AS South America to Magellan Strait

Best time: Tropical storms: Charts:



November to February

BA: 4200

BA: 5, 6 US: 121, 124





Distance (M)

36'00'S. 54"30'W AS252

43°00'S, 62'00'W AS253 Deseado 48C00'S, 65'00'W

AS254 Virgins 52'20'S, 68sio'W

Mar de! Plata 37'57'S, 57°32'W

1163 2133

AS253 Deseado

AS255 Le Mare N 54'30'S. 65'00'W


The southbound route from Rio de Janeiro runs parallel to the coast and, as far as the latitude of the Falkland Islands, directions are similar to those described for route AS24. A place with good facilities at which to prepare for the southbound passage is Mar del Plata, which is also the base of the whale watching boats going to the Valdez Peninsula.

Caution must be exercised when sailing close to the land because of the danger of onshore currents. From Rio de la Plata southward, the route runs very close to the coast to stay in sheltered waters and also to avoid the strong north setting Falklands Current. The winds in this region are predominantly westerly so that the risk of being caught on a lee shore is remote. Gales from the east are extremely rare and when they occur, there is always sufficient warning.

From September through to June one can get SE gales accompanied by rain and heavy seas. These winds can also bring fog. A very dense fog can also occur with NW winds along the southerly portions of this coast in the months from February to October. When the wind shifts more to the south of west the fog usually clears. In warmer weather thunder and lightning can occur with N and W winds.

Northerly gales are preceded by overcast skies, haze, lots of small cloud very high up, and some lightning. The wind increases gradually to gale force. On the other hand southerly winds increase to gale force much more suddenly and are more violent. A sign of impending bad weather from the south is large masses of heavy cloud on the southern horizon. If a very low barometer starts rising, this may also be a sign of a wind shift to the south.

From WP AS253, off Puerto Deseado, the course can be altered for WP AS254, NE of Cape Virgins, at the entrance into the Strait of Magellan. The strait must be approached with extreme caution as the tidal range is great and the tidal streams set strongly towards Sarmiento Bank and the dangers extending from Cape Virgins.

The time of arrival at the strait should coincide with the start of the favourable tide and it must be remembered that the times of high and low water get later as one proceeds westward, until Royal Road is passed. This fact greatly assists passages from east to west and a vessel that catches the beginning of the west setting stream in the First Narrows has a good chance to ride the favourable tide for 9 hours, possibly as far as Punta Arenas. The tidal stream runs through the First Narrows from 5 to 7 knots and through the Second Narrows from 3 to 6 knots. The tidal range itself varies from about 40 feet at the east end of the strait to only 5 feet at its western end.

The usual route from the Atlantic runs through the following channels: Smyth, Sarmiento,

AS20 Routes from South America

Inocentes, Concepción, Largo, Messier and out through the Gulf of Peñas into the Pacific Ocean. A shorter route reaches the Pacific through Cockburn Channel. Yachts bound for Cape Horn should sail due

The Falkland Islands are best visited after sailing eastwards through the Strait of Magellan as the prevailing westerly winds make this a relatively easy passage. Caution must be exercised when leaving the strait as the strong tidal stream often sets towards the rocks extending offshore from Cape Virgins. From Dungeness Point and WP AS260 at

The northbound passage as far as Rio de la Plata can be done throughout the summer months and the direct route benefits both from the strong north setting Falklands Current and the prevailing W winds. North of Rio de la Plata, the prevailing south from WP AS253 to WP AS255, north of Cape San Diego, at the entrance into Le Maire Strait. Having weathered the famous Cape Horn, the rest of Patagonia can be explored by going through the Beagle Channel to reach more sheltered waters.

the entrance into the Strait of Magellan, a course can be set almost due east to WP AS261, SW of East Falkland. The route follows the south and east coasts of that island passing between it and Sea Lion Island and avoiding several dangers, such as Shag Rock. Having rounded Cape Pembroke at WP AS262, the course can be altered for Port Stanley

Destination Distance (M)

Rio de Janeiro 2394

winds in summer (October to March) are NE and therefore this passage should not be attempted before April, Ideally the passage from the Falklands to Rio de la Plata should be done between December and February, with the subsequent leg

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