Day 519: Settling in well

Scott and Mary have been making friends at their base in Puerto Montt

Day 519: Settling in well

Day Position: 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”. For a complete list of all the couple’s blog entries click here

Scott and Mary have been making friends at their base in Puerto Montt

Monday 11 February

The Egret crew is settling back into civilization. Several boat crews have visited us for cocktails and conversation.

One American couple we have met lived in a warehouse for over a decade while they sandblasted, replated and totally rebuilt a steel sailboat before finally leaving the Pacific North West three years ago. They are on a very tight budget but nevertheless are ‘out here’ enjoying exactly the same things as the rest of us. Through a local Chilean they have just picked up a five-week charter, which will se them take a group of four eco filmmakers back to seldom-visited places in the Chilean Channels as part of a documentary. The couple agonized about giving up their immediate plans to take the charter the night they were on board Egret but we encouraged them to take the opportunity. They plan to winter in Ushuaia, Argentina, which leaves them plenty of time to get there. Plus the income from the charter will buy them more than a year of additional cruising before they have to go ashore and replenish the cruising kitty.

The Swedish couple we originally met in Mar del Plata, Argentina, are much like Mary and I. They sold everything, bought a quality sailboat (Swedish) and have been out on the water for four years. The couple left Mar del Plata two weeks before Egret, rounded the Horn and went off to Antarctica. Like us, they then came up north through the Channels before leaving their boat in Puerto Montt for the austral winter. During their time back home they toured and lectured about their travels. This year they plan to take the same route as Egret to New Zealand and will stay in New Zealand during the austral summer, just like Egret so I’m sure we’ll see them along the way.

Alaska John and his wife live aboard a 30ft Taiwan sailboat, which moves slowly on a six month on, six month off schedule. They return to Alaska each summer to work. He teaches mushing and cross-country travel and she is a nurse.

American Dave has been cruising the world since 1974 in a very simple fibreglass sailboat. Dave takes his time, spending quality time in each place. This year he is sailing single-handed west to Tahiti, then north through Hawaii and on to Alaska. Dave is pleasant to be around and is a good source of information.

As we spend time here we are bound to meet more people and hear their stories. Yesterday a German sailboat pulled in but we have yet to meet them. The people we meet form a large part of our overall cruising enjoyment. The group is diverse in terms of nationality and boats but there is a single common overall theme of adventure and wanderlust. None of us will ever see it all, but that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we (the cruising community) are happy cruising at whatever pace we choose and to wherever we want, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

Since we arrived in Puerto Montt we have seen fires burning daily up on the hills, in areas, which are inaccessible to fire trucks. Puerto Montt is affluent enough to have a helicopter to work these areas. Each afternoon the helicopter picks up water in a container and flies over to dump it over the fires. Yesterday they were picking up water from the channel less than 100ft from Egret. A noisy but effective technique. I asked one of the locals how the fires start. He just laughed and said it was probably the helicopter pilots (picture 1).

Another local agenda we are not used to is that boats come and go at all hours of the day. Boats arrive and leave on the tide in groups by day or night. The main business of Oxxean Marina (where we are berthed) is the salmon farm business. Two of its three docks are packed with workboats, while the third is kept for local and ‘gringo’ private boats. We haven’t seen any catch being off-loaded but we have seen specialty boats carrying salmon fry out to the farms, boats that bring nets in for repair and supply boats. Just across from our dock is a fuel dock that serves their fleet, which is a nice bonus; we are able to buy fuel from the marina at less than gas station price.

Last night FV San Carlos II was attempting to lift its dinghy and its brand new four-stroke Yamaha outboard. However, it didn’t manage the angle of the dangle correctly and instead managed to sink its outboard. This drew quite a crowd of boaters, all loudly offering advice, which didn’t help the captain’s blood pressure.

The captain persevered and kept trying to retrieve the dink with its soggy outboard. By this time salt water must have reached all the expensive parts of the engine and started gnawing away. Eventually he gave up and an hour later the crew left towing the dinghy with the Yamaha lying on the dock (picture 2).

Today we went to the grocery to stock up for guests who are arriving for a local wedding. We are also gradually trying to build up stocks for our crossing to New Zealand. The grocery store is as modern as you’ll find anywhere in the world and the fruit and veggie are the best we have ever seen. We bought a whole taxi-load of stuff and we are still not quite finished. I don’t know where we are going to put it all but will find space somewhere.

For the leg from Puerto Montt to Papeete, Tahiti, Frank Sain will be joining our crew. Frank and his wife Barbara have their own N40, Darlin at home. Frank has joined a number of fellow Nord owners, helping out here and there. Frank has also crossed the Atlantic twice aboard a N47, Strictly for Fun. From Papeete to Bora Bora my fishing buddy Kal, his wife Anita, son Eric and my nephew Markie will join us. Eric and Markie will also continue with us to Pago Pago in American Samoa.

The bottom line here is we have to keep the forward stateroom (food warehouse) clearer than usual.


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