Joys of Sailing
16 December 2011
We were anchored in Estéro Pindo, a brightly painted town of yellow, red, green and every color of houses. The bay is sprinkled with yellow, red and blue fishing boats. The old church of San Miguel sits on one side of the bay across from the caphony of colors that make Pindo so picturesque in the long late evening sun. Pulling into a pretty little place like this is a joy. I took hundreds of pictures, especially of the yellow house with the colorful boat at it's feet lit by twilight.
We stayed two nights. One day, while I am doing laundry, I hear an extra loud annoying whine of the kind you hear in dentists offices, only much louder and more insistent. I think, "Hekla has a toothache." I find Jeff and sure enough he has a drill out working on grinding down a bolt head that was rubbing the main sheet. Sounds on Hekla are amplified for some reason, and one of my jobs is to notice all the different sounds she makes and to alert Jeff to any changes. There have been several nights were I've roused him from bed to check out the anchor drag alarm or some other sound requiring attention. Only a couple of times was it an unnecessary awakening.
One of my joys is to listen to the sounds of waves as Hekla sails through them. There is the lazy slosh or the unexpected impertinent slap. Sometimes a wave breaks frightenly into Hekla's side with the sound of shattering glass, or fiberglass! Often waves sound like a belly full of water sloshing around. There are little splashing rolling sounds running her sides or big sprays crashing over her bows like cymbals. Sometimes it sounds like we've been hit by a gun firing when it's only a wave.
When the days are peaceful, calm and quiet they make for good kayaking, although these days often come with rain. Exploring by kayak is a joy. I am so glad we have a way to make our way along shorelines and to get close to bobbing sea birds. We have seen several Cisne families from Hekla, but from the kayak we saw two black headed and necked parent Cisnes swim on either side of their three downy buff swanlings calling to them to stay near and to climb on their backs. We watched the three as they scrambled up and all but disappeared from view in the white feathers of their parents' backs. And once while kayaking, a kingfisher followed us flying close by and landed on a nearby overhanging branch. We got a really close look at him as we glided underneath. Personally, I think he wanted us to get a close look at him, the show off!
We had a thrilling sail, just a day few days ago as we sailed to Mechuque. Our point of sail was a beam reach, with one reef in the main and flying the genoa. The sea state was almost flat with only small little waves. True wind speeds hit 17.7 and Hekla lifted to 12.2, then another gust to tws of 19.3 sent Hekla sailing smoothly at a decent clip of 13.5. This is with a reef in the main. Being cautious in the "increasingly boisterous" wind, Jeff rolled up the genoa and unfurled the jib. We had gusts the whole way in and Hekla lept for joy in them sailing briskly and sweetly along. That was a true joy! Days later we would again encounter gusts but that is another story.
A another delight, a joy to me are the times we disturb incredible huge flocks of gulls as they bob on the ocean and they rise in front of Hekla, a swirl and whirl of winged whiteness, a cloud of gulls, a dance in flight, white wings writing a poem on the sky.
These are just some of the joys of sailing life. When I am paying attention, almost all of sailing is a joy, although a sometimes challenging one too. In Dalcahue we had two college aged guys row up in an ancient hand built kayak. We invited them on board to see Hekla. We had coffee. They put spoonfuls of sugar in theirs. We challenged each others knowledge of foreign languages, but we still had a great time. They took oodles of photos of each other. My favorites were the ones of them standing at Hekla's steering wheel pretending to be the Captain. Juan Carlos works as a security guard, but he wanted to be our crew. And Arian was at one time, studying navigation mechanics. We had a wonderful visit and then they got back in their kayak to leave for shore. I noticed how heavy their paddles were as I handed one to them. They shoved off and paddled through Hekla's tunnel of love, laughing merrily and away they went. Visitors to Hekla are a delightful part of our experience here in Chile. The people curious and friendly and willing to communicate in our awkward Castellano.
And the dolphins! We've seen them a few more times swimming along with us as we sail, always in sunshine, always when least expected, always a joyful part of the sailing life.