Sunday, April 28, 2019

What Worked Well and What Didn't This Season

We are currently in Puerto Montt getting Sea Rover II ready to spend the winter without us.  We had hoped to haul the boat out of the water and store her on the hard this year, but alas, it was not meant to be.  The machine that lifts the boats out the water is broken and not likely to be repaired before we leave at the end of the week.  No matter.  She is in a good spot in the marina at Club Nautico Reloncavi and will be fine until Gary returns later in the summer (aka winter in South America).

As this is our last week on the boat for a while, we wanted to highlight things that worked well for us this season and a few things that didn’t or ended up being more challenging than expected.

 What Worked

1.    Our hydronic heater system.  This was a major P.I.T.A. to install and took much longer than expected, but it was a godsend as we traveled south and the temperatures got colder.  The coldest the boat got was 9oC in the morning, but the heater had the temperature up to a balmy 14oC in no time.  It helped to keep the moisture down and allowed us to dry things out.  Definitely a winner.

2.    Hot water.  Our new hydronic heater system also produces hot water.  REALLY hot water.  It was awesome… until we realized the watermaker was broken and we had to conserve water.  Doh.

3.       The engine.  Despite giving the inside of the engine a salt water bath two days before leaving for the season last year, the engine continued to run as she has for the last 6 years since our rebuild.  Things didn’t look good at the beginning of the season as she running so poorly that Gary felt it was time to put her out to pasture and install a new model.  It was either the threat of being replaced, or the “ping” she made when Gary revved her up to 3000 rpm just before coming home for Christmas, but since we arrived back at the boat in December she has been running normally.  Myrtle will live for a while longer.

Two lines to shore plus one more on deck
4.       Shore lines.  Unlike BC where most boats typically have 1 floating line they use to tie to shore in certain situations, most boats sailing in Chile have a minimum of 4 lines between 100 and 150m in length.  Before leaving Valdivia, we bought 3 floating lines to augment the one that we already had from home.  We used two of them extensively this season and eventually mastered the system of deploying them efficiently (after a lot of disasters).  The “right” way to do it goes like this: Before entering an anchorage we would get the dinghy off the deck and tow it beside the boat.  After choosing an anchor spot, Gary would drop the anchor while I would get in the dinghy with one of the lines and row like hell to shore.  I’d leap out and secure the line to a tree or rock, then jump back into the dinghy with the end of the line and row like hell back towards the boat.  By this time Gary would be backing the boat up in my direction (hopefully).  When we’d come together, I’d quickly secure the line to the cleat and then we’d pull the boat tight.  Once the first line was secure I’d take the second line to shore and secure it.  Viola.  Easy Peasy.


What Didn’t:

Soles after only 4 months of use - ridiculous!
1.       My expensive Dubarry Ultima boots.  Before we left to go Cruising, I decided to invest in a good pair of sailing boots.  I knew I’d need them when we sailed down the US coast and again when we reached Chile several years later.  So, I swallowed the ghastly price ($400) and bought a pair.  I loved them going down the coast – they had great traction and they kept my feet warm and dry.  The next time I used the boots was for the last 2 weeks of last year’s passage from Easter Island to Valdivia.  Again, they kept my feet happy.  So, imagine my disappointment this season to discover, that after 1 month of wear here in Chile that my boots (now worn all of 4 months total) are completely unusable.  The sole has basically fallen off 1 boot and is almost cracked through on the other.  I contacted the company and was told that the boots undergo a process called “hydrolysis” when they don’t get used continuously.  Basically, they age even when they aren’t being used.  Incredible. They offered me a 20% discount to buy a new pair of boots.  Apparently our Swedish friend Ulf had the same thing happen, as did another friend from home.  Clearly these boots have a major problem.  They were definitely NOT worth the money and were a VERY poor investment.  I would NOT recommend them to anyone sailing offshore.  What an utter disappointment.   

2.       Propane.  Being a Canadian boat, we have Canadian propane tanks, which seem to be very difficult to fill here in Chile.  The boat yard in Valdivia where we overwintered could do it for us, but we have had little luck elsewhere in the country.  We ended up having to cut our trip short by a week this year as we were desperately low on propane.  We’ve found we are going through a lot more propane in the cold climate – I tend to bake more and even Gary is drinking hot liquids here!  Luckily we could get the tanks filled her at the marina, but this involved giving them to a guy who drove the tanks to the town of Osorno, 100km north of here.  Apparently that is the only place able to fill our kind of tank.  Yikes.  Our solution for next year is to have two Chilean tanks that we can get filled anywhere.  We’ll run primarily on those and will use our Canadian tanks as reserve only.  I’m not giving up hot liquids...

3.       Laundry.  Doing laundry by hand sucks at the best of time, but doing it in a cold climate sucks worst of all.  Laundry here is a 3-4 hour process (we don’t do it often enough, I guess).  We soak the clothes overnight, then scrub them with a brush, wring them out, rinse them, wring them out, rinse them again, wring them out, and if they are smart wool, rinse them and wring them out yet again (and maybe again, depending on the garment).  After doing laundry 7 or 8 times and giving ourselves carpal tunnel syndrome from wringing by hand, we made the decision to buy a clothes spinner or wringer for next year.  The other challenge of washing in this climate is getting the clothes to dry.  Nothing dries to 100% here, even on a sunny day. 

And because we don’t want to end the season on a negative note, we want to highlight the best part of this season:  the people we’ve met along the way. 

Annette and Mike on s/v Rum Doxy from Santa Barbara, USA.  I met Annette in the laundry room in Puerto Escondido in Mexico back in 2016.  We quickly realized we had a lot in common and spent the next few weeks hanging out together (along with the rest of our Mexican Cruising Clan) in various anchorages.  Unfortunately our paths diverged for the next few years but we’ve followed their progress by blog (as they’ve done with us).  We were delighted to hear they were coming to Chile this year!  After arriving in the country in early February, they brewed a batch of beer and quickly headed down to meet us just north of Laguna San Rafael.  It was wonderful to catch up and to hear about all that had happened in the last few years.  We met up several times over the next month.  We enjoyed many wonderful meals (including Annette’s ‘to die for’ chocolate cake) and played a game and a half of Mexican Trains Dominoes.  All I know is that I didn’t lose – I’m pretty sure Gary took those honors.  While we’ll be on slightly different schedules next year, we hope to meet up in an anchorage or two in the Beagle Channel.

s/v Clary at Marina Austral in Puerto Aguirre
Ulf and Pia on s/v Clary from Sweden.  We met Ulf and Pia at Marina Austral in Puerto Aguirre where we had ended up in search of internet and water.  They are a lovely couple who spent many years sailing in Spitzbergen, Norway, before making the trek to South America.  They overwintered last year in Ushuaia in Argentina and then spent the summer sailing (aka motoring) up the Patagonian channels.  We spent a delightful 2 days with them in Puerto Aguirre and so we were overjoyed to meet up with them again in Puerto Montt. 

Karyn and Steve on s/v Threshold from Florida.  We met Karyn, Steve and crew Charlie and Heather during our second stay at Marina Austral in Puerto Aguirre.  Despite not having access to internet for 3 weeks, they kindly got off the marina wifi for an hour while I completed a work call.  They even invited us over for drinks and dinner afterwards!  We met up with them again at the marina in Puerto Montt and enjoyed a few dinners together.  Karyn was kind enough to share all their knowledge on the channels and anchorages to the south, which will be invaluable to us next year.

Suzie and Lane on an 80 foot motor yacht – New Zealanders Lane and Suzie are Captain and Cook on board an 80 foot motor yacht.  They have their own sailboat which is currently on the hard in Australia.  They interrupted their Cruising to crew Iron Lady from the US to Antarctica and back.  

Kees and dog Balu on s/v Dubhe from the Netherlands.  Kees’ partner Susan was in the Netherlands when we met him at the dock in Puerto Montt.  They spent several years traveling inland on rivers in both Africa and South America on their boat.  Balu is a sweetheart.

And then there was the Valdivia crowd who supported Gary when he was alone during the fall and both of us in January.  All of them have left for the South Pacific or places beyond:

David and Margaret on s/v Heart and Soul
David and Margaret on s/v Heart and Soul from Qualicum, Canada.  They fed us the night we arrived on the boat in December, despite never having met me before.  They are a lovely couple who have basically done the same route we are doing, but a few years ahead and so they’ve been a wonderful resource for us.  They were having their boat fixed at Alwoplast after being ploughed into by a water taxi in a town a few hundred miles south, but they are now currently en route to the South Pacific.

Mark and Rosie on s/v Merkava from Squamish, Canada.  We met this couple briefly last year and again in the fall. They kept Gary fed and watered during his lonely stay during the fall.  They left in early January to sail for Easter Island, and just arrived in Hawaii.  We look forward to seeing them in Vancouver when they arrive home with the boat later in the summer.

Shelley and Barry on s/v Starship from Edmonton, Canada.  They took possession of their second Chris White Atlantic 49 catamaran built at Alwoplast, where we kept our boat, in Valdivia.  They are a wonderful, generous couple who are now en route home.

Beate, Daniel and baby Isabella on s/v Galadriel from Austria.  We met Daniel and Beate last year when Beate was 8 months pregnant with Isabella.  They stayed in Valdivia over the winter to have the baby and we met Isabella when she was 8 months old in January.  What a sweetheart – she stole everyone’s hearts at the dock with her little wave and ready smile.  This lovely family is currently en route to French Polynesia.


Daniel, Beate pre-Isabella(Galadriel) and Rene (Ata Ata)
Rene on s/v Ata Ata from Switzerland.  We met Rene last year in Valdivia and again in the fall where he entertained Gary as part of the single hander crew.  Unfortunately he had left for the south of Chile and then Europe before I returned to the boat in December.  The two marina dogs, Samantha and Maxima, were devastated by his absence as well.

And many others.

Meeting people like this and sharing stories, food and drink is what Cruising is all about.  Looking forward to who we meet next year….


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