We have been sailing in the most amazing place in the planet. That is simply no exaggeration. This blog falls into three parts, and is a little unusual! First, a gallery, some of the images are beautiful and we are genuinely pleased with, there are others with us in…! Second is a little playful poem of our time here, and the third a wordy account which is more descriptive of the shenanigans and landscape but, alas, will never do this majestic land justice.
December Patagonia painted her carefree side,
green waters and soft airs the raptors glide
Brazenly sea lions, seals and shearwater in us confide
With too-fair weather flooding an endless tide
Januarys’ legacy much the same,
whistful contrary wind, unrefrained
Golfo to Penas would to us be tame
Warm sun carressed our sturdy dame
On weighing anchor from Curious tortel
A change to the wind the skies did foretell
Mother nature had rung the bell
On our weather that had started so very well!
The mountains glowered and the sky scowled
Old Lista’s joints quivered as the sreaming wind howled
Southing and Easting chalked up cheek by jowl
Her crew cowered from the elements so utterly foul
Day on day the wind did rage,
But relentless we traversed charts from page to page,
For the sea hemmed tightly by steep sides of aged
Rocks, rarely registered a ripple on the guage
Over mountains we sailed and down again,
In Natales we sought respite from the lashing rain
The isobars reveled the demonic mane
Of the wind unrestrained by rain that came!
Lista flinched, blinked,clawed in deep
Bowed tward the wind to keep her feet
Whipped seas on her brave face did beat
But never did she resign her seat
On and out we beat our track,
75miles to windward we her nosed back
Through a feisty chop her bows did hack
Until we met our week-old track
From here on south anchorage beared
The names so famed of men who dared
to tread waters of dread, in haste and ill-prepared
The cruel sea mocked their souls so scared
At nights to the rocks we meshed our lines
To make home in her tight rockwalled confines
Interlaced and intertwined
Far from the wind it us couldn’t find
Though Icy tongues licked the way
Lista sailed freely day on day,
eternities of adventure come what may
upon which our dreams had for so long had lay
Too soon the the port of Williams required
To report the arrival of Lista, her zarpe retired,
But surely of Patagonias secrets we never have tired
Two lifelong dreamers, Patagonia has sired
To sail in Patagonia, with her majestic glaciers tumbling to the sea, her steep fjords, literally thousands of islands and hundreds of thousands of miles of remote waterways was why we had weighed anchor 6 months before in the Caribbean and set sail. There were other motivations too, like learning about the continent we intend to cover overland on foot (www.5000mileproject.org), learning the spanish tongue, and putting Lista Light in cooler waters but the most compelling was to sail in a remote and inaccessible land where few are lucky enough to tread. It would put our boat and her crew to the test in some of the least forgiving weather and waters the blue planet has to offer, but the rewards would be indelible. There would be incident of course, some risks which worked out and a couple that didn’t, and some natural encounters that came rather too close for comfort; we would see mother nature in all her moods!
This log sees us to Puerto Williams, Chile, 55degrees South, the Southernmost town in the world.
Miles sailed: 2,211nm
Of those we shared with other craft: 14
Anchorages without lines required: 20 ….therefore 45 that did!!
Connections to shore power: 0
The names of the great sailors of the world are synonymous with these wild lands, from the discoverers like Magellan and Sir Francis Drake, to the subsequent circumnavigators Cook, Fitzroy (with Darwin aboard) et al looking to head west, finally to the early yachtsmen brave enough to put their small craft in these tumultuous waters, Slocum, and Tilman. Without modern navigation, a map, modern shipbuilding materials and quite frankly the sense not to stick to the farmstead and cosy nights of cabbage broth and the times crossword the chances of returning home were not handsome, of those expeditions that did make it home many had only 10% of the crew still clinging to life and fewer still to sanity aboard their creaking galleons. These waters consume ships with an astonishing appetite, even now. That said, times have changed and with a good pilot book now available (Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide- Mariolina Rolfo & Giorgio Ardrizzi) and plenty of successful predecessors giving us confidence to have a try our odds were better but it was not without butterflies that we finally set sail from Pto Montt to discover our own Patagonia aboard Lista Light, our 77yr-old lady. We poured over old books, primed sailing friends for all they were worth and excitedly acquired charts and a new GPS. We whispered to our old boat in the hope she would look after herself, and us. We bought rope, lots of it (an extra 440m to go with the 1km onboard), and boxes of fresh supplies and then prised ourselves away from our unlikely suitor Pto Montt for wilder waters.
Its difficult to put into words a place like Chile’s southern patagonian lands – the weather is so raw, when it rains it is beautiful, and last for days with layers of cloud and mist mingling with the mountains, and when the high pressure arrives and the sky clears entirely, it is beautiful too, at night it is chillingly astounding, by dawn and dusk mesmerising, in the mist enchanting…..
The log has been broken into sections, working from the
The Northernmost Fjord – Seno Reloncavi
Renihue and Parque Pumalin
Golfo Corcovado to Golfo de Penas
Tortel to Pto Natales
Magellan Straights to the Beagle Channel
To turn the corner up into Reloncavi is to walk into a film set for Lord of the Rings – the sky laden, the mountains seem inseparable and old (which they are not, in geological terms at least) and impenetrable but ofcourse in between the mist and the brooding giants was the fjord we would make our home in and as we pressed on in the mountains parted and enveloped us – we were going intothe Andes in a sailing boat!!
Our first dabble into Patagonia was into the Northernmost of the fjords which has its own reputation of ejecting craft attempting to enter ill-prepared or in contrary weather. Winds were unfavourable for first attempt but not superstrong and we hugged the coastline in the spitting rain, testing the north shores for an anchorage but failing to find the bottom with suitable swinging room, or the anchor not seeming to set with the limited scope we could offer it. In retrospect we just weren’t trying hard enough to get tight to the shore. We crossed to Caleta Martin and had an amazing encounter with the resident Kingfisher as we pieced together our existing lines to tie in having discovered the holding was useless. Our new shiny rope was too new and shiny to use! We revelled at our new surroundings and probed the sky with our mobile broadband dongle. As well as ‘Hansel and gretal’ (for our lamentable learnings of spanish using childrens books) we had become known in Pto Montt for asking everyone and anyone for a wild place “with wifi” – a contradiction of course but necessary for us to finish edits on the seabird book and start preparing for our new project www.5000mileproject.org. One flaky little bar of reception, we would have to move on
The coming day was to mark the start of a horrendous 48 hour period which would be best forgotten. We had wanted to bathe Lista Light in a fresh water river having spent time in the infamous Pto Montt, riddled with shipworms. We have good paint on the bottom but thought of being eaten out by worm was enough to warrant us doing something about it, and the one thing salt water worms really need, is salt water. We deliberated repeatedly but in the end committed to the rio puelo which locals use for this purpose. It’s the bottom of an incredible river which begins in Argentina and crashes down over the Andes before meandering into Reloncavi. Of course there were no charts. We timidly approach on what looked like a sensible track before the echo sounder blinked and barfed and the bump that followed confirmed we had softly guided her into the bar. Several more heart-stopping attempts to nudge our old boat against the flow of the turbulent river and we reached the river proper and after a dog-leg chugged up in 4m against the flow. There is something uneasy about the flow of these rivers and the texture of the bottom swirls the water into eddies, bulges, layers slipping underneath others – all silt laden and opaque like angry milk, no telling what hazards are concealed. The instructions were pretty sketchy about where we would be best placed, with sufficient water under the keel at all points of tide, but protected against the melt water carrying trees and other debris. Would we always be able to leave we wondered, and what if the river flooded badly and we lost the protection of the islets? We dropped the anchor, cut the power and quickly were swept back onto it with a firm jab at the chain. After some deliberation and much staring at fixed points we made our way to find some local knowledge. The kayak was quickly swept downstream until we found our rhythm, paddled hard and crept up against the flow. After an hour of bumbling around in the woods trying to find an inhabited house we final bumped into some young guys who confirmed we should be ok, “no te preocupa” – don’t worry. We were a bit worried because the tide was about to turn and leaving the river on a falling tide wasn’t clever – there had been big boulders which were now covered, any of them would sink the boat. Also we didn’t know how much water would be left in the river when the tide did drain out.
What started then was a 36 hr vigil mapping the tide depth every 30 mins to see when it would start to steady out and drop no further, or when it would top out. With every gust of wind the boat dragged over her chain and then was rammed back upon it by the river. Each scraping of the chain sounded like th anchor was dragging. We didn’t want to use a stern anchor for fear of trapping a large tree, similar to the graveyard of dead hulks that was uncovered within 20m the first time the tide dried out. We nearly paid the price with our boat.
We spent the day mostly worrying but also to a trip out in the kayak to map every ugly rock that showed at low water in case we may need to make a hasty exit.
The next night, tired and edgy we kept up the vigil, every now and then checking our bearings. Difficult to pinpoint marks on the foul dark night but all seemed as well as had been. It had decided by this stage to leave the river on the next opportunity with daylight and a rising tide as the moon was waning and we had less water on each tide, we just needed to stay hooked for that night. Then it happened at about 0300- a wind from the SW had picked up and we seemed to hear more grating that we had got used to – by the time we made it to the hatch 35 tonnes of wooden boat had been driven forward and to starboard, against the river, with the chain stretching out to port bar tight, and then the river had taken hold and forced her downriver once more, but astride a sunken boulder. Without the force of the gust the river had her 50’ length pinned midriver on her keer with churning water bow and stern. 20 sqm of hydraulic action and lista was in the way. The engine was powerless. I felt sick. It was hopeless – the anchor winch was also powerless to against such an incredible force. We scrabbled together the tide times to see if we should be lifted off or would remain stuck until the water drained and either lay over into the oncoming river, icy water filling the hatches or grind a hole through the hull on the rock, both meant losing the boat.
At that moment another racha (strong gust) swept through and heeled Lista Light over with its ferocity, just enough that the force combated the river and with engine full astern she somehow grinded our way backwards and, critically, past the pivot point on the rock. With the big rudder hard into the direction of the river with the water swirling and churning to pass the obstacle for the first time the drag at the back of the boat outweighed the bow and we suddenly spun off sideways before being jabbed back into the anchor.
We stood, cold, wet with the decklight beams refracting off the horizontal rain, in shock. The engine lightly kicked over in astern to hold us to the anchor.
We had to go, without waiting for daylight, but at least knew where the hazards should be. With all the melt water the river was much stronger than the tide, and so we would have no steerage,a depth sounder with no light, the torches we pretty useless as the misty rain consumed them , but staying there was worse. Thankfully the anchor broke loose when we pulled it up, and Lista now quickly swung down river dodgy imaginary hazards on a digital GPS screen. What had taken 90 mins to do upstream elapsed in a hazy 10 minutes of following a dotted line whilst occasionally bits of river bank swept by close and fast. By the time we cleared the bar we drove the boat to the middle of the Fjord, cut the engine and drifted and drifted with no hazards about and drained from our welcome to patagonia.
If the Puelo river was not the best introduction then our next two homes were. After the general trauma of Puelo we crossed over to Sotomo, dropped anchor and lines didn’t move a jot for 2 weeks! We worked, we swam in brutally cold water, warmed up in steaming natural thermal pools, then swam again to cleanse off the sulphurous mud! We kayaked several miles across the Fjord in fair weather and a rather sketchy trip in foul weather, feeling small and endangered amongst the fierce wind and chop funnelled by the precipitous mountiainside. We played like children – even a trip to the shore 30m away to collect kindling or flowers, or tend lines would end up in an hour long mini-transect into a pristine jumble of plants and birds and species we only ever knew by their sounds. The paddle back was more often than not highjacked by a group of dolphins or sea lions coming to sniffle at their new neighbours. We didn’t have bad days in Sotomo.
Even in bad weather it was a majestic place to be, with internet access, and the nearest neighbours a mile or two away. Still in wintertime we spent the evenings huddled near the fierce woodburning stove. We had taken enough old parts of the dock from Pto Montt that we could mix in a small amount of tepu/arryan to get the heat up – these are species which can be burned green.
We visited the house one day and were greeted by an enthusiastic chap, utterly incomprehensible and clearly a little simple. We asked where the nearest track was for running and he giggled. We gestured up the hill, to that he giggled and nodded, so off we went in search of the connection to the road. He followed, in wellies. We picked up the pace a little to test his resolve and he kept smiling and running with us, and he was pretty handy too. Kath and I took the lead despite not knowing which corner of his sheep field would lead to a road. We scraped through some scrub to reveal . . more scrub, and a dwindling sheep track. Wrong way. We turned, our friend there was delighted at our mistake but ran down to us and then followed again. This routine went on for a bit, we saw some lovely parts of his farm cut into the hillside as he ran behind us in his wellies; waterfalls, dripping vegetation, and everyone of his animals and down to the kayak again. we began to realise there really was no road here, only sea.
We took to that sea corridor in late September, now clear we had to replan post the debarcle at Puelo. To allay any fear of marine borers the locals seemed to dread penetrating our tough paint we decided that a 200nm detour north was required, via our albatross fiends in the South Pacific up to the tranquil meandering river at Valdivia, a safer option. Before that though we decided a 7-day intensive spanish course was needed if we were to make the most of our immersion into homo sapiens so headed south over the Golfo de Ancud and up to a very special part of chile, Fjordo Quintepue. On the way there we passed Mani again, motoring north, close enough to yell to us detailed instructions of where to tie up in this 4mile long steeply wooded fjord, finally we were sailing into the unpopulated Andes. The entrance was easy to find with GPS but without it would have justified its name, which means “seek and you will find” in the native indian language. We’d ghosted along on light winds below a heavily leaden sky that morning and set our sights on tacking up wind into the fjord, but with contrary tide and our windward performance combined to make it thoroughly impossible. Again, the reputation in this area is fearsome, leading us to carry reefs in the sails even though we were doing 1kt at best. The scene when it did open up was spectacular. Truly incredible waterfalls ripping scars into the sheer rock faces, thick forest hanging onto the thin soils and layers of mist and cloud shrouding the icy mountain tops. The edges looked hostile and after some milling we finally found the notch in which mani had left his little lines. It really was little more than an indentation but with water deep until the slimy rock walls it was deemed “sheltered”. IT didn’t feel it, one look West to the prevailing wind showed a 4 mile fetch of open water, then us, then 4 m of water, then the cliff! There is no other safe option in that area though, so we made fast with two lines each fore-and-aft and called it home for a 10 days.
No radio contact, nearest neighbour was an occasional visit to the salmon farm nearby by Quentin and an assembly of salmoneras with varying quantities of teeth on display. At weekends our kingdom (ha! How quick these extranjeros had assumed property rights!!!) was invaded by a couple of big tour boats but the only other traffic was the wonderful Canadians Steve and Meredith on s/v Silas Crosby. We gorged in mussels and wine and cream until we felt amorous and ill at the same time. We kayaked up the river and learned nursery rhymes in spanish. We took too many photographs as we became spellbound by the set, somehow excitedly nervous it may display its beauty for the last time that day and never re-awaken, which of course it would.
Having lost all contact with the weather forecast we finally conceded that we should at least base ourselves near to the Pacific entrance to make the hop up to Valdivia in order to get that out the way before meeting crew in December further South, should good weather arrive. As we emerged our first task was to gain further permission from the Armada who we had to contacts for a few weeks to head North. The diversion to Calbuco was fairly miserable, the wind contrary and all coves we sought to stay the night in full of salmon farms and mussel beds. Time after time we nosed in a simply couldn’t find room to swing at anchor, and with no option to tie to shore because of the long intertidal zone we nosed into harbour at Calbuco instead, in the dark and without full protection. The usual paperchase followed to gain permission to leave, which nearly cost us to lose a day because of missing a tide.
In the end we made it through the tidal race in poor weather and had to anchor short of the Pacific off Faro Carona. The North East with made it a unpleasant anchorage and we would have been much better off in open sea.
For the sail up to Valdivia we sought the help of the Humbolt Current, and 30 hours later we were releived to pull around the corner out of the swell into the river at Bahia Corral. The final 80 miles had been fast powerful sailing on a following Pacific sea, but the first half day reminded us of the misery of ocean sailing when conditions are not in favour with bits of boat crashing about and nothing much we could do about it!
Valdivia itself is a beautiful riverine setting, reeds surround the low town and the pleasant river weaving its way through the old partially germanic town. Beyond the façade the buildings soon lose their way to chilean functional chunks but for the few streets around the river and the almost unbroken fine weather made it hard to believe we were in one South Americas wettest parts. We were the only boat to anchoring in the river, the best place to be. We had some simple objectives for our time there – for Lista to bathe in fresh water, for us to build a website, and for us to prepare Lista for the South. The first took no effort, the latter were helped immeasurably by meeting young dutch couple Bram and Viv, now good friends, who in the days we were there got married and had a baby with little fuss. Very dutch. Both are modern people in every way and were able help scrub away some of the cobwebs to get the me through the website business, and Bram also gave sensible pointers on the business of welding for the rope barrels I had long dreamed of. Things did very nearly unravel on finding the “Ultima Frontera” bar one night after combining my unpracticed liver with Germanic strength beer and a fair thirst from a day fighting with bits of metal the room soon spun and my neck craned to hold the horizon still, whilst my face fizzed, and all I wanted was a cold floor to cling onto. I spent that night on the deck, and the following morning in regret. Apart from that blip most went to plan, and aside from accidentally becoming “aliens” and having to flee to Argenitina with expired Visas there was little drama. We worked all day and met some of Valdivias more curious people by night, but there was little distraction from the real business of getting ready to head south.
Renihue and Parque Pumalin
We had taken too long up north and in doing so had opened the door to the summer who walked in most unexpectedly and over the coming months would make the miles sought to make South much more difficult than we ever imaged. The big high pressure in the Pacific, combined with depressions that chunter unobstructed around the Southern Ocean ensure there is always a Westerly component in the wind offshore, but on meeting the impenetrable Andes it has little else it can do but to break North and South. By waiting too long in Valdivia the high pressure had snuck South, below us, as the earth tilts and bears its South pole to the sun and we were therefore getting a much higher proportion of winds from the South than planned. We wouldn’t overtake it until 48degrees South, after Golfo de Penas.
Arriving back into the protection of the Islands again, and bound for Parque Pumalin, put us in good form. The colours of Chiloe and the white capped mountains behind are breathtaking. Having waited for a day to get the right wind we made the seventy miles at an average of 7 kts – the relatively flat sea making Lista light feel like a racing boat. Her 30+ tonne heavy, long frame is a dream to sail in these conditions and countless days in Patagonia we would be grateful for her sturdy construction and versatile sail plan (given all journeys seem to be either with a head wind or a tail wind, an nothing in between, being able to sail close to the wind is less of an advantage).
Actually we arrived too early, not something we regularly encounter. Having been funnelled into Renihue we were left mooching around until the tide would give us scope to enter the tight line into Fjordo Largo, the protected crook at the head of Renihue. But we didn’t wait. We had some info from a pilot on the idea for getting in – “just watch your rigging in the trees”, i.e. go close. No decent charts exist of course, which is pretty much the story for the south too if you want to dabble off the main channel.
We were excited, the wind was starting to pick up and we couldn’t wait. Mid-tide, with the strongest part of the flow following us in we started to make our transit close to the wooded bank, being swept along through the milky green water. At least we were on a rising tide.
Unfortunately, having learned to go very close in navigating fast rivers in Venezuela we took the instructions literally, rather than metaphorically, how they’d been intended perhaps, and on the penultimate bend . . . . crack! Not again! This time we had run aground on something that felt quite round, and had connected near the stern – you can feel that even through the heavy hull. That was at least some relief, unlike the Puelo situation earlier. With the tide sluicing past us at 3-4kts there was no way Lista could reverse off. Nor go forward. The bow had been swept forwards and was pointing just clear of the cliff on the north bank a few metres ahead of the bowsprit, not on the line we wanted to take should we get off the lump. At full revs the prop whirred and slashed at the opaque water but soon white smoke from the straining engine filled the air and we feared for the beast so had to cut the power to half, still in astern, just to take some of the pressure off the flooding tide. Once again we were wedged.
Probing around with a make-shift jib pole we set about working out what on earth we were sitting on. Having found the object, couldn’t resist to try and lever the stern out with the pole which of course and inevitably sheared off at the end – completely disproportionate to the forces that had us pinned.
A plan came to mind. If the tide was rising then this was a temporary affair, we would be released, but perhaps we would be pushed straight into the bank as we came off our obstruction. If we could lay an anchor out to the starboard stern then as Lista became free she would swing out into thechannel rather than straight ahead into the bank. If the kayak could cut across the stream to the relatively slow flowing far bank then the anchor could be walked up the far bank and dumped in the exposed sand some way upstream.
Kath deployed to the kayak and clinging on, I lowered the little anchor and some chain into the kayak.
She started to sink. (Kath, not Lista).
The propwash combined with the flow of the current was spilling over the tail of the kayak and soon it became clear the whole lot, kath included would be go under unless we bailed out of that idea quickly! Kath was terrified, a fairly reasonable reaction as the gushing water fills ones wellies and swirls all around at pace, whilst ones house is teetering on a rock.
Together we first hauled man (woman) and anchor out of the kayak (paddle long gone!) and as we dumped it all on deck and the shock of it subsided Lista started to move. The tide was freeing us up!!
Full astern again, sod the white smoke!! Lista naturally kicks to Starboard, into the flow and away from the bank and luckily the net result against the rushing water was that we somehow crabbed sideways, giving just enough clearance with a jab of power forward to take us clear fo the rock bank ahead, and into the deeper water. Without much steerage or time to dry the tears we swept through the remainder having made quite a drama of it. And we drifted for a while as the great big Fjord opened up in front of us, drizzling and shrouded in wisps of sodden air. Welcome to Pumalin.
If I had a blank piece of paper and were to let my mind run for a while about where I would dream to call home what I’d probably do would be start with a safe harbour for Lista, which is something that to really understand you have to have sailed in a few miserable places, and to have arrived. I’d have a rainforest, because rainforests abound with life more that any other ecosystem, and you need to want find it, but you will. I’d scatter in waterfalls and scribe long rivers of perfectly pure water. I’d have neighbours, but any non-native ,mammalian ones would have to be a few miles away. I’d like a few clearings too, nothing intensive, and some horses and livestock to provide for me. I’d invent a view that changed by the season, month, day and hour. I’d want to know it well, but not perfectly, so it could still surprise me easily. I’d like it to be in the real world too though, and to be there it would need to have some level of organisation to allow the whole thing to sustain itself economically. I’d want to share it so people knew it was worth keeping like it is, just perfect.
I have just described Pumalin. Home of Doug and Kris Tompkins, two people we had hoped to meet to see what ideas they may have for the 5000mileproject. They had set up multinational corporations but both were outdoor people, not just suits, they’d done expeditions in the past –set up entire National Parks (or private parks) to protect land threatened by destruction and although we didn’t know which direction it would go in we thought it would be worth sounding out the ideas with them. Best case they would have contacts in their previous companies and fund the project, worst case humiliation and rejection, but we would have to get used to that if we were to get the project running so we may as well risk it.
They are well known in the world of Conservationists. We thought they may be about and asked in the small steadings by the grass runway whether or not they were in residence? In fact, was there a residence? After a degree of miscommunication we were connected by VHF to say, yes they had landed, but were leaving tomorrow, had 10 guests already but if we really wanted we could pop over now before dinner and have a quick chat. We’d hoped to have them over to the boat for high-tea for a laugh but it would appear their schedule was busier than ours.
We paddled back to Lista, changed into something more fitting for a meeting, and jumped in the kayak to make the 2miles over to their home which was pointed out to us on the other side of the lagoon. We had a quick chat about what we wanted from the session as we splashed our way over and then landed the kayak. As we scanned the tidal beach there was one track to follow, so we did. My wellyboot sole chose this moment to fall off. We arrived sweaty, with flapping rubber flipping around my feet, ready to try and get some ideas in our 20 min slot. I get quite removed and calm in these situations, a bit like the sensation needed to get through a doctors appointment, and we were both reasonably calm. As it turned out we eventually found Kris in the chicken coop with her guests, relaxing in the long grass. She was obscured by her large hat, and I was obscured by her large dog greadily chewing a stone, the chickens ambled around the outside in the worlds most perfect chicken coop. Then a barrage of questions were delivered from Kris and one of her guests. It was unexpected to have so many direct questions fired when in fact we were hoping to learn a bit more about her, it was challenging actually. She eventually passed us over to doug . Kath describes the meeting in a blog, click here.
When we finally returned home (Kath had to quietly point out when it was polite to refuse their hospitality, and sadly this meant turning down drinks and people to drink with, a rarity in our lives ….!) it was without a fully funded project, but we’d met people who had taken a vision and language similar to our own and turned it into this massive area we walked through. It’s an incredible achievement, and it’s hard to imagine that individuals can create so much. We left on a high, and the litmus test was that nobody said that it was a ridiculous project, or couldn’t be done. I think we amused them slightly. We got a couple of interesting contacts – had enjoyed a bizarre outdoor dinner, met their curious guests, played in the kitchen and eaten spring lamb for the first time in literally years (which would not be repeated until the Falkland Islands!!).
As the two planes containing the guests flew over head Lista light the following morning, nesslted quietly into the north-east corner of this pristine lagoon, they wobbled their wing tips to our waves and kath cried. It’s a small plane thing I think – in this wild environment, with the freedom to soar over head, all the anti-jet sentiment is lost and she always feels emotional!
During the time there we worked on the 5000mileproject and on the boat to get her fit for Fiona and Tayo due to arrive in a week or so. We ran the route would be visiting again in a year, coaxed out the rainforest birds and bought a lot of honey. Gallons of the purest honey in the world. Everyday we needed to get off the boat at least for an hour, either in the kayak or on foot. We talked a lot with the guys living Pumalin, as best as our spanish would allow, and began to understand the model there.
Before leaving we filled up with old timbers from a derelict salmon farm building long forgotten, which in slightly compulsive behaviour I cut to exact lengths for the woodburner and stowed in blocks. Worse still I was proud of my work- dear dear.
We left trying our best to avoid retreading our steps onto the rock that had tormented us on arrival.
Golfo de Corcovado to Golfo de Penas
We left the relative solitude of Renihue on a calm day and made our way West once again to cross over to Chiloe, meeting place for my sister Fiona and friend Octavio (Tayo), near Castro. With calm waters and steady wind over the low outer islands Lista again proved to be a kind sailing companion, these conditions flattering any ship! With mainsail, mizzen, staysail and jib all drawing we made between the islands with ease, sailing single handed for much of it as Kath worked below, making minor microscopic changes to the wheel in the fine weather as Lista Light sailed herself. We glided past beaches, strands, wooden churches, mussel beds, spooked lazy Sea Lions off bouys, forced the comical steamer ducks to their frenetic half paddle-half flying escape, and drifted serenely when the wind died altogether. The last 3 miles took 3 hours in the blazing sun.
First we were able to meet with an old friend Mani, who was anchored off a shore whilst working on the massive wooden boat being built by young Chileno couple Natalia and Vicente Segers – who turned out to be kindred spirits and wonderfully warm and generous friends. We tied up alongside Mani on a mooring deemed suitable and rode out some bouncy nights at anchor whilst catching up during the day. A couple of mornings in we were politely awoken by Mani who pointed out we were adrift, tied together, and within metres of the shallow shore. No panic. We quickly popped on the engine and made for deeper water before untying our leish. It was all very bizarre, but very civilised! Apparently the large thing we were tied to under the water wasn’t actually very large or very attached, and so we had dragged.
We were given use of the boatyard and any wood we’d like which was an incredibly kind gesture. It was in fact a dream, but not wanting to get in the way we really didn’t make much use of the generosity shown. I made a bookcase from one off cut which was reluctantly given because they didn’t think it was of sufficient quality to use, they had wanted to give me a brand new piece instead. The wood was cypress, highly coveted because of its resistance to rot, but not a wood we would normally select on account of how long it takes to renew – hence our unwillingness to receive it. But to wonder amongst the workshop after hours was a real privilege. The hulk which yard was built around was planked but not finished, a curious design but still inspiring to see any wooden boat of this scale taking to life.
And that’s it for part one – part two to come . .. . !!!
Tortel to the deep South