June 10, 2008
The pic here is of "ES". To appreciate her size, 57', Ron, in the yellow jacket is 6'3"!!!
Ron, from Holland, got here here 2 days ago to see his boat during the building process. His will be the 2nd "Atlantic" 57' catamaran to be built by Alex Wopper.
Valdivia, quite unlike the Atacama desert to the north, is surrounded by lush forests and many lakes and rivers...it's actually quite similar to the Quebec Laurentian mountains, except it's only a few kilometers inland from the Pacific Ocean.
This is their Fall season....almost winter here, so...Chile is chilly....and fascinating.
Much work still remains to be done on ES. On such a huge project and there are many issues and decisions to be dealt with. The running rigging on the mast leads to the wrong places and so Alex and his guys have devised a plan to remedy that. Not a simple fix, but a good one. The hatches have a problem and can't close from the inside - Dale is working with Maxwell (the manufacturer) to try to remedy that. Instruments have to be checked and calibrated. Everyone who works here at Alwoplast is a problem solver and ready to find a solution. The owner of the boat, Santi, will spend 3 days here with his wife on June 10. And Chris White, the designer, will be here on the 12th for a few days. Hopefully, we will be ready for sea trial.
Meanwhile, we are trying everything on the boat to be sure they work and if not, things are fixed promptly. Tonight, we will try the washer/dryer! After that we have been invited to Alex's home for sushi made by a woman up the street who lived in Japan for 20 years. We will be joined by Alex's right hand man, Ronnie and his wife.
Dale and I are really looking forward to that.
June 5, 2008
Since yesterday, many things have happened to make me appreciate where we live. There is a truckers' strike to protest the fuel prices (we can relate). When they strike, they burn tires on the Pan American Highway, cut down trees to block the road, and then line up all the trucks behind that. Everything traveling from city to city stops in both directions. The students at the universities are on strike for their own reasons on which I will not elaborate, the government offices, mail services, bus services and fuel stations are all closed either in sympathy with the truckers or because of them. Whatever fuel is in your car here---is what you have until the strike ends.
The mainsail and genoa for the boat were supposed to arrive two days ago but have been found to be in a warehouse in Santiago awaiting a truck to come here. Alex, who lets no moss grow under his feet, had them flown here today-they arrive in Valdivia at 6pm and will be at the yard in the morning! All of the planes are overloaded as people scramble to get their goods flown in. At least we can sail where we need to go soon!
The supermarkets are buzzing with people trying to stock up in case the strike goes on longer than a few days. We have a rental car coming tomorrow and plan to join the masses in our own version of stocking up. We will drop off the laundry at 9pm, shop for what we need for the week, get some long-awaited cappuccino at the Austrian pastry shop in town (perhaps a pastry out of desperation), pick up the laundry and head back to the yard.
I am told that in the event that the truckers hold out for very long, the country will virtually close down. People will be unable to go to work or school and businesses will be unable to operate. Alex, the owner of Alwoplast, has suggested that we stock up on the essentials like toilet paper and wine just in case. Good advice, I think.
Just so your sympathy triggers aren't going off, I must tell you that last evening we (Dale and I) were invited to a sushi dinner at Alex's house with his wife, Ronnie, his partner and his wife. The food was prepared by a local woman who lived in Japan for 20 years and uses local fresh fish to make the sushi. She also made another dish - hot local fish prepared Chilean style with tomatos and wonderful spices. The house was designed and built by Alex and is completely Feng Shui. It is constructed from volcanic rock, local stone and Oregon wood - fabulous. It is surrounded by rivers on three sides and is accompanied by a small island that he owns which houses his garden. It was truly an evening to remember.
The local open market along the river abounds with fish who's names I don't recognize but I have learned to just try. The produce here pales to anything I've seen in out local markets. There's even man smoking local salmon on an open fire.
Valdivia is a beautiful city with a strong German influence as they came here in the 1500s. The architecture is an interesting blend of South American and German ideas.
Our days start at 7:00 am for breakfast after which ES is swarmed at exactly 8:00 am by at least 6 - 9 workers, ranging from cabinet makers, to electricians, plumbers, and riggers.
After a great 4 days on Easter Island, and a 6 hour flight back to Santiago, I had 1 day to pack up all my stuff and take the 10 hour bus to Valdivia on May 31.
I was picked up at the terminal by Alex Wopper, the owner of Alwoplast, the company building the Chris White designed "Atlantic" 57' foot catamaran named "Espiritu Sante" (ES for short).
Dale arrived 3 hours later from Philadelphia.
We got to Alwoplast on a cold (almost winter here) dark, rainy and foggy night to see ES sitting at the dock all lit up by floodlights. She looked fabulous.
There is still about a week of work still to be done...sails to come, lines to be threaded, cabinetry details to be finished, and finally the testing of all the systems - navigation, radar, sail, engines, water maker, fridge and freezer, and once the sails are installed, we take ES out for her first test sail.
Dale and I expect to be enroute to San Diego, California some time mid June.
Hi from Easter Island (it has the most remote airport on the earth!).
The sailboat has been delayed again. I now must be in Valdivia, Chile on May 31, so I decided to visit Easter Island....4,000 km NW of Santiago, and 4,000 km SE of Tahiti....a 6 hour flight from Santiago...this puts it right in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean.
This is the island with those incredible moais (huge ancient stone statues), that no one can figure out how they were moved from the quarry to positions all over the Island.
Although EI is a part of Chile, the culture resembles more that of French Polynesia (Tahiti, Marquesas, etc.).
The 10 days (4,200 kms) just flew by so fast....desert travel for 1,000's of kms, sculpters in the middle of the desert, salt flats, pink flamingos, foxes, owls, sand boarding (exactly like snow boarding, but on sand dunes), swimming (in oasises) mountain biking, and horseback riding.....whew....I'm tired just writing this!
I'll be posting some pics in a few days.
Tomorrow, my Birthday, our wine rep. from Wildfire Steakhouse and Winebar, set up a VIP tour for me at the Torres Winery 90 minutes south of here.
I also planned to be in Valdivia on the 21st, but because of the bad rainy weather there, there is another delay. So now I'm scheduled to be there on the 25th.
This is good, because now I'll have time for a side trip for 2-3 days to Mendoza, Argentina.
I´m now at the end of day 4 in my 10 day tour of northern Chile. Less than a few hundred km. north of Santiago, we hit the desert. Most areas had no rain in over 50 years - nothing but sand and rock, but it´s actually quite beautiful.
A refreshing stop was a 3 hour boat ride at the "National Reserve Pinguino de Humbolt", formed by 3 islands. Here we saw dolphins and penguins
Antafogasta, is a large moderm and bustling city in the middle of hundreds of kms. of desert.
I´m travelling with a gang of 9 others - 4 Brits, 1 German, 1 Irish, and 2 Dutch.
I spent the day touring these two coastal towns.
V de M is a really nice high end resort town complete with a really swanky casino, where I played 5 hands of blackjack and walked out with an extra 30,000 pesos ($70 CAD). It reminded me a bit of Ft. Lauderdale.
Valparaiso is not quite as nice and a lot larger. It's built on the side of a mountain that runs straight down to the sea. There are funiculars everywhere to move the people up and down.
This is "Andes Hostel" in Santiago, centro. (see "Favorite Links" to the right).
This web site, along with ALL my satellite and web based communications via Iridium Sat. phone, including voice, SMS, email, and weather, couldn't have been possible without the incredible applications and technical support provided by Luis Soltero and his "crew" at "Global Marine Networks". (see "Favorite Links" to the right), and Tim Harincar at "SailBlogs". (see "Favorite Links" to the right).
I'm really disappointed that I won't be doing any riding. I got down to Santiago later than I wanted, and the boat launch will be earlier than expected. I have to be in Valdivia by the 21st, and I'm really not interested in the hassle and expense to ride for only 2 weeks.....also there are frequent snows in the Andes passes now, and it's colder and quite rainy south of Santiago. If I had 4-6 weeks, that would have been different. I carried an extra bag of 50 lbs of motorcycle gear for nothing.
Soooo, on Saturday,I will probably take a 10 day private bus tour to Northern Chile, where I hear the desert is quite a special place.
Once I get to Valdivia on the 21st, if I have any free time, I'll try to get to Chaiten, the active volcano around 400 km. south south of Valdivia.