In the interest of full disclosure, mention must be made of a certain type of aggressive biting fly that lives in this part of the world. For a few miserable days, it was unsafe to venture on deck alone. One needed protection to do any job, someone to swat as the other worked. Soon, though, we either got far enough north and thus out of range, or the weather changed – in any case we were no longer harassed by these flies. After crossing the Gulf of Corvocado to Chiloe and the outlying islands we found ourselves in a well populated gentle pastoral world. It's an area of small farms, small towns, and attractive coves. The people here seem to be equally at home at the the helm of a tractor or a fishing boat.
Rowing boats are everywhere.
Some little boats are not very pretty – stryrofoam planks are often used as tenders.
We got a nocturnal visit from a fisherman and his wife wanting to trade crab for just about anything.
With wooden boats in daily use, it isn't surprising that we spotted many boats under repair and new construction.
Ginger found a pile of lumber ready for the next big vessel. The trees are cut with the curving grain of natural crooks preserved for knees or frames.
We were offered tea in the kitchen of one house as water was heating on the wood stove.
The weather was predicted to breeze up beyond comfort level, so we found a nice secure nook to wait for a couple of days.
The little bay soon filled with other boats also seeking shelter. One fishing boat was beached to repair a plank that had sprung loose while bashing into the weather.
For some reason, on that particularly windy afternoon, everyone vanished. All the fishermen rowed ashore and disappeared.
The little fishing boat just upwind of us dragged alongside. We spent hours fending off, expecting the captain to return any minute and deal with the problem. Finally Peter rowed out, pulled the little anchor, and repositioned the boat downwind. Problem solved, but where the heck did everyone go?
That evening, as people returned to their boats, we heard that there had been a tsunami warning. It was sheepishly explained that everyone had climbed to high ground in confusion. We were promised that next time we would not be forgotten. A gun would be fired by the Carabineros to alert us. Possibly the church bell would be rung as well, although that was not known in certainty. A meeting was to be held that night to discuss the situation.
We never tested the new warning system as the weather turned nice before the next tsunami warning. We set sail for the capitol of the area, Castro, and as we dropped anchor we saw the wonderful wooden cathedral that towers over the town.
Near our anchorage the shore was lined with distinctive “palafitos” - houses on pilings built over the water.
We rowed ashore and explored. The buildings were interesting, sided with a variety of materials such as wood shingles, tin sheets and split logs.
Back on the beach we were ready to launch the dinghy when a labrador retriever decided he wanted a boat ride. He jumped in our dinghy and did not want to budge. Here doggie! Get out! Come! Peter tried his best dog bossing voice.
Maybe he should have tried to reason with the dog in Spanish.
We needed to lift him bodily from the boat, and even then he paddled after us for a while. It was time for us to move on, so we sailed the distance to Puerto Montt, the biggest city we'd seen since arriving in Chile. As we sailed up the channel, a low tide provided opportunity to boat owners of vessels large and small for painting and maintenance.
We were reminded that we also needed new bottom paint. We arrived at at Club Nautico Reloncavi and in short order arranged for a haulout by travelift. How nice (and inexpensive) it would be to use the tide instead. Some small cruisers dry out here on every tide, with the help of legs to stay upright.
Soon enough, Marcy headed back to the water sporting a new blue bottom.
While at Puerto Montt, which is one of the major crossroads of cruising, we had the pleasure of meeting many international sailors. We have good new friends from Holland, Norway, Australia and the UK. We had been on the lookout to meet one couple, Annie and Trevor, for some time. They sail a gaff rigger named Ironbark that is a near sister ship to Ariel, whom we had cruised with in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. It was good to finally meet friends of friends.
Trevor and Annie (Annie Hill, marine author) were freshly back from the New York Yacht Club where they had just flown to accept a prestigious award from the Cruising Club of America. They haven't let the awards go to their heads. They were great fun to chat with. Iron Bark has wintered over in both Arctic and Antarctic ice, and we heard many fascinating hints and tidbits of staying warm and happy in such a severe environment. Our time for socializing was limited, though, because we had to prepare Marcy for our longest open ocean passage yet. Our next destination is Hawaii, 6,000 nautical miles away, where we will return to the northern hemisphere for the first time in over three years. We must quickly shoe horn two months of supplies aboard Marcy and shove off.