In search of Man Friday

Paula tests a flare

Paula tests a flare
Saturday 13 February 2016
37:14.00S 075:30.00W - Pacific Ocean 260NM SE of Isla Juan Fernandez

Off at last. With the engine repaired we did our final provisions shop in Puerto Montt and got everything stowed. Tuesday we paid the marina fees and arranged for the Armada to come and issue our Zarpe (clearance for any voyage in Chile). The Armada came to make an inspection and of course found that our flares were out of date; this is because it is virtually impossible for foreigners to buy flares under Chile’s sales of firearms laws. We explained the situation to the officers, they were aware of the problem, very sympathetic, and made several calls to ever more superior officials.

Eventually it was decided that as our flares were in good condition and carefully stored, and as we had an excess over the required amount, that provided that we fired one and it worked we would be free to leave. So Paula ignited one of white hand-held flares that functioned as advertised; thankfully.

Cleared to leave we motored south to Puerto Abto near the inshore end of Canal Chacao where we had to wait until the next day for the tide. We used the calm anchorage to double check everything and Paula cooked up some first day of passage food.

So on Wednesday 10th February 2016 after almost 1 year and one month in Chile we were off. The tide sped us through Canal Chacao at over 12 knots, at times, and straight into a lumpy Pacific where West flowing current met the ocean swells coming from the west. However we could lay our course and made good time overnight with speed over the ground around 7 knots. Thursday morning the wind died away and we motored for almost 24 hours.

A previously un-forecast trough had appeared on the forecast and we wanted to get north to avoid the worst of it, hence pushing diesel through the pipes. Friday morning started with some good sailing but soon we were headed by a strong N’ly wind of around 30 knots gusting over 40 knots and with the making tack heading us towards Chile we decided to go hove-to (a method of almost stopping the boat in the water) and wait it out. We had to wait about 8 hours before we could get underway and since then have been having some quite nice sailing.

Right now we are running wing-n-wing with mainsail prevented out to starboard and the #3 jib poled out to port. We can’t pole out a bigger foresail as our pole is too short; another thing for the shopping list. We have the end fittings so “just” need to find a suitable aluminium tube.

We just spotted a couple of whales, Humpbacks maybe, there are fur seals around too. As for birds we have greater shearwaters, some petrels that we haven’t properly ID’ed yet, some little Wilson’s storm petrels, an occasional black browed albatross and giant petrel. The latter few named reminding us that the cold Humboldt current flows up the coast of Chile and we will still be seeing our old Southern Ocean friends for some time yet.

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