Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Report from the far south.

I miss that big smile already.
8 Am Wednesday 28th.

Christmas dinner here in Chile is celebrated on Christmas eve, and we’d not thought about it much, but there are odd coincidences happen here. Author Terry Pratchet said “Million to one chances happen nine times out of ten” and in magical lands such as this, that has been happening to us.
We found a pizza restaurant, were sitting at one of the long bench tables watching an enchanting encounter between twin Dutch boys, about 7 or 8 years old, and a slightly younger Chilean girl.They played together as though they had known each other forever, and the girls mum, sitting next to us shared some of her pizza with Sophie, the two chatting away happily.
At the end of the meal Mama mentioned to us that she was the owner of a restaurant about three doors away and that they were putting on a special menu for Christmas dinner, and we might consider having our celebration there.
We did, five courses, all very different to our usual fare, and amazing.  Wonderful, recommended.  Broccolinos, if you get this far south, recommended!

From left to right, Denny, me, David Nichols our film maker, Howard, one of the few shots we've got of him without his hat on, and Sophie our helper and translator at Broccolinos, where the chef does his best "grumpy chef" impersonation. He told us that he's "practicing his cooking". It was a superb meal. 

A couple of days ago Denny and Sophia took the day off and went off on a tour of the “penguino” colony on Magdalena Island out in the straights, the walkways are roped to keep the sightseeers from disturbing the birds too much but the penguins seem totally unfazed by the people walking along.  Some have made nesting burrows right on the edge of the path, and at this time of the year had fluffy chicks almost as big as their mums and dads.  Our ladies were amazed and intrigued,  that’s a trip that’s well worth the effort and modest cost.

It was a busy day yesterday though, some of the team were delivered to the airport for the beginning of their long journey home , that was Denny and Dave on the morning trip, and Sophia heading back to family in Santiago on the evening run. We’re missing Dennys big smile and laughter, Daves quiet presence with the video camera, and Sophia translating when we have to negotiate in Spanish. 
Adios amigos for now.

In between the two trips Howard and I got the replacement mizzen mast glued up using the floor of the crate as a workbench, we’ll have access to the crate again at 9 this morning and will be loading the glued up hollow spar along the side of the car ( rental cars can do anything!)  and heading off to the Nao Victoria museum where the Magellan ship and the Beagle replicas are. There is a small workshop there where, in the shadow of the two big historical ship replicas we can make as much noise and mess with the power plane as we need to.

Setting up in the shipping crate to glue the hollow box spar up, we managed to hire a skilsaw and will get a power plane today, the box spar was the best option with the tools and materials that we had and it has been assembled with aluminium foil in the hollow centre to act as a radar reflector.

I’d expect that we’ll have the shaped and sanded blank back here later today, it shouldn’t take long to get the last few bits glued on and ( fingers crossed that there aren't any distractions) we’ll be putting the first coat of varnish on tomorrow am.

Am and pm are taking a little getting used to here,  there is maybe 3 ½ hours between the two, it never does get properly dark  here at this time of year, its tempting to stay up late as its broad daylight at 10 pm, and the sun is way up in the sky by 5 am so its hard to get enough sleep.
The little unit we are occupying now is better in that respect as we’ve bedrooms that don’t have big windows letting the early dawn in to disturb us.

“Southern Cross” sits happily in the breezeway between the units here, dreaming of the sea so close.  I’m sure she can smell it we can see the Straights from the gate into where she sits.
There is not a lot to do, a tiny bit of paint where the hatch covers had to be relieved to allow for the thicker gasket material ( thanks Keith Nasman for that, very much appreciated), there are some holes to fill where there have been some fittings moved, then its close to time to load.

Carving and sanding those reliefs under the hatch closure buttons was a fairly precise job, and as these two hatches swing on carbon fibre hinges that are well fastened I had to fold myself up pretty tight to get in there to do the job. Still, it got done and they just need a lick of paint and they're all ready for use.
Note the "GoPro" cameras, there are two more on board which will be used either by hand or from a moveable mount.  Don't forget to support the movie, we've lots of good stuff on video so far and the best is yet to come.

It's been interesting watching the weather out there at sea, I’d guess that so far one day in five was a day on which it would be possible to sail all day, two more when its ok to sail early in the morning and late in the evening and two days when days when hiding in a sheltered spot and reading a book would be the best alternative.
Two days ago the water was smoking, spray driven by 60 knots or so of wind covering the waters surface as far as we could see!  That qualified as a "read a book day"!
Sailing at night would be a real possibility too, with such long evenings, and some light even at midnight making miles while the wind is down would be a good bet.

I’m about to have breakfast, and damn, I got two mugs out for the morning cup of tea but Dennys in Santiago, will be on the 13 ½ hour flight to Auckland this evening.  Ah well, a second cup wont hurt.

 The official "Below 40 South, a voyage to the dark side of the moon" tee shirt, it looks good, but I have to say that the model helps that.

Still available from the official website, thats the tee shirt, not the model.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Its high summer here, the longest day of the summer was just a couple of days ago but, but, there are days when its not warm and sunny. 
Yesterday started out rainy, about 4 dg C, but by afternoon it was 15deg C and warm enough for just a light sweater.  So changeable.

Here’s Denny on one of the cooler days, she’s up on the passenger deck of  the ferry to Porvenir, she was back into the warm cabin quick smart.

With the good ship Southern Cross out of the container in which she was shipped, the crate delivered and unloaded, a group of friends and our crew picked her up and carried her around into the shelter of the covered driveway of our unit here at Casa Willetu.  Shes safe here, we can work on her as we need, and there are some jobs to be done.

Today has been a day of meetings, visitors, small jobs and not as much progress as we’d like.  However apart from a Harbourmasters inspection we’re through the paperwork, we have materials and tools, a workspace and time, so with luck we’ll have her ready to go in three or four days.

 Our mermaid/translator checking out the interior of Southern Cross.  Sophia has travelled with us to be our translator and help us with the officials of Customs and Shipping, the Zone Commander of the Navy and some others with whom we needed to be precise and clear.  Thanks Sophia, may there be lots of chocolate in your future.

 Southern Cross in her temporary workshop, there is a steel gate between her and the street and the entrance to our unit is just to the left.

Big smile, his baby has arrived with no shipping damage, we're able to get on with a few little jobs and with luck he'll be ready to go very soon.
Howard checking out the interior, this boat has a huge amount of storage for a small boat, and its just as well, there is a lot to go in there.
Its not all "boat"  we get out for a walk to stretch our legs now and again, the city is full of little surprises.  This was a particularly nice garden in a city where they are uncommon.  As well as the brightly coloured flowers I liked the Bug in the corner of the driveway, it was in very good shape.

Checking out the coastline from here.

Yesterday we went for a drive along the coast toward Cape Froward ( not a spello) which is one of the more notorious spots around here.  The wind howls down the channel from the west and is forced through a relatively narrow gap between mountains and consequently can be much stronger than they’d otherwise be.
We got about 60 km away from town before we came across a big bushfire,  not spectacular but the locals were taking it seriously with helicopters, SUVs full of fit liking guys and truckloads of equipment heading out to combat it.
The road was closed at that point, so we turned around and headed back, found Porto Hombres which would be the jump off point, the last civilisation that Howard will see before setting off across the straights into the winding channels and mountains that lead out to the Pacific, which as we all know, isnt “Pacifico”.

Porto Hambres is a really interesting little place, being the off season for the giant crabs which is the basis for the inshore fishery catch the tiny harbour was full of boats, many of them rafted up and a few onshore for maintenance.
Some were past their “use by” dates, one new one in build, there were a couple of burned out wrecks and a cobweb of lines rigged to massive concrete anchors buried well back from the shore holding all in place.

There are warnings in the sailing guides that yachtsmen should be wary of obstructing the fishing boats or entangling themselves in their mooring lines, but it also says that its possible to raft alongside.

We had a good look at possible entrys and exits to the harbour, where it might be possible to tie up ashore, and whether it will be practical to sail in and out.
This could be the last piece of civilisation that Howard sees before he heads out into the maze of channels and islands to the west and south.
That will depend upon the wind direction, but looks as though it will work.

All along the coast, in tiny coves or stream mouths there were fishing boats. Almost all dark blue, all very much the same model.  I’d love to go out in one to see how they behave, solid little boats, a bit rough and ready but well suited to the conditions.

This area has some very nice homes by the way, It’s almost the “Costa del Sol” of the area, numerous childrens playgrounds at the beaches suggests that it’s a holiday area.

Again, an interesting place.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Some history


On the way into Punta Arenas from the airport the other day we spotted the topmasts of a pair of square riggers. They were too far inshore to be on the water, the rigs appeared to be complete, and I’d heard that there was a replica of Magellans ship somewhere so,  today we drove down there for a look around.

Bingo, a small maritime museum!  Small? Sort of, FULL SIZED replicas of
Magellans ship, the HMS Beagle, the James Caird and an Azores whaleboat plus a typical Chilean coastal trading schooner. 

All built on site from local lumber, interiors as per the originals, no sails but rigged.
Amazing ! 

Looking over the “Trinidad” replica, it is evident that life on board would have been extremely hard. She’s no cruise liner, and when one considers how poorly those Carracks and Caravels sailed to windward, and how difficult some of the areas which they explored are, its not suprising that only 18 of the almost 250 men who set out on the journey made it back to Europe.

The next ship we called on was what I think is an Azorean Whaleboat.  There were no signs to tell us the history but those boats are distinctive.  The lines shout speed, and there was a lot of whale hunting here in the south in the 1800s.

From there, it was up the stairs and onto the replica of “ HMS Beagle”, that’s Darwins ship, the man who developed the theory of evolution.
She’s a typical ship riggedsquare rigger of her era and the difference between her and the Trinidad is very evident.  The Beagle would sail rings around her much older predecessor, and the accommodations while tight and uncomfortable by our standards are much better than Trinidads
middle decks.

The James Caird replica reminded us of the extraordinary voyage by Ernest Shackleton from Elephant Island on the Antarctic ice across the Drake Passage between the ice and Cape Horn to South Georgia island. Such a tiny cockleshell, canvas decked, navigated by the simplest of instruments and with essentially no accommodations other than being under the very makeshift decks.

There is also a replica coastal schooner, not a boat in which we were particularly interested. We’ll be back sometime, and will get pics of that as well.

All of these built there on the spot by local labour, with very little equipment other than hand tools and a big table saw.  Well worth the visit!

When we came back though, there was mischief afoot. So to speak.
Toe was sneaking out with one of the Flora twins, you can see she’s letting him take the lead and he has his laces around her to comfort her when the pair of them know that they’ve been caught.
They’re now back in the bottom of the wardrobe, separate ends, doors closed. Grounded!

Monday, December 19, 2016

We are staying with some very generous people.


Our hosts here have been amazing, they’re on board with the project and want to  help in any way they can. 
We’re staying in a comfortable little two bedroom apartment, nice and sunny, has a kitchen where we’re taking turns to cook for the group.  Right now I’m chewing on a toasted sandwich made by Howard.

The puzzle as to where to keep the shipping crate that Southern Cross has been shipped in, plus the gear that comes to help with preparation but which wont be be needed on the voyage was bothering us, but when we asked if the crate could be put on the road verge outside there was some rapid conversation, and consultation with Mama, and they’ve offered to keep the crate in the driveway that leads to an apartment that they’re building on the other side of the Casa from where we stay.   No cost, we offered, but no, no cost.  Wow!
That’s going to make live much easier for  us, the boat, the work that will done on it, and the crate all in one place and no worries about security or having to move lumber and stores from our original place to where we’ll work.
So much easier,  thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

For friendly, comfortable accommodation within walking distance of the central city and the waterfront,  highly recommended.

You'll meet Ivette David Rotenberg, Gonzalo Gallardo David, Carlos Gallardo David and Ivette Gallardo David