Late August in Valdivia

The first photo in the slide show is from last week when we drove back to Puerto Varas to pick up our re-galvanised 20 metres of chain. Logistically this was a big project. Would have been easier to send my chain down on the bus. In the end it cost me only about $50 for the galvanising , but about $60 for gas money.

Gloria came with us for the day. Gloria is traveling for a couple of months around South America and trying to use the Couchsurfing network. We have an empty pilotberth. Meredith organised it and it worked out well., for 3 nights. Then she headed off to Chiloe Island and eventually Ushuaia.

Next photo is from my new local pub , now that I am in town. The Ultima Frontera is a great and trendy restaurant pub with 6 choices of draft beer and 2 woodstoves. It lies north of the marina about 4 or 5 blocks. These guys just happened to be playing one evening , and are probably on youtube somewhere , judging from all the recording equipment.

Then there are 4 photos from last Tuesday’s edition of the Diario Austral newspaper in Valdivia. The Valdivia Yacht Club is hosting the world championship for a sailing dinghy class called the Pirate, next January. Competitors are coming from 15 different countries , many in Europe. It is a big deal , and they received some government funding, hence the newspaper coverage. The Manager and President of the club happened to pose in front of the Silas Crosby for the publicity shot.

Also the volcanic ash continues to spew to the east of us , but from a different volcano, and it still makes the local news.

The last page discusses a local glaciology conference with international attendance , and a photo of the Campo de Hielo del Sur. The southern icecap in the Andes is huge. I remember reading Eric Shipton’s account of their crossing in the 1960’s. Also Tilman made a foray onto this icecap from his boat ‘Mischief’ , I think a few years earlier (Mischief in Patagonia).


The previous blog might be a bit of a mystery. Livia on a yacht called Estrellita has a couple of websites dedicated to interviews of people out sailing in small boats. Mostly this is for dissemination of information to other cruisers. She asked interviewees to post the answers to questions on their own website , then she will transfer them to her own website.

Haul-Out At Valdivia

The winter is going by. Still rainy and cool , bud blossoms are coming out on some of the trees.

It was time to get going with painting the boat bottom. So I motored up the river 4 km one wet , cold day with Tim and Rowland huddled under the dodger, fo company , and help getting into the slip at Valdivia.

A French boat “Fleur de Sel” had hauled out on the marine railway a couple of  weeks prior , so I was able to observe the process. The upright supports on the cradle were placed to narrowly for their boat , so quite a bit of weight came onto the hard chines of the hull. Enough so that the hull was dented in on port and starboard sides. Not so happy.

This was the first time I had ever hauled the boat out since launching in 1994! Many times on the beach and several on the tide grid. But never on to dry land . Luxury of time.

I had the marineros remove all the upright supports , except for the first two , needed as guides. The spacing of the keels was exactly the same as the width of the carriage , so placement had to be accurate.

No hay problemas.

Except that the weather , while not rainy , was very cold. Like down to zero at night and only up to 5 or 6 degr in the day.

I had new zincs welded on. I was a little concerned about the zincs as I had been in a marina with lots of underwater steel work at Estancilla. They needed replacing , but were OK.

There are quite a few blisters in the epoxy primer underwater. These have been growing slowly over the years. The steel under the blisters when un-roofed is perfect. I was kind of hoping to sandblast and repaint the bottom here in Valdivia ,but weather and expense suggested otherwise. I could do it here in the summer , but forget that! Later.

There were a few area where the epoxy primer was scratched down to the steel. Some are recent , some are quite old. Only in one place was there any corrosion. That was in an area just below the waterline on the port side. So with 40 days of port tack it was constantly in and out of the water , allowing lots of air to get at it.

Therefore I sanded these spots and touched them up with coal tar epoxy. I borrowed Eric’s (Compay) heat gun and spent hours walking around the hull trying to get the epoxy to kick off. Eventually it set.

On the second full day I painted on 2 gallons of reddish Transpacific Copper antifouling. Thinned a bit since it was so cold. I am back in the water and nothing has sloughed off , so maybe it worked.

Getting back in the water was a bit of a production. There are 2 cables on the carriage , the mainline for hauling out , and the haulback line thet goes out around a tailblock on the seabottom a hundred metres out. The problem is , is that the haulback line is broken , and they cannot find the tailblock buried in the mud.

When the time came to return to the sea, Lucho threw the brake off and let us run  free down the rails. I would guess we got going to 10 km/hr , which felt VERY fast. Despite that we didn’t get very far, still the hull was a long way from floating. So I set up a long warp to the farthest piling and winched it bar taut with two sheet winches.

Then Jose and Walter tied on to the carriage with the Club Launch. This is an inboard diesel FG 16′ skiff. It has some weight. They ducked down into the launch and took a run at full throttle. They did this 4 times. Each time the tow line came up tight we moved about 20′ and the tow rope snapped, and whistled through the air. No marineros were harmed in this process. The elastic nylon warp acted as a loaded spring. Finally , on the 4th pull we gently floated free and drifted into the slip. Bueno.

So back in the water and that 3 1/2 day job is done. Good.

What’s Happening in Valdivia

Barb reports via Skype that 2 people have asked why there are no recent blog posts. Two people constitutes a wild clamorous demand for another blog post.

This is not epic. This is living in Valdivia. This is trying to learn a second language in old age without spending much money.

I could have signed up for formal lessons at $20 per hour. I could not face that kind of self-induced pressure. I’m not sure I got my money’s worth for the teaching I had in LaPaz ,Mexico(which also was not cheap).

The lessons in Valdivia would be a lot cheaper in the summer when there are more people around who want to learn Spanish. As far as I can tell right now there is one person in town , me. I am not going to spend the summer here sitting in a classroom. That is for sure.

But one day perhaps , a residential 3 month visit to Guatemala or Colombia ? Por que no ?

I have met several foreigners who are speaking near-fluent Spanish. So far everyone who I have met has done formal study for at least several months in a residential setting somewhere in Central America. Like Meredith , like Eric the Swiss guy on Compay , and Adrian the Hungarian on Attila.

See the captions on the photos for a bit of a story.

One of the most important exercises is my daily chats with Jorge , the manager of the yacht club. He is muy simpatico. He wants me to learn Spanish.

Fortunately , I will be in a Spanish speaking culture for months to come and I have my fingers crossed. It is very slow and I can see little progress , but I have been there before.

Most people don’t realise that medical students are awarded their MD degrees not because they have learned so much about being a doctor , but because they have proved their ability to learn a lot of unrelated information from books. Once they get the white coat they can then start to really learn the necessary stuff to avoid too many life threatening errors. Speed reading in the dark at 0300 hrs in a cold sweat in a corner of the emergency room in a rural hospital.

Unfortunately in learning Spanish there is a lot more straight memory work than in medicine. And the fear of a fatal error is missing.

It has been suggested that getting a Spanish speaking girlfriend is a good solution, fast learning.

No es vale de pena!

Muy malo. I might end up with Spanish , but nothing else.  Barb and I discussed it. Well, I discussed it , she laughed.

Hasta pronto.