Its been a very good day today.
One of the jobs that we’d come here to Punta Arenas to do was to contact the appropriate people in the Armada de Chile, ( navy) and discuss with them the upcoming voyage by Howard in his modified SCAMP.
Another job was to find storage for the boats shipping crate plus scope out the town to find the resources we’d need while staying here during the pre voyage testing and provisioning.
Well, today was the day of the appointment with the zone commander for the Armada. While we were reasonably confident of a good reception there were a few nerves as we were ushered into the “boss’s “ office together with two of his senior staff.
At first our impression was that they were wondering what this was all about, a tiny boat, singlehanded in that region is a vefry high risk venture and it would be their resources that would be at risk to pull anyone in trouble back out to safety so they’re rightfully sceptical of anything outside of a properly equipped expedition ship.
But as the interview proceeded and a series of “Gosh moments” came and went, the atmosphere warmed, there was recognition of the work that has gone into the boat and its gear, the thought and preparation, the experience from Howards previous trip, the courtesy and respect shown in our having come here 6 months ahead of the voyage to make contact and discuss with them what would be needed from their point of view.
Howard had put together a short power point presentation, during which his Cape Horn certificate came up, and Captain Herrera instantly smiled, said “I’ve got one of those” and there was an instant connection, that’s the second time that’s been an icebreaker ( metaphorically speaking, its not that cold here, in the summer at least) for us.
Another moment, those who’ve attended Howards presentations on his voyage around Cape Horn in his 15 ft Klepper folding kayak may recall his tale of walking through a minefield following the lighthouse keepers dogs. Some have been skeptical of that part of the story, but Captain Herrera confirmed that the mine field was indeed there, and still “alive” at that time. Since removed by Chliean special forces though. Much hilarity!
There were some suggestions as to communications equipment and agreement on their part that the planning on Howards part was comprehensive and for the most part well executed. There are a few small things to consider, and their experience in that area means that their input has real value.
So the interview went very well, and it was with cordial handshakes that we parted, all of us looking forward to meeting again in September next.
The other issue, that of storage and generally having friends upon whom we can call when needed has been solved, oddly enough by a rainstorm overcoming a rusty roof and the ceiling in a restaurant collapsing while we were mulling over where to start looking while having coffee.
Mauricio and his staff coped with the problem calmly, moving us and a couple of tables away from the deluge. We made jokes about serving towels and shampoo with the coffee, there was much laughter, some conversation and from that friendships have grown.
Proprietor Mauricio has offered his backyard for storage of the shipping crate, knows the area well and may be able to suggest accommodation when we’re down here next and has proven to be a most cordial and interesting friend.
We have been eating regularly at “El Bodegon”, half a block from the city centre, it’s a great place, we get a warm reception when we go in, not only smiles but there is a big wood stove heating the dining area so its shirt sleeves when outside is distinctly cool.
Our friendship has grown to the point where we can ask for Tony the chef, and tell him that we’d like him to cook a meal, whatever he’d like to cook, and to surprise us.
We’ve had some great food, and strongly recommend the place to anyone coming here!
El Bodegon restaurant and bar, you’ll like it!