Saturday, March 9, 2024

Time in Puerto Montt

Club Nautico Reloncavi, Puerto Montt

You are probably wondering what we did for the 5 weeks we were waiting for the heat exchanger. While we had decided to put off doing things like rigging the boat and putting the sails on, there was a long list of other boat jobs that needed to be tackled. We re-installed our hydrovane (wind self-steering device), installed new bilge pumps, fixed the stove, installed new navigation lights, fixed our canvas bimini, cleaned, cleaned, and cleaned, washed the engine, got the alternators rebuilt, got the life raft serviced (had to send away for this), painted the bottom (thankfully paid people to do that), tightened the steering etc, etc, etc. Oh, and we rescued the batteries, which was an absolutely massive job. It took a huge amount of cleaning, but both start batteries and all the lithiums are now back in full operation.

Swimming in the ocean!
In between working on the boat and working my full-time day job, we have found time to explore a bit more of Puerto Montt. We had spent a few weeks here in the spring of 2019 but didn’t get to do a lot of fun things as we were focused on getting the boat put to bed. Our first impressions were that it was a bit of a rough working town. When we came back in the fall of 2019 the riots had just started and so most of the town was boarded up with plywood and everything was closed or on fire. Last year when we were here I was very busy with work and had no time to do anything extra. But this year we made time. One weekend we took the local bus to the end of the line. I knew there was a small town and a beach there but didn’t know much else. It turned out to be a really interesting place. We went on a hot, sunny, Sunday afternoon and discovered that this was where all the people from Puerto Montt go when it is nice out. The beach wasn’t that nice (coarse sand, mostly rocks) but it looked like Kits beach on a busy weekend. There were people everywhere! We dipped out toes in the water and were surprised to discover that it was warm. I vowed to come back with my bathing suit the next week. We had a nice dinner on a patio overlooking the ocean, ate salmon cerviche and enjoyed the ambiance. The next weekend I suited up and we headed back to the beach for a swim. The weather wasn’t quite as nice as the week before, but I did go in. It was amazingly warm, which I don’t understand. It must have been at least 22oC as I was able to walk right in without cringing. Very enjoyable. 

Isla Tenglo

Salchipapas - a southern Chilean delicacy
The next weekend we took the little ferry next door over to Isla Tenglo, which is the island directly in front of the yacht club. We walked the entire length of the island on the beach and only got chased by dogs once. We ended up at the far end of the island where we thankfully discovered a restaurant as the Captain was tired and hungry! That definitely perked us both up. We had a good rest and enjoyed a plate of ‘salchipapas’, which is again a Puerto Montt delicacy consisting of French fries with cut up fried wieners. Very salty, but tastes better than it sounds. We were both thirsty for days afterwards.

Curanto cooking

While at the restaurant, we were introduced to another southern Chile dish called a ‘curanto’. It is basically the Chilean version of food covered and cooked on hot rocks. It looked really intriguing so we vowed to come back the next weekend to try it out. As promised, we recruited a few other Cruisers and did another walk on Isla Tengo the following weekend (no dogs this time). We visited the big cross that is at the highest point on the island and then went to the restaurant for lunch. 

Removing the first layer
Gary and I ordered a single curanto to split between us and got a piece of chicken, pork, a sausage, a potato, a dumpling, weird Chilean flat bread, and a bowl of seafood that consisted of 5-6 huge mussels, 3-4 clams and a very large barnacle. Thankfully we shared! I can’t say I’ve ever had barnacle before but it was surprisingly good. Tastes like crab, which I thought was weird until my Dad told me they are crustaceans, just like crabs. Makes sense.

Curanto opened

The meat and potatoes plates

So, we are keeping ourselves entertained. Living on the hard for the last 7 weeks has been a pain, but we’ve mostly gotten used to it. I expect it will feel weird to float again when we get launched next week. It will be nice to have access to a toilet again though. We are at the far end of the boat yard, so it is a bit of a trek to get to the toilets and showers etc.

Very large cross on Isla Tenglo
Our impressions of Puerto Montt have certainly evolved this time around. We have discovered some really neat neighbourhoods and have explored a bunch of new areas. We can see one of the volcanoes from our position in the boat yard, and we can see the Patagonia mountains in the distance. We alternate between being amused and annoyed at the neighbourhood dogs, who either sing (ie, howl) or bark pretty much all night. We love it when an ambulance goes by as and all the dogs start to howl together – it is quite an experience. 

The weather has been really good so far, mostly sunny with only a few days of rain and wind each week. The locals say that this has been the best summer in a long while. 

So, even though things haven’t gone according to plan, we’ve been making the best of it and just trying to live our lives.



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