Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The Big City

Along the way
Puerto Profundo on the edge of Magellan Strait was our actual turnaround point but we needed to r
esupply with food and fuel to provide for our trip back north.  Puerto Natales, being the only inhabited port around here, was the only choice.

The way this normally works is that you arrive in the city, tie up in a marina berth for some expenditure of money and eat out a lot while going to supermarkets movies and concerts to mix the essential with the enjoyable.

It's different here!

We left an anchorage a few miles from Puerto Natales early on a calm morning to try to get as much done as possible mindful of the likely but unknown difficulties.  There is no a) secure (from weather) and b) available  - tie-up for a "pleasure boat" in Puerto Natales.  There is no anchorage either that doesn't get regularly beat up by the Patagonian winds. Needing around 600 liters of diesel fuel though, we really wanted to tie alongside something a fuel truck could park on.  Everything else we could solve from an anchorage using the dinghy.

A phone call established that the fisherman's dock would allow us to tie up no longer than necessary for the fueling ... and the paperwork the navy required to allow us to fuel. So in we came between two boats unloading fish and loading supplies. I headed off to the Port Captain office for the papers and a short time after I got back, the fuel truck appeared.

Puerto Consuelo
The Navy people - who had appeared almost as soon as we had tied up - confirmed that there was nowhere for us in town and "suggested" we should really head off to the secure anchorage at Puerto Consuelo about 2 hours by boat out of the city.  Mary Anne quickly digested all this and suggested that, since we would need transport from there, she could rent a car and meet me there.

While the day was evolving under light winds, brilliant sunshine and world-class scenery all around, the following problems emerged in no particular order.  These are the sort of things cruising sailors deal with that regular tourists cannot even imagine.

1) in front and behind our boat, various other boats tied up two-deep (a kind of legitimate double-parking).  It took the help of three or four fishermen on the dock to extricate Traversay from her position on the dock to the open water outside this considerable thickness of parked boats.

2) Everything, of course, takes place in Spanish

3) lots of docking paraphernalia (lines and fenders) for one person to put away while steering through unfamiliar waters.

4) very shallow water on the way to Puerto Consuelo.  On the best course there is only 10 centimeters of water under the keel - on the wrong course: none at all.

Meanwhile ...

5) the fact that Puerto Consuelo is an obvious location on a nautical chart does not mean that the highway people give it any thought at all.  Mary Anne toured a very scenic part of Patagonia getting no closer to where I had anchored for the longest while. Several of the roads which went to the water were closed for repairs, so she kept seeing the water far below, and no apparent way of getting to it.

6) Roads were gravel, dusty and slow.

The road to Puerto Consuelo
7) Mary Anne's ultimate arrival was delayed a considerable while by a large hole in the road and several large pieces of construction equipment attempting to fill it.

8) during these separate travels, there were no cellphone signals thus I had no idea of Mary Anne's progress and she had no idea of mine.

9) Did I mention that everything takes place in Spanish - including any helpful directions Mary Anne was offered along the way.

10) Her roadmap didn't show Puerto Consuelo and my nautical charts didn't show the roads to get there so neither of us would have been much help to the other if we could have communicated.  This is a typical problem; many people living on or near a beach cannot describe how to reach their location by water.

But now, we have a car, full fuel on the boat and a secure anchorage.  The city is only a half hour drive away and we are ready for a week of adventure here.  The failed desalinator that makes our drinking water can be repaired another day.

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