Patagonia is a mysterious, remote region that stretches across the south of Chile and Argentina. Filled with awe-inspiring landscapes and rare wildlife, Patagonia is a paradise for nature lovers and adventurers. Moreover, Patagonia has played host to some of history’s most famous nautical expeditions. From the Magellan Strait to Cape Horn, explorers have navigated the waterways of Patagonia for centuries, witnessing its majestic glaciers, mountains, and lush green forests. Today, the Chilean fjords are one of the world’s most breathtaking venues for yachting. Here, we introduce the basics of ocean sailing in Patagonia, rounding up what you need to know before planning your expedition.
Weather conditions and cruising months
The weather in Chile is famously diverse, varying enormously depending on the latitude. In the north of the country it is dry and hot, yet coastal areas are cooled by the Humboldt current. Meanwhile, the south tends to be quite wet and windy, but can still be extremely changeable. The best time of year to go ocean sailing in Patagonia is between October and March. During this period, weather is slightly more predictable and calmer. We recommend booking your yacht well in advance if you’re planning to visit in the peak months of December through February, as there are very few marinas in Patagonia.
Practical tips for navigation
Despite being some of the world’s most remote waterways, the majority of Patagonia’s protected channels and fjords are navigable. During the summer months, these channels are unfrozen, however, you will encounter ice approaching the glaciers. The waterways are very deep, measuring about 328 feet or more. However, due to Patagonia’s underdeveloped yachting industry, most marinas aren’t suitable for vessels longer than 50–80 feet, despite the deep channels.
In addition, the Patagonian fjords are a paradise of undiscovered anchorages. However, these exposed areas can experience sudden, powerful squalls – so look out for wooded areas that indicate calmer winds. That said, these secluded spots are perfect places to drop anchor should sailors need a place to shelter from some unpredictable weather in the channels.
Things to see and do on a Patagonian ocean sailing trip
Patagonia is vast – encompassing nearly 400,000 square miles of rugged landscape, exquisite flora, and fascinating wildlife. As one of the world’s last remaining untouched wildernesses, there is a huge amount to see and do. You could easily spend three or four weeks ocean sailing in Patagonia. With so many routes on offer, often, the best approach is to consult with an agent to plan your itinerary. For instance, a southbound route in the southernmost tip of Patagonia might begin in Puerto Natales and end in Puerto Williams. On the way, ships can spot whales, witness Glacier Alley’s impressive tidewater glaciers, and round the mighty Cape Horn. During your trip, you can disembark your boat to trek, ride, or kayak through this remarkable landscape.
Cruising in Patagonia if you’re not a sailor
It’s undeniable that the best way to experience Patagonia is from the deck of a ship. However, for those who can’t sail, you can still witness the majesty of the region by boat. Australis are one of the few companies that operate luxury cruises through the Patagonian fjords. For more information, download our brochure.