On April 19, we got up and after some relaxed breakfast and last minute preparations (immigration procedures and last minute shopping – I had to have the Microsoft Office on my computer reinstalled) we left Ushuaia. We had begun our trip.
Our first stop was Puerto Williams, Chile where we would get fuel as well as our 90days entry stamps. We left later in the day because it was only 25 miles away and we would easily cover that in a few hours. At the time I had no idea what 25 miles meant. It was a gloomy day, the first of a good weather spell we have been getting in Ushuaia. Julie, Freddy and a couple of others untied our ropes and waved us goodbye. It was a happy, emotional moment. It started snowing rather heavily as we were leaving the port. And it didn’t stop.
That day we got our first taste of sailing and tacking. The wind as usual was coming at a 45º angle and we had to zigzag all the way there in order to catch it. Then I had no idea what we were doing or why but I sure did as I was told. It was cold and hazy but our spirits were high. We were so excited. We each got a turn at steering and picked up some basic sailing moves.
After a few freeing hours of sailing we finally saw Puerto Williams in the distance. We made it to the marine club just before darkness, tied our ropes and sat down, discussing the day, bursting with excitement. Ian had spoken to the Chilean Armada on the radio earlier that day and the immigration officers have kindly agreed to come downtown and wait for us at the marine office. We even thought they would be paying us a visit at the boat but that is really pushing it! We sat around waiting for a while until a Swiss friend of Ian’s living in Puerto Williams came to visit and had another chat with the authorities making it clear that we would have to go to them. He kindly offered to drive us there and we left.
We filled in the customary papers as well as papers for the boat, Ian paid his entry fees and we almost left when the officers noticed that we were missing an insurance paper and refused to give us an exit stamp. Oops! We went through our existing insurance that according to Ian was a complete one, and by the amount of detail in it it certainly looked that way. The paper they wanted covered against any environmental damage on our behalf. As far as I was concerned it was all included in the existing cover only worded differently but the armada wouldn’t hear of it. They send us home, telling us to obtain one and come back for our exit stamp. What were we going to do…? Ian had it all figured out.
Next morning he paid a visit to Giorgio , a fellow sailor from Italy who has been known for falsifying documents. I know this might sound bad but really isn’t. If you only saw Giorgio and his innocent round glasses. Apparently the insurance the authorities were asking fro didn’t exist and it was a common practice among sailors to just falsify it. And so we did. Ian and Giorgio got a long expired original from an Israeli sailor and using it as an example created Ian’s insurance. It looked great, perfectly believable and even Ian’s name was misspelled.
While Ian was busy with his criminal activities Liam, Mario and I enjoyed the thick layer of snow that had fallen the night before. We went for a walk around town and half way through our walk it started snowing again. Joy! Just for the record Puerto Williams is truly the last city in the world. It is 25 nautical miles further down south than Ushuaia is. It is hard to get there though. It is one of those small, charming towns where everybody knows each other.
Once back on the boat we took our fake papers and headed to the immigration office again hoping it will all go through. Luckily it did and we got our exit stamp. Later that day we arranged a fuel truck and sailed down to the docks where we filled our tanks with diesel (a bit more expensive than Ushuaia but of a better quality). Next day we filled up our water tanks (supposedly the Puerto Williams water is better than the water in Ushuaia) and we left for our next destination –Yendegaya.