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Northern Chile

Table of Contents

Cifuncho anchorage


23 January 2006

We left Iquique at 16.30. We spent all day visiting officials ~ eight different visits in total! There were no problems though. The weather was perfect. Co, Carla, Carla and Raymond came to see us off together with Abdon and Patricio. We need to head directly west for at least 50 miles to avoid fishing lines and nets. Our passage towards the Galapagosis around 1700 miles.

14 January 2006

Working up the mast Spent a long day today working on the mast in preparation for our departure from Iquique. As well as giving the whole rig a thorough and much needed clean (thanks largely to the daily cormorant and turkey vulture visits) we took advice from Co on Lotus and gave the mast and boom a coat of wax polish. We hope that this might offer a degree of protection from the sun and salt of the Pacific. We have found that the easiest way to ascend the mast is by using the electric anchor windlass to haul the other person up in the bosun's chair. By the end of the day, and for the first time since taking delivery of the boat, we could see the halyard reflections in the mast! We are also in the process of doing a fairly thorough inventory of all the food, drink and other consumables we have on board as, when we leave Iquique, we will be stocking up for several months.

31 December 2005

New Years Eve Co and Carla This evening we joined our Dutch sailing friends along with Mariella and Abdon (and family), Dirk and Lucette as well as Naynay and other Chileans who we did not know for a midnight sail on Rataplan to watch the fireworks. It was just brilliant. The display was excellent and culminated with a huge curtain of fireworks stretching the length of Cavancha beach. I think we had the best view in Iquique. Co brought along some old flares to join in. He fired one bright red one which shot off like a rocket and made a very fitting introduction to 2006!

25 December 2005

Christmas Day! We were a little tired today but had a very gentle day sail around the bay on Rataplan with a lot of Chilean people. We did very little other then relax in the catamaran's hammocks!

24 December 2005

Christmas Eve present We went to Baha Molle today to visit Lucette and Dirk. We first met them on the boat to the Uros Islands and then again when they arrived in Iquique. They are from Belgium and have been travelling around the world in a campervan for ten years. There were cars and trucks all over the town painted and decorated for Christmas and there were lots full of Santa and the Elves throwing sweets to the kids who came rushing out of everywhere to see them. Iquique certainly has a very lively atmosphere at this time of year. During the evening we went with Co, Carla, Raymond, Carla and Uri for dinner with Mariella and Abdon. Mariella is a great cook and the dinner was delicious. The children were allowed to open their presents at midnight though as Mariella's fourteen year old daughter was at work the three of them opened their presents at 1am on Christmas morning when she returned home. They were very excited. We left at 2am with Co and Carla. Things were still going strong in their street then.

7 December 2005

Kevin's parents left yesterday and this morning we set off on our overland visit to Peru.

2 December 2005

morning after Colchane flamingos Alpaca herd We were all feeling much better this morning though we all looked as though we had been dragged through a hedge backwards! After breakfast (fried waffle things) we set off. We made about 2kms before the vehicle began to overheat. We carried on to the next town (another 8kms). The town of Isluga was abandoned but we saw a lady herding a group of llamas through the main street. After more fighting with the car we decided to return to Colchane to find a mechanic. The mechanic announced that the radiator was no good and that we should not continue. We had to return to Iquique! On the way back the car broke down a further three times! We were disappointed to miss the best part of this trip but relieved to be back in Iquique - things could have been much worse had the car died during the middle of the second day.

1 December 2005

santa laura Atacama Giant ice by the geyser Altiplano children We left on our three day trip to the Altiplano today. Amazingly enough the guide turned up on time though we were surprised to find the guide was also the driver. The 4WD was a van so there was lots of room. We visited the ghost mining towns of Santa Laura and Humberstone. Set in the middle of the desert, Santa Laura really looked like the wild west. At Humberstone there is an (empty) swimming pool made of iron - the pool is 24m long so 1m short of being suitable for competition swimming. On our way to lunch at Haura we stopped at the Gigante de Atacama which is the largest image of the human figure in the world at just under 90m tall. The image is made with rocks and scratching in the sand on Cerro Unico. After lunch the vehicle started to ascend. The road was really awful, very rocky and tortuous. We could easily notice the changes in the plant life as we got higher. We had to stop for a little while as the driver was falling asleep and needed to rest. We saw the geyser de Puchuldiza with a huge block of ice by it. This is because the temperature drops to freezing over night. It was a bizarre sight in the middle of the desert. As we wandered around at the geyser I began to feel very dizzy from the altitude. When we tried to start the car again it would not even click over and unnervingly the driver did not know where the batteries were. Soon enough the problem was fixed (the leads had jumped off the batteries due to the rough roads) and we were on our way. We passed a little town where the children tore out of the houses to ask for "regalos" - all we had were muesli bars but they seemed happy with those. As we entered the Isluga national park, we passed a lot of flamingoes on a lake but I was feeling too sick to really appreciate the beautiful view. We arrived at Colchane (by the Bolivian border) and unfortunately the hostel in which we were due to stay was closed. We were taken to a "hotel". This was a mud house with a corrugated iron roof. The roof was weighted onto the house with rocks. The toilet was outside and there was no electricity or running water in the town. I went straight to bed as I was feeling rotton. The lady of the house made us all a drink of mate de coca which is used by the locals and helps to combat the negative effects of altitude. Our bed collapsed three times during the night as it was basically a frame with timber slats that did not fit so each time one of us moved it fell apart! Everyone had headaches. The lady of the house made soup and quinua with meat (alpaca) for Kevin and his dad.

27 November 2005

Kev and his dad Kev with Myles and Marilyn Myles and Marilyn arrived today. It was lovely to see them. We took a cab out to the airport which is about 35kms out of the town in the middle of the desert. Myles and Marilyn said their hearts sank as the plane started to land - they wondered where on earth we had ended up as the sign at the airport saying "Welcome to Iquique" combined with the desert did not inspire confidence! They had been travelling for a day and a half but looked surprisingly refreshed.

21 November 2005

Birthday Kev Co and Lars Kev's birthday today! I decorated the boat and made a birthday cake (which soon collapsed..). We went out to a seafood restaurant with Co and Carla from  Lotus and Lars and Lone from  Papillon. In his 36th year he is even better than in his 35th .. if that is at all possible.

6 November 2005

Theresa and Carla Daniella We went sailing today on Rataplan with Raymond and Carla, and Co and Carla from Lotus. We met about half a dozen Chilean friends of Raymond and Carla too. As is usual for here the weather was beautiful and we enjoyed hours sailing around the bay. We had never sailed on a cat before and found the motion to be very different to a monohull. There was lots of food and drink and a cacophony of chatter in Spanish, Dutch, English and Spanglish!

4 November 2005

Carla's Birthday Daniella and Ninoska We were delighted yesterday to see that Co and Carla from Lotus (friends we met in Valdivia) had arrived. They too anchored outside and were coming in today. We saw them get the anchor up and prepare to enter. The club sent a marinero out to guide them in. We could not believe our eyes as we watched him pilot Lotus out of the channel and right onto the rocks. It was just awful. They were stuck fast and Lotus was sitting high in the water rolling from side to side. Carla and Raymond saw this happen and within a minute grabbed people from various boats (including us) to board Rataplan. The lines were off and Rataplan headed directly out to Lotus. Being a catamaran, Rataplan has a significantly more shallow draft so could afford to leave the channel. Carla drove while Raymond took a halyard from Lotus and secured this to Rataplan's deck. They gently motored and so pulled Lotus' mast down towards the water. This in turn meant that the keel lifted sufficiently for Lotus to motor off the rocks. Lotus followed Rataplan and was lead safely to her berth. When everyone was tied up again we all went to see Co and Carla. They were fine though clearly shaken. It was also Carla's birthday - one she will not forget in a hurry. We all had drinks on board Lotus during the evening. Raymond and Carla had found a diver to visit Co and Carla the following day to check there was no damage done. Raymond and Carla are a wealth of information having spent so long here. They told us that earlier this year there was a very powerful earthquake inland here and that the water in the harbour rose and fell for about three days by about a metre an hour! We had noticed lots of broken pavement around the town, they said this too was from the various earthquakes. They also told us that these usually happen in June! (There turned out to be no significant damage done to Lotus)

2 November 2005

Iquique fishing boats Loveless Sealions We arrived in Iquique today having sailed a little passage from Tocopilla. We had intended to anchor after Tocopilla but when we dropped the anchor we realised the bottom was rocky. With no desire for a repeat of Caleta Tames we gave that idea up while we were ahead. The overnight passage was fine with only a very gentle breeze. Everything was very tranquil except for the occasional very loud grunt/roar from a passing sealion. The water in the port here is filthy as there is a huge fishing fleet. There are also lots and lots of sealions. Just outside the yacht club is a rocky pier and there are a few sealion colonies on that. To the south of the club is a small beach and each night dozens of male sealions gather here. These are the loveless sealions who are not allowed to join the dominant males in the harems on the pier. We anchored before entering the club as the entrance channel is narrow and shallow. We needed to wait for high water. When we did come in we were piloted in by two fishing boats who made sure that we entered safely. We met Carla and Raymond from the Dutch catamaran, Rataplan. They have been here for eight years.

Atacama Desert

31 October 2005

Caleta Tames Buzo Tocopilla We spent a very restless night at anchor in Caleta Tames. The boat was really rolling and as we had anchored in rock, the noise of the chain moving around on the rock was very loud. We woke just before 6 as we thought we heard the anchor suddenly dragging. We decided to leave as soon as it was light but had to wait for about 30 mins. As we brought the anchor in we realised the chain was caught around or in the rocks and it would not move. We were anchored in about 15 metres of water which was just too deep for us to dive down. (We carry only snorkelling gear - not scuba equipment.) We spent about three hours trying to free the anchor, unsuccessfully. We tried calling the Armada but received no answer. We thought that we might have to cut the anchor and chain free. We realised that if we did this we would probably not recover the equipment. Eventually we took the tender ashore. There were four tiny little fishing shacks on the shore. As we approached one little hut, we saw three men brushing their teeth by a tap outside. They froze (toothbrushes in their mouths) when they saw us. Clearly they did not receive many visitors. We explained our problem. One of them cheerfully announced that he was a "buzo" (diver). Within minutes he and his friend rowed their little fishing boat out to Sapphire. He actually had a diving compressor in the boat which was connected to a long hose with a regulator on the end. He put on his wetsuit and dived down. Within about 10 minutes the chain and anchor were free. We were extremely grateful. We gave the men a bottle of whisky and some money: they seemed very happy with that too. We left immediately and headed for Tocopilla. En route we saw whales. Tocopilla is an industrial port and is the main shipping port for the world's largest open pit copper mine. The anchorage was fine - in sand! Tocopilla is situated at the foot of some very large desert mountains. Cut into the side of the mountains is the railway for transporting the mining products. It is an incredible feat of engineering.

27 October 2005

Mejillones Up early today as we needed to make 60 miles to a good anchorage. With a gentle wind behind us the motion was so gentle that I went below to take a shower. When I came out I could hear Kev speaking to someone. It was the yacht Hallelujah - this was the first yacht we had seen on passage since Telem in the Beagle. Kev spoke to Raphael, the skipper. The yacht was heading south to Qintero, the home port. We crossed the Tropic of Capricorn to the sound of AC/DC and Kev's dancing - very special... We anchored behind Isla Magdelena which was a perfectly sheltered spot with great holding.

23 October 2005

Cifunco anchorage Cifunco Another easy and thoroughly enjoyable day sail to Cifuncho. The view of the Atacama from the anchorage is just beautiful. We anchored and went for a walk (or scramble through the dirt and rock) to the top of one of the hills by the anchorage. The view was breathtaking and well worth the effort. Today was the first hot day that we have had in ages and it was lovely. Both in shorts for most of the day. The weather seems to be getting markedly more benign almost each day. The water is getting warmer daily but at 17°C is still not warm enough to tempt me. We saw some huge dolphins today. They were not interested in the boat but swam across our bows slowly. I think they were about 2 metres long.We looked for them in our sealife book and we think they might be Burmeister's porpoises.

20 October 2005

Trimming Three Sealions Yesterday we shopped for fresh food and collected our laundry from the old lady who is the town's lavandaria. First she gave me "presents" of shells and a bottle covered in sand..then she gave me the bill for £17! I nearly choked. Then again, she had ironed everything - even the socks! Today we cleared out with the armada which was the usual tedium. We gave a box of chocolates to Hugo, the yacht club handy man. He rowed over to the boat with two beautiful potted plants for us, they were desert flowers. Kev broke out his shorts for the first time in ages to display his fine British pins!.

17 October 2005

Caldera A long day sail today, we had the motor on all day as we needed to arrive in Caldera before dark and the wind was light. We arrived with no problem though and were pleasantly surprised to be met by Vicky and Umberto (who run the yacht club) in a tender as they directed us to a mooring buoy. This is the first time we have moored on a buoy since Scilly. In theory we are now out of the limit of the northerly winds.. Caldera is a historic desert town. The main business here is shipping ores from the surrounding mining region. The town's buildings are literally built on the edge of the desert. The yacht club is very friendly. We were followed for most of the day by a Royal Albatross.

16 October 2005

Pagonal Left Puerto Huasco for Caleta Pajonal. We enjoyed a sunny day and easy sail. As usual the wind blew up hard during the afternoon. We were worried about missing Pajonal as the previous anchorage had been incorrectly marked on the chart (and in the Admiralty Pilot, where the latitude was two miles north of the correct position). We need not have worried. The anchorage was hard to spot but was where it should have been. The shelter was excellent with a pretty sandy beach. There were various little houses and shacks off the beach. The landscape is bleak and really arid. It is very beautiful though. It looks like a painted backdrop to a western movie. We have seen very little wildlife apart from a few birds.

14 October 2005

bird on Damas Desert Flowers We arrived at Isla Damas yesterday. As we had spent a very uncomfortable night at anchor the night before, we decided to deploy for the first time our Rocker Stoppers - we had purchased these at the Southampton Boat Show years ago. I am pleased to say that they seem to work really well. When we woke we saw people on the beach - fishermen gathering seaweed. We saw big black dolphins swimming between the mainland and the island. We took a long walk ashore and climbed up to the beacon marking the island. Isla Damas is part of a national park and we had read that penguins breed here. We did not see any and certainly did not hear or smell any so I guess they have left. The island reminded us a little of Scilly. The vegetation was very different though, all the cacti were in bloom. We saw a huge fossil, possibly from a whale. There were a lot of little finch like birds and they were not at all shy, as well as gulls, cormorants and huge turkey vultures.

12 October 2005

nine of cups Left Coquimbo today. At first we had no wind and then gentle northerlies which swung to the SW. Anchored Totoralillo - our first two attempts to anchor failed but held on the third time. Here we were at the bottom of the Atacama Desert. The anchorage was surrounded by barren hills covered in rock and cacti. There were ruins of buildings and stone walls, I don't know what the walls were for. Yesterday afternoon the American yacht, Nine of Cups arrived in Coquimbo. It was great to meet them after "speaking" to them over email for so long. We spent a very enjoyable afternoon with David and Marcie as well as Lars and Lona from Papillon. David and Marcie were a wealth of information about Peru and Ecuador and they have introduced us to a Peruvian friend of theirs called Gonzalo. Nine of Cups is a very beautiful yacht. She is a 45ft Liberty Cutter (with aircon!). Kev was most impressed with their twin wind generators.

8 October 2005

Drake We decided to be tourists today and we walked to the Mirador de los Navigantes where there is a lovely view over the bay. There is a statue of Sir Francis Drake here as he used to hide out in the bay in order to ambush passing Spanish ships. His statue is complete with treasure chest! A local man told us that the mayor objected to having a statue of this pirate in the town so the name plaque has been removed and the statue is now that of the unknown navigator / sailor.

7 October 2005

Coquimbo Cross Coquimbo Fleet We arrived in Coquimbo yesterday and anchored off the little yacht club in Bahia Herradura (which means horseshoe in Espanol). The bay is exactly that shape and provides superb shelter. The yacht club is very pretty and also very friendly - it is also gratis to foreign yachts. We had to wait for a couple of hours for the Armada to visit us. That was great as we parked ourselves under the palm leaf umbrellas in front of the little bar and settled in. When the man turned up he told us we needed a new zarpe to continue north. We told him we did not and he seemed satisfied. I guess we will find out when we try to leave! We took a collectivo into the town which was very pretty, it looks to be a little centre surrounded on three sides by desert and on the fourth by the Pacific. We have noticed that in general the Chilean people are very fast drivers who seem to have an aversion to driving behind other vehicles. The driving school in the town is called "Mach One".

5 October 2005

Coquimbo Street Coquimbo Yacht Club We finally left Higuerillas yesterday and were glad to do so. It was just too expensive for a long stay. We sailed overnight to make the 170 miles before anchoring at Bahia Tongoy. The passage was a little rolly with a lot of swell left from the fronts that had passed through over the previous few days but we were fine. As I came to take the watch from Kevin during the 5th I saw a whale to starboard only about 50 m from us. He was slowly making his way south and seemed significantly less interested in us than we were in him. We also had the company of a pair of albatrosses for most of the 4th and 5th. The wind stayed behind us and was perfect, a steady 20-25 kts. As we rounded Punta Lengua de Vaca, the wind seemed to blow up rapidly to gale force. There was no swell at all in the bay though and we had read that the local wind at this point is often unusually strong.


30 September 2005

Bryn, Jean and Kev Bryn and Kev We had an unexpected surprise last night when our phone rang. It was Bryn, Kevin's uncle. We were confused as the number calling was Chilean. Bryn and Jean (who live in Sydney) had been in Salvador where Jean had been presenting at a medical conference. They had decided to take time after the conference to see some of South America and were in Santiago. Fortunately Santiago is not far from Viña (where we are). We met them today for lunch. It was great to see them as we had no idea they were here. After lunch we took a trip to Reñaca (one of Viña's prettier beach suburbs) and saw a colony of sealions basking in the sun. Bryn and Jean visited the boat briefly before taking the bus back to Santiago. We had a really lovely day catching up. Kevin has plans that we will meet again in Sydney for the next Ashes tour!

27 September 2005

Valparaiso Renaca Lord Thomas Cochrane The day after returning from Argentina we were asked to move the boat further into the marina as there was a regatta due to take place. We were delighted to do this as our new berth is much more secure with very little problem from the surge. After spending a couple of brilliantly sunny days working on Sapphire, we decided today to visit Valparaiso. The day was really cloudy and overcast and surprisingly cool. We took the Ascensor Artilleria up to the Naval Museum which was extremely well put together. Fortunately for us most of the explanations were in English as well as Spanish. The museum seems mostly to celebrate Chile's naval heroes including Bernado O'Higgins, Arturo Pratt and Kev's hero, Lord Thomas Cochrane. They had two rooms devoted to Lord Cochrane so Kev was in his element reading about his favourite naval officer. We noticed that there were lots of naval vessels in the port and a local man told us that this month the Armada will be working on a naval exercise with the US Navy and that there are also submarines in the harbour - something to look our for when heading north perhaps! We had lunch in a great little cafe called "The World Next Door" and then decided to head back. I thought that Valparaiso was quite seedy but then it is a large commercial port. The town is very steep and there are lots of funicular lifts or ascensors taking people up and down the hills. The many colourful buildings which have recently been given a facelift add a unique character to the city.

20 September 2005

The border between Chile and Argentina We took the bus into Argentina today as our visas were due to expire. To get to the border crossing the road winds through the Andes. The bus first passed through the Chilean wine country which was very green before climbing the mountain pass. We had only been driving for about an hour before the mighty Andes hove into view.

15 September 2005

Left Algarrobo again today (we tried to leave two days ago but with wind blew up from the north so we decided to head back) and had a delightful trip to Higuerillas. We motorsailed for a couple of hours but before long the wind filled in from the south and we had a very relaxing and sunny trip north. We were assisted with our mooring in Higuerillas. I had to visit the office upon arrival where we were told that the price has more than doubled since I contacted the marina from Puerto Montt. We will not spend the several weeks here that we had intended because, although the staff are helpful, it is too expensive and not very comfortable (there is a significant surge within the marina).

12 September 2005

San Pedro Kev and the Penguin Woke to a beautiful warm day today - the two of us still can't believe how lovely the weather is!(We have reliably informed that the hot shiny thing in the sky is indeed the sun!!) After doing a couple of loads of overdue clothes washing we went to the marina office to find out the price. (While I washed the clothes I watched the penguins and pelicans bathing near the boat - fantastic.) The area is lovely but the marina is expensive. Actually most of the boats in the marina seem to be small racing yachts many of which are sponsored by UBS - which is interesting as I can think of another yacht which would be a suitable beneficiary of some UBS sponsorship! We wandered into the town which is very pretty, very relaxed though quiet at the moment. It reminds me a little of Queensland's Sunshine Coast, or Cornwall. We sent a few emails and checked the forecast. The wind is due to swing to the north shortly so we have decided to leave tomorrow. I hope we get into Higeurillas before it does. We had lunch in a little restaurant and visited the Armada who now said we don't need a new zarpe..it is all confusing. Anyway this place is lovely and feels like a different country. It is incredible the difference the sunshine makes! Australia lost the Ashes today. (One of us is celebrating...)

10/11 September 2005

Algarrobo Marina Pelicans on the rock We set off from Coliumo this morning for Algarrobo just south of Valparaiso. This was to be an overnight passage of 200 miles. I saw lots of shooting stars and it has been a long time since that was the case. I realise that this is because it has been a long time since we sailed under clear skies. Again the wind was very strong for the 10th, and before long it picked up to gusting over 45kts and blowing a steady 35-40. However it was again from the south so was no problem. We flew along fairly comfortably. The wind calmed a lot overnight to average around 20 kts. During the day of the 11th we were delighted by the sight of thousands of seabirds - pelicans, cape petrels, giant petrels, gulls etc all flying and diving around the boat. It was magic. We arrived in Algarrobo after about 30 hours of sailing. We could smell penguins as we entered the bay. We anchored off the entrance and Kev took the tender in to arrange our entry. (They did not answer the radio.) The men brought Kev back out to us in the launch and one of them stayed on Sapphire to guide us in and help with the lines. We were really pleased to be tied up inside as the wind once again was howling. On one side of the marina is a wildlife sanctuary called Isla Pajaros Ninos where hundreds of pelicans, cormorants, gulls and penguins nest. This is a very special place. We watched the pelicans bathing in the marina and even pecking at their reflections in the boats. We received a visit from the Armada and unbelievably they want us to obtain a new zarpe before travelling our next 35 miles to Vina del Mar!

9 September 2005

Coliumo We received a weather forecast from our Shore Support Team (aka Myles and Marilyn) this morning and Kev even managed to speak to his parents. We set off to Coliumo only 50 miles north. We had a lot of wind - blowing 35-40 much of the time and gusting higher than that. Still the wind stayed behind us so there was no problem. We were none the less pleased to drop the anchor in Bahia Coliumo in front of the little fishing village and pine trees. The shelter was great and the wind dropped overnight.

7 September 2005

Sapphire on the run We finally left Valdivia today but not before a little debacle with the Armada. I called them on the radio to inform them of our impending departure and they asked us to wait on board for 15 mins for one of their boats to meet us. 3 hours and many radio calls later we were informed we needed to go into the office in the town. We were furious! We had timed our intended exit to use the ebb tide and to ensure our arrival before nightfall on the 8th, this was now not so certain. I still don't know why but they insisted on giving us a new zarpe - although our existing paper should have covered us to Iquique. It seems that different Armada offices follow slightly different procedures. We were both really annoyed at wasting the time. This done however we set off and found ourselves in a brisk SW wind. This was great for pushing us along to Caleta Trana some 175 miles away where we stopped after a 24 hour sail. During the evening we saw a lot of shipping.


26 August 2005

Valdivia Marsh Valdivia yacht club Two days ago was a rare day in Valdivia. The sun was shining and there was a gentle breeze so I decided to go for a walk into the town instead of taking the bus. It took about two hours but the countryside was just beautiful. There were black neck swans swimming through the marshes. Kev overtook me in the bus and we met up in the town. It has been pouring with rain ever since. We visited the fish market yesterday and there were among the huge range of seafood on offer, sea urchins. We were not brave enough to try them. The sealions were there as usual feasting on the scraps. We have a 200 litre barrel of fuel on the pontoon beside us and we need to decant this into our tanks. With the rain falling in buckets this is easier said than done.

16 August 2005

The Kuntsmann Brewery cormorant We took the bus today into town. When we returned to the boat we found that the wind had filled in from the south west and was against the tide. The boat was rocking and pitching wildly so we put as many fenders out as we could and took extra lines ashore. We were very concerned about a smaller keel boat berthed next to us as this boat was badly tied up with no fenders out and was almost jumping onto the pontoon in the waves. The boat's rigging was very loose and we were concerned that it would lose its mast. I went twice to the office to ask someone to look at the boat but no one came. Kev decided to take some of our spare lines and try to secure the smaller boat. As he boarded the smaller boat the mast did indeed come crashing down past his head. Luckily the mast missed him and Sapphire! That seemed to get the attention of the marina staff.

14 August 2005

Alwoplast Marina Tree birds Log Cormorants Valdivia Wreck Left Estero Chaular yesterday at around 0900. I was surprised to see the gulf still relatively lumpy despite a very quiet previous 12 hours. I felt seasick for the first 8 hours or so but Kev was fine. We motorsailed nearly all the way and the night was sparkling. Kev had to have his celebration whisky when we finally sailed north of 40S! We arrived at Alwoplast at lunchtime as we were sailing against the tide in the Rio Valdivia. The river is very tranquil and our berth is right in the river. We passed a wreck in the river. This was one of the casualties of an earthquake and tsunami that devastated this area in 1960. This quake destroyed the town which has since been rebuilt. It also caused a general subsidance of the land and so now Valdivia is surrounded by marsh land. Additionally the region is home to a temperate rainforest so there is a huge amount of birdlife including thousands of black necked swans in this very beautiful area. We were met by Co and Carla of Lotus who took our lines and helped us to secure the boat. After we had tied up and were relaxing on the boat the Armada came alongside us to check our papers. Unfortunately they did not ask permission, used no fenders and ended up ramming our boat. We were very annoyed but the Armada did not seem to think there was a problem. The only damage to Sapphire was a broken stanchion.

9 August 2005

Estero Chaular Baby Cormorant Spent the day on board as the wind was howling again. The boat was comfortable if a little cold. Myles and Marilyn have been a great help in sending us the forecasts from buoy weather. The wind died at around 4 and it was a difficult decision whether to stay or go. We poured ourselves a drink and then changed our minds. The drinks went down the sink and we decided to set off as there was hardly any wind at all. I quickly cooked food for the passage and we stowed everything away for sea and hauled the anchor up. We had only been gone for around 30 mins when we realised this was a bad decision as the swell was still very big and right on the nose.We were going nowhere. Also we found the bad weather had abated but not finished as we found the wind on the nose. We turned around and returned to the anchorage at Puerto Ingles. We passed through Canal Chacao yesterday and timed our passage to take advantage of the tide. This Canal divides Chiloe from the mainland to the north. We sped through with a gentle northerly wind and were doing more than 10.5 knots over the ground. At one stage we had more than 5 knots of tide with us.

7 August 2005

Oyster farms Don Jose Woke up today with the boat bucking madly so we had to move anchorages straight away. The wind had picked up during the night from the east, which is rare here. We had over 30kts blowing into the anchorage which had become a lee shore. We shifted to a southern anchorage only a couple of miles away. This was not great but was sheltered enough. We are not moving today and with a depressing familiarity we broke out the foul weather clothes ready to jump on deck suddenly if needed. We snugged down under blankets in the saloon and listened to the wind howling again. The weather improved later in the day and the evening was lovely. We moved anchorages again to one closer to the town. The anchorage was full of oyster farms and the views over the snowy volcanoes was brilliant. A break in the weather does wonders for the sprits!

Puerto Montt

6 August 2005

Calbuco Sunset Calbuco Fishermen Finally left Puerto Montt today. It was a sudden decision but the weather was lovely and we have just been in Puerto Montt for far too long. We only travelled around 20miles before anchoring in Puerto Calbuco, a tiny fishing village. Tomorrow we hope to pass through Canal Chacao. We rowed into town and when we came back there was a single sealion playing by the boat. The sun set and the snow on the surrounding mountains looked pink.

29 July 2005

Puerto_Varas_Guest_House Dinner at Puerto Varas We are still in Puerto Montt. We made a mistake in ordering a load of spares to be delivered here and have spent weeks waiting for them to arrive. During that time we watched a great weather window come and go which would have been ideal to get us north. However the delivery has arrived finally and the weather now is boisterous again so we are waiting for a break before heading north. During our time here we met Patrick (left). Patrick has family in Australia and the UK and used to play rugby for Chile so we had a lot to talk about. Patrick very kindly invited Kevin and me to dinner in the gorgeous guest house in near by Puerto Varas. Patrick is managing the conversion of this stunning property. We enjoyed a delicious meal prepared by Patrick's daughter Gail, her friend Francisco and Cecelia. This guest house is on the most ideal location right on the shores of Lago Llanquihue with views over the volcanoes. We had a wonderful evening in a VERY luxurious house with excellent company. I hope one day we can return Patrick's hospitality in Australia.

17 July 2005

knittinglady Since Marilyn and Myles departed we have been busy preparing the boat and ourselves for the next passage. We have enjoyed a great rest but have now pretty much exhausted the sights and entertainment offered here in Puerto Montt and are keen to head north to the sun.

28 June 2005

fort3 icecream We visited Fort Niebla this morning. This are the remains of a fort held by the Spanish. Fuerte Niebla was founded in 1645 and enabled the Spanish to catch potential invaders in crossfire over the river. The views were just beautiful and the place very tranquil. As we drove back to Puerto Montt the weather cleared and we were treated to an awesome view of the snow topped Volcan Osorno dominating Lago Llanquihue.

27 June 2005

sl11 riverboat After visiting the town of Pucon and Villarica, we arrived in Valdivia yesterday. Today we wandered around the fish market and saw dozens of sealions waiting to be fed. They seem to beg for scraps from the fishermen as they clean their catches - they are picky too often only eating the choicest parts! We discovered that Marilyn (Kev's mother) moves VERY fast in reverse, particularly when being chased by a large sealion! (Myles and I were happy to direct events from the safety of a large boat..) We had a very delicious coffee break in a chocolate restaurant. During the afternoon we took a river cruise to see some of Valdivia's surroundings. We stopped in a little town called Punucapa and saw the church and a cider brewery. We got a bit wet as it rained again! We visited the Kunstmann brewery for dinner which was a treat as well. Kev is determined to work his way through the various German influenced beers brewed in Valdivia.

24 June 2005

saltas4 castrohouses2 We had a wonderful day driving around Lago Llanquihue. We stopped at the Saltas or rapids near the base of Volcan Osorno which were impressive. These are booming white waterfalls over basalt columns. We drove through a very rough road to the ski “resort” higher up on the Volcano. There was not a lot of snow but the wind was howling so we had a hot drink whilst admiring the determination of the few hardy skiers who were waiting for a break in the weather in order to tackle the slopes of the volcano. From there the road (or pot holed dirt track) was a disaster and we made the miles slowly. We spent the night at a beautiful hotel which was a converted old house in Frutilla . Another lovely meal out and then back to our rooms. Kev and his dad stayed in the bar before grabbing a couple of hours sleep – they watched the rugby (3am) as the Lions were playing the All Blacks – NZ won (oops!).

22 June 2005

chiloeferry castrochurch Picked up our hire car today and we headed off to Castro in Chiloe. The trip there was straightforward and we took the car ferry over to Chiloe. The rain had set in for the day so the scenery was nothing special. We had lunch in Ancud before driving through the middle of the island to Castro. The hotel was very basic but clean. We had a great meal out in a restaurant on the river - delicious seafood. The building was a palafito which is typical of Castro's more traditional housing – built on stilts so the fishermen can literally park their boats at the back door. Chiloe is known for its wooden churches which are made from wooden shingles. The best example of this architecture is in Castro - it is a beautiful building inside and out.

17 June 2005

Myles and Marilyn arrived today – Kev met them at the airport and they all came back to the boat. It was lovely to see them and I suspect they were pleased to offload the bags of spares they had brought with them. We spend the afternoon opening our “Red Cross parcels” and then met them in their hotel for a lovely meal.

15 June 2005

Having spent three days in Puerto Montt we are slowly getting the boat cleaned up and orderly again. We have been busy cleaning, shopping and getting phones and emails sorted out. The marina staff here are very helpful. We had dinner last night with Rudi from Nije Leeve and Alex from Faster Horses. Rudi's engine broke and Alex lost his mast on the trip north so it seems we escaped lightly. We were thinking about driving to Bariloche to renew our visas but Alex mentioned that the pass is closed (through the mountains) due to snow. We have decided that is not worth the risk – the boarder might well be shut and we don't want to drive in those conditions – or get the bus for 8 hours. We will just pay to have our visas extended.

12 June 2005

monttsail Arrived AT LAST in Puerto Montt and we are very happy to be here. We had a good run up today though the weather was all over the place. Finally we can get ourselves and the boat organised again. We are staying at Marina del Sur for now where the facilities and especially the very hot showers are excellent!