The Customs Incident So a week ago we left Puerto Williams, did all the paperwork, got the ‘Zarpe’ etc., called port control on the way out – and all seemed OK. After about an hour we got a call telling us we had to return to port. We asked why and was told that the boat wasn’t cleared for charter voyages to which we replied that we were not on charter and the trip was private; ‘OK carry on’ we were told. An hour or so later we got another call telling us that we had to stop at the navy post in Puerto Navarino to do some paperwork. Puerto Navarino is about 30 miles up the channel and against the wind and current so it took us about 8 hours to make that distance. On arrival we were told to come ashore with all the boat documents. We were told that the boat had been impounded in 2011 because the Aduana (customs) didn’t have a document showing that the boat had been imported to Chile. The navy officer at the station scanned and emailed the document, that I luckily had with me, to Puerto Williams but as it was Sunday there was nobody in the office in Punta Arenas to look at it. The port captain told us in no uncertain terms that as the boat was under arrest we had to return to Puerto Williams immediately. My response was not tonight old boy, we’ll come in the morning.
Off we went back to the boat for dinner and whilst having dinner got yet another call telling us not to leave in the morning before a launch arrived to escort us back to Puerto Williams. In the morning the launch arrived, late of course as this is South America even if the most efficient country in South America! The launch dutifully followed us down the channel making sure that we didn’t do a runner!
On arrival in Puerto Williams the Port Captain met us telling us that the problem was solved by the document that we had sent and that he was working to get the impoundment lifted. I had to go to the Capitaneria with all my documents which were studied and photocopied and studied some more. I was told to come back the next day at 11 to be given the clearance; I went at 11 to be told come back at 4:30, I went at 4:30 to be told to come back at 6:00. At six the port captain was there and had my file on his desk, one quick phone call an apology for the inconvenience, a handshake and a hug and I was free to go.
Naturally there is no apology from the people who caused the cock-up, the Aduana service, who lost a paper that they had issued and in typical South American fashion managed to make your life a misery while you solve their problem and get their balls out of the vise!
So On With The SailingAfter we got our clearance, refuelled, stocked up on some more fresh veg we left last Wednesday, the 16th, and got as far as Caleta Mejillones before the wind got too strong and we pulled in for a couple of hours before moving on for a couple more hours in the evening to Caleta Martinez (just outside Puerto Navario where we had been Sunday night!). A quiet night and then onwards taking advantage of the shelter provided by the little islands on each side of the north end of the Murray Channel before popping out into a breezy Beagle Channel. We tacked our way across to Bahia Yendegaia experimenting with a few sail settings as we went, until the wind got up the 35knots when we just got into the shelter of the bay as quickly as we could – not very quickly.
We went ashore to say hello to our friends Jose and Anamie who live at an estancia in Caleta Ferrari, went on a mushroom hunt, and had a quiet night on anchor.
In the morning we went off to look for Jose’s longline that had drifted away but didn’t find it and as the channel was quiet decided to carry on west to Caleta Olla – that was Saturday. In the evening we had a mini asado on the beach with our good friend Marcel who is here with his boat ‘Iorana’ supporting Simon Yates and a climbing expedition ( remember the movie ‘Touching the Void’ – that Simon Yates ). We gathered sardines from the beach and cooked them eating them with delicious bread baked by Petra from ‘Simon le Dancer’.
Yesterday (Sunday) we went off for a long hike up to a mountain pass on the east side of Glaciar Holandia looking for an alternative route to Mount Bove than the one normally used but found our way blocked by a heavily crevassed glacier and a cliff of very nasty loose rock. we were looking into the valley where the Tierra del Fuego part of the ‘Art of flight’ snowboard movie was filmed. That turned out to a solid 10 hour day of tough walking/climbing/kicking snow steps etc.. Today Steve and Marcela went to look for another route but we thwarted by a river in flood due to the hot weather causing a lot glacier melt-water to flow. I have been doing some chores on the boat and baking bread.