We chose to set our anchor in the Northwest cove where a fisherman’s mooring line was strung across the caleta. We set our anchor and backed to it, then set 4 shore ties.

Here we explored the entire area by dinghy and took several different hikes. Small hikes are easy here and there is a trail which leads from near the waterfall on the North end through to the freshwater lake behind the cove. This hike can be easily extened up into the hills with a little bit of extra effort and bushwacking. We found evidence of glacial grooves and boulders here indicating that the this area was once covered in ice long ago!

We waited out yet another low here for several days and spent time here to edit the Cape Horn video. The williwas can be gusty so shore lines are recommended. It is also possible to anchor here and swing. There may be excellent fishing in this area and there was excellent bird watching and a few sea lions. A hike to the top of the hill allows for a view of the main canal. Ships pass here often en route to the Magellan.

20. Bahia Hugh

This is a great hurricane hole! Both ourselves and our friends on the catamaran stopped here several days apart. We referred to it as “The Fortress.”

Although the entrance to the main bay is more difficult than some of the others and can be moderately challenging, it is well charted and once inside things calm down. We would not recommend attempting to enter here at night or in strong winds, at least for the first time. Inside the bay on the West side is a small caleta hidden by an island. Although narrow it is possible to pass on the South side of this small island with moderate draft and tuck into one of the most protected anchorages we have ever been in.

Surrounded by hills with high trees, it does not offer much in the way of shoreside activities, but your boat will not move an inch in even the strongest winds. We set our anchor and backed to the trees with two shore lines. There were several dolphins which escorted us while tying shore lines. Fishing may be good here.

21. Caleta Neruda

This anchorage offers amazing protection from all but the strongest southerlies. Caleta Neruda is just off the edge of the channel, allowing a quick in and out rest stop but is a bit hard to find, tucked into Isla Topar just after passing Paso Caffin. The approach does have some kelp, which we picked up in our intake, take care with this. Once inside it is very deep and we set out 4 shore ties along with a lightly set deep anchor. The tall sides protected us from all but the strongest gusts. There was a small stream and an old fishermans camp. We attempted to hike but could not find any trails. It would be possible to gather water here. Once again, there were many dolphins here.

22. Caleta Refugio

This caleta is a bit hard to find, and may have other names on different charts. Although uncharted we found the entrance safe and had no issues. It is likely possible to swing at anchor here, but we chose to shore tie just in case. We had some wonderful hikes here, there is an excellent stream and some lakes. We waited here for ice to clear which was coming down from the Pia XI glacier. When we passed through in May we found bergie bits, growlers, and some ice bergs the size of our boat. These caused danger to our navigation so we waited for them to clear. There was a view of the chanel from the anchorge and it might be possible here to toss out a fishing line and grab dinner from the sea.

23. Caleta Grau

Our last stop before Puerto Eden as Caleta Grau. This is just a small cutout in Isla Wellington and is well charted. The approach is easy. We backed in and set 4 shore lines. There was a small stream and water could be gathered. We attempted to hike but our progress was stopped by thick brush. It is open to the South East, so care should be taken if winds shift.

24. Puerto Eden

Puerto Eden is a must stop on the way through. You literally can’t miss it on your way through the fjords if sailing between Puerto Williams and Puerto Montt. This small town is lost in time. There are no roads and travel on the island is by boat or by board walks connecting all of the buildings. It is the last outpost of the Kaweskar Indians in Chile, one of the original inhabitants of Patagonia. Very few remain, but those that are there are keen to share their culture with tourists.

Everything on the island must come in with a long ride aboard a ferry ship. Expect to pay double here for any provision, be it food, fuel, or otherwise. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be had here, but there is a limited selection depending on the time of arrival. It is possible to change crew here via the Navimag ferry, or even get parts brought in, but this is an expensive proposition. A friend left his boat here on a mooring, watched by local fisherman, and traveled back to Puerto Montt to retrieve needed engine parts.

Also keep in mind that the ferry can at times be delayed by weather in Gulfo de Penas. At times provisions here, even for the local residents, can become extremely low. Diesel comes in in drums. Be careful to buy from sealed drums here and not old diesel offloaded to fisherman from salmon farms. Dirty diesel is a possibility here if you are not careful. We recommend contacting the supplier on the island ahead of time if you require any significant quantity, only a small amount of extra fuel is kept on hand for emergencies.

The approach to the harbor is a bit complex, but nothing out of the ordinary once you have made it this far into the canals. The holding is good. It is well protected but can be gusty. The charts are accurate and multiple anchorages can be had nearby depending on the conditions. When anchoring keep clear of the ferry dock and Caribinero dock. You can also take a buoy in front of the Armada station, but this is further from the main center of town. Make sure to call the Armada on arrival and check in, likely a radio call is all that is needed, but unlike all of the other small caletas since leaving Puerto Willams, this is a true port and must be treated as such.

Walking the boardwalk is the thing to do here. It is interesting to see the repairs of old wooden fishing boats. The last Patagonian canoe maker is still here. There is an old cemetery. Day hikes, kayaking, and more remote excursions are available as touristic activities.

Fuel Contact

Convenience/Liquor Store Contact

Grocery Contact

Alternative Fuel Contact

Navimag Ferry Link

25. Caleta Sabauda

This anchorage is protected from all winds and offers a small cove which you can back into and 4 point shore tie plus anchor or a larger area which you can swing at anchor. When we were here we shared the anchorage with S/V Artemis, who has shared their drone shots with us. The entry is easy. In the small caleta with shore ties, beware of rocks on the eastern which will be visible at low water. This is an excellent heavy weather anchorage if needing a place to wait out a big system funneling winds from the north.


26. Caleta Yvonne

The canals widen a bit at this point and Caleta Yvonne is on the east side after passing the sunken ship mid channel. A note on the ship, it can be approached closely and one could like dock on its port side in very calm conditions, beware of entering it though as the Armada has shelled it as target practice. We anchored in the western part of the small bay while waiting for a weather window to cross Gulfo de Penas. The entry to Caleta Yvonne is fairly simple, we backed in and shore tied here with two lines astern.


*Gulfo de Penas* (Gulf of Sorrows)

A note about Gulfo de Penas. Be prepared in this area. We found this crossing to be a challenge. We had to wait almost one week before making this crossing due to strong conditions offshore. Even large ships find trouble here and the waves and current can push you up against a dangrous lee shore. It is perhaps an even greater challenge than rounding Cape Horn, and the local Chileans speak of this area with great respect. We chose to use a weather window which presented a strong but dying south wind as the crossing from anchorage to anchorage took just over 24 hours. This brought large southern ocean waves up the coast. Great for fast sailing, but for those which may get seasick be prepared for this as it is a dramatic change in sea state from inside the canals.

27. Caleta Mariuccia

We are now north of Gulfo De Penas. This anchorage is a little off the beaten path and hard to spot, but an excellent place. Fresh water is available from a small waterfall. There are three places to anchor. The first is a small caleta with a fishermans line which one could side tie to, we didn’t try this as we could see some rocks in the area. The second is the possibility to swing at anchor in the bay, which is what our friends on SV Artemis chose to do when they joined us here. The third is a small caleta in the northern portion which affords great protection. The small caleta has a fishermans line, which we stern tied to and strung out 4 shore lines to securely lock in. We took some dinghy excursions here to explore the area in more depth, finding a large stream on a small beach across the main channel as well as some other small caletas which sea lions called home. Keep in mind the canal approaching this caleta is uncharted and there are a few small rocks which could present a danger but are easily avoided. Keep a bow watch just in case.

28. Caleta Vidal

This is a wide bay with a nice sand bottom which allows for many mooring options. The charts for this bay are good. We chose to swing at anchor as a fishing boat from the local salmon farm had occupied the smaller caleta which was strung across with fisherman mooring lines. It provided a place to get fresh water as well as a nice beach to walk.

29. Puerto Aguirre

Puerto Aguiree will be the first available marina dock between Puerto Williams and Puerto Montt. It is the southernmost true marina floating dock in Chile. It is small, with only up to 8 spaces available depending on the size of the boats it is hosting at the time. If there is a large yacht or a catamaran or two it could be completely full. Strong winds usually come from the North here, and the large fishing and Navy dock protects the Marina.

When we arrived the Navy asked that we visit their office to check in, it was a short walk away and we were greeted with smiles.

Fuel can be purchased here, but be prepared to use jerry cans and pay in cash. There are limited stores for groceries, but the bare minimums can be easily purchased here. There are not much in the way of restaurants, and those that are listed as such on google may offer some “extra” services, if you know what I mean. Let’s just leave it at that. When we were there, there was a good mechanic and welder who used to work as an engineer for the Navy, but most services are centered around the local fishing fleet.

There is a wonderful nature reserve and park with a gorgeous walk, this is a can’t miss if stopping here. There is also a nice hike to a lookout atop the island with brilliant 360 views.

The manager at Puerto Aguiree Marina, Jaime, was a wonderful and helpful host. He speaks some English and is very helpful. He has a boat of his own and takes great care for the yachts there. Crew changes are possible here, some friends also left their boat long term and flew home for some time with good results. Jaime may be able to arrange for any additional needs you have while there.

WhatsApp for Jaime at the Marina

Website for Marina

30. Caleta Olea

This is a wonderful stop on a small island just north of Puerto Aguirre, just before the channel widens again. Be aware of rocks on your port side when entering that only show at low water. There is room for multiple boats here, and when we were there a local fishing boat joined us. We anchored in the sand bottom and tide stern to with two lines, and put out a third line from the bow to the small point for extra security as srong winds were forecast. Some small waves and wind did filter in during a period of heavy weather, but nothing that was overly disturbing when strongly anchored. The fishing boat that joined us was able to tie bow to stern across the bay. There is a small hiking trail which leads from the beach where you can walk through to see the channel on the other side, and further to a fishermans house in another smaller caleta.

One note here, on the beach we did find lots of trash from the local salmon farms. Everything from plastic pipes and ropes to batteries. It was a sad reminder that we were one again becoming closer to civilization as we proceeded northward. It has been reported to us that the island has been purchased by a salmon farm and the fisherman’s house is no longer inhabited.

31. Caleta Brooks

This caleta is tucked into a small seno which leads between islands. We anchored and tied two lines to shore just to the SE of the waterfall. Beware of water pipes with floating ropes in front of the waterfall which could become entangled in your prop, they are hard to see. You can use these to haul up a pipe and bring fresh water aboard though as the fishing boats do here. There are some small areas to explore on shore and it is possible but difficult to climb a bit up the waterfall.

Roxy was keen on a creature here, and we had a visitor on deck during the night. A marmot type animal which climbed our anchor chain and explored our boat and decided to hide out underneath our dodger. Roxy awoke us to this and Curtis decided to turn the lights on and stick his head out the companionway to have a look around, startling the creature which jumped over his head and scurried off the back of the boat and into the water. We could see him/her swimming in the water around the boat afterward, likely just as startled as we were!

We explored this fjord completely with the boat, but beware of uncharted large rocks and shallow areas. A bow watch is an absolute must if attempting to go deeper into this fjord and passing through to the other channel. A small caleta with fisherman’s lines is on the other side, but we found anchoring here too risky as it was required to pass over some shallow and quite large rocky areas to enter it.

32. Isla Jechica

This is a highly reccomended stop on the trip! It is a beautiful sail deep into the island where the small marina is located. We were greeted by the two lone caretakes, a father and son from Columbia who kept the place during the winter. The luxurious resort facilities were wonderful though closed for the winter. Showers, cabanas (small rental houses), beautiful bar, restaurant, and HOT TUBS!

As the resort was closed for the winter we were allowed to stay overnight on the dock free of charge after the caretakers obtained permission from the owners. In exchange Curtis got out the power tools to assist our new caretaker friends with some dock work and we made them a taco dinner with ground beef from our freezer, a great surprise for them as the caretakers have little resources on hand and don’t see any re-provisions for several months over the course of the winter.

The docks here are good and your anchor isn’t needed. There are wonderfully maintained walking trails on the island, the best of which allows a hike to the top of the island for a 360 view. After a long slog up the channels this place was a welcome reprieve from the boat!

We hope to visit here again!

33. Caleta Momia

This anchorage is just to the south of the small island town of Melinka. Even though rather open, it is well sheltered from waves and has an excellent sand/mud bottom which our anchor gripped tightly to. We used no shore lines here. There is another small caleta which we could tie into here, but we didn’t find the need for extra protection as we waited for southerly winds and incoming tide to cross the entrance to Gulfo Ancud and on to Chiloe.

The crossing from Melinka to Chiloe is another portion which you may see ocean conditions and is recommended only in good weather and with following wind and current.

You will begin to see an increase in ship and fishing boat traffic in this area. The islands start to become more populated as you go north and many are serviced by small roll on/off barges which crisscross the bays providing services to land owners and fish farms.

34. Puerto San Pedro

This is an excellent small but deep nook! There is a farm on shore but we did not visit as it was private. The anchorage is very deep but well protected and beautiful. We stayed here only for one night and in light winds. Several other fishing and ferry boats use this as an overnight anchorage as well, be sure to properly light your boat here at night to avoid any uncomfortable moments.

35. Estero Pellu

This island in the middle of the Gulf of Ancud is wonderful. The clear water bay is wide an easy to enter with a wonderful sand bottom. Don’t approach the shore too closely as the tides here are large and the bottom slopes gradually. It is possible to approach the docks at high water in a sailboat.

This is a great island to walk around and see the local culture. There is also a small tidal river which allows you to take a dinghy into a small lagoon in the center of the island. We would highly recommend this excursion, you could even take your sailboat through here at high water and anchor in the interior lagoon, but we wouldn’t recommend this without local knowledge or a dinghy scout.

36. Puerto Calbuco

We decided to ride a strong southerly and bypass most of Chiloe to get to Puerto Montt as our visas were expiring. We pushed passed our intended anchorage and decided to sail to Calbuco at night (we had a wonderful following breeze and were making 6 knots downwind with only the jib). This was a BIG MISTAKE! The area around Calbuco is filled with Chorito Farms (lines of buoys to grow oysters) and Salmon Farms! It is literally littered with buoys and obstructions, most of which you can not see on radar and are black, grey, or green, so almost invisible at night! Furthermore there is an immense amount of boat traffic here. Boats were zipping at high speed in the blackness in all directions, most of which did not expect a sailboat or understand our lights. We ended up using all of our running lights and turning our deck lights on as well as using a spotlight.

Through all of our racing and offshore sailing we are very confident navigating at night, this was a nightmare however and we had several close calls. Navigate this area during the day or avoid it completely by taking southern passage into Gulfo Reloncavi.

We also found all of the spots which are supposed to offer good anchorages to be filled with fish and chorito farms. The inner harbor was filled with ferry traffic and small boats. We ended up anchoring in 90 feet of water in the ship anchorage as we found it more prudent than entering the small buoy filled bays at night. Likely we could have had a better experience if we didn’t go through here in the night.

We are well adapted to night time navigation through all of our offshore sailing, racing, and exploration of new to us waters. This was a level up though!

Unfortunately we didn’t take any photos here. We arrived in the dark and left first thing in the morning.

37. Puerto Montt

Arriving in Puerto Montt you will see things have changed just a bit from the description in the Blue Book. It has grown a bit and has become much more industrialized with the main industry being salmon farms. Large ships have taken over Marina Oxean, it is no longer a place for yachts. Even getting fuel here is difficult as normally the fuel dock is filled with large fishing vessels fueling for many hours. We fueled via taxi cab and jerry cans at the Copec gas station for cars. Fuel can also be obtained in larger quantities (at least 200 liters or more) via truck brought to Club Nautico Reloncavi, where it will meet you at the travel lift dock. This has to be done at high tide and with no other boats scheduled to launch.

One thing that was awesome was upon arrival Club Nautico Reloncavi had a dock waiting for us as we messaged ahead on WhatsApp, and the dockhands and marina staff were excellent, kind, and some of the best line handlers we have seen. They are professional and will do a wonderful job helping you get settled. Don’t forget to say hello to the two friendly marina dogs and give them a pet which keep the docks clear of birds and more importantly the harbor and boat swim platforms clear of sea-lions!

Services can be had here. Most everything is available, but keep in mind, this is South America. Your selection of products may be limited, and some service providers may not have your same sense of urgency for completion of projects. It may be best to import some service providers from Valprasio or Santiago if in need of higher end race boat or fine yacht services.

Products can be bought online from Europe or the USA and shipped here. Customs can be very slow at times, so keep this in mind. We have had some items arrived on schedule via UPS, and some not. A friend had a package waiting in customs for a month. It really seems to be a roll of the dice with no specific reason for delays. Keep this in mind for timing of critical items and make sure to have all paperwork in order before shipping. The marina does a good job of receiving packages and the office staff is helpful.

We also had some good and bad experience with service providers. Some wanting to charge more than what was agreed, and some with inferior quality work that cost us more time and money to repair their damages than the service was worth. Use caution, agree on price before hand, and supervise closely. We found that Marina Sur has more “yacht focused” workers available than Club Nautico Reloncavi, the the prices are higher at the former. Both places had friendly staff. The constant flow of fishing boats heading to Marina Oxean to refuel continually rock the docks at Reloncavi, so have extra fenders and dock lines at the ready. The traffic generally slows to a halt at night, so sleeping on board is ok. Both marinas have restaurants that serve lunches only, but they are 3 courses and usually excellent at a fair price. The water is potable on the docks.

There is a good selection of Garmin, Furuno, and Raymarine parts but no B&G or Simrad. The local chandlery has most critical items, but they may not be the brand or exact type you want. It is far from the Budget Marine selection in Sint Maarten, but much better than nothing! The sailmaker there can handle most repairs and is a friendly and helpful guy, but there is only one and therefor a backlog of work. The local certified Yanmar mechanic (Lennar) is good, but he also is in great demand and scheduling can be difficult without speaking Spanish fluently on the phone. There are two large grocery stores that rival the size of any Wal-Mart in North America, Lider and Jumbo, and countless other small ones that can be used for provisioning. There are many hardware stores and specialists, we will attempt to list the ones below and detail our experience with each.

Navy, Agriculture, Immigration, and Customs are slightly more strict here than Puerto Montt. Nothing to worry about, everyone is good, but expect big city, rather than small town, treatment here, and with it a slight increase in the bureaucratic norms vs the deep south.



Boat Washing



This is possibly some of the most challenging sailing we have done! Going up the Patagonian canals in the winter was amazing, but difficult. The short days, cold, lack of sun, immense amounts of rain, headwinds, and adverse current makes this a tough passage. Would we do it again? We are split 50/50 on it. Kate says no way, or at least not without a boat with more insulation. Curtis says lets ride the pain train again as the experience of sailing the canals is truly amazing! We did find it well worth spending extra time in the Tierra del Fuego, Cape Horn, and Puerto Williams areas during the austral summer.

We are now turning south again to explore more of Patagonia during the summer. We will create more posts as we explore more areas. We can so far say though that the summer presents a much different experience. Long days, sun, solar power, and warm enough to sail at times with bare feet and short sleeves. Did we mention the thermal hot springs? Patagonia is delivering on all promises!

  • John Stanham
    Posted at 01:52h, 28 December

    As beautiful as stunning recount of the trip. I have been following the journey of others in the South as in the Northern Passage.
    You are professional sailors taking on a massive challenge sailing Cape Horn East to the Southern Hemisphere Winter. As an amateur sailor this is a learning experience to me. Thank you!

  • Richard Mabee
    Posted at 15:32h, 28 December

    Wow, That’s a lot of work! Great job!