The "Chilean ChaCha"
05 July 2008 | 28 23'S:073 08'W, Somewhere in the SE Pacific.
SOG 8 kts COG 314 Chile ChaCha Very calm seas
?? Much has happened since leaving Valdivia. We have been very fortunate in the weather department. Had a few stretches of 15-20 kt winds and excellent sailing as well as following seas. For three days, though, we had 5-7 kts and did quite a bit of motoring to move north towards Galapagos and hopefully pick up some tradewinds as predicted when we left. ?
On Thursday, we noticed the wind indicator at the top of the mast was hanging from the wires. Shortly thereafter, it hit the deck with a bang-scaring the crap out of us. When you hear a loud noise on a moving sailboat, it can never be a good thing. Luckily, no one was hurt and it didn't take out anything else on its way down. Having said that, it?s now a bit difficult to tell where the wind is coming from and any subtle changes that make sailing efficient is something that is not so easy to do. We had been a bit spoiled, though with all the technology and information flowing through the instruments. We have requested that a new one sent to Galapagos for us.
Just to top off our day, the email program on the computer was corrupted and disappeared off the desktop. This trickled down to the sat phone refusing to connect to the email server. Any emails that were sent the night before or that day were lost. We were able to get a list of who sent them but not the actual emails. Emails at sea have become VERY important as they contain weather information, technical feedback from Chris, local port information from Alex and last, but certainly not least, letters from home and friends.
While all of you in the states were celebrating the Fourth of July holiday, we were grateful that it was NOT a holiday in Chile.??Defying all percentages, it was?an unusual experience to pull into a foreign port and not have everything closed "cerrado" in the name of religion or national pride. Because of the many days of little-to-no wind, we had consumed quite a bit of fuel. I did not want to head north west for the long expanse towards the Galapagos without refueling. Alex, at Alwoplast, had recommended several choices. The most southerly one was Algarrobo, a hoity toity yacht harbor for wealthy boaters in Santiago, or one about 200 nm north to Coquimbo, where you weave through fishing boats at anchor in the harbor to a commercial fishing pier to get fuel. We chose the latter as it gave us an extra day of progress and allowed us to have more fuel for the trip.
Anyway, we arrived in Coquimbo around 1930 on the evening of July 3 just late enough to accomplish nothing. We were greeted by the Chilean Navy who seem to be everywhere these days. They told us exactly where to anchor and came and asked permission to board. Our official Naval officer was Alejandro Valenzuela who was quite personable and graciously posed for a photo for us. We knew we were in for a "ride" when he put us in contact with an "agent" who would help us purchase diesel fuel. Little did we know it would take close to 24 hours to accomplish this! Throughout that evening there were many calls on the VHF radio whose annoyance was compounded by the garbled attempts at understanding each others' broken English and rudimentary Spanish while trying to organize what we thought was going to be an early fueling and departure.....NOT!
July 4?The next morning at 0700 our VHF radio was calling for us. It was our agent, Jaime Molina who started the LONG process that was to become our entire day.We were instructed to tie up along the wharf between number 3 and number 5, the wharf being a big ugly concrete thing with gigantic BLACK tires tied to it. Keep in mind that ES is a very white, very new vessel. We accomplished this with the use of many (formerly white) fenders, protecting her hull from the black streaks that could be potentially a major pain in the ass to clean off (been there, done that). ?First to arrive was Jaime,(pronounced like Hymie with a gutteral "H" sound) his partner and the immigration agent dressed in black shiny shoes and a black overcoat. They combed over our papers, had me fill out copious forms, stamped our passports back into Chili and issued us temporary passes to visit their fine city. Anyone who has a passport always feels a sense of accomplishment when more stamps are added so we d idn't complain and went with the flow so to speak. At that time, I again was asking when the fuel truck would arrive...silly me.?
Next was the half hour car ride to the fuel station where I had to prepay for the fuel. After that,a stop at el Banco to get the many fees that were to be paid before delivering the prepaid fuel. When the fuel truck first arrived, we were not permitted to have it because we hadn't yet received the customs clearance to buy it....aaahhh! So, the fuel truck left saying they would be back in una hora---right! (one hour for those of you who may be wondering). There was a great deal of gawking by passersby at the port of Coquimbo who where mainly comprised of fisherman and commercial port workers. We looked like a space pod sandwiched between commercial fishing boats and tugs....quite a sight there! With a lot of time on our hands waiting for something to happen, we noticed a fishing vessel off loading huge swordfish onto a truck equipped with an electronic scale manned by a woman from the department of fisheries. Suddenly, I noticed the familiar tail of a TUNA coming off the boat. I went over with Alan to negotiate a purchase from the captain..the price was $4 per kilo which comes out to about $1.75 per pound. It was a white tuna and quite beautiful. So $88 US later, we followed two young fisherman carrying a feed bag of sorts containing our 25 kilo tuna. They put it on the aft deck where I set about fileting our treasure while Ness and Alan organized a sushi set up accompanied by the traditional vino tinto (red wine) of the Chilean persuasion...not too shabby for a couple of "gringos" and a Canadian.?
Sooooo, the fuel truck arrived, we succeeded in paying the agency fee, immigration fee, port authority transportation fee, wharfage fee, custom's fee for supplies diesel fuel, DGTM-clearance fee (whatever that is), DGTM-control supply, line handler and last, but not least, the lighthouse fee. All of this totaled a whopping $912.98 not including the price of fuel!!!!
We had already planned to change the engine oil while we got fuel but had no idea that we would have 24 hours to do it. Ness graciously volunteered to go up and inspect the top to the mast and tape the wires formerly known as the windex wiring. This was quite generous considering that the only thing he fears more that heights are sharks. He did take his camera up (70 feet) with him (see pic) and was the source of much entertainment for all the guys lining the wharf to watch which included our agent, Jaime, the immigration man, the naval officer, assorted well-paid "line handlers" and a few fisherman. We completed our repair without incident and cast off to sail off into the sunset (as it was 1730 by then) in our white (with a few black smudges) space pod.
Aboard ES, a delicious dinner, a smooth and ?uneventful evening, and another beautiful starry night. We awoke to a picturesque sunrise and the promise of a SUNNY day. We are all very glad to be on the water again and able to joke about Coquimbo.
No more stops until the Galapagos, the island of Santa Cruz, Puerto Ayora.
We have many pictures to share but while onboard it is cumbersome to send them. I hope you will look forward to seeing them when we arrive in Galapagos.
Love Ness and Dale