I’m now well adjusted to the cruising mode. Dave has gone off trekking with his esposa, and lovely Christine has finally arrived. She is settling in on board – this does not surprise me. We’re here and have been for 2 weeks. Still trying to come to terms with flat water, roosters crowing, long unhurried sleeps and rural smells. It is all quite surreal.We’re poking our way south into the Patagonian channels. At the moment, we’re exploring the lovely east coast of Chiloe Island. As a cruising ground this wonderful area is quite untouched – we have not seen a single yacht since we left Puerto Montt a week ago.
It will get colder, wetter and windier as we move south. But for now the weather is warm and still. Despite magellanic penguins, Peruvian pelicans and the occasional sea lion, the clear waters are quite swimmable. To our west gentle hills, rolling pasture and forest. East across the tide rips in Golfo Corcovado deep fjords disappear between snow covered Andean peaks, half of which seem to be volcanoes.
Near at hand there are endless secret bays and inlets to explore. Fishermen tending their nets from orange and yellow boats wave as we pass. They row or scull standing face forward. Tiny villages huddle around brightly painted wooden churches and laughing children swim from the jetties.
I am still wide-eyed after that long trip. I don’t know how much of that is Patagonia and how much is simple absence of Southern Ocean. Gone is the grey, the cold, the discomfort and the endless unpredictable movement of small boat in big sea. Gone the sense of abandonment you feel commonly in that vast and imperious emptiness. Here the horizons are close, rich and complex. There is much to see, hear, and smell – cowshit, the rooster’s crow, the glassy surface of protected waters, the bustle of tiny fishing ports. All new, colourful, busy.
I may be fulfilling wishes here, but Chris seems a duck taken to water. The boat is bedecked with hairbrushes, silk nighties and lip gloss and I feel once again a whole person (how she’d hate me saying so). Our first calving glacier is nigh, but for the moment Chris is warm enough and there seems genuinely to be enough space on board for les deux de nous. When we’re not sailing or exploring ashore we read, eat a lot, talk a lot, listen to music a lot. Binoculars, bird books, history books, coffee cups, half finished conversations and marine charts litter the cockpit. Ashore, we explore and extend our espagnol fluentes with these wonderfully friendly locals.