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Sunday, 7 January 2018

Back in Valdivia

We have now found our way back to the Yacht Club Valdivia where we are making our final preparations for a return to Western Canada via the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia.

We had an excellent sail north in the open ocean from Canal Chacao to Bahia Corral, the entrance to the river on which the city of Valdivia is situated.  We had known for a number of days that a particular choice of departure day would grace us with fair winds.

Construction ship and new central pier
As we left the sheltered waters behind Chiloe Island to transit canal Chacao, the narrow stretch of water that separates the island from the mainland, we were greeted with a very impressive sight!

The fact of Chiloe being an island allowed the colonial Spanish to maintain a presence there while the indigenous Mapuche on the mainland had held back colonization on the mainland at a line far to the north.  Today, this isolation tempered by a stream of ferries and a few flights, serves only to hamper transport and economic opportunity.  The Chilean government decided a number of years ago that there should be a bridge  across canal Chacao to Chiloe but balked at the cost.

Construction finally commenced between our southbound trip to Puerto Natales and our return north. The building efforts were in full view as we sailed passed.  The central bridge pier is being placed on Roca Remolinos in the middle of the channel - whirlpool rock named for the fierce tidal currents that swirl around it.  A very large construction ship had elevated itself above this shoal on four large cylindrical steel supports planted firmly on the seafloor.  Beside it were the many new pilings it had placed to support the middle of the bridge.  The ship and pilings, though stationary, appeared to be moving along at a good speed with water swirling about and a wake trailing away to the west.  This illusion was created by a six knot current as the falling tide raced west toward the ocean.
North shore pier construction

Further construction work at the edges of the channel was creating the shoreside supports at each end of the bridge.

Now, a few days later, we are catching up on old friends here in Valdivia, replacing some failed blocks in the mains'l traveler and stays'l sheet rigging and preparing the shopping lists for the food we will consume during our three month return trip to Canada.  Our new alternator will arrive next week having finally cleared its customs hurdles in Santiago and will need to be installed on the engine.

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