by Greg Landreth
February 13, 2016
We have now parked the boat in a place called Puerto Barosso, a favourite anchorage for the(few) fishernmen who are working the seaweed harvest in these parts. It is easy to see why they choose this place, parked right on the edge of the Gulf OF Penas as it is. Yesterday we were working our way slowly across the Gulf from the east doing the CTD casts when a strong breeze from the north started to work on the long SW swells. We took a last cast right out in the middle of the Gulf, (the one I thought we would not be able to get, as it was the furthest out!) and scarpered for shelter. Fortunately we had been in here before and I was able to follow my GPS track from last year. Even so, it is a great relief to know that the entrance is uncomplicated, free of dangers, and the anchor holds well.
Saoirse is well equipped to be sneaking into these kinds of places in the dark, It must be
noted that this area is very thinly explored, even the charts I have of this bay are up to
two miles out. Our late arrival this time was due to an amazing discovery some 40 miles away on the other side of the Gulf. Yesterday I had threaded the needle in reverse, following Saoirse’s track out of the narrows guarding the inner anchorage at Seno Escondido. With the San Quintin Glacier again as backdrop, Saoirse ran back east down the coast, shepherding Keri and the “girls” who were surveying the whale skeletons in the dinghy back down towards the end of Peninsula Forelius. The idea was to rendezvous there and scope out a possible anchorage for the night, ready to take on the crossing of the Gulf early the next morning since the weather forecast was as promising as it could be. Entering a huge shallow bay, I could only get the boat to within a mile and a half of the beach. Snatching the last sunshine hours of the day we sprinted in to the beach hoping to be able to cross over what appeared to be some sand dunes and take a look at the swell crashing onto a double isthmus on the windward side. Katie had been hoping to take her surfboard over there, but I had to veto the idea as time, as always, was pressing.
The others took off like hares down the smooth sandy beach, having been confined to the boat for the day. I anchored the dinghy and strolled on across the dunes to see what could be seen. It is usual in Patagonia to watch where one is putting ones feet, as the native ground cover here is uniformly spiny and unkind to the touch, but halfway across the isthmus I suddenly bent down to look at something that looked entirely like a strawberry plant growing out of the sand. A strawberry? It couldn’t really be, could it?
There is a native “frutilla” which grows in the far south of Patagonia for which we occasionally forage for in summer that has the appearance of a tiny strawberry but this plant looked exactly like those which I had picked in the family garden when I was young. Bending down I was astonished to find a perfect, round, red strawberry hanging below the plant. A taste test quickly confirmed it, no doubt about it. Well, I supposed, that where there is one there has to be more. I raised my gaze to be greeted with a stunning sight. For hundreds of meters all around, the sand dunes were covered with strawberry plants, acres and acres of them, literally the “Strawberry Fields Forever”. With that song running round and round in my head, we filled hats and whatever we could carry with the ripe, round fruit and returned red-lipped to the boat.
Imagine the heaven we were in when, close to the boat we were greeted by Keri waving the
three fat fish which some fishermen had dropped off while we were gone. We feasted greatly that night, alleviating the image of Patagonia as a lonely place of starvation and death.