Day 570: Go west

It will take more than fuel difficulties and lively seas to keep Mary, Scott and Frank from reaching Robinson Crusoe Island

Position: Cumberland Bay, Robinson Crusoe Island Juan de Fernandez Islands, Chile (339nm offshore)

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 

It will take more than fuel difficulties and lively seas to keep Mary, Scott and Frank from reaching their friends on Robinson Crusoe Island

Friday 4 April
Well, mis amigos, lots to report. YesterdayEgretarrived in Talcahuano just as it was getting dark, after a sleigh ride up the Chilean coast with following winds, seas and a big current push. Our final fuel mileage figures were obscene so we won’t publish them as they don’t represent the balance of our trip. The morning before we arrived we pushed up the throttle to 1400rpm in the hope of arriving during daylight and for the last hour we went to 1600rpm. We found the yacht club docks just before dark. It is a yacht club in spirit only, with mainly small sailboats stern to a small pier and no place forEgretso we anchored in the large basin for the night.

After trying to remove some of the heavy oil caked onEgret’sanchor chain we went to the fishing harbour to get some fuel and our new cruising permit.The harbour was a swarming mass of fishing boats in constant motion and there were hundreds of sea birds and sea lions feeding on the boiling waste of fish bits that were constantly being pumped from shore. In the midst of all this oil and diesel was floating on the surface with small dead baitfish mixed in. Pollution at its best.

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Eventually there was space at the fuel station. We slid in as the entire waterfront waited to catch the lines of what they considered a ‘la di da’ yacht. We were trying to dissect the Spanish that was being shouted at us by lots of different people until we were saved by Jimmie, the local agent. He explained that Dockside fuel is subsided by the Government for the fishermen and they can’t sell to a private boat.
It’s a very long story but in the end we anchored in the harbour, de-rigged, launched the rubber dink and went ashore with Jimmy to sort things out. We ended up with a local guy and his antique handcart carrying our nine jerry jugs (65 gallons) back and forth from a service station across the street, transferring them to a panga-style boat (10ft down from the dock in low tide) and offloading them ontoEgret. We then used our Jabsco waterpump to pump the fuel into the port tank and the 100 gallon cockpit fuel bladder before stowing the jerry jugs to starboard.
Across the street it was life as usual like in a modern town anywhere, except for one wild guy who pegged along manically shouting at the world. The man had one carved hand (not done particularly well) and a wooden peg for a left leg.
Jimmy, knew him and shooed him off. In his possession was a shiny gold CD for a belt buckle, he looked like he had just wandered off the Pirates of the Caribbean set.
We were concerned with how much our friends would charge us for helping us get the fee but in the end the fees were nominal. It worked out at about 23 dollars. I gave Jimmy 40. The new permit was painless, in fact it was the most efficient station to date.
As we left all the fishing boats hooted and waved. Both the harbour and outside anchorage were packed with boats fishing for sardines. We dropped our paravane arms in the harbour to give them a show and something to talk about. They particularly liked Mary and her blond hair.

Saturday 5 April am
Rounding the headland to head offshore we hit 28 knots of sea breeze, which made for lumpy going for a bit. It soon calmed down but picked up with SW and WSW winds up to 25 knots and seas just forward of the beam. There was lots of spray for a while but around 0400 this morning the seas laid down a bit and now all is well.

Our speed has now increased from around 5 knots to six. We are running 1300rpm and carrying a total of 1350 gallons of fuel, 350 gallons above our normal tankage. She is handling surprisingly well for the extra fuel weight along with the extra provisioning weight. The electronic Naiad Stabilizers (Multi Sea II) are magic. When the going was sloppy I turned up the controls to about half and the worst of the rolling went away. Only when we got slapped by the extra big guys occasionally did we roll about 20 degrees. It’s now 244.3nm to go before our waypoint off the Juan de Fernandez Islands. Wandering albatrosses are keeping me entertained on this early morning watch. All is well and we’re heading west…finally.

Saturday 5 April pmThe waves laid down and we put out a trolling bait to see if anything snapped. Nothing did. Early evening the wind began to freshen and the SW swell picked up, although it was nothing serious, just a bit of rolling.

Sunday 6 April am
We have rolled a bit through the night, with foaming trains roaring through every now and then. One memorable one came at about 04:00 and it sounded like we had been T-boned by a freighter. I got up and screwed the Naiad’s back to their straight upright position (about half way). Getting up called for a trip to the head but the door wouldn’t close – the pop from the wave had slid the mattress off the bunk while we were asleep. Coming on watch after Frank at 06:00 I found the normally neatly stacked plastic boxes with safety gear scattered under the saloon table. Mary watches from 2200-0200, Frank from 0200-06:00, and I from 0600-1000, the rest of the time it’s casual who is on watch. Making the rounds outside later we found everything snugly in place and no shifting.

Sunday 6 April pm
The seas have laid down to such an extent that we can now put out a bait. Frank isn’t doing too well in the fish department but he has a lot of miles to make it up. He has to reel in a lot of fish to keep up with Master Angler Steve who joined us on the Atlantic crossing.

Our Swedish buddies onLindisfarne, hundreds of miles ahead, have just landed a 1m dolphinfish. The tournament is on. In their email they said there are five boats at Juan de Fernandez, four of which we know. It should be really good fun, hopefully we can catch a big fish and have a fish fry tomorrow night with all the other cruisers.

Monday 7 April
Egret’sanchor, TK, dropped into 52ft of clean water in Cumberland Bay at 0930 local time after comfortable overnight seas. When we were within eight miles of the island we reversed course to stand off until we could make a daylight landing. There are four boats here (the Belgians have now left), three of which we know from Ushuaia, Argentina. We’ve already been invited to a birthday party tonight for one of the cruisers and so the social whirl starts. Bacon and eggs are cooking. Coffee is ready. Live is good for theEgretcrew. Ciao.



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