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.