Puerto Montt to Antofagasta March - June 2007
It is not that often we look forward to stay in a marina. Usually at anchor in a sheltered bay is preferred. After eight weeks in Patagonia it felt good and exotic with marina, electricity and hot water in the shower. Café's with wireless and new faces, and also the possibility to choose if we like to eat onboard or in a restaurant, felt luxury.
We did not find the city Puerto Montt that exiting in it self, but we appreciated to see other people and to eat fresh fruit and vegetables. When Empire was lying at the dock shiny and polished, we felt that it was time to move on.
We had a fine trip in sunshine and good winds from Puerto Montt to Valdivia . A downer when the autopilot broke down, but the Monitor wind steering did a good job. Eivind tried to fix the autopilot with soldering – but it did not work this time.
Valdivia is the last “safe” natural harbour on the way north in Chilean waters. As opposed to the coast outside, Rio Valdivia is calm and tranquil. The 10 nautical miles up the river to the city gave us beautiful nature and a rich birdlife. In the river the green and read buoys are many and the depth varies from 4 to 8 meters . We passed the reminiscent of an old wreck lying in the middle of the river. The wreck has been there since the big earthquake in 1960.
In Valdivia we got the last part of summer. The weather was warm and sunny the first days. What we thought would be a one week stay, turned out to be a month. The winter caught up with us. The leaves on the trees that were green when we came had turned into yellow and red when we left. At night the temperature was below zero and the Dickinson stove was burning all day.
Valdivia was a likable city where we felt at home. It is not only the weather to blame that we stayed longer than predicted in Club de Yates Valdivia . The marina is a meeting point for sailors both northbound and southbound. The members and the employees at Club de Yates Valdivia are welcoming, curious and helpful.
In Valdivia Peder signed on to sail with Empire the next half year to New Zealand. We had been looking forward to the visit. Originally the plan was to meet Peder, Irene and Solvor in Valparaiso. Strong wind put a stop to that, together with an officer at the Armada who thought the conditions at sea were to rough. The Armada had closed the port, and we had to wait. Instead we rented a car and drove the 850 km to Santiago to pick up our visitors. Along the road we passed wine and fruit fields and in the distant we could see the Andes .
After Eivind´s mother Irene had revealed the contents of her suitcase, almost everything on Empire that needed spear parts were fixed. Only the radar/chart plotter is still taking in water...
Together with Irene and Peder we had two great days at Fundo Chacaipulli, the farm of Ian and Maggy Staples outside Valdivia. The farm is beautifully situated by Rio San Pedro. We had a wonderful ride on the horses, watched the cows and learned a lot about honey production. We also had a lovely dinner together with the friendly hosts. Ian is also responsible for the SailMail station in South America. They sure have enough to do at the farm. Maggy and Ian are also sailors. They had a lot to tell from both Patagonia and the waters we are going to. We also found out that they have written one of the pilot books we have been using along the coast of Patagonia .
First after Irene was on her way back home to Oslo, the weather turned in our favour. Three days and 480 nm with southerly winds took us to Higuerillas, Valparaiso. Peder found his sea legs on the way and with some adjustmentsare they are ready for new adventures.
With a smile on our faces we could note that the sea temperature increased with 5 degrees, to 15 degrees Celsius. Still a bit cold for a long swim, but a good promise for the voyage further north.
In Club de Yates Higuerillas Eivind was not hard to beg, when he was asked to join as crew in a regatta. It is a long time since the Captain last sailed a real regatta. The hours at sea in a J-24 was good. The result was not as good as wished for, but that was of miner concern.
Also Peder went out sailing alone. Together with the local children he sailed an Optimist outside the breakwater, under skilful lead of an instructor. That Peder speaks Norwegian and the other Spanish, did not matter. “I did not steer, dad, but I was good at keeping calm”, Peder said, when he was back with solid ground under his feats.
It was a nice voyage also from Higuerillas to Antofagasta – though poor wind and we did not get any fish. A little while it also looked like we did not have enough diesel onboard... Peder Sailor is no well into the watch system. He has fully understanding that the Captain and Mate has to “work” at night while the Ship is sailing..
Earlier we have compared Chile with Norway. That is still right, but only when it comes to the southern part of Chile, Patagonia. In Antofagasta it is sand and desert as long as the eye can see.
Antofagasta is the second largest city in Chile. It is said that everybody lives in Santiago, the capital with 6 million people. It is only 280 000 inhabitants in Antofagasta – so it might be something in the statement…
The marina in Antofagasta is small but with good facilities. Many of the yacht clubs in South America is more as a social place than a place for active sailing. Antofagasta was not any exception. But the hospitality was great and we were invited both on a sail trip and to barbeque.
Empire was the only foreign sailboat in the marina. Except for a few local sailboats, the closest neighbours were sea lions. The sound of the sea lions is a mix of powerful snores, belches and loud coughing and is quite special – or funny – as long as the wind doesn't blow in your direction. The sea lions do not smell good. The seabirds had also found their place in the harbour, after a while also on Empire. Strings in the rig and CD´s dangling from several places did not scare them off. A few days before we left Antofagasta for Galapagos, we found that one of the birds had managed to break the wind arrow in the top of the mast.
While Empire was tied up in Antofagasta, rocking on the swell, we packed our rucksacks and travelled by bus to Peru, with Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca as our main goals. It was an interesting voyage in several ways. Take a look at the pictures from Peru >>>