Finally, we have reached the starting line

I woke up and the world was quiet. Zephyrus rocked gently, a comforting
wind made things flap outside. Awash with relief, I let myself go back
to sleep, this time a resftful one.

Last night was windy. Yesterday was windy. We had forty knot winds in an
anchorage with 3m of water below us, making for energetic and choppy
waves. The guide book describes Puerto Ingles as 'sheltered from all
sides'. I don't like to think what an unsheltered location would have
been like.

In Andy's words, yesterday was 'exciting'. He used this term while
huddled in the cockpit, talking to his sister on our Chilean mobile. We
still have reception (obviously) and just when I had run out of things
that might make his day happier (tea, cake, tobacco, a drop in
wind-speed), he got a call from his three year-old niece. Perfect. There
was something weirdly comforting about hearing him chat to her about her
day, as though sat in a living room at home, while the world swirled
around his head and our backdrop changed at an alarming rate.

It wasn't so bad. Our anchor only dragged once, and we moved somewhere
else. Then the wind shifted and we were pushed to an area where the
depth meter read zero. So we moved somewhere with more depth but
unfortunately in swinging range of the only other boat in the bay. So we
moved again, back to where we started. All this over a period of about
10 hours, each time learning the art of winching up and dropping down
the anchor in high winds and weedy water, getting slapped about by
waves, sign-languaging to each other through the noise of the wind. It
wasn't restful, but the beauty of modern times is such that we knew it
would pass in the day. Our weather report predicted the winds to shift
around 9pm and die down before midnight. The navy radio warnings told us
that things would be calmer by 0000. And our barometer agreed, though
the dial did at one point reach the extreme of the scale and I wondered
what happens if pressure drops further. Does the dial continue round,
back into the high pressure zone? Does the instrument break in disbelief?

Weather reports that we have downloaded suggest that we'll have a
quieter morning today, and then high winds return this evening and
through tomorrow. The pattern continues for a few days so we won't be
going anywhere until the weekend at the earliest. Some people think it's
cheating to download weather. Others read forecasts as though they are
fact. We also have a tool on board that brings us real-time satellite
imagery for our own interpretation. Combined with the wind predictions,
this gives us a better idea of what's going on in the air around us, and
beyond. At this early stage in our adventuring I'm happy to use every
tool we have to prepare for what's to come. We can't avoid it, but at
least we can hunker down.

You find us today in Puerto Ingles, near Punta Corona, on the north-west
corner of Chiloe Island. Our journey here, through Canal Chacao, was the
last we will have had with land on both sides. Or any side. The Canal
flows fast with the tides, 8 – 12 knots in either direction, and far
faster than our boat would be able to counter. We had no choice but to
pick our time, and go with the flow. It was pretty thrilling, flying
along at 14 knots with no sails, watching the water surface changing
from crazy choppy to oily calm to whirlpooling eddies all around. Crabs
and other floating critters in the centre of the flow; magellan
penguins, seals, terns, and pelicans chasing the food source. I
confessed to Andy a few days ago that I was as equally concerned about
crossing Canal Chacao as I was sailing to Juan Fernandez, or even New
Zealand. Clearly more effort is required for each stage, but it seems
I've reached my threshold of understanding. Beyond this I cannot
perceive anything, so all there is to do is focus on today, or the next
phase.

The storm yesterday nurtured one end of this week's emotional spectrum.
At the other, last Sunday we had a complete surround- sound dolphin show
while on a day-sail with friends visiting from Puerto Montt. Leaping out
of the water, full body flips, walking on their tails and slapping them
on the surface, swimming in front, behind, under and around Zephyrus,
they came out to play. Teenage dolphins having fun, mother and child
swimming in unison, larger dolphins staying low, enjoying the delight
around. I wanted to laugh and cry and shout and scream and stay really
quiet with awe all at the same time.

So, day by day. We have finally reached the starting line, and now we
sit out these northerlies and wait for winds from the South to blow us
onwards into the next adventure.

2 thoughts on “Finally, we have reached the starting line

  1. Wind, I always thought that was what was requred, I know it has to blow in the right direction. Tea cake hunker down sound as though you are enjoying yourselves outragous. Love MAD xx

  2. Well, we had a pretty exciting day too … "Mollypolly", one of our chickens, laid her first egg for us :) he, he, hee!!! And she laid it just outside our kitchen door – if it wasn't for the springs that Ant put on the door yesterday to stop them wandering into the house then she could well have laid it straight into the saucepan!! I wonder how chooks would fair out at sea???? Love from Luisa and the rest of us.
    ps. we love reading all your blogs!

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