23 September 2011 | Valdivia, Chile
We dropped the Porsche off at the factory after a stressful traffic-jammed crawl through Stuttgart, and barely made our train to Frankfurt. All went pretty well, though, except for the 24 extra hours spent in Santiago due to a flight booking error.
We are in Valdivia now, location of Alwoplast (the boat builder), a community of about 200,000, a few miles inland from the ocean and in a cool rainforest climate. Life is different here, certainly, compared to Europe. The air is clean, the traffic light, the choices simple. Rental car? Toyota Yaris, with its ambiguous but eventually willing steering and supple narrow-tire ride. Coffee? Nescafe, amigo. Language? Spanish, bring your phrase book. We hit town on September 18, the Chilean Independence day, and wow was there a party going on! And for a birthday present I got to lay hands and feet on Hekla, now with shiny white paint all over and a hull stripe and her name in brilliant red. Major mechanical systems are in, such as engines, tanks, plumbing, heating. Others are coming along, the electrical system, furniture, deck hardware, and decorative floor painting. It will be 10 or more days yet before the boat goes into the water, after which the mast and rigging can be installed and serious testing can begin. The progress is fast, with more than half of the company's 40 person staff working on the boat now, whether painting, sanding, bolting, woodwork, metal work, electrical...many trades are involved at this stage.
Most of our personal stuff shipped from the states has arrived, and it is mostly spread out in the former sail construction loft of the building. I am busy finishing custom light fixtures, designing panel layouts, and programming electronic instrumentation. Zia is unpacking, inventorying, organizing for a move-on that is similar to moving to a new house, with the exception of furniture. Do we really need all of this stuff? Where do we put it?
Life is great here. We are living in a resort of cabanyas, on the river and a ten minute walk from the boat yard, and surrounded by Ibis, a long beaked yellow headed bird with a loud call sounding somewhat between a crow and a duck. Everybody is friendly, I am joyfully running every day, and we are feeling the excitement of a huge project nearing its completion, and a journey nearing its beginning. Where? South, for up to 4 months, in the spectacular and wild Patagonian coastal channels, for most of the austral summer. Planning for that is quite challenging and well underway, I'll discuss that a bit later.