D8. Chilean Adventure; Valdivia to Juan Fernandez

Brother John flew in to join Team Pazzo on December 17 (2019).  Great to have him aboard once again to help with preparations, sailing, and socializing with our many cruising friends.   A couple days later, we bid farewell to our friends and made our way down Rio Valdivia to a quiet staging anchorage just east of Isla Mancera.  The following morning, we got an early start toward Isla Juan Fernandez, also known as Robinson Crusoe – the first leg of our passage to the South Pacific.  

Just shy of 3 uneventful days later, on December 22, we set our pick in the southern corner of Cumberland Bay.  Isla Juan Fernandez, lying about 350 miles off the Chilean coast on the latitude of Santiago, is best known as the island where castaway Alexander Selkirk was ship-wrecked for 4 years back in the early 1700s.  Selkirk’s story formed the basis of Daniel DeFoe’s classic tale of “Robinson Crusoe.”   We spent a couple of days anchored in Cumberland Bay, hiking to the famous “Selkirk’s Lookout” and searching for the elusive Juan Fernandez hummingbird. 

Along with Mirador Selkirk, another highlight was our hike to “La Centenella,”  the ruins of the radio station at a local high point on the island.  The hike was along fields of flowers and horses!  We enjoyed a picnic along the way when we happened along a picnic table with a view of land and sea.  We found a pinecone branch that would serve as our Christmas tree for this year. 

The population of the island is only 650 with very little tourism in evidence.  There is a robust Armada presence, requiring, of course, the daily check-ins except when we are anchored under their noses.  We didn’t see any fishing traffic nor are the hills conducive to farming so it is not clear what the locals do here.  The island is served by an airport with two weekly flights to Santiago or Valparaiso.  The airport is located on the opposite side of the Island so passengers rely on a small shuttle-boat to carry them the 7 miles to Cumberland Bay and the only landing on the island.

The evening of December 23 found us gathered with the South Africans from Ithica and the Dutch lads from Lucipara II at Eva’s Restaurant Refugio sampling delicious local crab, fish, and lobster dishes.   We decided to celebrate Christmas early to accommodate our departure on Christmas Eve.  We had a lovely evening and once again bid farewell to our friends on other boats.

At 14:30 the following day, after a final (but marginal) internet fix at the local library, we made sail to take advantage of favorable winds to get north.  Cindy went on one last hike that morning and finally found the Juan Fernandez Hummingbird and got the pictures to prove it!  Rounding Punta Hueso Ballena, (Point Whale Bone) on the eastern tip of Juan Fernandez, we immediately dug into a lovely 20 knot ESE wind that carried us NNW at a comfortable 8 knots. About 1800 miles to Rapa Nui (Easter Island.)

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