Bienvenido el Isla


View Baltazar in a larger map. Note – Easter island has been added as a point of reference, they’re not there yet!

‘Bienvenido el Isla’
The lithe fisherman called, there is nowhere I know where those three
words evoke such strong and heartfelt memories.
We had arrived at the bay of Juan batiste, Bahia Cumberland, Isla Juan
Fernandez.

Anchor down and to business a dive over the side into perfect
temperature water washing away the last days at sea.
As we sat drying on the deck I looked up at the mountains surrounding
the bay, cloud pouring down over the peaks with shafts of sunlight
burning through lighting up pockets of forest and the odd tin roof.
We made our way ashore and went for a short walk, followed by clearing
back into Chile at customs then time to stroll and absorb.
I took in the rebuilding the larger number of people than previous (the
new workforce) the remnants of the old structures, the still very
cleared and barren coastline.
Prominent is an area as you walk away from the jetty belonging to the
the Green family.

Ximena Green, is a fourth generation Islander from one of the original
family’s to inhabit the Island whom is also a lady who lost almost
everything during the Tsunami in 2010, her house, her business the town
bakery and a small backpackers; most painfully one of her grandson’s
Joachin or as I came to hear him called ‘Puntito’ meaning (little thing).
Jocahin was also the brother of Pablo the first of the young teens Rhian
and I pulled out of the water that night. (Ximena is also Pablo’s
grandmother)

I remained quiet as to whom I was and to the part I had played during
the Tsunami, until two days along I met with Marcelo Rossi very
abruptly, he asked me why the sailors all wanted to use the moorings and
not anchor, I replied that I could not speak for anyone else but had
personally tested that mooring and felt very happy with my boat on it.

He asked me how, and I replied that my wife and I where moored to it on
the night of the Tsunami, he looked up slowly and said
Zephyrus…..Pablo ..also another boy from the main land and the family
Alejandro Pena…i was stunned he knew it all, he then said you also
left your outboard motor here..
I said yes, we had left it behind as we were expecting another wave and
had to leave no time to unhook an outboard. But how do you know that I
asked, He replied its an Island everyone here ¬†knows everything….Wow
errr who has the outboard now…Oh he said I don’t know that!! I laughed
saying I don’t want it back just to know.
Marcelo took it upon himself to introduce me around, first a man i
came to admire greatly, Jorge Palomino resident of Juan Fernandez for 32
years, he is both the island postman and the priest, as he said “siempre
con la noticia” always with the news..
His quiet demeanor and peaceful countenance speak first and volumes for
him.
We met daily and talked at length on subjects as far ranging as English
Football (a subject I’m hopeless at), ancient Polynesian navigational
techniques (I can wittle on about that a bit), and why south Americans
prefer to drink nescafe over real coffee (to me a mystery as deep as the
marina trench). Closer at heart the losses felt by the island and to how;
two years on the people of the island are.

Many have left for the mainland, Pablo and his parents are one of these
family’s.
Some have returned but the island has been fractured in more ways than
just a natural disaster, many people are still scared by what the what
ifs ‘what if another Tsunami’ a bigger another. “Its understandable” he
says “but there is always hope and there will always be community”.

So many story’s from such a short stay, piecing together people and
their tales, many hugs lots of tears and too many gracias.
Our final day i went spear fishing with two local boys, Attilo and
Hernan going deep down surrounded by fish a fur seal glides up and barks
bubbles at me I bubble back.
The ocean feels well again.
That evening our final, a bbq at Marcelos house as night fell a huge hot
tub was being heated, we ate fish then clambered up into a bath!!!! The
moon days away from being full lit the bay below.
I looked out and remembered another night much darker in all ways.
Marcelo told me his tale, his family all survived, his four year old
daughter trapped in a jeep filled with water finally he managed to open
a door, he tells me she was just sitting there holding her nose. He also
watched his wife get swept out to sea they did not find one another for
many hours.
It was Marcelo we could hear calling over and over just a hundred meters
behind our boat.
For his family it is real and they have chosen to remain and rebuild.
“Where would you go from here” he sais with a smile.

As we left Marcelo hugged me and said You and yours will always be
welcome on the Island.

What more is there to say!

In total we spent seven days at Juan Fernandez,
The days were mostly spent fixing things and having a well needed rest
also some time to put the ship in order before the next leg, one we are
now eight days and just over half way into along with some other
familiar waters the 1600 nm to Rapa nui ‘Easter Island’. 798 nm to go at
last look….

To the now the days are passing well, ship life is now an easy rhythm
3hrs on watch, 6hrs off (luxury!)
A steady round of putting in reefs shaking reefs maintaining the ship and
ourselves.
The boat is bigger than Zephyrus, so faster: we average 140 nautical miles
a day and around 7knts speed without pushing it and reefing early most
nights, these are easy miles.
Time also to enjoy simple things,salt water baths on deck followed with
a 1/2 ltr fresh water rinse (another luxury) being dried by the wind and
sun.
Watch the moon rise behind us; track across the sky, sun sets dead
ahead, moon climbs above lighting a path west,Scorpio behind Southern
cross to my left, orion ahead, the sunrises behind the boat splitting
the horizon awake, moon drops ahead. Night passes to day to night to..

Thinking of you all in these quiet times too …

2 thoughts on “Bienvenido el Isla

  1. Andy, love your emails, you make me wish I was there. It’s not just the descriptions of the night, but the moving accounts of your re-connecting with the islanders. Heaps of love from us both, Sue.

  2. Touching tale, must be sureal to have re-visited. Wishing you fair winds for your next legs. xx Ant

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