From Lima, Zach returned to San Francisco while Cindy and I flew on to Santiago, Chile and the continuing protests against the leadership of President Sebastian Pinera. While awaiting the arrival of new ship’s batteries (sent from Seattle), we toured the old town sections of Santiago, took a day trip to the port city of Valparaiso, and got a whiff of tear-gas when we got a bit too close to the action. We can’t recommend the sneezing and eye-watering effects of tear gas! After a few frustrating days dealing with customs officials and with our batteries finally in the care of Chile’s FedEx equivalent, Cindy and I flew south to await them on Pazzo, still on the hard in Puerto Montt.
With only 4 days remaining until our launch date on November 27, we focused on getting the new batteries installed with new cables, shopping, fueling, and hull polishing. The 27th brought abundant travel-lift problems: clogged fuel filter and hydraulic steering problems contributed to a 2-hour trip of about 200 meters from our parking place to the launch slip – normally a 20 minute exercise. The balance of November was consumed with provisioning, projects, windlass repair, and plentiful social events with friends on Marmalda, Hippo’s Camp, and Moana.
Finally, on December 4, we pulled away from the friendly Club Nautico Reloncavi and slowly made our way to quiet Bahia Huelmo, only a few hours from Puerto Montt, but a lovely place to decompress and plan our last weeks in Chile.
Our schedule for the next two months was, sadly, dictated by the visa rules of the French government. In August, we applied for 12-month “long-stay” visas for French Polynesia. The standard issue 90-day visas wouldn’t allow our return trip to Seattle to clap for Chloe at her UW Med School graduation. The hang-up with the process was a rule that requires visitors to arrive in French Polynesia and apply for the formal “Carte de Sejour” within a certain arrival window. Because of timing restrictions on our application, our arrival window closed on 13 February (2020). What all this meant for us is that we had to arrive in the Gambier Islands before the end of January. Allowing for a few days on Robinson Crusoe Island (Juan Fernandez), a few days on Easter Island (Rapa Nui), a few days at Pitcairn, and a month of passage time, we needed to keep moving.
The first week of December found Pazzo poking around the north end of Chiloe Island in Gulfo Ancud. We paid a fun visit to friends Sebastian, Natalie, and Juan and their gorgeous property in Bahia Huite – 11 hectares including 400 meters on the bahia shore and a well-protected dry-storage “slip” for their yacht in a river-mouth – accessible only at a very high tide. On December 7, we got an early start and sailed to Chacao Channel, the main channel between Chiloe and the Chile mainland. After motoring thru the calm channel, the wind filled in for a frisky beat to the shelter of Puerto Ingles, a fine “waiting room” for yachts waiting for the right combination of wind and current to exit Gulfo Ancud for the open Pacific. The channel can get
particularly nasty if an ebbing current (favorable to us) meets an onshore west wind (favorable to us once we turn the corner and point northward).
December 8 proved a fine day for setting out for Valdivia, an easy overnight passage of 140 miles. 10:30 anchor up and a slow motor northward before finding a nice SW breeze at 13:45. All afternoon, the wind continued to build until we found ourselves hurrying northward with a full mainsail and 25 knots of tailwind. By 18:00, as the wind was gusting into the low 40s, we decided to steer a course for the protection of Bahia San Pedro about half way between Valdivia and Canal Chacao. In the lee of the headlands of San Pedro, we dropped the main and anchored in front of the sleepy little village. An after dinner walk ashore was remarkable in the dis-interest of the locals. Very few yachts visit Bahia San Pedro so we were surprised that nobody showed interest in us. Nevertheless, a lovely little village situated on both sides of a small but navigable river.
The following day, we completed our jaunt up the coast to the historic town of Valdivia and another fond reunion with dear friends Floris and Ivar on Lucipara II. Fun as well to reunite with Britta and Michael on Vera and Linette and Nils from Stormalong. Valdivia proved to be a picturesque town about 10 mile up a wide and fractured river. The Yacht Club Estancia is located out of town about half way down the river with excellent bus service into town. We also discovered Raul Zapata’s brand new Roaring 40s Yacht Club and Marina – an excellent option for visiting yachts and those looking for a secure marina to leave their boats for home visits. This town is a fine place to provision and prepare for the long passage across the Pacific to the islands of the South Pacific.