Ushuaia is a city of 70,000 nestled at the foot of a snow-covered mountain range. Its various elevations afford magnificent views of Beagle Canal. This is the southernmost port in the world of any significant size. Cruise ships bound for Antarctica anchor here. Some big fishing boats are moored alongside the big wharf at the commercial port, along with a container ship that has come to fill its coffers at this booming city. In the past 20 years, the population of Ushuaia has doubled. At the bottom of the world, this is the place to be. People come to Ushuaia to visit remote places, but it is somewhat frustrating. Cape Horn, Chile, is inaccessible; it’s too far away and too windy. Only a few cruising sailboats offer tours of a week or more out to the terrible cape, or two-week tours that include the Patagonian canals. You can’t really envision the Great South from here; you can’t see the horizon, like at Cap Nord or Pointe du Raz. The Great South is reserved for sailors.
Beagle Canal, which separates Chile and Argentina, has been a source of conflict for many years. Not long ago, cannons were still aimed across it from both sides. Cape Horn belongs to Chile, as do all of the canals going north, a source of bitterness for Argentina. The Andes end here. Glaciers empty into the sénos, the word for fjords in this area. It is magnificently beautiful, and there is ice even in the forests. The winds are strong, but the light is unlike anywhere else. The Fleur Australe is taking advantage of a calm day, with no wind whistling through the sheets, to replace the propeller. Here the tide range* is relatively small, just over one meter.
That should be enough to allow us access to the propeller. We brought the boat aground on a shingle beach at around 8:00 this morning, and Philou put on his dive suit at around noon to begin the disassembly process.
This must be done underwater, but only the lower body and hands are submerged. After a few hitches, the propeller was finally removed and the new one installed. By 19:00 we were able to start the engine and move over to our anchorage. We tied up next to Paratii 2, a Brazilian schooner. ?
*Tide range: difference in level between high tide and low tide.