|A typical scene sailing next to Isla de Chiloe|
We have been cruising the fjords and islands off Chiloe for six days with Max's parents and sister. We are starting to understand the erratic weather, how the hills, fjords, and distant snow-peaked giants act as shapes and angles that funnel wind, capture clouds, and cause air to accelerate, diminish, or fail to permeate. For the next two months we will become experts at avoiding weather, playing hide and seek with wind and waves as we tuck Tortuga into into the endless nooks of the 1000 miles between Puerto Montt and Cabo de Hornos. During the day the weather changes so rapidly from misty rain to blue skies that we are constantly adjusting our clothing and sails. When we left Puerto Montt we knew that the weather wasn't going to be great for 48 hours, but were on a schedule and decided to deal with it. We left under gray, menacing skies and shortened the sail plan to an anchorage only 11 miles away called Estero Chope, located on the NW side of Isla Puluqui. We sailed through rain and short choppy waves until we reached the entrance to the two mile inlet which ends in a peaceful anchorage surrounded by steep hills and grazing sheep. The sun returned and we relaxed on the fore-deck enjoying the view of our first anchorage.
|Max and I relaxing at our first anchorage|
|The whole dang crew! Enjoying Gerald's stories on the fore-deck with cold enough GTs|
|Sailing to Cahuelmo|
Where we ended up was a long inlet nearby called Caleta Andrade. We anchored in 30ft of water next to a green wall of vegetation. Every leaf dripped down and every groove collected rain into waterfalls that ran over lichen covered rocks into the surrounding bay. Clouds poured over the steep sides and settled in the valley. Black and white cormorants, as graceful as calligraphic strokes rose and dove around us. A small house poured a wisp of smoke from its chimney. It felt exotic there, like we were upriver in Heart of Darkness. We felt both welcomed and warned, an abstract feeling we would get used to.
The next day was our opportunity to get into Estero Cahuelmo for one night. We were only ten miles away but the weather was still erratic enough for pause. We decided to visit a nearby hotel where it was written that we could find hot springs. The cold, misty conditions of Caleta Andrade made this sound nice, and we all were curious to see the workings of a hotel on an island like this anyway. What could they be doing out here? Who are the guests? How do they get here?
|Pauli in Foulies|
|The omnipresent mariscos|
An hour or so later we were moved to a table facing a large window a young girl set with plates and wine glasses. Bread and butter arrived and a cornflower blue table cloth livened up the room. Through the window we watched a Chilean Armada boat grab a mooring and put two young men through an apparent hazing ritual. They jumped from the high sides of the ship in their underwear. It was a cold day to do such a thing. They swam around, climbed a ladder, shook hands with a superior and that was that. A creamy orange soup arrived and we devoured it while watching the Armada men get into the dingy and head to shore. Our main course arrived- a plate of rice and salad with fillets of Chilean Sea Bass. It was fantastic. We packed our stomachs. By the end of lunch we were eating something called Tutti-Frutti and discussing the weather with the Armada men. It was clearing up. We were good to go into Cahuelmo.
|The entrance to Estero Cahuelmo|
|A neighboring fjord with narrow entrance|
|Finally anchored in Cahuelmo|
|A member of the falcon family|
|Crewed up and on our way out of Puerto Montt.|
|One of many delightful breakfasts with the Kufners.|
|Pauli and I, enticed by the waters of Cahuelmo, warm up after a dip.|
Our final two anchorages before Castro were Mechuque and Estero Pindo. Each was a lovely anchorage in the natural harbor of one of the islands off of mainland Chiloe. In Mechuque we found a quaint village of colorful stilted houses, a painted wooden bridge, and a small museum of collected
|Boat builders in Mechuque|
|Pauli finds a seal who shares her passion for flossing.|
|Pauli and I re-up in Mechuque.|
In the evening we ate at the village's restaurant. We were the only diners and filled up most of the small front room of a house. The tables and chairs were vintage metal and flowered plastic. On one wall was a giant poster of a western woman's face. Imagine the type of model who would be recruited to advertise Evian water. Hair swept back as if emerging from a magical spring, green eyes, big lips.
On the other wall a painting of the town on plywood seemed much more appropriate. The woman doted on us, especially Max, and we ate well. Huge plates of rice and the local farmed salmon. Salad with lemon juice and oil. We took over the space laughing, talking loudly and dusting off a few vintages from the restaurant's collection.
In the next island, Isla Quehui, we again experienced local culture by eating in the "village restaurant." This time we were unquestionably dining in a family's living room. The bathroom was their bathroom- drying bras hung over the tub, razors and shaving cream on the sink. Our hosts were a older woman and her epileptic son. I ran into him in the street and inquired if the village had a restaurant. He smiled, nodded, and led us to his mom's dining room. For the next couple hours the son ran back and forth from the house to the supermarket bringing us beer, lemons for his mother, and taking breaks to tell us stories about the village. Again, we ate the one menu item available. I love this about this part of the world. There is one thing on the menu and it is what is running around in the yard or swimming close to shore. The mother came out periodically to tell us about the history of the family and the islands, what each of her sons were doing and where they lived. She was the type of older woman who wore a turtleneck and a medallion of the virgin. I fought the urge to insist she sit down and we take care of dinner. Her son delivered plates of stewed chicken over rice and we delighted in the taste of a non-seafood dinner.
|The sun makes a rare appearance in Mechuque.|
Arriving in Castro we found ourselves in a more modern world with cafes, stores, and banks. We anchored in front of town and went to the Port Captain to clear in. Castro is a small city on a hill with a twin-steepled church at the top, colored as delicately as a Malibu Barbie Dreamhouse might be. By the wharf is a bountiful market selling produce, fish, mariscos, and endless stalls of wool and everything one could possibly think of knitting. We spent several days in Castro and I liked the town more and more. It is hip but completely unpretentious. There is a lot of art and inexpensive restaurants. The inside of the cathedral is made completely of Oak and absolutely unique. We said goodbye to Max's family there and began to provision Tortuga for our trip south. Just the two of us and 900 miles to Cape Horn.
|Max's dad learns how it's done in Castro.|
|The Castro seafood market.|
|Sweater mania takes over|
|The inside of the Iglesia of Saint something or other.|
|Sibling moment in church|
|Delightful mussel lunch in Cahuelmo.|
|Paps re-tells a classic story for our entertainment.|
|The museum in Mechuque|