We have had a pleasant time so far in the Islas Chauques. We moved from Mechuque to Estero Voigue shortly after my last posting. This was a very scenic motor, of just a few miles, through an uncharted, twisting, passage between Mechuque, Anihue and some un-named islets. We had little to go on other than being told by Don Justo (the Commodore of the Valdivia yacht club) that the pass was navigable. I decided to leave at low water so that if we touched the bottom the incoming tide would lift us off; fortunately that wasn’t necessary.
Estero Voigue in Isla Cheniao (or Isla Voigue as the locals called it) proved to be a delightful spot in a landlocked lagoon. There were around ten houses around the shore, some of which are empty as the islands suffer from rural depopulation just as almost everywhere else in the world. Indeed one farmer came alongside in the hope that we were rich Americans to tell us that his father had 12 Hectares for sale. At another phase in life it would be a very tempting place to set up a little homestead. The farmer his wife and little daughter were just returning from a visit to the pediatric clinic on the hospital ship that travels around the islands.
They told us of a difficult trip they had to make to Castro one night in rough weather when their daughter caught “rata virus” (hanta virus maybe?). We had a couple of visits from the farmer/fishermen in the Chauques area often it seemed a little under the wine and offering us various types of shellfish; presumably in the hope of gaining some more wine but we always politely declined not wanting a drunk fisherman on our hands.
Another day we visited the home of Albano and Marisol, the family with the little girl, as Paula had made her a rag doll. The little girl was called Olga in honour of Albano’s mother, as was his boat. In fact his boat was called “Doña Olga II” so seems he held Doña Olga in high regard. The family lived in a modest house with three teenage children and Olga who was one and a half. They had a veggie garden, a few berries bushes, sheep and cows and were self-sufficient. Albano worked in an artisanal fishery catching fish and gathering seaweed that apparently went off to be made into shampoo. The teenage children went to school on Chiloé. They are picked up by boat on Sunday evening and dropped back home on Friday evening. Often these days it seems that they go to college and university and don’t return to life on the islands – understandable but sad in a way.
Whilst in Estero Voigue we made a survey of the anchorage so that we could pass the information onto the publishers of the guides as the charts/chartlets bore little resemblance to reality where they existed at all.
A couple of days ago we moved onto the next island in the chain, Isla Buta Chauques and are anchored in Caleta Don Pedro at the tiny hamlet of Metahue. We are only about four miles east of our last anchorage but had to go back a long way to clear a reef so the total trip was closer to 20 miles. We had a minor drama when engine’s waterpump/alternator belt broke as we were approaching the entrance; Paula sailed along slowly whilst I changed the belt. It had only done 50 hours; don’t buy cheap Korean belts in Chile if you can avoid it! We have yet to explore Metahue as yesterday was a cleaning and maintenance day and today has been wet and nasty; the little anchorage is quite crowded with fishing boats sheltering from the weather and one rather big one that is parked a bit too close for comfort.