He later told me that Ian had switched with him at about 2.30am. I woke up at roughly 4am feeling much better than I had done the night before. the cabin was dark, only lit by the light coming from the computer screen. Ian was sitting in front of it. He must have heard me shuffle because he started talking to me beforeI had said anything. He said he had managed to hear Bob’s voice over the radio and was rather happy about it (we knew Bob had been sailing in the open ocean for a few days now, and that the conditions weren’t great; he was also tired). We talked a bit more, he asked how I felt and when I told him I was fine he said he would go back to bed. ‘Yeah that’s fine. I’ll take over’ I replied. At 4.15am I was out of couch and sitting in front of the computer. I was actually leaning on my arm since I still felt dizzy ( I have been very sensitive to any rocking in the last few days) and was dreading my watch. I wondered whether I would be able to pull it off.
We were sailing nicely when I got up but very soon the wind just died completely. I waited for a bit hoping it would pick up again but it didn’t and I had to switch the engine on (again!). From there on I passed my time between the desk and the cockpit. I went out every few minutes just to make sure the horizon was clear of any ships or land masses. A bit tricky since the night was pitch-black and one wasn’t able to see anything. Just some twinkling lights in the distance that often looked a lot closer or a lot further because of the darkness. I could hardly tell what the actual distance was.
When I first switched the engine back on we sailed very well, at a great speed. We soon hit a current that ws against us though and our speed decreased considerably. We went from 5.5knots to a miserable 3.8knots. I even had to rev up the engine a couple of times to maintain somewhat of a decent speed, making sure we were progressing. Every now and again I would go out, and listen for the wind in vain. The little breeze there was came from the wrong direction, dead against us. I pulled the sails as close as possible to stop them from flapping and hindering our pogress and waited.
At about 6am Ian got up and upon seeing that everything was fine went back to bed. He again asked whether I felt ok and I did. I really did. I enjoy the responibility of sailing the boat on my own. It gives me such a kick, an energy buzz, making me forget all about my aches. It all just disappears when I start pulling on the sails or adjusting our course.
At about 7.30am the sun started coming up. I went out of the cabin and was surprised to see how much lighter it had gotten. I could now see what was really happening around us which was really not that much. I sat inside, reading my book, sobbing over the miseries of the French-Russian war of 1812, leaving it all behind while I went on deck.
At 8am the sun had completely broken through the clouds and it was almost perfectly light. I wasout in the cockpit, enjoying the solitude, thinking how great it was to sail the boat on my own into the sunrise. I then saw that the genoa was flapping, curling backwards, thus slowing us down and although I knew I would wake up Ian I had to wind it up. I tried to be as quite as possible and it wasn’t hard because there was no wind at all to complicate the procedure. Still two minutes later, Ian’s sleepy, messy head peeked through the door.
For the last couple of hours I had felt very hungry and not knowing what I felt like eating. My stomach was very sensitive and I was rediculously picky about my food. I needed nourishment though and I decided to have a piece of bread with butter and honey. I ate that, while chatting to Ian. I stayed up until about 9am, and went back to bed soon after Mario woke up.
I woek up again at about 11am upon hearing Mario come in and out of the bathroom. He was taking a shower. He was done, somewhere out on deck when I though what a marvellous idea it would be to take a hot shower before our anchorage and the meeting with civilization. I needed one desperatly, after days of sea-sickness and lying in bed. I felt dirty and sick. I quickly got out of bed, and ran into the bathroom. That shower revived me. It brought me back to life, washing away all the misery of the last few days.
When I went out on deck it was almost 12pm and we were approaching Quellon, a small town on Isla de Chiloe. It was a glorious, warm, sunny day and we rejoiced in everything. We found a shallow spot in their wide, open bay and released the anchor.
Mario was so eager to get off the boat and go into town to watch the football games, he could hardly wait. As soon as we had stopped he helped us take some wet matresses out on the deck, then took the dinghy and rowed to the shore (he had already packed everything he needed) in advance. We didn’t see him again until 8pm that evening when we all (incl. Bob) met for dinner.
Ian and I went into town and decided to have lunch before we did anything else. We asked a local lady where the tourist office was hoping to get all necessary info there but she said it was closed during the low season. Then we aksed where we could get something to eat and she ppinted to a restaurant around the corner which big windows overlooking the water had previously attracted our attention. We settled in front of the TV that was playing ‘Zorro’ and ordered some light food (chicken soup for me, a seafood one for Ian, and salad and fries to share). I was still being gentle with my tummy, having not eaten properly in a couple of days. I watched the movie and was amazed by how old it looked. It was only done a few years ago and it already looked like a really old movie. I also thought it was very funny, the talk, the dramatic jestures, the humor, so funny! We were laughing out loud. Nothing wrong with some drama I guess, it is kinda sweet.
While we were going back and forth with the boat a funny thing happened. As we were leaving our anchorage spot we passed by another boat. We didn’t have our sails up, just some fenders on the sides, and we were just motoring along, nothing too impressive. A guy came out of this boat, holding his laptop with its screen towards us, waving his hand. At first I didn’t think much of it and just waved back. I thought he was just being friendly. But then he stood there on his deck, smiling, and following our movements with his laptop. I got it! He was having a camera chat with someone and was showing us off to them. I thought it was funny! It is funny what perceptions people have of yachts. When they think of an yacht, they think of luxury, richness, etc. They couldn’t be furtherfrom the truth. Having a boat is probably one of the cheapest ways of living (excl. the initial cost of the boat) and requires a lot of work. Things always break, need to be rapaired, you put up with minor discomforts (rocking, cold, heat, etc.), you have to cook and clean just like you would do at home, navigating is a whole separate business – it is not easy pulling on those ropes, requires a lot of physical strength and the willingness to put up with horrible conditions at times. Mental strength is also required in order to survive the tough conditions. The best thing about having a boat to me is the freedom it provides. It is a floating house, you take it with you whereever you go and whenever you go. It is a relaxed way of living as long as you don’t mind the work, and the tranquillity.
That same guy came out on deck again on our return journey, cracking me up with laughter! Still we dutifully waved and smiled at him. We tidied up the boat (put aways the ropes and the fenders, anchored again) and headed back to town in search of Internet. We had spotted a cheap cafe with a Wi-Fi connection and settled ourselves there for a few hours before dinner. Again, I had 186 e-mails of which only 4 were from friends and family. Grrr! By the time I was done organising the e-mails and Facebook I had barely any time left to update my blog. Then my netbook started updating itself and I had to sent Ian off and meet the guys for dinner a bit later.
Still I made it to our meeting point before they did. We went up to the main street in search of a decent restaurant but couldn’t find one and went back to the one Ian and I had lunch at. A lovely space overlooking the docks. We all ordered steaks, and Mario went for a huge piece of grilled salmon. And lots of beer! I thought I would have a glass of wine with the main course and than even a cocktail for dessert but upon seeing the size of the beer I gave up on all of it and even struggled with finishing the beer. Bob observed the number of TV in the hall, it wasn’t that big and yet it boasted 4 big TVs. Funny! Part not only of Chilean but American culture. I have to admit I only noticed it with such force in Chile though. There is a TV everywhere you go and it is usuallytuned to some hideous program. Sitting at the table we all had trouble hearing each other and I even had to lean across the table to hear what Bob was saying. It was also very hard to pay attention to the conversation as we were constantly tempted by the pretty images on the screen. Bob unfortunately is one of those people who cannot stand such noise and got really frustrated with it and retired to a quieter corner by the stove.
We decided to go and do some groceries shopping before lunch and get it out of the way as we thought we might be changing anchorage in the afternoon when the wind had subsided. It only took half an hour as we really didn’t need much food having only about a week of travelling left. We then headed to a restaurant Mario had suggested that had a TV playing the Mexico-France game. We settled at the table and ordered drinks but unfortunately the lunch menu was very limited and we decided to skip that. Mario had his lunch and we enjoyed the first uneventful half of the game while waiting for him. We then picked up our laundry that Mario had dropped off the day before and headed to the boat. The wind was still blowing strong and the sea as we could see it in the bay was rough. As we were walking back pleaded we stayed another day as I still needed some time at the Internet café having not finished everything I had in mind. The weather was rough, we couldn’t leave anyway, and we needed more time in town. It was decided we were staying.
Back on the boat we dropped off the shopping and discussed an important matter. Ian suggested a minor itinerary change consisting of changing our final port from Puerto Montt to Valdivia (an extra 120 miles up the coast). The total duration of our trip shouldn’t be affected though, and even if it is it would only be an extra couple of days. It would mean however that we would have to sail in the open Pacific for a while. Ian wanted to know what we though as it didn’t make any sense to him to go to Puerto Montt. Over the last couple of months he has found out that Valdivia is a better place to stop and repair the boat thus changing our final destination. I told him I was fine with the change as long as he didn’t mind me being seasick during the ocean sail and he said he was happy to do it on his own. Mario also agreed upon being assured that the trip won’t be prolonged excessively thus preventing him from watching the football games. It was decided we are heading to Valdivia now.
Having decided this we needed to get a new zarpe (sailing permission from the armada). We gathered our papers as well as those of the boat and went ashore again. By that time we had missed the second half of the football game and we could take our time. We had no idea what the result was though. At the office of the navy we first told them what we were there for and while they were looking at our papers I asked them what the game result was. Mexico had scored two goals against France and had won the game. I was so happy! We then chatted to the armada guys while one of them was reviewing the papers. There was a young lady behind the desk who was very curious about us and kept asking questions.
Then at some point an officer came out and asked to speak to me (since I spoke decent Spanish) and warned us against theft of dinghies. He said we have to keep an eye on the one we had tied to the dock as well as the one tied to the boat. I told him they were chained but he said it wouldn’t help if someone were to steal them. He warned us to put the dinghies on the boat at night instead of leaving them on the water tied to the boat. He told us to ask the guard of the dock to keep an eye on it.
The guy who was reviewing our papers came back and asked us when we wanted to leave and I told him we were looking at leaving at 9am on the following morning. He said we wouldn’t be able to so as the port was closed because of bad weather. They described it as ‘variable’. The weather would be reviewed at 8pm that day and the new conditions would be announced on the radio. Once the port was open they would give us our zarpe and let us leave. We thanked them for the information and the care (in regard to our dinghy) and we left.
Mario went off to the center and Ian and I went to talk to the dock guard. We explained what the situation with the dinghy was and asked him to look after it for us. He said he would but he suggested we talked to his colleague who was in charge of the dock where the dinghy was actually tied. We went over to him and he gladly agreed to keep an eye on it after we explained the situation. We had now secured the Zodiac but the second dinghy that was tied to the boat only by a rope was a worry. Ian was worried about it because the armada officer said people stole dinghies even from the boat. We could see it in the distance in the afternoon light but what was going to happen when darkness fell?
In any case we went into town, Ian saying he would keep an eye himself. It was late afternoon and we were hungry since we had skipped lunch. We decided to head to a cafeteria we had seen before but before that we stopped at this building that we thought was the highly praised local museum. It wasn’t but it nevertheless turned out to be very interesting. It was the local cultural center where students were rehearsing for the talent competition at 7pm. It was their first festival of the English song. Nice! Even better it was free! I knew what I was doing later that evening. We didn’t have to meet Mario and Bob until 8pm which gave us enough time to check it out. With no further ado we made our way to the pizzeria. We settled and were pleasantly surprised with the wide variety of meals. On top of that there was a Wi-FI connection. Bingo! We spend the rest of the afternoon. Ian had a portion of lasagna and I opted for beef soup and a slice of pizza. We sat there, Ian watching a Chilean TV show and musing at its stupidity while I wrote. We had a good time.
At 7pm we made our way to the cultural center where the talent show had already began. I grabbed a seat but Ian decided to go check on the dinghy before he sat so I took his bag and settled. He soon joined. It was the funniest concert I have ever attended. There was no talent whatsoever but the atmosphere more than made up for it. Everyone was so supportive and encouraging; the atmosphere was very relaxed and family like. It was special. Very touching and we did end up having a great time. There was some singing, some dancing (a World Cup dance) and I was bouncing in my seat, keeping to the rhythm, all smiles. I was so happy to have found this concert; nothing compares to live music, no matter how bad it is. The concert ended with a performance by the local metal band called ‘Alcoholic Disaster’ – it was a disaster alright! I listened to the sounds coming out of their mouths wondering whether to scream and run or laugh. I wondered who would ever listen to such music for pleasure. After the second ‘song’ it was time for us to leave.
We met the guys at the dock and headed back to the pizzeria since we had liked it so much. Everybody was excited by the thought of pizza. Yummy! We settled at a table and the boys ordered two pizzas (seafood and the restaurant special) to share while I opted for lasagna and fresh melon juice. I then felt cold and also grabbed a hot cup of tea. By the time I was done with my tea I had changed my mind about the food. I didn’t feel hungry anymore and didn’t even touch my lasagna. I just finished my juice and had a small slice of pizza. I took the lasagna to go.
After dinner it was time to go back to the boat. Easier said than done. The sea was very rough, just as it had been all day long and the dinghy tied to the concrete dock platform was bouncing like crazy. The rope that was holding it was damaged by the contact with the concrete and we had trouble getting into the boat. Eventually we made it and set off. Once again (for the third time that day) the splashes of water came into the dinghy and mysteriously found their way under my bottom, soaking everything down to my underwear. Pfuuu! At least this time we were going back home and I didn’t have to walk all over town with my wet bottom on display.
It is day 3 and we are still in Quellon. We ended up staying a lot longer that we had planned but nothing could be done. The port was closed because of the bad weather. In the morning when Ian went to get the zarpe as previously agreed he had indeed got it but we were far from leaving. The armada had told him that the port was still closed and we should check with them later.
We had to wait until at least 1pm and since it was early morning we thought we would spend some more time in town. Ian decided to stay on the boat and visit Bob and Mario and I decided to go into town. Ian took us to the docks and went back and we decided to have breakfast at our usual empanada place. This time the lady didn’t have any meat ones and we opted for the seafood empanadas which were also good but not as good as the meat ones. I as always took my time eating while Mario quickly swallowed his and sat there waiting for me. I felt conscious, didn’t want to keep him there waiting and told him he should go to the Internet café. He was anxious to catch another game. I finished my empanada in peace, and on my way to the Inet café made a stop at the supermarket where I had to buy cinnamon, having forgotten to buy some the day before.
The weather was beautiful, it was warm and sunny. I thought I shouldn’t be wasting my time in front of a computer in a dark, cold café and instead thought I’d go to a nearby park, overlooking the docks and read. I was only going to the Inet café to let Mario know that I wasn’t joining him. At least that’s what I thought. As soon as I sat down on the bench I felt a warm and decided it was too windy to sit outside despite the sun. On top of that I got distracted by the game and Mario’s complaints of not being able to find a Chilean channel that was airing it. I was chatting to a friend who suggested we look for it online and since Mario was struggling getting fresh updates I looked for it and found it with zero effort. The first link I clicked on brought back a beautiful little screen, showing the live game. Mario was ecstatic. Unfortunately, there were only about five minutes left but still.
We had agreed to meet up with Ian for lunch and went back to our empanada lady who also prepared delicious home cooked lunch (soups, stews, fish, etc.) for only $2 a plate overflowing with food. Ian and I got the pork stew and Mario opted for some fried salmon with mashed potatoes. Delicious and very filling. Again the guys were done way ahead of me and left (Ian went looking for the museum and Mario went back to the Inet). At the lunch place we met (again!) one of the fishermen from Caleta Suarez, one that had recognized us the night before. We were walking on the street towards the jetty when we heard someone shouting ‘Brasileño!Brasileño!’ referring to Mario. At first we didn’t recognize him but when he explained who he was and how he remembered Mario (he had watched the football games on their boat) we were amazed by his memory. We couldn’t believe he remembered us and were very flattered. How nice!
While we were having lunch (the fisherman’s mom ran the place) he insisted on showing us a photo of our boat but it turned that he didn’t have it and we just ended up looking at photos and videos of his family, his job and work colleagues. Even better if you ask me. I got to see (even if just on video) how they worked.
When the guys left I was still munching on my potato and big chunk of pork when an elderly couple sat next to me. After a while we started chatting, they asking questions about the boat, etc. They told me they also had a boat (probably a fishing one) and the lady urged me to be very careful. ‘I am telling you as a mother…’ she said and told me a story about how her son got in trouble in the open waters and a yacht helped him and took care of him for a while. Apparently they had given him food, etc. That’s nice. I was done with my meal, thanked the couple for their chat and the care and took my leave, waving at the lunch lady. Such nice people!
I then went back to the Inet since Ian had decided it was better to leave in the morning instead of the late afternoon (even if the armada left us). So we had a few hours to kill. We agreed that Ian would come to the Inet at about 6pm and pick us up and he left, leaving us in front of the monitors. I didn’t have anything to do. I had checked my e-mails, responded to most, had gone through Facebook a few times, chatted to my friends and family and updated my blog. I could have written a bit more but I just didn’t feel like it. Mario was busy with the football and I came up with a brilliant idea – I would watch ‘The Big Bang Theory’ (favourite TV series) online. I was excited and quickly downloaded a couple of episodes. Some of them were hilarious and I enjoyed them. I wanted Mario to see it since I had mentioned it to him but unfortunately the episodes we saw together weren’t that funny. Shame!
At 6pm Ian showed up and took us out of our misery, we were pretty bored and fed up. He had a talk with his best friend, Lois, and then we left. It was getting late and we decided to eat out again instead of cooking on the boat. You guessed it! We went back to the pizzeria. Mario and I had the beefsteak with mashed potatoes and rice and Ian had some delicious looking chicken stew. We all had fresh juice (melon and peach). Delicious. A nice last meal. When we were done we took our goodbyes and the owners were super nice. Even their little baby daughter waved us goodbye and squeaked something. ‘It is amazing how friendly the kids are around here’ I told Ian. He agreed saying they had nothing to be afraid of. Earlier that day in the Inet café another little girl had come round Mario and I, curiously peeking at us, at our screens and smiling. No fear.
After dinner we made it back home. The sea had calmed down completely and we knew we were leaving in the morning. Ian had decided to leave no matter what the armada said. We wanted to leave.
PS I just want to mention the bustling activity we observed on the docks one afternoon. Like I mentioned before the fishermen gathered twice (in the morning and in the afternoon) with their catch of shellfish. That afternoon we watched them wash it and distribute it into bag ready to be taken away to shops I presume. They unloaded it all from the boats and their work bags/nets onto the pavement. One men with a huge water hose stood on top of the pile of shellfish and washed it while another was shoveling it into fine net bags aided by a third man. It all looked very laborious and rather cold yet all of them wore T-shirts.
I found it rather fascinating, all the activity, the energy, the buzz and the shouts. The smell of the ocean, of the fish, the men running around in rough, plastic impermeables, shouting, talking, joking. Boats came in and out. The jetty was packed with fishermen, traders, scales and buyers. Fascinating.