Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Great service

Yesterday was a real mixed bag of sun, clouds, and rain showers. And a mixed bag of winds too - gusts from gaps and rain bursts, mostly NW so we sailed on a reach. We made a deep windy anchorage at Puerto Melinka on Isla Ascension (S43°53.910' W073°45.088') at 15:00.

Since Puerto Montt (Chile), Jordan's first words upon anchoring have been "It's so quiet." But now there were many motorboats zipping in and out, not quite so quiet! Puerto Melinka is a small outpost town that you can spot far out with all of its colourful buildings nestled into the sloping hillside.

Vibrant town of Melinka

After checking in with the Armada officials, which was very quick with no forms to fill out or money to pay, we asked if a restaurant serving pescado (fish) was nearby. An Armada official phoned ahead to say we were coming and gave us a ride there. We walked to a nearby internet place for a quick email check and then went to the restaurant. Upon arrival, we were not presented with a menu or asked what we wanted. Our meal was immediately set in front of us - large platter of shelled crab, 2 large fish fillets, a salad platter, and strawberries & cream for dessert - pre-ordered by the Armada official. Another first!

It was windy and rainy all night and again in the morning. Our next passage would be to cross the exposed gulf so we decided to stay another night at Puerto Melinka as the heavy winds were from the wrong direction. Early afternoon, Jordan jerry-jugged fuel to Sea Turtle, paying the most to date at $7 per gallon (1.75 per litre)!

What's for dinner? Salmon again!!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Opposing elements

Awoke January 28th to a bright rainbow in the sky just off our bow which quickly disappeared as it rained for a short spell. The winds seemed to have abated so with dinghy stored and anchor up, we headed off at 09:00. We waved goodbye with cameras snapping as we passed behind the salmonera (fish farm) Mainstream III for the last time.

Floating facility with salmon pens at front of building (to right of photo)

A couple of hours later, the wind started to blow noticeably stronger and on the nose again! There are so many available protected anchorages around all the islands and we were near a good one, Puerto Americano of Isla Tangbac. So under total cloud cover and using the radar we zig zagged into the harbour and dropped anchor (S45°00.771' W073°42.475') at noon. We passed a fishboat already anchored also seeking respite.

Snug inside, we listened to the winds whistling and howling outside as we once again enjoyed a few movies and delicious salmon. Only made 13 nautical miles, fighting the current and choppy waves.

Today was a tough day. We left Isla Tangbac at 08:00 hoping for a south wind that never happened. We motored, sailed for about 3 hours, and motor-sailed in NW winds ranging from 5 to 15 knots. The wind kept changing suddenly with no warning. We almost pulled into an anchorage at noon but decided to see what the conditions would be up ahead - we could always turn back if it kept getting worse. But we managed to continue, and just as it started to sprinkle, pulled into the tight entrance at Isla Filomena (S44°28.244' W073°38.473') at 17:30 with dolphins everywhere escorting us in. Upon anchoring, we heard the rushing of water and spotted a small waterfall again.

Friday, January 27, 2012


This morning, we once again went into the salmonera (fish farm) facility of Mainstream III to say goodbye to everyone and check the weather. José, the boss man, said it was to be nasty out and gave Jordan a great website for Chilean weather, but it's in Spanish! (http://meteoarmada.directemar.cl)

Sea Turtle's only bruise from yesterday was black smudges on her hull from large tire bumpers where we were tied up to the facility dock and could not use our bumpers.

As the day's outlook was not good, we motored a short distance up the sunny and protected inlet behind Mainstream III and dropped anchor (S45°11.467' W073°41.579'). We also stern and bow tied to shore in case the wind also became nasty up here later.

Early afternoon, we hopped in the dinghy to see what was farther up the inlet but it became even too shallow for the outboard. Perhaps at high tide it would have been possible. So we turned around and dinghied towards Mainstream so we could see how the outer channel looked (Canal Moraleda). It was still pretty miserable. Back to Sea Turtle. A day to spend relaxing, watching movies...

I heard a boat motor and went up top to see who was around. We were surprised to see 3 of the crew from Mainstream. Even more surprised when they held up 2 huge salmon for us! We accepted only 1 which Jordan estimated as a 12-pounder. The kindness and thoughtfulness of these folks was unbelievable. Later that evening, when cooked, the salmon was so very tender and delicious.

That was an easy catch!

It rained sporadically throughout the night. What happened? Our entire passage from Puerto Montt all the way south to the glacier at San Rafael was so sunny and warm. But now on our way north back to Puerto Montt the weather has become mostly cloudy with rain and has turned rather chilly!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Near disaster...

Upon arising at our anchorage at Isla Melchor in Chile, it was still very windy out. We decided to venture out of the cove into the main channel at 09:45 to see if it was as windy.

After about an hour, with wind on the nose and running with the tide into short wind-against-tide waves, it was getting worse so we turned in to hug the shoreline where it was very deep but less choppy seas and wind. We went past a large fish farm at the mouth of an inlet, taking note that we could turn back and anchor in there if the opposing wind became too much. At noon, the engine quit, indicating the need to switch fuel tanks.
"When the engine died in this situation, my heart beat just a bit faster. It reminded me when I was piloting a small plane back from L.A. and over the water adjacent to San José, at night, the engine died. My heart came to full attention as I switched to the other tank. All was well, but for an instant it puts you in a high state of alert", Jordan recalls.
He quickly unfurled a rag of a headsail (meaning a small amount of headsail) and turned us around to run with the wind, at the same time gaining us some shore space. He switched the tanks...engine didn't start...tried to bleed the lines...and a critical dilemma struck! A nut on one of the bleeders of the Perkin's engine broke and this was something that he could not even attempt to fix without anchoring. We had no spare.

So we headed back towards the fish farm spotted earlier. It was sailing up the inlet to anchor or sail up to the side of the fish farm floating facilities and tie up. Either way, challenging in those boisterous conditions.

It was a very treacherous area. Tight spaces, shallow areas, and hidden rocks, but Jordan's skill amazed me. We were blaring the horn at the fish farm but people waving inside thought we were just saying hello so no one came out to help. He was able to sail with only a minor crash right up to the floating facility. I was ready with a bow line and at the right moment Jordan jumped onto the facility's deck and cleated the line (S45°11.467' W073°40.882') as the wind threatened to push Sea Turtle past. There was only one chance to do this, for if we miscalculated, we would have for sure drifted into the fish pens and lines.

What a great spot to be in trouble! This floating facility, called Mainstream Aysen III, consisted of what looks like a large float home 2 stories above a work area. It is approximately 100 meters away from nearly an acre of fish pens with about 15 4-inch feed lines running from the building to the pens.

The folks inside Mainstream III came out to see what the heck was going on. The first thing Jordan indicated was we had engine trouble which evoked an immediate response of "you need mechanic?" There were 8 friendly people there - José the boss, Luis the mechanic, Luis the chef, (same name as the mechanic) and 5 others. We were invited in to eat lunch and have coffee while the engine cooled down - the best cerviche we have ever tasted!

Looking down at the large pens from inside Mainstream facility

As we ate, we watched the large salmon jumping in the 14 pens of the salmonera (fish farm). We were told that an airport nearby was closed down because of the high winds. We were also offered use of their internet and showers. (Was that a hint?!!)

After lunch, Luis then came out to look at the engine and he and Jordan fabricated a piece in the shop. With his able assistance, the engine started at 15:30! What a relief.

Luis the helpful mechanic with Jordan and Judy

Once again, the use of showers was offered and also dinner. We graciously accepted, so after we put away all the tools, many of the 8 folks asked for a tour of Sea Turtle. We laughed as they posed at the helm for photos and came below for more pictures.

After a delicious dinner, it was still windy and getting dark so we were permitted to stay tied up to the salmonera. We retired feeling safe and secure, with freshly made buns and half a large salmon in hand. It rained sporadically throughout the night.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Crabby folks

On this hot sunny morning, we set out to hike up past the small cascading waterfall and stream on the east side of Isla Traiguén (Chile) to see if we could reach the lake for Jordan to fish from. With rubber boots in the backpack, we made it past the waterfall as we hugged the shore edge.

Slouching beneath the surrounding foliage, we soon had to don our rubber boots to wade into the stream as we progressed. We also crossed it at a fairly shallow point being careful not to slip on the mossy rockbed. Eventually we had to turn back as the trees and foliage became too dense to get through, the passable rocky shoreline became non-existent, and the stream and pools became too deep. Oh well, it was a challenging hike and an enjoyable picnic lunch.

Row, row, row your boat

When motoring, Jordan had felt a vibration in the last couple of days. When he looked down in the clear water, he saw a rope wrapped around the prop. With a sharp knife attached to a pole, he was able to slowly cut it free. We probably picked it up while running over kelp flotsam. Usually running over kelp isn't a problem with our boat, a cutaway keel.

We pulled anchor at 15:45. We were now heading NW in no wind and calm glassy seas once again. At 19:30, we turned into the cove of Caleta Sepulcro on Isla Melchor with an otter on shore and dolphins jumping high and twisting sideways in the bay.

We chose this cove to be our next anchorage for 2 reasons: it was a reasonable distance from our current anchorage and the guidebook stated fishermen will sell freshly caught crab here. We were excited to see several crab traps in the water and a rowboat with 2 persons aboard tending the traps. Would they be willing to sell any crab?

We approached them after forlornly watching them bail buckets of water from their old rowboat and they gladly agreed to trade 2 large crabs for some wine. What a deal! With everyone grinning, we parted company.

"Crabby" folks

Jordan then tried to set the anchor in the shallow cove of Isla Melchor but it wouldn't grab. Third time lucky! (S45°17.017' W073°43.956')

The crab was absolutely delicious, freshly pulled from the ocean. Later, the cove became quite windy so checking was necessary to make sure we weren't dragging but everything was fine throughout the night.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fly away

After a "cool" day at the glacier yesterday, we were now heading north, instead of south, back to Puerto Montt Chile. When we pulled anchor at 07:45, we noticed that Orca IV had already left, wanting an early start too. After a windy night, it was now bright and sunny. Running with the morning tide, we clocked 12 knots per hour over-ground speed. New record for Sea Turtle!

Early afternoon, we moored at a cove, Caleta Lynch, in the Canal Costa (S45°46.569' W073°33.544') as we waited for the tide to change - a perfect little refuge cove that fishermen use to escape from nasty weather. There was a handy rope tied to the mooring ball but it was so slimy Jordan decided not to use it and just tied directly to the bright orange ball.

After Jordan had a brief nap and slaughtered at least 30 of the MONSTROUS annoying flies (common in January and February), we proceeded on. (We later learned that if you swat at these flies, they send out a signal to their comrades for help.) A couple of bottlenose dolphins came to our bow, and as Jordan watched, one kept turning sideways to look up at him. But when he leaned over and waved so the dolphin could see him, it dove and joined his buds heading south.

Under clouds, we turned into Caleta Christian on the east side of Isla Traiguén (S45°31.282' W073°34.488') at 21:00. (Our first anchorage at Isla Traiguén on January 21st had been on the west side.) The east side is a picturesque cove with a cascading sibilant stream off our bow caressing our mood.

Judy on bow of Sea Turtle

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ventisquero San Rafael

My mind is brimming with wondrous exclamations of the sights and sounds of our experiences of the last week. And today was such a pinnacle.

We got an early start as we motored out of the Chilean fjord with no wind, but the tide was in our favour giving us a good over-ground speed. After about 20 nautical miles south, we reached the treacherous passage through a shallow and rock fringed bay where we encountered our first "bergy bits"!

What are bergy bits?? Bergy bits is a nickname for iceberg pieces that have broken free from a glacier. Some were floating by, some were washed ashore by tidal forces, and some were large enough to be stationary - sitting on the ocean floor at low tide as the currents flowed past.

Careful navigation required (only 10% exposed above water surface)

Jordan at the helm was constantly dodging these pieces of ice, the very large and the very small. Bergy bits were everywhere! He didn't want to hit even the smallest because they are quite literally as hard as rocks.

This area of the bay we found to be confusing as the markers did not make sense to us. "Red Right Return" (a sailing term) did not seem to apply here. The tide was also lower than what we had predicted according to the nearest tide table and we hit bottom twice. But Jordan eventually meandered his way through the markers, low tide shallows, and scads of bergy bits before finding the river entrance of Rio Tempanos. Not a passage that we would recommend for the feint of heart!

Traversing up the freshwater river was easier than through the bay as the river was deeper and there was only one direction to go but Jordan still had to dodge many bergy bits. Then we finally came to the lake, called Laguna San Rafael, about 4 miles across and strewn with icebergs and bergy bits.

Sea Turtle nose-to-nose with 1 large bergy bit

The ventisquero (glacier) here was difficult to spot at first because of the low clouds and hazy day. We continued to make our way towards it and then, finally, there it was! Absolutely breathtaking!!

But wait...what's that...the engine suddenly quit! Jordan was puzzled because plugged filters had previously given warning signs in advance, but this time it was a sudden stop. We very slowly drifted towards Ventisquero San Rafael as Jordan changed the 3 fuel filters and bled the lines successfully in about an hour. I was feeling a little bit anxious but I spent the time taking more photos of the glacier and pieces that were floating by and never hitting us.

We had made VHF contact with Patagonia Express (a tourist catamaran) and they were standing by on VHF in case our engine wouldn't start. But all was well and we soon motored over closer to the face of the glacier.

Still 1/2 km away from the glacier

Orca IV, another sailboat, had also arrived and we agreed to swap photos of boats with the glacier as a backdrop. Here is Sea Turtle in front of this beautiful icy blue glacier...

Sea Turtle (courtesy of Orca IV)

Can you spot the zodiac dinghy in the photo below? Just an indication of the size of this glacier...

In total, we spent hours taking photos (over 500!) and just peering at this monstrous beauty. Listening to the rumble, creaks, and groans and watching the calving - pieces breaking away and crashing into the lake. Spectacular! The colours of the glacier and the bergy bits are indescribable...intense blues, pale blues, greenish blues, snowy white, glassy clear.

Incredible colours in the ice

We celebrated this momentous occasion with, of course, Chilean Pisco Sours chilled with ancient glacier ice that Jordan scooped from the lake!

Tasty but VERY hard ice to break

Now if you know me, you know I'm a fair-weather gal. But I wanted to do this passage as much as Jordan for the excitement of seeing a glacier before they're all gone. But we were both surprised that we only had this one chilly day. The rest of the time, we were actually over-dressed and too warm. I was even taking photos of the glacier on Sea Turtle's deck in bare feet and too enthralled to remove my windbreaker!

It was hard to tear ourselves away but finally at 16:30 we had to leave so the tide would be running with us. The passage leaving was much easier as most bergy bits had flowed back into the lake with the pressure of a rising tide in the bay downstream and some had also melted considerably.

We soon came back to near our first anchorage at Estero Elefantes (S46°24.315' W073°47.867') that we had left early this morning and settled in for another windy night. Orca IV also anchored nearby.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

3 more islands

On January 20th, we headed back down the 2 canals from the Chilean lodge to continue our southern explorations. On our way, we spotted one of the very few waterfalls, which surprised us, as we expected by the rainy reputation of this area to see more in all the surrounding hills and mountains.

By 20:15, we set anchor at Isla Orestes (S45°02.310' W073°27.782') with Sea Turtle's stern tied to a tree. This is a very pretty, tiny, protected cove and Jordan trolled in the dinghy fishing for awhile with no luck. We then watched a fabulous sunset with amazing reflections on the water...

Me taking a photo of Jordan taking a photo!

We left mid-morning on the 21st and stopped at Puerto Aguirre at Isla Las Huichas (S45°09.860' W073°31.258') to buy some fruit, bread, and an ice cream cone for Jordan! Yes, it's still sunny and warm out.

This is a check-in port but the officials didn't seem at all interested in us - just glanced at our papers and waved us off! You can jerry-jug fuel here but it has been reported to be dirty.

Friendly locals directed us to a "restaurant" where we had lunch in a family's home. As the woman prepared spaghetti, soup, and salad, her husband and another fellow sat down to eat with us with a big screen TV a few feet away.

We then continued motoring south on glassy seas with winds of 0 to 3.5 knots. We motored through rock infested islets, anchoring in a secure cove off Isla Traiguén (S45°36.775' W073°47.616') but not before I had rock-watch-duty on the bow as we pulled in. Again, we were greeted to this cove by a couple of dolphins. Secured at 20:30.

We left early on the 22nd (08:30) as we knew we had a long run to make that day. At first, we had no wind then 5 to 15 knots on the nose, but with the current, we were hitting up to 8 knots. But by early evening, we were only doing 0.2 knots with the counter-current and washing machine tide waves. And we were in a treacherous pass.

We finally made it to our intended anchorage at 20:30 hidden behind a string of rocky islets (S46°24.230' W073°47.802') in the fjord Estero Elefantes. It was windy an hour later and the clouds were completely socked in but we had a good hook holding.

Tomorrow will be an exciting and long-awaited day...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Boardwalks and termales

After a late evening at the Fundo Los Leones Lodge in Chile, we had a late morning start and did not leave our sunny anchorage until 11:30 to head for a group of about 7 islands, where there is a fishing village perched on the rocky banks of 2 of the islands and about 2 km of boardwalks joining the buildings and islands.

Click on photo to enlarge and see adjoining boardwalk

We set anchor once again at 20:15 on January 18th at Grupo Gala (S44°15.301' W073°12.522') where right away a fishing boat came over and gave us a fish for dinner. We have found Chileans everywhere to be so very friendly and hospitable.

It was our first windy anchorage so Jordan tied a stern rope to the foundation of a gazebo on a tiny rock island in front of the village.

Luminescent green water where shallow

The next morning, we strolled the boardwalks and footbridge that spanned the little channel between the 2 islands. The walk was not just horizontal - we climbed stairs up and down. Boardwalks and stairs are everywhere!

Bright blue and white boardwalk crossing the landscape

We left around noon on the 19th, motoring past the east side of Isla Refugio and then heading first up Canal Jacaf and then up Canal Puyuguapi. With light winds blowing, we put up our bright orange spinnaker, but as the winds picked up and became fluky, a gap wind suddenly gusted and blew out the spinnaker. We had just had a new sail bag made for it in Puerto Montt (cheaper than what it would have cost us to buy material). Oh well, the spinnaker was a bit too large for Sea Turtle so now when we get it repaired back in Puerto Montt we will ask to have it made a bit smaller.

We saw several blue whales today that were quite close, and after about 7 hours of motoring and sailing, we finally tied up to a mooring ball at the 5-star Puyuhuapi Lodge & Spa (S44°24.882' W072°38.618') where we saw no sailboats other than 1 belonging to the Lodge owner. We quickly rowed ashore to soak in the termales (hot springs). Yachties are welcomed at this 1992 Lodge & Spa and can use the natural outdoor hot springs and other facilities, however the fees are expensive. What a treat in such beautiful surroundings. We were the only ones using the outdoor HOT springs right then.

Jordan soaking up the heat

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dolphins, penguins & hosts

We've been so lucky with the weather in southern Chile, another beautiful sunny day with no rain in sight. Wearing shorts, we hopped in the dinghy to see how close we could get to the penguins that we spotted late yesterday.

As we circled around Isla Huepan at Bahia Tictoc in the dinghy, we were joined by several dolphins. When Jordan turned off the outboard, they seemed to get bored and started to swim away. But as soon as he re-started it, they returned and raced and jumped alongside us, and gliding from side to side beneath us. I had to put the camera away as they were splashing too much so close and getting both me and the camera wet. I could have reached out and touched them. What a riot!

One dolphin just ahead of us in the dinghy, another splashing at side

We next saw several bulky sea lions sunning on a large rock. The noise of the dinghy outboard did not seem to bother them at all until we came in for a closer look, then they started to get nervous and headed for the water...

We then came upon a group of penguins on shore! We slowly came closer and closer, taking lots of videos and photos. We were only about a meter away and they did not seem to mind. A short slideshow of penguin photos follows:

As the penguins were so tranquil, Jordan wondered what would happen if he got out of the dinghy...so I held onto the shallow rocky edge, while Jordan slowly and carefully stepped ashore. That's when they all made a mad dash for the water to escape from this intruder. It was amazing how fast they could go! In a matter of seconds, they were 100 meters away, swimming and leaping along in the water. How hilarious! This day was truly a highlight of experiences.

We finally left at 13:30 for Bahia Pescadores (S43°36.753' W072°53.528') and after a short uninteresting 1-hour stay, decided to continue south instead after checking the guidebook and charts.

A famous American bought thousands of hectares of choice natural land to keep as natural reserves. We anchored at 1 of his properties at Los Leonés (S43°47.363' W072°56.627') where he has an eco-lodge. We arrived once again at 20:00 - it seems lately that we always arrive at this time. A young couple in a kayak approached Sea Turtle and invited us to visit. His parents are managing the lodge and she was living with them to study Spanish for 2 years.

We dinghied over and toured the beautiful property. The guest cottages were very well appointed and nicely done, each placed in a beautiful natural setting. We spent a very enjoyable and hospitable evening with everyone amidst much laughter and gaiety, sharing homemade bread, jam, and corn on the cob grown on the property. We then returned to Sea Turtle at almost midnight beneath such an abundance of stars never seen before.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

What's out there?

After the required port departure clearance (zarpe) and route description posted with Armada de Chile, we provisioned and fuelled up. There are too many Chilean islands and sights to see out there. But on January 14th, we finally left at 18:00 to see what we could discover during the next 2 to 3 weeks.

Our first stop was after 23 nautical miles where we tied up to a mooring ball 4 hours later at Isla Puluqui (S41°49.688' W073°05.439'). The water was glassy calm and about 4 other boats were also moored. The next morning, we went to a homemade breakfast by Juanita and family at their Bed & Breakfast that included fresh out-of-the-oven buns cooked in an old-fashioned wood heated stove.

Judy and Juanita - love those old stoves

We left on January 15th at 10:30 to head for somewhere not yet decided - we'd decide as we travelled south consulting the guidebook and charts. We ended up dropping anchor 54 nautical miles later at Isla Apiao at 20:45 (S42°36.635' W073°13.087') with 3 other sailboats present. We had to be careful of 2 large flat rocks upon entering the channel. A few countryside homes, very quiet, but we did hear a rooster - the first in a long time! We spoke on the VHF with a New Zealand boater who gave us their contact info for when we are in New Zealand next year.

A conspicuous tranquility

At this latitude and time of year, it is still light out until around 22:00. It's also odd to realize how far east Chile is. We are further east than Miami, Florida of USA. Check it out on a globe.

The first day out, we saw lots of rural homes on the shores and lots of marine traffic, but soon after then, it became very remote and we felt pleasantly alone in the serenity.

Then on January 16th, we left our Isla Apiao anchorage on a bright sunny morning at 07:15, but not before Jordan took several photos of the sun glistening on other boats and the countryside.

We motored most of the day and sailed for a bit to Bahia Tictoc where we set anchor at Isla Huepan (S43°38.399' W073°00.762') at 20:00 after 67 nautical miles.

What an amazing place! Several dolphins escorted us in as they jumped and swam all around our bow. There they are...on my right, no there they go...on my left, swimming and jumping so fast it was impossible to catch them in a photo.

We were tucked nicely in an anchorage and were surrounded by islands and mountains and the cacophony of penguins! Yes, penguins! At first, we could only hear them but then we saw 8 of them marching along the slope of the rocky shore. How totally cute!

What a thrill is was to watch them from Sea Turtle as they pranced around on shore, stretching their necks as they made their penguin cry not unlike a donkey bray.

Then a lone otter was spotted on the opposite shore. But it was too late in the evening so exploring was left for the next day.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Puerto Montt

Puerto Montt of Chile is a hub city for the general area down here where tourists come, and from here, they can visit sites like the Lakes District directly north of us or tour the islands etc. to the south. The city also has a bustling marine industry that services the islands and fishing industry including the multitude of fish farms. All this makes for lots of activity on the waterfronts here.

A colourful marine industry

For the sailors, this is a good place to provision and find marine supplies. There are various places for hauling out, and Club Nautico where we are docked, has a travel lift and yard haul-outs at very reasonable rates. We don't need to be hauled though. We are about four miles down the waterfront from downtown but buses run very frequently and they are cheap.

Most of the sailboats here are Chilean. We could probably count on two hands the number of foreign boats here, however as the months start to turn cold around March, there will be migrating cruisers heading north from the more southern and cape areas.

We arrived here with a list of "things to do" and "things to get" including provisioning before heading out for a few weeks tour of the islands and sites to the south. So after doing our traditional "one leg photo", the required check-in with officials, and a really nice dinner out, we got started on the tasks right away.

After the non-stop rolling on passages, our tradition is to stand on one foot

From time to time, we took breaks from our chores to do some socializing. There was Sam Davis (not Jr.) the jovial Irish single hander who has convinced us to make Ireland a port of call when we get to Europe. Also there was Jean Pierre and his wife Dana another Canadian couple on a pretty little sailboat close to us that made good company.

The busy marine industry and marinas are protected in a channel with Isla Tenglo on the other side with a few residences that rely on small boats to get on and off the island. As a respite from work one day, we dinghied over and strolled around. Very tranquil and rural feel for being so close to a city.

Isla Tenglo residences and countryside viewed from Puerto Montt

How cold is the water here? Well after we saw kids regularly swimming next to us, Jordan donned mask fins and snorkel and dove to retrieve a dropped pole on the bottom, but he found it unbearably cold. (The pole is still down there and the kids still swim.)

We think the air temperature is comfortable, but not in the water!

Shopping stops included the modern supermarkets and stores but we particularly liked the fabulous fish and veggie market where we got great smoked salmon and wholesome produce. So many clams, mussels, fish, and other mysterious items to choose from...

...and so much fresh produce...

Before our departure tomorrow to explore southern sites, we spent some time with a few friends including Sam and David (a sailing Brit who has made Puerto Montt his home) who recommended some worthy stops and sights to see on our charts.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012


On December 23rd, we uneventfully entered the notorious roaring 40s on our continued passage to mainland Chile from Easter Island. We were now below 40 degrees south and heading almost due east. We were not anxious as it is the summertime here now in December, and the pilot charts indicate a very low chance of heavy weather at this time of year.

It seemed to be nonsensical to check every 15 minutes as after 18 days there had been no sign of another soul. But still, it had to be done. You just never know when something might appear. Very lonely feeling - where is everyone! The whole rest of the world could be collapsing and we wouldn't know it.

But then we finally saw our first boat early in the morning at 06:15 on January 1, 2012. Funny how something so minor can still be exciting! I woke Jordan to see if he could identify it as I didn't know what it was. He thought it resembled a square rigger without the rigging and then thought maybe a whaling ship. I sure hoped it wasn't out for whales.

You want to see the boat, right?

Starting the last week of December, we were talking with people once again through the Patagonia Net on the Ham radio. One day we even spoke with Steve of SV Silas Crosby on the net - we had met Steve last year in December at a potluck in the Sea of Cortez (Mexico) and he is now in southern Chile.

Boat jobs at sea: Jordan re-caulked the leaking stateroom hatch so hopefully no more leaks. And the bilge alarm kept sounding meaning a leak somewhere else. When Jordan tasted the leaking water, he discovered it was fresh water and not sea water. Phew! Took him awhile to find the source but then it was an easy fix. The water pre-filter housing had a crack so Jordan installed a replacement.

After 21 days, Land Ho! Sea life became abundant on our approach and entry to the channel. Seals, dolphins, pelicans, gulls, cormorants, and even little penguins! Landfall was after a raucous last day of sailing with strong south winds on the beam. But the skies were clear and the wind abated for a splendid channel entry motoring and then some lazy sailing into the channel islands with the snow capped Andes as the backdrop. It was the first day that Jordan never left the cockpit, taking it all in.

Puerto Montt and the Andes Mountains as we approach

We were trying for a Puerto Montt check-in but couldn't quite make it before sunset, so held up 20 NM south and then finished the next morning with a sunny spinnaker run. Club Nautico Yacht Club had a berth waiting (S41°29.969' W072°59.247') and arranged the officials to come down to do the paperwork. It was January 4, 2012.

We achieved some great speeds on this trip - most nautical miles in 1 day: 153. However, we were becalmed a couple of times, once for almost an entire day. That gave us only 29 nautical miles. This journey felt longer than it really was. We were fighting for favourable winds so much of the time with it coming from the wrong direction or then all of a sudden not at all for hours on end. This made for a lot of sail changing. Total nautical miles from Easter Island to Puerto Montt: 2,178. This was actually about 200 NM less than sailing to Easter Island which we did in a quicker time of 19 days rather than 21 days to Puerto Montt.

As a side note, one of the officials asked us if we knew that a search was on for a single-handed sailor who had left Easter Island 12 days behind us. A couple of days later, we heard that he was rescued. He was 84 (no, that's not a typo) years old and was making his 7th attempt to round Cape Horn when he had a rigging failure on his Westsail 32. The Chilean search and rescue had spotted him 2 days after he activated his EPIRB and had arranged a freighter 250 miles away to go pluck him off his boat. A happy/sad ending for him.