Day 509: Blue skies above

After experiencing a lull in the weather and some welcome sun Scott and Mary took a few days out to explore Chiloe

Position: Caleta Huechun Isla Alao, Chilean Islands

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 

After experiencing a lull in the weather and some welcome sun Scott and Mary took a few days out to explore Chiloe and they are now making their way to Puerto Montt, where they will base themselves for the next two months

Friday 1 February
Well, mis amigos, the Egret crew has been on vacation. We rented a car for three days, managed to stay lost for half the first day and had a great time. On Tuesday we took the road as far south east as we could, thinking we would head back to our first anchorage and see if we could find Bernardo, Chono’s new dad. The best map of Chiloe came from the Lonely Planet – we couldn’t find anything better.

When we hit the last gatherings of houses and a few establishments at the end of the road (you couldn’t call it a town), we stopped for lunch. We got the gringo seats upstairs overlooking the bay, where we could see fishing boats on the move and shellfish farms taking up half the bay. The waitress rattled off the lunch menu so fast we didn’t understand a word. We tried to communicate but in the end we ordered ‘dos menue de dia’ (two menus of the day) and waited to see what we got. Well the food came…and came…and came. Geesh. Fishermen must feed like camels and store their food. First we had caszuela (like a stew) with chicken, potatoes and lots of veggies, together with bread. We were stuffed and were waiting for the waitress to bring the bill but instead she brought half a cow each along with more potatoes. We ate as much as we could, including had melon for dessert and we rolled out of town.

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Then we rolled back through town after hitting a dead end. Some fishermen were loading a truck in the middle of the dirt road so we couldn’t past. Finally they finished loading and moved out of our way only for us to discover the road ended 100ft past the truck. Grrr.

Four hours later and lots of miles on dirt roads we found the place where we met Bernardo, but no Bernardo. We followed the road to the end looking for his truck but it was not to be. We had dirt, not dust, so thick on the car’s back window that I had to scrape it off with a flattened box. It took lots of cerveza (ice cold frosty beer) to wash that dust down. In addition to the rolling countryside and small homes we saw The Dropout and The Man.

The Dropout appeared to be a foreigner with a lot of money and time to think about things. This guy looked like a 60’s dude with long grey hair and wearing rags (but cool rags). He had built a nice home, but not too nice…too nice would not be cool and a barn for all his things.

The Man (picture 1) is a bit controversial so we won’t finish the story but let you write your own script. In the picture you’ll see the boat with the tide starting to flood. The Man had his three-person abalone dive boat beached at low tide. Abalone boats have air pumps with long hoses and regulators for divers to find and bag abalone. He carried two of the boards in the picture and dropped them in the sand next to the boat, stood on them to keep his little feet clean and stepped aboard. His wife then delivered 5-6 boards at a time on her shoulder while he supervised where she should load them. Lastly she picked up the wet and sandy boards, rinsed them and loaded them as well. Yes, he did adjust the boards and tie a line around them but it was hot and she had to have been sweating bullets. When the loading was done she manhandled and reset the anchor then came to the boat so he could use her shoulder to steady himself when he offloaded. They also had three daughters, about 10, eight and five-years-old. Truly unbelievable.

Returning in the evening we found Egret surrounded by racing sailboats, various support boats and five Chilean warships. There were probably 75 sailboats and 10 or so powerboats. It is Chile’s largest sailboat regatta during the summer season. Quite a spectacle. It was also surprising how many of the pure race boats had major sponsorship from multi-national companies.

Wednesday and Thursday were spent much the same, exploring, spending a lot of time on gravel roads and so on. Chiloe is one of those places we’ll never forget. There are three small towns; the largest has a population of 40,000, and a number of very small fishing villages. The people are friendly and honest. In other South American communities people have bars on their windows and nicer homes have elaborate fences. Here kid’s bikes are left outside.

Yesterday we returned from the national park to find a Grand Banks anchored nearby. His dink was at the dock but later Raul came over to introduce himself. He is a Chilean from Santiago and he told us he has the only Grand Banks in Chile (GB49). Raul is super friendly has been a long-distance sail boater and powerboat owner the past two years. His wife quit sailing because she found it too difficult but she loves powerboating. Raul cruises one week a month for the whole year and he is based in Puerto Montt. He loved Egret and in the small world department he was also aboard N57 Ice Dancer II when Dick and Gail were visiting his marina in Puerto Montt. His GB doesn’t have stabilizers or a proper size watermaker and there are probably a few other goodies that need upgrading. He said everyone (Santiago folks) wants to buy his boat, so with an easy resale market and the difficulty and expense of upgrading in Chile what would you do? I know what I would do…

We both left Castro this morning. Egret’s check out and new zarpe to Puerto Montt was painless, taking just 10 minutes or so. We have decided to move quickly to Puerto Montt over the next two to three days to start land chores there. Mary is flying to Minn to visit her mother and attend a family wedding the end of the month. She’ll fly back through Fort Lauderdale to pick up a load of boat goodies and YT’s new camera. Our batteries are not doing well so they will be replaced in Puerto Montt. We also need to find a refrigeration guy, paint the bottom, extend our visa and so on. British sailboat friends from Pen Azen will be staying aboard for a few days while we both attend a yachtie wedding (British – Chilean) at the local yacht club. So Puerto Montt will be a working, playing respite for two months before Egret sets off again.

So there you have it, a few more days in the life. We have had over two weeks with less than 15 knots of wind, sunshine and just one day of rain…amazing. Life is good for the Egret crew.



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