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Saturday, 17 February 2018

Keeping the important things running ...

This passage may well replace our 2011 Capetown to Saint Martin sail as the most gentle and perfect ever. In two weeks, we have used the motor only 17 hours, 3 of which were getting down the river and out to sea and another 3 in the wind shadow of Robinson Crusoe Island. On that occasion, we sailed very close to the land in a futile attempt to acquire a cellphone signal and, as a bonus, lost the wind! After the first day, the seas have been gentle and the progress continuous if not stunning.

A cargo ship is now passing us in the night. At eight miles away on our port beam, I can just make out his lights. Our instruments reveal much about him and a little thought easily fills in the rest. At 300 meters length and 42 meters beam, he is quite large - of course I can see that from the lights. That he reaches down 16 meters beneath the sea says a lot more about his massive bulk. He left a Chilean mining port about six days ago with a load of ore and, at his 11 knot speed, will not reach his destination in China until the third week of March, around when we reach Honolulu. This is an immense ocean for everyone!

The night is now very peaceful - in stark contrast to the technical glitches of the two days preceding it. It all started with an electrical issue ...

An engine driven alternator recharges our batteries and provides electricity when we are motoring. The original 18 year old unit failed in a rather final way while we were cruising in the south of Chile so we ordered a new replacement in order to have a comfortable level of power redundancy on our voyage north. Following a rather drawn out delivery and customs process, the alternator was installed and appeared to be functioning "normally".

Now far out to sea - the nearest land being an uninhabited speck roughly 700 sea miles away - all seems not well with the alternator. The current flowing in the negative post is a typical 135 amps - what you would expect refilling our large, half discharged battery bank. That said, the current being pushed out of the positive post of the alternator and into the batteries is only 45 amps! The better part of a day with tools and meters revealed that the missing 90 amps was almost certainly being shorted out internally to the case of the alternator and flowing through the engine block and various heavy gauge ground wires back to the negative post of the alternator.

Now 90 amps is a lot of current when it is up to no good - not charging a battery or doing useful work. Thus after all that effort to get an expensive new part delivered to us in Chile, prudence suggested we disable it. We will get no further use out of it until we can deliver it for warranty service after arriving in Honolulu in a month. Thus again, like in southern Chile after the initial failure, we have to run a separate generator to charge the batteries even when the engine is running.

Today, because trouble comes in threes (some say), I discovered the fresh water had stopped flowing from the taps. Oh well, there ARE cold water foot pumps. Nonetheless, hot and cold running water is so darn convenient that I immediately sought Mary Anne's help to unearth the spare electric pump from under the guest cabin berth. Together we moved a considerable bulk of gifts, paper towel and cookies off the guest bed to access the hardly-ever-needed stuff beneath. Then, spare pump in hand, as a final check, I turned the pump power off a while and back on later to see if it had magically fixed itself. Wow, it worked again but produced a very anemic flow ... and didn't shut off when the tap was closed. Maybe the pressure switch had failed? But when I closed a valve just downstream of the pump, the pump shut off as it should.

It was starting to look more and more like a leak! I checked the in-use water tank quantity. Both tanks had been full an hour before and now one tank had decreased from 250 liters of fresh water to 125 liters. Most people who have read "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" know that fresh water is a big deal when you are 1000 kilometers from land. But where was the leak? 125 liters of water is a great deal and ought to be seriously sloshing around in the bilge. There are very few ways to have a water leak inside a boat without some obvious mess.

Finally a culprit! The valve that rinses the desalinator (water-maker) with fresh water had failed internally and, though the handle was in the closed position, was sending all that fresh water through the water-maker and overboard. It is certainly now well rinsed! That continuous pumping overheated the waterpump such that it shut down ... mercifully saving half the water in the in-use tank.

An hour of work removed the offending valve, capped the fresh water line and disabled rinsing. The water maker will be fine without rinsing as long as we use it daily but the rinse facility will have to be re plumbed as soon as we get to Honolulu to prevent damage during a period of non-use in the harbor.

Did I mention threes? After starting to relax knowing the leak problem had been put to sleep, the pump started to make occasional pulses - the leak noise it typically makes that we wouldn't have heard before over the noise of the genset.

This time the leak was slower and easier to find, involving the visible escape of water. That valve downstream of the fresh water pump - the one that allowed me to find the BIG leak - was rhythmically dripping. I guess, having been unmolested for years, my closing and opening it a few times had dealt it an unsupportable trauma. With no spare valve around, I simply replaced it with a continuous length of plastic fresh water pipe. We always have THAT around.

At that point, repairs and jury-rigs complete, Mary Anne ordered that work cease and presented a welcome spread of wine and cheese.

We HAVE blogged this same theme from time to time in past writings. When things go amiss at sea, you have to have tools and materials aboard and you have to do what is needed to carry on.

After all we still have 4300 miles to go. Just over a month more of sailing should see us in Honolulu.


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At 2018-02-16 22:11 (utc) our position was 17°40.11'S 097°09.31'W

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Into the Tropics

The Captain says we're nearly one quarter of our way to our destination. But … our destination has changed - we're no longer heading towards The Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia and we are aiming for Honolulu in the Hawaiian chain. The days are warmer - partly because we are now in the Tropics and partly because the water temperature (8-9C in Patagonia) is now up to 21C.
Some time ago we saw our last Mollymawk albatross - but now we're being followed by a number of tropic birds … the red-billed tropicbird is characterized by a shrill voice and a long tail feather. We first met these birds on our first Hawaiian trip (on this boat) in 2001. They like to roost somewhere at night and one roosted on the top of our mast, so - although we appreciate their beauty - we have mixed feelings about having them so near. Our mechanical Windex was damaged during our first trip … we're hoping to avoid that outcome this time. Larry managed to get this carefully taken photo of a pair of the Tropicbirds this morning. What could be more beautiful than their white feathers against a crisp blue sky?
Time is passing pleasantly … people often ask 'retired' folks how they spend 'all that TIME!' My time is passing very pleasantly - thanks to my renewed interest in Crocheting (brought about by friend Sue Bucher of SV Valkyrie in Valdivia). I'm also most interested in assimilating all the data collected on over 50 scuba dives that we've made in Patagonia. So I spend part of every day learning how to use an Excel program in a more targeted and efficient way to analyse the data.
I'm on watch for 12 out of every 24 hours so sleeping and resting are of prime importance.
I also really like cooking on the boat (or - more probably- eating!) and finding really tasty, nutritious and 'fun' meals with the limits which availability puts on offshore cookery occupies some of my time.
We're now in the tropics (February 13 2018) so we're trying to eat more 'lightly', but here's a log I kept of 7 days of the meals I cooked while we were in Patagonia in September 2017. Before I list the recipes, I'll tell you a little about my pressure cooker and cookbooks:
I spend a lot of time looking at my cookbooks (there's no internet in the wilds of Patagonia so I couldn't search for recipes online). A cookbook I bought after we reached BC from the NWP has been terrific. It's called 'The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book - 500 easy recipes' by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. Since it's published in New York, I like to imagine them as top chefs somewhere in that city. And if anyone reading this knows how to contact them, please pass on my earnest gratitude.
I also use the a few recipes from the Joy of Cooking. I have a cookbook called 'Six Ingredients or Less' and it's written by Carlean Johnson (CJ Books, Washington State ISBN 0-942878-05-01) I also use some good books I bought in England - the Weight Watchers Mini-Series book entitled 'Simply Spicy' and 'Meat-Free Meals'. For fish, I use 'Alaskan Halibut Recipes' and 'Alaskan Salmon Recipes' by Cecilia Nibeck (AK Enterprises, Alaska) or a book (printed in China) entitled 'The Essential Seafood Cookbook' (Whitecap).
My London sailing friend Mandy Chapman is about to release a new cookbook. I'm very excited about trying out some of her recipes for sailors and there are probably a lot of recipes for folks who don't have a freezer like we have. I'll tell you about the recipes if I can somehow get the book and try some later in this blog.
Just before leaving for the NWP while we were in Scotland, I bought my German-manufactured Perfect Plus pressure cooker. I'd never owned one. Friends aboard boats had often told me how useful they are. My reluctance harked back to the agonies we all endured as my mother canned vegetables and fruit while the blasted pressure cooker whistled, screeched and on occasion shot off blistering hot steam or even emitted hot produce. It was our job to do the dishes, and cleaning the darned thing was a huge chore. However, we cook with propane and I realized it would be really difficult to get our tanks filled in Northern Canada (it turned out to be impossible until we got to Nome Alaska). I resolved only to bake in the oven once a week. So I bought the machine to make pressure cooker bread. A pressure cooker is the best way of saving propane fuel as it uses the gas in a very concentrated fashion. I ended up only using the oven to make gingerbread once a week. We rationed that to eat with our fruit desserts every night. Until we discovered tortilla wraps to use for sandwiches, I made bread in the pressure cooker.
The recipe for pressure cooker bread online didn't make bread that was very successful - Larry and Claude thought it was OK - it tasted like 'wet' Chinese bread. The pressure cooker was taking up a lot of galley space, so when I got to Victoria I went to a bookstore and bought the aforementioned cookbook thinking that if the machine wasn't useful to me, I'd have to sell it. About half of the recipes I'm using are made in the pressure cooker, and they certainly are successful. Alas - there's only enough food for a maximum of 6 people so I use other recipes when we have more folks aboard. At the moment, I'm glad no-one else wants to be here with us. ***It's just horrible weather (in Patagonia in September 2017)*** … we'd all be stuck inside, and I don't know if even the most delicious food could compensate.
The following is a list of our food (Lunches - L and dinners - D) along with spices used in them for the last week. Recipes in the Pressure Cooker Cookbook (PC CB) are listed by page number.
September 22 L and D: mulligatawny soup (p 122 Joy of Cooking) curry powder, thyme
23 L: mulligatawny soup D: whitefish salsa sauce:halved cherry tomatoes, red onion, garlic cloves, ½ cucumber, 2 TBSP capers, 1 tinned red chili, grated zest and *and lime juice *freeze zest before trip
24 L: 4-egg omelette w. dried chili flakes, cumin D: curry chicken w curry paste
for the paste: kaffir lime leaves, garlic, fresh ginger, red chili de-seeded, fennel seeds, star anise
25 L: wraps w pickled asparagus, cheese and meat slice D: Jalapeño steak w sliced thin oven-fried potatoes
26 L: lentil and bulgur soup (p97 PC CB): bay leaf, caraway & coriander seeds, lemon juice paprika, cayenne D: Beef stroganoff - Worcestershire sauce (Em Bergen's trick for sour cream from full cream)
27 L: vegetarian goulash - rose harissa, smoked paprika red/gr peppers, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, onions n garlic, sun-dried tomatoes n tomato paste, veggie stock D: add noodles n fish
28 L: wraps as above D: steak w mushrooms, sliced thin new potatoes and carrots, broccoli
29 L: split pea soup w dried apple & apple cider (based on PC CB p 94) - thyme, celery seeds D: Coffee-braised chuck roast w balsamic vinegar peanut oil, allspice, orange zest, v strong coffee (PC CB p144)
Today (February 13) we're having a salad of purple cabbage, asparagus and heart of palm with blue cheese dressing, with leftover Bistro Beef Stew with red wine, carrots and figs (PC p146) For dessert we have papayas from jars and frozen blueberries … mixed with a little orange liqueur.
So that's how I'm spending my time out here.

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At 2018-02-13 21:42 (utc) our position was 21°43.60'S 092°52.97'W

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Into the tradewinds

We are now about 600 nautical miles [1000 kilometers] to the west of the Chilean city of la Serena. This is a special place for sky watchers as it hosts a large collection of astronomical telescopes owned by universities both in Chile and in countries all over the world. The dry stable north Chilean climate combined with the exceptionally clear air blowing off the Pacific facilitate observations.

A brief dissertation on time zones: Chileans don't seem to mind dark mornings. Who gets up that early anyway? But, especially in summer, they expect their evenings to go on forever. Chile finds itself in longitude 70 to 75 west. Given the earth's rotation of fifteen degrees per hour, this would place it almost five hours west of Greenwich. The time zone, however is four hours in winter and a paltry three in summer - providing those late sunsets.

On Traversay though, the corresponding late sunrises make the last night watch - 4 to 8am - dark and seemingly endless. Our course to the north and west only makes the effect worse each day that passes. Last night, we made the first of many clock changes on this passage. An added benefit to the rationalizing of the sunrise times is that when I make these clock changes while Mary Anne sleeps from midnight to 4am, her four hours off changes into a more restful five.

Meanwhile out here, the water (and thus air) temperatures having reached 20C [68F], we have taken off and stowed our boat-shoes and socks. We are now in that brief range of latitudes where the climate approaches perfection - neither too cold nor too hot. Nonetheless, I still pull on a sweater during the night watches.

Though virtually permanent trade winds do not blow until the teens of latitude, the great preponderance of winds in the twenties where we now find ourselves DO blow from the southeast as well. With a little bending of our course towards the north, the forecasts assure us of fair winds as far into the future as they can see.

A planned visit [by air] to eastern Canada has been advanced to the point of affecting our navigational plans. We do not feel comfortable with sailing toward western Canada until winter has loosened its grip on the north thus a change in destination. We are now sailing nonstop to Hawaii with a plan to continue onward to BC in May.

Our new destination is a mere 5300 nautical miles ahead. The entire trip from Valdivia to Honolulu covers fully one quarter of the circumference of the world. The route is typically blessed with fine sailing weather and, with our usual progress, we may find ourselves there a week before the end of March.


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At 2018-02-08 05:20 (utc) our position was 29°49.51'S 082°59.17'W

Monday, 5 February 2018

Robinson Crusoe in the 'offing'

Approaching Juan Fernandez
"Do you want to be the one to call 'Land Ho?" These were Larry's words when I got up this morning for my watch after a much-needed 4-hr sleep. He hadn't realized that I'd already been outside with my coffee and that it was possible for me to be so myopic. Looking around for large vessels bearing down on us and seeing none - I hadn't spotted th enlarging huge landmass on the horizon - Juan Fernandez Island. It's also known as 'Robinson Crusoe' among both sailors and nearby fishermen. The best tinned seafood you can buy in Valdivia boasts the Robinson Crusoe label. Daniel Defoe got his story line from the real crew member - Alexander Selkirk - who was cast off here by his angry Captain and who soldiered on for four years, keeping a lonely watch in survival mode for four years until being picked up by a passing ship.

We've been sailing along under the mainsail alone for most of the last day. Over my last watch (1200-0400) the stars were brilliant and spread in their magnificence across the entire sky down to the horizon. Later on I watched a golden arc develop above the now lightly-clouded horizon to the southeast as the moon gradually broke above it's visual confines and fairly quickly soared up to take it's place in the heavens. I'd started the watch at midnight and even though this passage is gentler than anticipated, I'm still getting over a cold and also sport a number of motion-related bruises. With only one sail and the motion from behind, the boat seems to enjoy giving subtle lurches to catch the somewhat unwary and still uncoordinated crew-member off guard.

I'm still foggy-minded even though we've had beautiful sailing weather for our first few days. I feel sorry that I 'wasted' our one and only scapalomine seasick patch (none were available in Valdivia) when it might be needed further along. I'm worried that even though Larry says that all current information predicts mostly favourable weather like that we're presently enjoying, we might head into more turbulent weather north of the equator and nearing the North American coast.

During my watch. I'd been slightly puzzled that something was very wrong, but after checking and re-checking all the usual signs related to sailing procedures, I still couldn't find the problem. Finally looking down at my feet I discovered that I'd put my sailing shoes on backwards!

You may wonder how I managed to get something so unsubtle dead wrong. Well - it's not because I lost weight which I'd like to do in order to spare my recently operated upon right knee! It's because after reading "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall that I decided to get rid of the orthotics. I've also taken to going barefoot or wearing old, comfy and loosely fitting shoes. I'm avoiding my rigid klutzy 'rocking' soles but will also forego wearing stilettos for the time being. Just a reminder to boat guests, don't wear your stilettos aboard any small boat - they are never welcome!

So today there's so little motion that Larry's off watch and asleep in the forward cabin.

As I go out for my routine inspections (every 10-12 minutes) I'm watching the Island get larger and larger. Larry says that at noon we should be abreast. We hope we might even pick up the internet (very briefly) and I may get to post a REAL photo and a few archived photos taken in 2009 along with this report.

.. a few hours passed and no internet appeared so attached is a low resolution photo.

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At 2018-02-05 13:03 (utc) our position was 33°48.02'S 078°27.83'W

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Leaving is Never Easy

We arrived in Valdivia (again) at the start of the New Year with a plan to repair the boat, to visit the dentist and be away to the north inside of two weeks. Alas, it took three dental visits over a month to repair the tooth and put an end to the pain that had been following M.A. around for three months or more.

Summer in Valdivia is considered by the locals to be January and February. The occasional rain only seemed to fall at night. Out-of-school children took sailing lessons on the river that was our backyard during the seemingly endless hot sunny days. In the evening the twilight glow would hang over the hills for hours. Our going-away party was followed by more informal get-togethers to commemorate our "real" going away.

A horrible cold (my colds are always horrible) coupled with a windier-than-we'd-like forecast added yet another day to the long delayed departure.

Finally, with one day to go and with M.A. now sick with the cold also, it was time to complete various last minute tasks and necessary government procedures. This turned a bit Kafkaesque as various unfailingly polite and sympathetic officials told me that what I wished to do was lamentably (lamentablemente was the Spanish word used) not possible or that what I was required to do was possible only with difficulty.

First the bank: I had received a check for around $80 in the mail in return for an over-payment in the fees for an importation of boat parts I had made. I think the customs broker had absentmindedly without malice drawn two vertical lines across the check because "that's what we always do" or some such reason. I took my number at the bank and waited some time for my turn to come up. At the teller I discovered that, in Chile, those two lines meant "for deposit only to account of payee." Lamentably (that word again!) the only solution was to send it back to them in far-away Concepcion and ask for one without lines. None of this was compatible with our next-day departure.

Then off to the Port Captain's office to obtain a sailing approval or "zarpe". This is normal - all the "locals" also need one for voyages in or outside the country. I waited long enough that my friend, John - waiting outside - wandered away in boredom. It was probably lunchtime, or perhaps they were hunting around for an officer who could speak to me in English. This wasn't really necessary as the whole communication took place in Spanish anyway.

After receiving the zarpe, I phoned Mary Anne who suggested she, John, Sue and I eat lunch at Ultima Frontera. This only just arranged, I received a phone call that I must go back to the Port Captain office in about three quarters of an hour. For the others it was a fine lunch but, for me, somewhat hurried to say the least.

What was this about? It was just discovered that we had not been asked to pay "light dues" when we arrived - an oversight. At US$31, this was pretty minimal for a year's navigation along the well-marked Chilean waterways. No problem ... How many pesos is that? Well, for foreign boats, it had to be in US$; only Chilean boats could pay in pesos. The United States is one country we have not touched in our two year voyage thus we have no US cash lying around. Banks? Closed at 2pm, a quarter hour earlier. One of a small number of money changers might be open I was told. It turned out they opened at 3pm - really 3:15. More waiting in the hot sun.

But this all ended smoothly with light dues paid and receipt in hand.

During the evening, though, we were informed that the Immigration Officers were swamped with work and couldn't come to our boat the next morning. Happily, we could take a taxi to their office on the far side of town to get our passports stamped just before leaving.

Morning came and there was some confusion in the Navy's mind which marina we were at as they came to check our flares, fire extinguishers, life jackets etc. Then, after the taxi rides and passport stampings, we were aboard, untying our lines and heading down the peaceful river surrounded by beautiful green hills.

We have been asked on occasion "Why not just leave?". It would be ungrateful to a country that has shown us so many varied experiences and introduced us to so many generous and friendly people to not comply with a few rules. The compliance, in fact, leads to more experiences and meetings with helpful and courteous officials. On a more practical tone, modern officials aided by computers have long memories and we will want to return one day.

And now ... Night is falling and Valdivia is seventy five miles behind us. The sails pull us along at seven knots across a rolling sea that a few days hence we would call gentle but at the moment we see as a bit rough. Summer has disappeared, snuffed out by a damp mist and 11C temperatures (52F). The tropical Marquesas Islands are 4000 miles ahead!


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At 2018-02-03 00:13 (utc) our position was 38°53.90'S 074°06.24'W

Saturday, 27 January 2018

ready,set, STOP

John and Eliana
One week ago we were all ready to start our trip except for two appointments. The first was the going-away party to which we'd invited all the friends we have made amongst the 'locals' here and the other 'cruisers'.
Gean and Zoe
Luis
Jill and Nick

Nick, Franco and Kath
On Sunday (January 21st) we gathered in the Sala de Club de Yates (meeting space) for which we paid a very reasonable fee. It was difficult to estimate how many people would actually come to the event. After inviting 42 people we bought provisions for 35 but decided to use part of our 3 months of supplies recently purchased in advance of our trip back to Canada. After the event. we would simply replace the wine and cheese we'd used. After leaving a few treats for the staff who were cleaning the room, we still had ample wine and cheese left for our trip and didn't need to replace anything.

We were fortunate to have live music - and this kept many people anchored in the room from 4pm until after 10.

The 'Local' Guitarist:We met guitarist/singer Eliana Valenzuela through friend Marc Cypres. He's now a Chilean after moving here with his wife in his Belgian-registered ketch. He's very friendly to us even though he's been going through a painful re-adjustment period after many years of togetherness, raising a daughter and travelling the world. We were invited to meet his daughter Sarah and her friends several months ago. Included in the group was Eliana. She had been over before our trip to Patagonia to helping explore the music of Violetta Parra. She teaches Spanish to some underprivileged children in Valdivia as her 'day job' and is possessed of a beautiful voice.
Marc Karin Kirsten and Vincente

Kath and Sue
The 'Cruising' Guitarist: John and Sue Bucher are here on their yacht Valkyrie and it turns out that he has maintained a lifelong love of playing classical guitar music having learning to play during his childhood on Chiloe Island. Sue - sharing a former career as an educator - has inspired me to return to an interest in crocheting.
John retired as a flight test engineer for Boeing so he and Larry have 'talking points' to keep them busy about airplanes they have either flown (or even - in John's case - test-flown). When he discovered that Eli was going to play he retrieved his guitar from his boat ... the result was an evening of shared music and a very happy group of people.

Some of both our long-standing or new friends you've met before in this blog. Karen, Kirsten and son Vincente arrived to help along with a family of  'cruisers' from British-registered 'Mollymawk' - a large steel craft undergoing welding and painting repairs. These are being carried out by the indefatigable crew of Zoe, new husband Gean, and Zoe's parents Nick and Jill.  Our friends on the Welsh yacht 'Caramor' - Franco and Kath who were here
Larry and M.A.(with sore tooth no.12) listening to music
when we arrived in Valdivia this time.

Our second pre-departure adventure was NOT successful. This involved  my ongoing battle with Tooth no.12. An August dental appointment had not revealed any problems before we left for 4 months to dive and re-visit Patagonia. The pain started only after we were in Patagonia with few advanced dental resources. A visit to the dentist in Puerto Natales yielded a short-term solution  -a week-long course of antibiotics which temporarily halted the more abject form of the pain. However, on the 6 weeks-long trip back up to Valdivia the pain gradually re-asserted itself. So now, having expected to be on our way around the 12th of January, we won't be able to leave until after my next (and hopefully final) dental appointment on Tuesday the 30th.

So start watching for more progress on Thursday February 1st.


Sunday, 14 January 2018

El Valdiviano

El Valdiviano steam train
It was our plan to be on our way north toward French Polynesia by now.  Of course, wishes often don't work out as planned.  Mary Anne's visit to the dentist to fix a long simmering problem required a return visit in two weeks.  There were now two extra weeks in Valdivia and two less weeks in the Marquesas.  What to do?   ... lots, it turns out!

Writing about the ocean conference arranged by the university will have to wait until after it takes place.  Nonetheless, the steam train excursion is fair game having happened yesterday on a cloudless sunshiny blue-sky day.

These days in Chile, public transport between cities is by fast comfortable buses and on faster jets. Nonetheless, not so long ago, there were passenger train services, now limited to the larger urban areas.  One of the rail companies has resurrected an early 1900s vintage steam locomotive and some 1930s coaches and linked them into a summer weekend tourist attraction.

The Calle Calle River
Belching great clouds of black coal smoke, we lurched along the very scenic river for a few hours stopping briefly at a couple of barely pronounceable villages.  At just over twenty kilometers an hour, the countryside drifted rather than flew by.  The cattle in the fields were more frightened by this apparition from the past while we were soothed by our personal movie soundtrack provided by a group of singers strolling through the carriages. Guitar and accordion strains filled the coach as we rumbled along, tree branches scraping along the windows.

Eventually we arrived for the signature two hour stop in Antilhue where we were entertained with great food and a troupe of young dancers who, after displaying their skills, ran out into the large audience to dance with some of our fellow train travelers. I have to admit that to avoid being drawn into this I skipped out after the lunch to have a close look at our train and its engine.
Go ahead. Pronounce "Huellelhue"!

Music aboard




At this point the locomotive had been uncoupled and moved around a long loop to be re-positioned at the other end of the train for our return.  I learned: That the engine had been built in Valparaiso in 1913 to British plans; that the coaches were from Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. The 686 horsepower engine was capable (we never experienced this) of a breathtaking 60 km/hour while consuming 20 kilos of coal and 150 liters of water per kilometer.

Altogether, the day was just another reminder that delays and detours are more to be embraced and enjoyed rather than to be lamented.