Monday, March 18, 2024

Out of the Roaring Forties!

Well, we did it. We managed to get Sea Rover II back into the water and on her way North. 

Sea Rover going back in the water

We had a less than auspicious start. We had tested the engine while on the hard to make sure that is would actually run. No problem - she started on the third try. A few days later, on Tuesday March 12, they put us in the water, we turned the key.... and nothing. The engine turned over but didn't really try to actually start. We started going through the checklist. Is it getting diesel? Yes. Is there an airlock. No. Is there an issue with the starter? No. But wait, the glow plugs aren't working. Why? Hmmmm. Hard to troubleshoot properly when you are sitting in the slings with 3 yard guys standing around waiting for you to get your boat going. After a long painful spanglish conversation, the yard guys agree to tow us over to one of the outside slips in the marina so we can sort ourselves out. Great. They drag us out, drag us close to the slip, then let go of the line and let us coast into the slip. Thankfully all the yard guys were all there to catch us and it went off without a hitch. We (ie, Gary) then started to troubleshoot the problem. To make a 2 hour story short, he figured out that the wire to the glow plugs in the control box had broken and was hitting the case, which shorted out the start solenoid. A new wire fixed the issue and the engine started right up! Yippee!

The next day (Wednesday, March 13) Gary put the engine through it's paces and all seemed well. Thursday we completely rigged the boat, from going up the mast to pull out all the halyards (we sky them up the mast when we leave to boat so they don't bang and can be kept semi-clean), putting on the genoa, putting on the main, installing 3 bags of lines (ie, all the running rigging), and fully soaping and cleaning the deck. It only took 12 hours...did I mention that I also worked 8 hours at my day job that day?

Friday, March 15. The weather window to move North that we were watching seemed to be holding so we headed to the Port Captain's office to obtain a zarpe (exit papers) to Validivia. After a 1.5 hour wait (we are convinced this was part of a social experiment) it was done and we were officially cleared out of Puerto Montt! We paid our bill at the marina, did a bit more shopping, went out to dinner with some friends and then put our exhausted selves to bed.

Goodbye Puerto Montt!

Saturday (March 16) morning. Prepared to leave at first light (7:45 at this time of year). Delayed by a huge rain squall with a beautiful rainbow - a fitting way to leave anywhere in Chile! After the squall had passed, we quietly slipped away. Winds were light, but we were OK with that as we wanted to test the engine. A 6 hour motor southh brought us to beautiful Puerto Abtao, where we shared appis with Swiss neighbours also heading to Valdivia on the same weather window. 

Sunday morning (March 17). Left just before first light. Almost got the damn mooring ball stuck under the boat! But thankfully it popped up just as I was truly starting to panic. We got it and the anchor on deck, and officially began our first offshore passage of the season.

To leave Patagonian waters, one has to traverse a 20 nautical mile pass that funnels all the water from the southern Pacific Ocean through a 1 nautical mile wide area. Currents can run up to 8 knots in the channel and so it needs to be timed. We had an 'exciting' entry into the area 5 years ago when we first arrived in Chile, where we encountered huge standing waves that knocked the boat down, causing our salon table to topple over (yes, it was our fault as we hadn't gotten around to screwing the floorboards down in our haste to leave Validivia on a favourable weather window). Thankfully nothing 'exciting' happend on this trip. We lamented during our transit that this would likely be the farthest south Sea Rover II would ever be again (41o49' S), at least with us as owners. Hopfully it is all north from here! 

Marina Estancilla, Valdivia

The penguins and albatross led us through the pass and into big, confused seas on the ocean side. Right. We remembered why we don't love passage making. We hoped the seas would settle out a bit once we got out of the mouth of Canal de Chacao, but it was not to be. We had confused seas with a main swell of 2.7 m from the SW and a 0.5 m NW swell which magnified it every 2nd to 3rd wave. Did I mention we had 10 knots on the nose most of the night, so there were wind waves in there as well? It made for a long day and night. The Captain didn't fare well, but the Crew was smart and took seasick meds before we left. While the Crew didn't want to spend a lot of time down below, she didn't actually feel sick. Needless to say, the planned lunch and dinner were not eaten and the Captain spent a lot of time lying down. The Crew snacked on power bars, crackers and peanut butter, chips, fruit. It was a violent night where the waves tossed the boat around - you never knew which direction things would be tossed. I thought I had done a reasonable job at securing everything, but I definitely missed a few things, which made themselves known by hurling themselves from one side of the boat to the other. Sigh. We stood 2 hour watches so sleep was at a premium, but the little bit we both got was the good, solid sleep of the truly exhausted. Sometime between when I went to sleep at 4am and got up again at 6am, conditions had moderated to a gentle roll. By sunrise we officially crossed out of the Roaring Forities (latitute 40o-50oS) and into the (hopefully) calmer 30's. 

By noon (March 18) we were in a slip at Marina Estancilla, almost 6 years to the day of our first arrival in mainland Chile back in 2018. We cleared in with the Port Captain, caught up briefly with old friends we'd met 6 years ago, and are now ready for a good nap. 

The Captain and Crew need a few days to recover and will enjoy the quiet and peace of Validiva, which will be a nice change from 7.5 weeks living in an acitve boat yard. We will be watching the weather and looking for a window to move north starting next week.

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