Map Display

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Castro

Our Extra Large National Day Chile Flag
Fish Market Roof
I wanted to seize the opportunity to post lots of pictures before our rare access to high speed internet is replaced by our usual glacial-paced short-wave radio and satellite in a few days.

We made our way from Marina Quinched the short distance to Castro, the provincial capital, in order to take part in the national Day celebrations.  It seemed that the capital city would also allow us to top up any fuel we had depleted before our foray into the wilderness to the south.

The Cueca
The National day celebrations did not disappoint!  There were bands, marching assemblies of firemen, navy and police personnel, endless nearly-understood speeches and lots of couples doing that colorful and romantic national dance - the cueca - which involves a lot of teasing moves with handkerchiefs. To add to the general merriment, the many little children were dressed in oh-so-cute national costumes - and even some of their pet dogs! Those firemen by the way are unpaid volunteers - like all firemen in Chile.

A foray to the grocery store put off the day (for a bit) when we have to switch from fresh food to tinned and frozen.

Dressed for the Day
Also Dressed for the Day
Fueling was not as straightforward as in Valdivia where a truck came down to our dock and stretched an incredibly long hose from the parking lot to our boat at the end of the dock.  While trucks are sort-of available in Castro, they don't like to appear for a sale of less than three or four hundred liters.  So just like years ago in Arctic Bay, Nunavut, we set off for the shore with eight 20-liter jugs.  A phone call summoned a taxi who took me up the hill to the service station while Mary Anne waited with the dinghy.  After returning to Traversay in the dinghy, four of the jugs were siphoned into the tank and a return visit to shore refilled them (with the help of another taxi) to serve as a reserve. With a seven meter tide range and no floating dock, the dinghy had to pulled up a long launching ramp and rolled back down it with each trip ashore.
The Bomberos (firemen)

The visit to Castro finished up with rather long visits to the Navy to receive our permit for the next portion of our voyage south and to the post office where all the correct procedures were followed to send two vital letters on their way to Canada.

Time seems to be slipping away very quickly and we must now be on our way south!




Sunday, 17 September 2017

Marina Quinched


William and Valeska with their first grandchild
This marina hosted a huge National Day Celebration when we were here 10 years ago. Alas, the inspiration behind this marina – William Bannister – passed away several years ago. However, the greatness of his vision continues and his wife and sons are carrying on. He would be gratified at the size of the beautiful araucaria trees he planted as seedlings all those years ago, and also at how well his ‘Dream’ marina is being maintained. The moorings (which had been too light to restrain the heavy wooden boats tethered to them) have been reinforced and a diver was out checking them as we arrived. Boats stored here were
being aired in anticipation of the summer season.


Quehui Cathedral
Altar decorations - National Day
Unfortunately, there are no festivities here
this year, no guitarists and singers, so we’re moving on to Castro (the main town on Chiloe). We’ll be back here Wednesday night to enjoy this peaceful place and to use the laundry facilities. Of course, the old saying “you can never go back” holds true both for the loss of people and changes in places.

Surprisingly, we sometimes (and unexpectedly) have the reverse experience. Yesterday we re-encountered an old acquaintance.
Church guitarist practicing

Chiloe Island is known for its wooden churches which have been given Unesco World Heritage Site designation. We were able to visit many of these churches ten years ago, but on arriving at Isla Quehui we decided that one of the two churches in view had NOT been visited 10 years ago.
Christ's image

Ignacio
We launched the dinghy, motored to the beach, tied to a fence post and chatted with the owner - who then directed us to the ‘correct’ route to the church. As we approached the church, a well-dressed man in his late 30s ‘found’ us and took us across the rain-soaked lawn and inside. As we entered, he tried to stop us from proceeding into the church - I obeyed - but Larry went up to the front and asked the guitarist whether he could take pictures of her and of the church. It was acceptable (as it had been all those years ago).  We left a donation, and started back across the lawn whereupon Ignacio tried to insist that we go straight on with him – after our insistence that we needed to get to Chiloe, he resignedly pleaded that we take his photo and email him a copy. And THEN (almost simultaneously), as we realized it was not a real e-address, we both remembered that he was the same person who had manoeuvred us into an expensive meal 10 years ago. I had felt sorry for him and  subsequently sent him postcards from places we visited for over a year. And yet (with few visitors) he forgot us. With limited abilities, he does help his own economy and the village he lives in as a meeter-greeter. We had not only forgotten him, but also forgotten that particular church until we started photographing it.
Eliana - singer-guitarist 
Hearing the guitarist practicing for the upcoming Mass reminded me of our most recent guitarist friend – Eliana – met in Valdivia and instrumental in getting us some copies of Violeta Parras songs of the 80s. She and her style are great – and reminders of Joan Baez’s protest songs of that era. Ellie came over a few times to play and sing with the piano, and she secured a print copy of V.P.s most famous songs, so we’ll be trying to learn them during our trip south…it’s a great way to learn the language.
As the time approached to leave Ellie and the other friends we’d made, I felt my usual mixed feelings and regrets. However, Nature helped me in two ways.
Firstly – Chile apparently has a limitless supply of wood and it’s the cheapest heating choice. Only now are people able to concern themselves with the health implications of this smoke. Along with myself, many Valdivians suffer from smoke allergies. Throughout the winter, we experienced connsistent wood smoke except when the rain kept down the wood fumes. Fortunately (?) it rained a lot of the time in the last 3 months we were in Valdivia. However, two nights before we left, I awoke from a nightmare. I was still back teaching in Ontario and desperately looking for the emergency Epi-pen (for one of the kids) in my desk at school.  I couldn’t breathe.
Secondly - the arrival of Spring with it’s pollen-producers had decorated our boat with yellow pollen.
Gradually as we motored past Valdivia and the last garden of yellow shore-dwelling bushes
I started to be able to fill my lungs. Now we are going to have to trail south either ahead of Spring or out of reach of pollinating trees.

Friday, 15 September 2017

On our Way Again

During the last six months since arriving in Valdivia, Chile, we had barely moved our sailboat TRAVERSAY III more than a few hundred meters. Some of the winter storms in Valdivia are indeed fierce but at our berth, the river is less than a half a mile wide and any discomfort was limited to the sound of heavy rain hammering on the deck and wind howling in the rigging. Inside, we were warm and dry.

We benefited greatly from social occasions with friends, old and new, and from the cultural scene in this fine university city. There were concerts to attend, museums and colonial fortresses to visit and fine dining, sometimes just ourselves and at times with company.

The Yacht Club de Valdivia where we and our boat stayed was friendly, helpful and secure.

As is usually the case though, after such a long time stationary we become restless and feel that it is time to leave. We have a large part of the coast of Chile to explore and a limited time available. The first difficulty though is getting away! The first 10 miles is easy ... down a calm scenic river with high green hills on each side. After that though, the route is south 100 miles through open ocean before sheltered water is again found. That hundred miles is generally either very stormy or has strong contrary winds. Once every week or so, there is a weather window just long enough that the usual unpleasantness is limited to 2-3 meter seas flowing across the entire Pacific from storms thousands of miles away.

To add to this timing burden, the entrance channel from the open sea to the sheltered inside passages of southern Chile has tidal currents so fierce that there are only two periods each day that allow entry. Not only are the contrary currents stronger than our boat speed but they also cause those large Southern Ocean swells to rise up and break dangerously. Timing is everything!

We have now run that gauntlet and are peacefully anchored with sheltering green islands close all around. We visited the nearby village of Mechuque this afternoon and chatted with people who have spent their whole lives there. Large wooden motorboats and passenger ferries are dried on the beach as the five meter tides recede to allow work to be done on them. Across the harbor a wooden skeleton of a new boat was taking form at the local shipyard. The whole village and its people seem to have been transported magically from a more peaceful time and dropped into our present busy century.

Tomorrow we move a short distance to visit another island village as we slowly move towards Castro, our last city on the way south.
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At 2017-09-15 02:04 (utc) our position was 42°19.37'S 073°15.28'W

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Time in port

sunset view from our cockpit
Underwater scene - New Zealand
Late-blooming in Valdivia
A boat on the outside wall
We have now been in Valdivia for just over two weeks. We feel very fortunate to have been allowed to secure Traversay III at one of the outer dock spaces in the marina (there are only three such spaces available). This is where we tied up 10 years ago when we stayed here because with our relatively deep draft, we would be aground at low tide in the inner docks. The marina doesn't allow rafting out (being tied to another boat which is adjacent to the dock) in the winter.  It is still Autumn - and many roses and flowers are still blooming. Until our final space becomes available we're tied to a fine neighbour-Eduardo- whose boat is a sister-ship of the renowned ship 'Wanderer IV'. She is steel - as we are - so the chance of damage between us during contrary winds and currents along the river is remote. The large Motor Launch currently occupying what will become our final location is waiting to have generator repairs completed before cruising back up towards North America.

Gymnastics in the cockpit
We've been busy. No longer walking with a cane, I'm having some physio sessions for my injured 'rodilla' (knee).  I need to overcome what happened in New Zealand when I rather stupidly tried to get out of the cold water and climb up the skinny boat ladder wearing many pounds of lead dive weights to counteract my own weight and the buoyancy of the drysuit. We did get some nice photos, though!
sea-lions and pelicans at the fish market





defensive tower

Valdivia building


Niebla Castillo from the sea
The most exciting event for us has been the arrival of our grand-daughter for a 2-month stay. She's 11 and lots of fun and brings sheer joy and brightness to our lives. Everyone here is amazed that she would attempt the 10-hr flight from Toronto on her own (although we did pay for the Unaccompanied Service of Air Canada). They do not realize that her mother waited until her plane had t
aken off, and that I was in Santiago to meet the flight. The more amazing fact was that she then undertook a 10-hr overnight bus trip down to Valdivia with me - and still had the energy to eat a 3-decker chocolate coated ice cream in Santiago before we left (the 3 flavours were bubble gum, vanilla and chocolate!) Perhaps we need to start a new dietary program as insted of getting progressively more tired (I'm exhausted by 8pm) she seems to get a second wind at 10pm. We both help with school in the morning (Larry with math and French) and I with English, reading and violin. Then we can set off to do (mostly domestic tasks - which seem to be a major part of being in foreign ports) or to see some interesting features of the city. She's been to the local fish market (not just fish but also sea lions and pelicans attend this place) and also to one of the forts which defended Chile against the French, English and even Dutch in the 18th Century.
Niebla lighthouse

We're all learning how to communicate better. Larry is already very good, and reading books by Isabel Allende |(in the original) and Valdivia newspapers. I recently bought the 'Rosetta Stone' downloadable version which is highly acclaimed.So far, our little girl has made more use of it - perfecting her pronunciation on words such as dog, cat and learning about the gender issues associated with the language. She's already familiar with some of the issues of learning a 'Romance' language as she studies French at school (as do all Canadian children).

Yesterday we visited the Castillo in Niebla ... it was quite a misty day ('niebla' means 'mist or fog' in Spanish). The lighthouse was not 'on' however!

Friday, 17 March 2017

Valdivia; Closing Notes

Chilean fishboat
We arrived safely here to Valdivia Chile on Monday March 13th and have had brilliant sunshine ever since. We feel lucky as we remembered that it mostly rains here from our stay 10 years ago. We took a few photos of the 'authentic' heavy wooden fishboats which we've seen all along the coast here. They're so colourful - they're often pulled ashore and left up to dry during the low tide. 

Snowy Wanderer displays his pink ear patches
Larry's really enjoying speaking Castellano and he's very good at it (having sailed into Spanish-speaking countries on/off for some years now). My own range is much smaller, but I have really appreciated the friendly and helpful people we're meeting here. One of the workers here at the marina actually lent me his cane. After the 39 days we were at sea, my right knee declined to work properly. It's gradually becoming more affirmative and probably some care and physio will take care of it. I'm looking forward to making some Nanaimo Bars for the office staff - this is a gesture which my friend Frida Audette taught me when I met her on "SV Arabelle" in London UK some years ago.

Royal Wanderer 
I have been remembering some glorious moments from the offshore trip. Our last day at sea was quite spectacular. As we were adjusting the Mainsail, we saw a beautiful rainbow which extended from one end of the heavens to the other, dipping into the water at both ends. Then, while coming in from the huge ‘altamar’ we’d been in for so many days, we were met by a school of several hundred dophins. I’m not proficient at counting mammals – but I could see splashes and indications of the many many animals all the way to the south of the boat. When dolphins accompany a boat, they are often quite interested in the boat, and treat it as a novelty – interweaving around the bow and criss-crossing under the boat. However, this time the dolphins were clearly focussed on filling up in the very rich hunting grounds they have on this coast of Chile. There seemed to be several species – all co-operating and showing a hint of the magical zest and spirit which many species seem to have (even humans when they’re young!)
Mollymawk


We were also entertained by the enormous numbers of birds – large and small – who were  fishing out there. We saw many mollymawks (they’re the slightly smaller albatrosses who can be distinguished from the Wanderers because they appear to be wearing black mascara and eyeliner!) I again attempted to take bird photos. Ever since we were in Alaska the first time about 15 years ago, I have not been too good at ‘getting’ photos of birds. So I was really pleased this trip. I got a somewhat fuzzy photo of the male Snowy Wanderer – you can tell he’s the male because he clearly (or – reasonably clearly) – has pink EAR patches. I also got a very good picture of the Royal Wanderer – and of a Mollymawk.
Sunset - East View


Sunset - West View with the 'wine-dark Sea'.






There were some memorable sunsets - here are two taken on the same evening - one looking eastward and one into the setting sun to the west!

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At 2017-03-13 15:12 (utc) our position was 39°49.46'S 073°15.09'W

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Chile!

After 39 days at sea, TRAVERSAY III anchored behind Isla Mancera in Bahia Corral. As mentioned in an earlier blog, we have arrived here too late to proceed upriver to Valdivia in daylight and thus will complete the journey to the city tomorrow.

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At 2017-03-12 21:12 (utc) our position was 39°53.38'S 073°23.30'W

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Last day at sea

Today is our last full day at sea!

The end of this voyage is close enough that the weather forecasts can hold no more surprises. An on-again off-again area of low pressure has come and gone and proved to be a non-event. The wind shifts involved no sail changes or jibes and the breeze barely exceeded 30 knots. At this point, the 4 meter waves have become de-rigeur.

The sun is out again lighting the wave crests a brilliant white running across the ruffled deep blue of the sea. Flitting about this panorama are hundreds of seabirds of all different sizes and species. In our experience, none of these birds fear being far far from the shore. Their presence is less a result of our being near the land - after all, it is still 170 miles away - and more because of a rich marine environment just off the South American coast. We are beginning to find ourselves in that area of up-welling ocean currents as shown by a falling sea temperature.

The winds which have been our steady companion and have been driving us along for weeks will fade away tonight as we get ever closer to the coast. It is likely we will be motoring the last fifty miles or so. More patience than we possess would avoid this bit of powering; the winds will be back along the coast in a day or so.

Our arrival will be too late in the day tomorrow for us to navigate up the river to Valdivia in daylight with a rising tide (safety considerations) so we will anchor for the night in a sheltered place just inside the river entrance at Corral, moving the last few miles up the river the following day. On Sunday as we enter the Bay at Corral the incessant motion will finally stop.


We are certainly looking forward to anchoring!

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At 2017-03-11 15:06 (utc) our position was 39°40.41'S 077°06.86'W