Day 568: Having a whale of a time

Mary and Scott are finally underway, and after making their way through Canal de Chacao they are joined by some very wild companions

Position: Canal de Chacao, 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 

Mary and Scott are finally underway, and after making their way through Canal de Chacao they are joined by some very wild companions

Wednesday 2 April
Egretis currently pushing her way slowly through the Canal de Chacao, waiting for the tide to swing and flush our little white fibreglass home out into the Pacific.
On yesterday’s run we enjoyed a smooth, sunny ride with the tide through the near-shore islands until our speed began to fall rapidly and we needed to find an anchorage. We ended up in Puerto Abato (pg203 Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide 2.26). Puerto Abato is simply a channel between the mainland and a longish island. The holding was good and the weather benign.

Shortly after anchoring Mary fixed a jug of Pisco Sours (the national Chilean drink) when a small single cylinder inboard row boat came by with a local family holding up a large merluza (a delicious local fish). Some 3000 pesos later we were the proud owners of this fish, still cold from the water. The anchorage was calm and uneventful. It will be our last anchorage for two days as we run up the coast for one final fuel stop before turning left heading west.

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We’re now up to 6.5 knots from 4.6 knots and we are through the Canal de Chacao. Our top speed through the canal was 10.4 knots on the weak tide, not anEgretspeed record but over 8mpg it was probably anEgretmileage record. After worrying about Chacao for months it was a non-event. There were no waves at all, just a few 6ft swells. We are now running north at 1300rpm/6.1 knots to our first waypoint, a headland before we take a slight turn back towards the coast. It is a beautiful sunny day with practically no clouds and little wind. The offshore swells are gentle and well spaced.

We have just seen birds feeding everywhere. There were pelicans, seagulls, terns (both the black browed and the magnificent wanderer albatross) and a few unidentified sea birds. In the distance Mary also saw spouts?very high spouts.The spouts belonged to several huge blue whales feeding on krill. We pushed through acres of reddish krill (a small shrimp-like critter a little over an inch long) on the surface. Below the krill were tons of small fish. Tomorrow we’ll have to put a couple of trolling baits out and see if anything snaps. We are close enough to our next stop so we can put any fish we catch in the fridge and put anything we can’t eat in the freezer or give it away.

We have seen more blue whales, humpbacks and one sei whale, they are just popping up every few minutes. Numbers of sea birds are working the wake to see what goodies may boil to the surface. The wind and seas have picked up a touch from the port stern quarter but we are still averaging 6 to 6.3 knots. It will be dark in a few hours giving Mary and I our first night watch at sea in over a year. Frank has seen many night watches in the past year and he is already familiar with our simple electronics so he will begin his watch solo the first night.

Before today passes by there is a small personal milestone we’ll pass along. Exactly six years ago today I retired. Mary retired six months earlier, about the same time we took delivery of our new shiny white fibreglass home. We spent this day and the next entertaining friends and former business associates aboardEgretbefore casting off from Bahia Mar Yacht Basin in Fort Lauderdale on 3 April 2002. Never in our wildest dreams did we believe we would be cruising north along the Chilean coast six years later. You can imagine the sights and happenings between then and now. Priceless. Let these words penetrate your work-numbed brains. If your retirement is nearing then think about this alternative lifestyle and set yourselves free. With two willing partners, an open mind and a spirit of adventure you’ll never look back.

Top picture is of some Chilean pelicans, while the bottom one shows some sea lions and frenzied feeding birds.



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