Puerto San Pedro

A long day sailing in the sun. I went out through a narrow pass from the anchorage by Punta Yelcho and found 5-10 knots of south wind. Made all sail. Soon it developed into 15 – 20 knots and building seas. Not good especially while towing the dinghy. So I tacked around and sailed back through the pass to go around Isla Lainec the other way.

I spent about 10 hours tacking against the current and wind up Canal Lainec. Steady 15 – 18 k south wind and bright sunshine. As I finally entered the mouth of Estero San Pedro the wind was gusting to 25 k so 2 reefs in the main and up with the staysail. Tack, tack , tack.

Finally I arrived at the planned anchorage, but it looked pretty tight and not really protected. I motored farther up the inlet and entered uncharted territory. At half tide and falling. With the sun in my eyes. I quit when I saw what looked like rapids ahead. Returning to the original nook ,it took three tries to get the anchor reliably set. I guess it might be bare rock , but bit seems pretty good now. 150′ of chain in 15′ of water at half tide ( might get to 8′ or less). Much better after a beer.

Here is the position in case Roly is looking on Google earth: 43 19.48 S 73 44.95W.

Puerto San Pedro is where the Beagle anchored when Darwin set off by boat and horse to explore the island of Chiloe. It is the most southern inlet on Chiloe. Actually when I look at the small scale chart on Oziexplorer I am in Canal San Pedro which leads into Estero Guamblad , which is unsurveyed officially. It is obviously well-known with a couple of fishfarms in situ. On the south shore of this inlet is the new park , Parque Tantauco, established in 2005 from a land grant from the then presidential candidate Sebastian Pinera ( now president)

There are , as usual, 2 or 3 fishfarms in the inlet. The helmsmen of the large steel workboats that are constantly plying these waters are unfailingly polite and considerate. They make very obvious course changes, or they stop until it is clear where I am proceeding. They always wave and toot their horns. I had another radio conversation with the Armada. I think the lads in Quellon are worried that I will slip out of their territory unannounced and they will be unable to ‘close the file’. They saw my sails on the horizon this morning and thought I was heading out for Puerto Montt. How do I say ‘ just sailing around in the sun and the breeze to have a look’ in Spanish. Let alone explain it in english.

One last note. There is a dead and bloated fur seal (or sealion) bobbing about 200 metres upwind of us. The slick is calming the waters. Six or 8 Southern Giant Petrels are using the carrion. Along the inlet today I saw Black-Browed Albatrosses. Looks like this fine weather might end in a day or two. It has been very good.

That’s my story today.

Punta Yelcho

I sailed all of 5 miles (to windward) from Puerto Quellon to the lee of Punta Yelcho this morning. I don’t know what the name Yelcho originally meant ,but ‘Yelcho’ was the name of the small ship that went to rescue the Shackleton expedition.

This is a pretty spot , a low sandy point with lots of birds. The trouble here is that it is just south of Puerto Quellon , so in the strong north winds that predominate with bad weather , all the garbage ends up on this beach. It is impressive. Bad. Puerto Quellon is in the throes of an economic boom , so lots and lots of plastic packages are being opened and chucked outside.

This weekend is a 4 day holiday. It seems that quite a few of the local lads were having a good time last night in Puerto Quellon. This morning at 0830 I rowed ashore to the town beach and had a ‘conversation’ with a few guys that were pretty wasted. They had been going since last night. On my return to the beach I saw a gentleman passed out on the beach(ready for this image ?) face down in the sand , bent at the waist, bum up in the air, pants at his knees. Uh Oh. Had a few drinks while he was waiting for the urologist ,I guess. Beach prostate clinic. The weather was good at least. The sun was shining , everywhere.

I went ashore to fill a propane tank. The first 2 places were not very helpful , but Daniel at the Copec station looked at my adapter hose and nodded. So we hauled out a full 11 kg tank , attached my hose , inverted it atop a handy drum and connected the other end of the hose to our fiberglass propane tank. I kept bleeding the vapour and air out ,with the handy bleed screw, and it was quite full in 20 minutes, you can see the level through the tank. I don’t think one could do this in Canada. The flatbed truck full of propane tanks rolled in while I was there. The driver jumped out of the cab , lit a cigarette , and walked around checking his tires and brakes. I got a photo of the smoking propane truck driver.

As I sheeted in the jib , leaving Puerto Quellon, the Armada called on chan 16. Where are you going ? Punta Yelcho. A long response that I missed. Que? When will you be back ? Maybe 2 or 3 days, depending on when my crew returns. Ok, please inform us when you leave this ‘jurisdiction’ so that we can inform the ‘authorities’. I did not ask what the limits to their jurisdiction are , nor did I ask which authorities they report to. I thought they were the authorities. They are extremely polite , and I actually kind of enjoy the interactions now.

Yesterday the morse cable to the transmission broke. It had been stiffer recently , and now it’s broken. So , I now have an aluminum 1″ tube leading from the gearbox shift lever straight up to just below the lip of the aft hatch. The single lever control (throttle and gearshift) worked for 17 years, but things may actually better with separate functions. The throttle is just inside the companionway and the gearshift is at the aft hatch , separated by 4 feet. Not a problem. At least we don’t need someone crouching down by the engine with a speaking tube nearby for yelled instructions. Who would that person be on this boat ? I saw Dolphin Gulls (gaviota australis) and Patagonian Sierra Finches. Male Steamer Ducks were splashing and wrestling in competitive courtship rituals. Southern Lapwings were dive bombing me to drive me away.

Spring is here.

Quellon

This is the southernmost village on the island of Chiloe. Today we were not technically headed for Quellon. We were headed across the Boca de Guafo to Bahia Tictoc. Forecast was for light winds , maybe west. Left an hour before high tide so we would have an ebb for most of the 35 mile crossing. Well , we got out there and made sail into 10 knot southerlies with an adverse 2 knot current that pretty much knocked the progress out of us. We tacked over. Not so hot. The south wind freshened. Crack off to head , not back to Estero Huildad (where we had spent the night) but to Puerto Quellon. Good call. The previous evening,Meredith had set the crab trap (that she had made)in Estero Huildad, secured it to a float, weighted it with stones , baited it with mussels, and somehow it disappeared overnight. Bummer. Now we are looking for people wearing brown rubber boats carrying a green and orange crab trap. We are not hopeful. I guess if we were super lucky the unlucky bad guy would also have Harry’s bank card. Slim to none chances , but we have the binoculars out. If the right person stumbles by on the beach , it should be an easy ID and we will be all over him (or her).

Harry ,admirably, is non-complaining when the boat heels over and the spray flies, but it is NOT his idea of a really good time. This has been learned time and again , by all parties, over the past 25 years. Bear off , get the wind on the quarter , sit in the warm sun , and enjoy the downwind slide into protected waters. We are anchored across the bay , about 1/2 mile from the waterfront activity of Quellon. It is booming from aquaculture. There are 50 or 60 ‘artesanal’ fishing boats along with 20 or so 50 to 200′ steel workboats. The population is apparently 28,000, and growing. Lots of tin sided housing on the hillsides.

So we have now devised a change of plans. Meredith needs to re-new her tourist visa (every 3 months) soon. She and Harry will go by bus to Castro tomorrow or the next day where she MAY be able to do the necessary paperwork. If not she will press on the where she can do it – Puerto Montt or wherever. Naturally we are heading into a weekend with a state holiday attached to it. I shall gunkhole around here for a few days until she returns. Could be worse. We will leave the crossing to the mainland , and the exploration of the Chonos Archipelago until next week sometime. Interestingly , there is nothing much predicted on the Grib file weather maps. A little west wind , a little south wind ,a little sun , perhaps some showers. In Estero Huildad yesterday it was really warm. Like shorts and t-shirt warm. But the sea temp was still 10 degr C. Saludos de aqui.