Thursday, 28 December 2017

Small challenges

In Canada, a typical boating adventure involves driving the car to the supermarket, visiting the fuel dock with the boat and heading away.  This is roughly the same for a Chilean boater with their boat in Puerto Montt if they are planning a short trip around the nearby islands and inlets - with the exception that their entire itinerary has to be approved in advance by the Navy.

Our trip is longer so things are different.

Isla Chiloe Scenery
As we passed north along the shore of Isla Chiloe, it started to become obvious that, while our food and fuel would just last to Valdivia, the chocolate, peanuts, cookies and wine would be exhausted.  Oh no!

So we fit in a stop at the city of Castro on our way north.  This regional center boasts a good supermarket. Also the fuel needed for a margin of comfort after covering the additional distance to Castro was easily purchased at a truck-stop.  Fighting the relentless winds and currents in the channels on the way north had increased our fuel consumption more than we could have imagined.

Getting these easily purchased items aboard our anchored boat was somewhat more problematic.  The tidal range here is six meters from low water to high water and only the Navy have floating docks that move up and down with the tide.  With our purchases, we wheeled the dinghy down onto the beach from where we had left it safely above the sea in a parking lot.  Did I mention our dinghy has retractable wheels?  After loading our five twenty-liter jugs of fuel  and our groceries, we sat in the warm afternoon sun in the dinghy until the water returned and floated us up and off the beach. We even had an audience for this exercise and the locals would no sooner notice what you were about and they would come running to help.

Since we had stopped at a town with a Navy base, we had to present ourselves and our documents (twice) to obtain approval for the remainder of our voyage to Valdivia - which had already been approved in Puerto Natales.  We are not troubled by this. It is connected with a concern for our location so we can easily be rescued.  A minor addendum to these procedures is that the ports are frequently closed to small vessels (like ours) in the sort of inclement weather that doesn't really trouble us.  The boat has, after all, gotten itself here from Canada.  We rushed to get the dinghy aboard  and the anchor up in the gathering wind, somewhat worried that the port would suddenly close and we would have to start all over getting our permit to leave.

Against the background of solving these sort of problems, the large alternator on our engine has failed completely requiring us to run a separate generator for electricity even if the engine is running.
We can't really fault the thing.  It has been spinning 10000 hours or so and was just tired.  A worn brush slipped out of position and it's spring chewed up the copper slip ring and spat it out as a fine powder around the engine compartment.

Lacking time in our schedule to research repairs - the guy who sold the device eighteen years ago doesn't answer his phone - we have ordered a new one.  It is on its way but will stumble in Santiago on its way to final delivery until I find a broker to run interference between myself and customs.  Theoretically, parts for foreign vessels in transit are duty-free but I have my doubts that will happen.

And, like everything else here, this is all a challenge to my slowly-improving but not-yet-good Spanish, the language in which everything happens.

We are now back in civilization.  The mobile phones and wireless internet now work about 1/2 the time.  The land, all islands, is covered with little farms patched onto the rolling hillsides.  It is a sort of "Shire" from "Lord of the Rings"

Shellfish culture floats
The water, less scenically, is covered with enough fish farms and oyster culture areas that sometimes we can hardly believe there is a route into the anchorages where we spend the nights.  Of course, in the morning we discover the last sentence to have been an exaggeration as we easily see the obvious way back out to sea.

But all goes well.  The scenery is still very special and five more days, including an overnight open sea passage, will see us in Valdivia making our final preparations for the return to Canada.

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