Mary and Scott prepare for take off and now they are counting down the hours

Day 560: On the dock

Position: Drying grid, Oxxean Marina Puerto Montt, Chile

Scott (YT) and Mary Flanders (MS) left Gibraltar on 16 September 2006, and we’ll be following their journey every step of the way, thanks to this unique online “blog”.

Mary and Scott prepare for take off and now they are counting down the hours

Monday 24 March

Well, mis amigos, Egret, is on the wall. We have moved her from her berth and tied her alongside the marina wall on a timber grid waiting for the water to fall out from underneath her. The timber beams are approximately 6ft by 12ft and are level. They are bedded in very dense coarse sand. This is scary stuff for the Egret crew. We have seen this done with sailboats many times before but not with our little white fibreglass home.

Thankfully we have had lots of help from other boaters who have done it before. Moni, our Finnish buddy gave us the drill. First, as soon as you are settled on the grid and secured to the wall you need to tighten up the fore and aft spring lines as much as possible. With the springs secure Egret will fall in the exact same place on the next low tide. Next the bow and stern lines are drawn up but not as tight.

In preparation for this job we bought a small portable 220V, 50-cycle pressure washer. Once sitting on the keel we scraped the fat/barnacle layer off the waterline and pressure washed the heavy slime on the bottom while Mary attacked the prop and its three thin flaking coats of bottom paint.Puerto Montt’s harbour is extremely foul. The Robinson Crusoe shellfish packaging plant discharges its untreated waste directly into the channel just upstream from the marina plus the usual salmon farm pollution. As a result the yellow fat accumulates on the waterline bringing all kinds of critters for the feast. There is a commercial fuel dock nearby adding to the pollution as well. By working on the bottom until the tide was close, (after dark), we managed to get the bottom spotless along with the heavy work on the prop. It was a long night watching the lines to shore, adjusting, watching, adjusting with no sleep until we were sitting on the bottom again at 0400. At first light we were back out but with the heavy falling mist and cool temperature there was no evaporation after we rinsed the salt water off the bottom of Egret. Mary managed to get the prop spotless and ready for a single, very thin layer of bottom paint. We need to get maximum fuel mileage on the next leg of our trip so we need to keep the prop clean until we are under way.

The plan is to wait for the tide to fall and then put a single heavy coat of bottom paint on the hull and a thin coat on the prop. The rain has now cleared and it is relatively sunny with a breeze. We’ll probably start late, which means we won’t finish until after dark. Two coats would be better but to work the tides for the next four days would be a bit much. In New Zealand we’ll do a proper haul, remove most of the bottom paint and take our time.

One thing we discovered while doing this work was a chunk that has been taken out of the keel. This must have happened when we got caught up in a very heavy current as we tried to enter the Chilean Andes. We touched bottom then got swung sideways to the tide until we regained control. We bounced over a small rock in the process. This damage could have holed a lesser boat. Fortunately Egret has two distinct advantages. Firstly, her hull laminate is very thick on the bottom. Secondly, she is built in a two-piece mould.

With the keel sitting on the bottom there is no way we can repair it so we have slapped on a layer of bottom paint and will wait until New Zealand.

Today, we went to the nearby village of Puerto Varas for a great meal in a shore side restaurant, which specialises in seafood. The view over the freshwater lake is spectacular. The snow-capped volcano in the distance is the sister to Japan’s Mount Fugi.

Puerto Montt as a destination is no great shakes after some of the places we have been but folk come here from all over the world. The other cruisers are so interesting, each with their own stories. We are very lucky.

Tuesday 25 March

We leave here in less than a week. Today we are off for a two-day trip to Valdivia (up river from the coast), three hours north west by bus. Then we’ll return for some last minute provisions. Frank Sain, our new crew member arrives on Friday and then it’s just a case of waiting to clear the coast. We have emailed a contact on Juan de Fernandez (Robinson Crusoe Island) to see if he can supply 600 litres of diesel. If so we’ll run straight to Robinson Crusoe, if not we have to make an overnight stop further north on the mainland Chile coast for final fuel.

Every gallon counts in the 4000nm trip to Tahiti.