Sunday, February 11, 2018

More Chilean 'Fjords'

[Kyle]After a couple of nights enjoying Quintupeu, we headed to the far end of Estero Comau, the main fjord off which Quintupeu branches at the head.

The gloomy weather of the last couple of days began to clear and patches of sunlight could be seen on the slopes, moving and changing shape like the shadows of the clouds. On the tops of the mountains, bare rock was covered with fresh snow from the night before. The lower edges were already melting into waterfalls which slid along slides of smooth rock and tumbled over a left, right, right, left series of dropoffs before plunging into the sea beside us.

Sunshine, scenery, and the odd penguin - definitely Chile

Rounding the last bend, we found the helicopter boat sitting on a mooring behind a salmon farm. We picked up one nestled up closer into the protection of an indentation in the shore. Wow! The view is sublime, like the meadows of the Yosemite Valley had been replaced by a lake so that all of that majesty might be doubled in the reflection.

Securing the boat, we heard a distinctive noise. The helicopter lifted off and then headed up one of the valleys as it curved away. I have to admit I may have felt a teeny bit envious.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Cruising at last!

[Kyle]Right! The appointed time came and we got to go sailing!

Our first sail was overnight to an arm of one of the nearby fjords called Estero Quintupeu. The sail was a long, cold one in thickening clouds and rain. We arrived and passed through the narrow entrance into a green canyon fronted by gray clouds slowly tumbling as they rolled their way over the folds in the walls. Rain spattered the cabin and covered the hills with a coating of moisture that quickly collected into roaring waterfalls everywhere we turned our heads. In the water were sea loins and cormorants and, best of all, penguins! They were either Magellanic or Humboldt, it's hard to discern the small differences between the two. One swam right under the trampoline when Maryanne was lowering the anchor. We are pretty sure (based on range primarily) that they are Magellanic pengiuns.

Overnight sail
Once we arrived we found ourselves surrounded by mountains and sharing the bay with a salmon farm and a maga-yacht

We anchored at the head of the sound between a big salmon farm and a largish motor yacht sporting a twin engine helicopter on the top deck. Since the walls were too steep to climb and were only accessible by crossing a bog at any rate, we decided to declare this an indoor anchorage and content ourselves with enjoying the ever-changing, spooky views. Time to fire up the heater, make something warm to eat and do some writing.

Drizzly and gray, but so beautiful
Gave us the perfect setting to catch up with some blog

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Puerto Montt was Beautiful!

[Maryanne]After Kyle's posts extensively reporting on the two small issues we had , I wanted to counter that with a short post showing just how beautiful Puerto Montt is, and why all those little problems mean nothing once they are an hour behind us.

The historic Angelmo market, and waterfront with a backdrop of the Andes, it is a tourist heaven for many South Americans. Around town we only saw one other English speaking couple. At all the marinas we didn't see any foreign registered cruisers (just a couple of crewed mega yachts).

As for the tourist attractions, it is mostly the seafood and craft markets. But the craft markets are amazing. There is very little plastic tourist tat for sale, nearly everything for sale is hand made from wool, or wood or leather, often with the artisan who makes them actually also doing the selling. I loved it! AND I even got my sewing machine fixed.

Angelmo market, with giant garlic and plenty to tempt us

Local birds (and Sea Lions)

More markets of locally made produce
Kyle especially loved the car cover!

Some local came up with a great way to make his dinghy fly!

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Puerto Montt (another bureaucratic challenge)

[Kyle]Our first task in Puerto Montt was to try to get some Chilean Pesos. This turned out to be a fruitless all-day kerfuffle because, you know, banks. As usual, we go through the whole process of notifying them of our upcoming travels every time we leave so they won't lock our cards. The bank where we have our checking told us when we left New Zealand that it was too early to tell them about Chile and to notify them closer to our arrival. No matter how many times we told them that we were about to step onto the boat and leave for Chile right now, they didn't seem to get it. {Maryanne: Actually what happened is I sent them the standard secure message with our dates and details, and while we were at sea, they replied saying its too early to tell us now, message us again nearer the time. Of course I never got that message since I was at sea, nor even for a few days after we arrived... Ahh, the logic!}

Officially in Chile at last
Sunshine and sea lions keep us smiling

No one at the marina could remember their wifi code and the one person that knew it wasn't there just then. With no pesos, we walked into town hoping our card might work anyway. When we got there, we couldn't find a bank or an ATM anywhere. I didn't get it. In Ushuaia, which I was kind of expecting Puerto Montt to resemble, there were banks everywhere. None of them had any cash, but they were there.

Puerto Montt instead has miles and miles of stores selling beautifully knit clothing of all types made of sheep and alpaca wool, none of which was interrupted by even a single ATM. Eventually, we asked a guy who made the mistake of making eye contact with us and he told us there were ATMs at the bus station. Great! On to the bus station.

Along the way, we passed the Armada (Navy) offices. I thought it was a little strange that we hadn't heard from them during all the visits from the officials, considering their permission was required for all of Begonia's movements, but the marina had assured us we'd had all the visitors we should expect, and SAG had told us we were OK to put up our flag now. We needed to submit a request for our entire time in the country and were effectively stuck in Puerto Montt until our departure was authorized. I persuaded Maryanne to pop in with me to check. After some waiting and a few different tries finding the right person, we were told to go back to the boat. They would meet us there in an hour. It had taken us more than that long to get there from the boat, so Maryanne negotiated two.

Now we were in a rush. We went to the bus station to find an ATM which promptly rejected our card. We went to an internet cafe to try to call our bank, but were told they only had hard lines and not wifi. After a bit of back and forth, we determined the restaurant had wifi for customers. We were getting hungry anyway, so that seemed like a plan. Only after ordering our food did we discover that the signal was not good enough to sustain a Skype call. Maryanne got disconnected over and over just as it seemed the problem was going to get fixed. Great! Now we still had no cash, we had used one of our working credit cards to pay for an overpriced and uninspiring introduction to Chilean cuisine and we were running really low on time. {Maryanne: to be fair we weren't expecting much from a bus station, but we did get to enjoy our first of the Chilean classic, a pisco sour!}

At the taxi stand, we found a guy who would take credit cards and piled into his cab for a ride back to the marina. He was entertaining and on the way, we had fun practicing our Spanish. He noticed Maryanne's accent was different from mine and told her she had a very good Castillian accent, which he proclaimed better than the locals, who he said didn't pay enough attention to pronunciation.

Back at Begonia, the appointed time came and went. After another hour passed, I went to the marina office to ask if they wouldn't mind calling the Armada. They said there was no point. It was too late and if they hadn't shown up yet, it would be tomorrow – maybe. Auugh! At least we were able to get a working wifi code from them.

The Armada showed up just as I got back to the boat. There were four of them, although only one came aboard. She was very nice and after copying our passport numbers and Begonia's documentation number off of the originals, she said she was done. It seemed like nothing we couldn't have done back when we were in town, but hey, that's their process, and it seemed we truly were now 'officially' in the country.

Still with no cash for the bus, we walked into town the next day with the hope of squeezing in a little tourism before our SAG hearing. Despite assurances from our bank, our first two ATMs would give us nothing, so we were forced to look at all of the nice tourist goodies without partaking. Just before we got to the SAG office, which was about as far on the other side of the town center as the marina, we found a big shopping complex where we had just enough time to buy sim cards so we could have our own data. While Maryanne was setting everything up, I found an ATM that worked! Woo hoo! Now we could afford the luxury of a bus ride home.

At the SAG office, we found the front door locked. After a bit of waiting around hoping to be seen, Maryanne snuck in through the guard booth by stepping over the German Shepard blocking the door. Rather than scold her for her unauthorized entrance, the guy who wrote my citation acted like we should have known that was the way in. Our “hearing” was nothing more than my presenting my apology to a woman at a desk behind a window.

That's what it should have been anyway, but I was with Maryanne, who decided to hit them with both barrels. In addition to my two-sentence apology letter, Maryanne had prepared a lengthy document (sometimes called a Maryanne-ifesto) detailing the results of her extensive research on the subject, presented in English and Spanish and including as attachments all relevant source data and support documentation.

It turns out the rule I had been cited for violating did not apply to us. Only vessels that had been in certain areas of Asia and adjacent islands during a specific invasive moth's egg-laying season were required to make the report. We had not and so were not. Furthermore, none of the information that was supposed to be made available to the public was accessible because of a number of broken links on various government websites, therefore there is no possible way a vessel entering Chile for the first time could possibly know of the rule in advance, etc., etc., etc.

The guy suppressed a chuckle. ”What's the big deal? Just give her the letter. There's no fine, no punishment, no nothing.”

It was a big deal to Maryanne, and she didn't want to set a precedent leaving future boaters to similar citations, she really wanted the agent to see he'd simply made a mistake. She goes to great effort to make sure that all of our paperwork is submitted properly and is justifiably proud of being well-prepared and law-abiding. A mark on my record, no matter how minor, she takes personally. She didn't want to hand over the letter until he read everything she had produced and told her either where within it or anywhere else the correct information could be found. He kept responding with, “It's just the rule.”, which was maddeningly unsatisfying. When she pushed harder, he basically said that's what they taught him, so that's what he knows. He did not seem interested in researching anything that could potentially modify his stance. I could see tears of frustration beginning to well up in her eyes and decided to put us all out of our misery by handing over the letter. On the copy they had me sign, the woman at the desk had added 'He couldn't know. Our website is broken'. Then they spelled my name wrong so I can always say it must've been that other guy.

I spent the next day on the boat fixing some of the stuff that had bugged us on the passage while Maryanne went into town to get our sewing machine repaired. It turned out to be a two-day job, so I went into town with her to pick it up. We finally got to partake at the markets. We had little chocolates and stocked up on smoked fish and some produce. Maryanne got a nice scarf and we each got some wonderful wool socks with a lovely thick layer of raw wool lining on the inside. If my feet ever get cold again, it's my own damn fault. We picked up the sewing machine, which runs like a top and lugged into a local pub, where we took our time over a much better meal than our previous.

We had a tough time getting in that pub. When we arrived, we found the place packed (great sign) but the door was locked. We waited for a bit and then a stern looking man who looked like a cross between Forrest Gump and Sergeant Carter opened the door, pushed us aside to let some people out and locked it up again. The second time he did this, we asked him if we could enter. At first, it seemed like he might be saying there was a private party going on, but on examination, it just turned out they were full. Maryanne pointed out that two parties had just left and he grudgingly let us in. I took a little time observing him from our table and was eventually able to deduce that he was the Manager. When the restaurant started to empty out, he would unlock the doors and let people come and go freely. When it got busy, rather than telling people it might be twenty minutes and asking them to wait outside, he just locks everybody out while they cup their hands over their eyes and try to peer into the windows to see if there's anybody inside. The food really was worth it though, and we could take our time with all our chores completed and cash for a bus home.

We had another day of boat jobs before it was time to go into town to buy provisions for the next month. On the way, we stopped at the Armada offices to apply for our zarpe (approval document for our sailing itinerary). This would give us permission to operate in their waters. We optimistically applied for a single zarpe for our entire Chilean plans. I figured they would never go for it and we would get sent away to ask for less. There was a lot of taking our sheaf of papers into the back office only to be brought back by a different person. There would then be whispering to a third person, who would disappear to continue the process. Oh, Man! We have opened up a can of worms. We are in so much trouble!

At length, a nice young man in dress whites appeared, opened our folder and started inputting the information into the computer, occasionally asking me to clarify one point or another. After a very long while, he printed our zarpe and then went off to look for a stamp. The Armada loves their stamps. I snuck a look at it and noticed an error. Our fuel quantity said 1200 liters instead of 200. When he got back, I asked him to correct it.

Conducted in Spanish...

“Oh, okay. Two thousand.”

“No. Two hundred.”

“Twelve hundred?”

“Two hundred.”

“Two thousand?

“No. Two HUNDRED.”

“Twelve hundred? No!”

I wrote it down.

“Oh! Two Thousand!”

We eventually came to agree 200L

It turns out they don't get a lot of sailboats. When I finally did get the point across, he seemed genuinely impressed that we could go six hundred miles on so little fuel.

When he tried to print the corrected zarpe, the printer jammed and he had to spend ten minutes disassembling and reassembling it. When he finally got it, he ALMOST gave it to me. It passed between my fingers, but before I could close my grip, he took it back. He just realized we needed to pay our navigation fees first. So close...

Maryanne went off to do that. She was at the cashier a really long time. After a while more and more people showed up. There definitely seemed to be a problem. I tried to listen in without leaving my spot in front of the zarpe guy, but all I could get was that there was some kind of problem with our paperwork. Uh, oh.

Maryanne eventually came over and explained that our gross tonnage was listed in their system as fifty-one, rather than the twelve on our Coast Guard Documentation. There is a whole new category of fees and regulations above fifty. We would have to have a pilot on board at all times at our expense. (Yes, I know, but I'm pretty sure they would have failed to see the humor)

Maryanne produced all of the evidence we had, but they would not believe her. They told her they could not change it in their system and we would have to hire a naval architect to determine Begonia's tonnage.

{Maryanne: I've no idea how their system ended up with an incorrect value. I'm not sure where that value originated from. As I looked over on the computer screen showing Begonia's record, there was all sorts of information that we hadn't given them – for example they had a picture of Begonia that we'd recently posted on and I started to wonder if somehow the boat tonnage was incorrect there – it wasn't. No matter how many times I showed our official USA registration paperwork listing Begonia as 12 tons, they just wouldn't accept it. I was beginning to think that they didn't have the authority to make the correction even if they believed me.}

We called the guy they suggested and he mercifully agreed to drive down and meet us at the Armada offices in a few minutes. He took one look at the picture the Armada had of Begonia and said there was NO WAY we could possibly weigh fifty one tons unless she were solid concrete. He asked for our documentation and took it over to show them – the same forms we had produced. They ALMOST believed him, but then fell back on the argument that their system could not possibly be wrong. He then started googling catamarans to show the difference was an order of magnitude. Again, he ALMOST got the ball over the net, but then they started asking for the rest of the data on the boat to prove it was less than fifty tons.

What data? It turns out that all boats over fifty tons have to have an extensive data sheet that includes all kinds of measurements and stability calculations. With all of our data, they could prove that we were not in the category that required us to have the data and we would be allowed to be less than fifty tons. That's why we needed a naval architect, to work out the data that we needed so that we could prove we didn't need it.

Well that's a real forehead slapper!

Our guy tried one last tack, which basically amounted to “You have GOT to be kidding me! I am not going to all of the trouble of extensive tests and measurements to prove a sailboat weighs less than a bridge abutment.”

That one gained some traction, but they still weren't buying it. They wanted to see the official document again. “Oh, it still says twelve tons. We'll fix it.”

{Maryanne: Amazingly the measurement agent we'd contacted refused any payment from us, stating clearly that the Armada had made the mistake and he couldn't possibly charge us for having them correct it.}

We were then told to take seats, as this was going to take a while. Every few minutes, someone we would recognize, which at this point was pretty much everybody, would come over, apologize and tell us it would be just a few more minutes. Finally, the nice young man in the dress whites came over, printed our zarpe, stamped it enough to make sure it was properly tenderized and handed it over to us with a proud smile. I made sure to grip quickly.

We were just about to put it into the backpack when Maryanne noticed an error. It said her passport was issued in the United States, but the copy she had provided them was of her British one. {Maryanne: Since we have the option, I think it is prudent to enter a new country with two different passports, Kyle with his USA and me with my UK, as it gives us two possible embassies to contact in the event of any issues}. The crestfallen look that washed over his poor face was as if the very last scoop of ice cream in the whole town had just fallen off of his cone and landed on his newly polished shoes. His darting eyes seemed to be searching through his memory for what he had done to deserve this. He fixed the error and printed a new one, but I could tell by the way he stamped that his heart just wasn't in it anymore. He handed it over as if the weight of it was just too much to bear.

I yanked it away with thanks and a supersonic snap and we were outta there! We can now go sailing in Chile!

After that, our dreaded late evening trip to the store to buy a mountain of provisions seemed like a pleasant diversion. Maryanne did most of it, as usual, while she sent me off on a series of wild goose chases to keep me out of her hair. My list was smaller but each item was critical to the success of the enterprise. You try crossing an ocean without two-sided forks or mushroom tape!

A walk in the other direction to a lovely restaurant: Kiel

After we got everything stowed, we gave Begonia and ourselves a good scrub and tidy and then headed off on the long walk to a fancy restaurant a couple on one of the nearby boats had recommended highly (as did the Yelp app). The walk turned out to be a bit of an ordeal, a bit too long and a little too close to some fast moving traffic on some sharp bends. I'll spend eight bucks on a beer, but I'll be damned if I'm forking over TWO-way bus fare. The restaurant, Kiel, was indeed very nice. It was on grounds bristling with flowers and had the well lived in look that made it feel like half steamship, half Irish pub. Inside, they had a bridge over a river made of old wine bottles, and multiple open fireplaces full of chopped wood. It was bursting with character. Our waiter was an old man of adorable stature and effervescence who never seemed to tire of carrying on in Spanish until we finally figured out what he was saying. We expected the food to be as amazing as the rest, but it was fairly basic by comparison.

The only real glitch in the evening came when Frank Sinatra's “Summer Wind” came over the sound system. Maryanne knew something was up when my chin started quivering. It's not what you think. That damn song was the hold music on the airline Crew Scheduling phone lines for years. Listening to it invariably meant my day was about to get a lot harder, I wasn't going to make it home this weekend, or my vacation was cancelled. I tried to remind myself that I was here, where they couldn't get to me, but in my mind, I was there. Fortunately, the song wasn't on an endless loop, so the feeling passed quickly.

We returned to the marina to spend the balance of the evening with our new friends Alejandro and Ledda, two engineers who had just finished restoring their wooden boat. It is absolutely gorgeous inside and out, with lots of shiny varnish and polished brass details. There's nothing like a wooden boat to make a fiberglass catamaran seem maintenance free. They are NOT allowed to see our boat with all her tatty areas.

A lovely photo from a lovely evening
Photo by Alejandro aboard Ledda

They were only a couple of days from taking their captain's examinations and were looking forward to finally being given permission from the Armada to properly enjoy their boat (in Chile, everyone requires a license before they can be granted permission to leave port – visiting foreign boats get a pass on that rule). They spread out their charts for us and gave us lots of advice on where was good to go. We had fun practising our Spanish on them and they were very patient with us. It helps to not have the rush of people waiting in line behind you while you try to be understood. One amusing thing was something Maryanne had been saying incorrectly. The word for boat in Spanish is barco. In Italian, which she learned first, it's barcA. It's a hard habit to break. I keep doing it too. The thing is, since Maryanne has an English accent, she doesn't really pronounce her Rs. {Maryanne: I do too! At least I hear it in my head as I speak - that's the same thing right?}. None of them do. Bar sounds like ba, star sounds like sta, etc. She has been telling people she lives on a boat – Vivo en barco, but instead, she keeps substituting the Italian and saying:Vivo en barca.: Since Vs are pronounced like Bs in Spanish and with her accent, it comes out as: Vivo en vaca – I live in a cow.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Food on a Passage

[Maryanne]Almost every non-cruiser seems to ask about what food we eat when at sea, especially for the longer passages. So this post is to put your minds at rest.

Blog followers will know that recently we sailed from New Zealand to Chile. This passage was to be our biggest challenge yet, as it is the longest in both distance and time that we are ever likely to complete (it ended up being 6,380 nm and 46 days). Additionally we had Kyle’s 50th birthday, Christmas Day and New Year to celebrate.

This post might also give those thinking of cruising a few ideas and show just how easy it really is to eat at sea. It includes our meals prepared on our recent 46 day passage, and some details about what we always seem to have aboard provision wise. I thought this would be a great way to show an example range of meals, of course your tastes may vary from ours.

Yes there are some challenges, but they are really not so bad, and probably no worse than your great-grandmother had to deal with!

Provisioning really can be a trial. We don’t have a car readily available. We are not familiar with the local stores and markets. We never quite know for each port what food we consider staples will be available, and which we’ll have to improvise on or go without. So while we might not have aboard exactly what was on our shopping list as we cast off, we do have plenty of provisions loaded up.

Although we always have an idea how long the passage might take, we must also be sure to have extra provisions ‘just in case’ something catastrophic greatly extends that timeframe. However, we’ve never yet gone hungry, and we generally find a passage so uneventful that dreaming up, preparing and eating food is often the highlight of each day.

We don’t have a freezer, and our fridge isn’t so big, so we have to rely on some dry and canned staples, and by making sure we store our fresh produce so as to last as long as possible. To be honest, our cupboard provisions probably don’t look much different to any non-sailors pantry (except we most likely have more of it). Some boaters still sail without even a fridge (remember the fridge is a relatively modern invention, so it can hardly be declared a necessity), but for us having a fridge means we can have a cold drink, save left overs for the following day (or so), and keep some produce fresh just a little longer. If we were to have a freezer as well, it would mean: ice cubes, not having to eat leftovers the next day, and a few extra treats like French-sticks and ice-cream.

With just the two of us aboard, we take it in turns to sleep, leaving (for the most part) us each alone on watch. On an ocean passage it can get quite monotonous, the odd bird, and lots of open water, with little to separate one day from the next. Generally the sails hardly need touching (sometimes for days). So provided the weather is calm enough, cooking is my chance to play, and to make each day somehow distinct from the others. I love to think about and take time over the meals. I don’t generally start a trip with a meal plan in mind, but just work it out each day.

I carry a number of cookbooks (both paper and e-books) for those times I’m looking for inspiration, and we have a few favorite recipes that have become absolute regulars, but mostly I just improvise based on what we have that needs eating-up soon.

On this passage, we ate our last onion and eggs on the last day – we managed it perfectly! We also had the added challenge of some strict customs regulations in Chile, so we knew we had to use up all of our fresh produce, and we were uncertain about the rules on some of our dried produce (even honey might be confiscated on arrival). These were all listed on the customs form as items we needed to declare and while we knew fresh produce was not allowed, we had no idea which of these other items would be deemed OK to keep on our arrival. {Although we didn’t know it on the passage, none of our remaining food was confiscated or challenged; we completed our paperwork, and showed all the listed produce to the agent, but all was accepted as OK to keep – not nearly as strict as New Zealand– yay!}

We are not vegetarians, but we do eat a lot of vegetarian meals; Kyle won’t eat red meat and is a bit squirmy about most types of seafood; so that, and our lack of a freezer, means fresh meat just isn’t that practical aboard except when we are close to good provisioning.

Generally we eat lunch separately, but dinner and breakfast ‘together’ (one of us is always officially on-watch but at least we are awake at the same time and can talk to each other over the meal). Dinner is our big meal, I do most of the prep during my morning watch, and simply cook it up in the evening. Aboard I cook and Kyle washes up, so for his sanity (and limited sink/counter space) I try hard to create a little washing up as possible (i.e. reusing pots and utensils and aiming for one pot meals), even more so if it gets a bit bouncy.

We always have a good supply of nuts, cookies, crackers, and the like for snacks (especially for the night watches), but we rarely bother to mention these in the log.

Also not mentioned in the log are the drinks (Kyle has his daily ‘fancy breakfast coffee’, and we have a good supply of fruit juices and also powder and cordial-type drink mixes aboard). {Kyle’s ‘Fancy Breakfast Coffee’ is coffee with cocoa and vanilla, topped with marshmallows, whipped cream, and a dusting of cinnamon and nutmeg – a meal on its own!}

While we keep it aboard, we don’t drink alcohol on a passage. Many do, and some of the classical sailing stories of past and present include regular tipples, but we chose not to. We do however look forward to opening a bottle of wine, and on this trip, enjoying some good single malt whisky (a gift from my sister) on our arrival.

Here is our list of meals for each day of this super long passage (as recorded in the log book), and it is pretty representative of what we’d eat on any other passage.

  • Day 1 – Kyle’s (2nd) 50th Birthday. For the passage we set the boat time to some point mid way between the start and end – and this means that the date changes back to yesterday – Kyle gets two birthdays this special year!
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Birthday Cake (Chocolate Cake – store bought),
    • Dinner: Mexican chicken with rice and beans (A regular aboard, cooked in the pressure cooker – 5 minutes at pressure!)
    • Snacks: More birthday cake
  • Day 2
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Chicken Salad
    • Dinner: Tortilla Soup (a great way to use up leftover rice)
    • Snacks: Olive Focaccia bread / Bananas
  • Day 3
    • Breakfast: Omelet
    • Lunch: Veggie Burgers (I especially like cauliflower to make veggie burgers with!)
    • Dinner: Stuffed Peppers (I’d bought way too many fresh peppers!)
    • Snacks: Banana, Pomegranate
  • Day 4
    • Breakfast: Parfait (Fruit, yogurt, granola, honey)
    • Lunch: Peanut butter sandwiches
    • Dinner: Greek Salad
  • Day 5
    • Breakfast: Parfait
    • Lunch: Cheese and Crackers
    • Dinner: Sweet Potato and peanut stew
  • Day 6
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Salad (last of the lettuce and bell peppers)
    • Dinner: Left over stew
  • Day 7 – a very rough day at sea
    • Breakfast: Cereals
    • Lunch: Instant noodles
    • Dinner: neither of us was interested – much too bouncy.. had some cookies and snacks
  • Day 8
    • Breakfast: Yogurt
    • Lunch: Quesadilla
    • Dinner: Pasta
  • Day 9
      Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: ‘Breakfast’ Burrito
    • Dinner: Veggie Curry
    • Snacks: Almonds, biscuits (cookies), chocolate
  • Day 10
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Pomegranate (last one!)
    • Dinner: left over curry
  • Day 11 – Christmas Day!
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Christmas Cake
    • Dinner: Potato soup (not everyone’s choice for a special meal, but Kyle’s go to favorite)
    • Snacks: Christmas Cake – we bought a large square Christmas cake, way too big for the two of us – so we divided the remainder into 3 and wrapped each bit individually in foil for treats some other day.
  • Day 12
    • Breakfast: Fruit and yogurt
    • Lunch: Mince pies and cream
    • Dinner: Left over curry
  • Day 13 – rain, miserable seas
    • Breakfast: Yogurt
    • Lunch: Mince Pies
    • Dinner: Greek Style cabbage and rice Pilaf
  • Day 14
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Hummus
    • Dinner: Pasta in Cream sauce
  • Day 15
    • Breakfast: Omelet
    • Lunch: Hummus with crisped tortillas
    • Dinner: Nachos
  • Day 16
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Bread and Jam (Freshly baked bread!)
    • Dinner: 3-Cup tofu with noodles (love this simple and quick dish, the sauce is equal parts sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice wine)
  • Day 17
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Gado Gado Salad (an old favorite, basically any crunchy salad topped with sliced boiled eggs and a spicy peanut dressing)
    • Dinner: Fried egg, baked beans, bread (classic breakfast food, I know!)
  • Day 18 – New Years Day
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Hummus / Soup & Bread (we each had different on this day as there was only a little of each to use up.)
    • Dinner: Squash Risotto (Hard skin squashes lasts AGES, perfectly wrapped in their own natural skin!)
  • Day 19
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Cheese and Crackers
    • Dinner: Potato soup (again!)
  • Day 20
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Spanish Tortilla (a potato/onion omelet)
    • Dinner: Quiche / Salad
    • Snacks: Chocolate chip cookies
  • Day 21
    • Breakfast: (not recorded – probably cereal)
    • Lunch: Hummus with toasted tortillas
    • Dinner: Spicy Carrot Noodles
  • Day 22
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Egg Sandwich
    • Dinner: Pasta
  • Day 23
    • Breakfast: Yogurt (homemade now)
    • Lunch: Cheese Sandwich (A cheese sandwich aboard generally is made with freshly baked bread, a good chunk of mature cheddar cheese, a generous helping of alfalfa sprouts, and some kind of condiment for extra flavor).
    • Dinner: Stove top lasagna
  • Day 24
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Instant Noodles
    • Dinner: Baked beans on toast with a fried egg
  • Day 25
    • Breakfast: Yogurt with canned fruit
    • Lunch: Carrots with dip (spicy peanut, soy)
    • Dinner: Potato chowder
  • Day 26 – cold and bouncy
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Cheese sandwiches
    • Dinner: Pasta
  • Day 27
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Salad w. (canned) Tuna
    • Dinner: Pizza (using the last of the feta cheese as one of the toppings)
  • Day 28 – way too bouncy to prepare much!
    • Breakfast: cereal
    • Lunch: left over potatoes, snacked on, cold.
    • Dinner: Mountain House camping meal (we had a few packets left over from our Grand Canyon trip)
    • Snacks: We broke out another bit of our Christmas cake.
  • Day 29
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Cheese & Crackers
    • Dinner: Mexican Rice and beans (with some ‘camping meal’ cheesecake for desert)
  • Day 30 – the weather was finally calm again - I made a giant batch of roasted spice almonds today – yummy, and baked some fresh bread.
    • Breakfast: Omelet
    • Lunch: Nachos w salsa
    • Dinner: Pasta w. tomato sauce
    • Snacks: honey roasted almonds
  • Day 31
    • Breakfast: French Toast (filled with cream cheese and Jam)
    • Lunch: Popcorn
    • Dinner: Egg Fried rice, followed by a chocolate mousse (instant pudding)
    • Snacks: Sunflower seeds (I’m nervous all our nuts and seeds will be confiscated on arrival in Chile, so I’m making sure we eat them before we arrive)
  • Day 32
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Cheese Sandwiches
    • Dinner: Baked Tuna pasta, with fruit and cream filled meringue nests for desert.
  • Day 33
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Bread with Jam & cream cheese potatoes
    • Dinner: Red bean chili w. mashed
    • Snacks: Granola bar
  • Day 34
    • Breakfast: Omelet
    • Lunch: Cheese & Crackers
    • Dinner: Chili w. cous-cous (Cous-Cous is a staple aboard, since, despite the instructions, it doesn’t need cooking. We simply pour some into the bowl we’ll eat from, add some just boiled water, and give it 3 minutes to soak up – then add the main dish on top – hence saving yet another pot from needing washing up).
  • Day 35
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Quesadillas
    • Dinner: 3-cup Tofu with noodles (again)
  • Day 36
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Stuffed vine leaves (from a can)
    • Dinner: Armenian Lentil Soup (pressure cooker recipe book)
    • Snacks: Another batch of spicy honey roasted almonds
  • Day 37
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Tortilla with left over thick Armenian Lentil ‘soup’ as a spread
    • Dinner: Potato Soup (again!)
  • Day 38
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Feta on Crackers
    • Dinner: Breakfast fry up.
  • Day 39
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Cheese & Crackers
    • Dinner: Pearl Barley Risotto
  • Day 40
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Cheese Sandwiches
    • Dinner: Thai Chick pea curry
  • Day 41
    • Breakfast: Canned Fruit
    • Lunch: Nachos
    • Dinner: Pasta
    • Snacks: Nuts
  • Day 42 – Another very rough day so keeping it simple
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Bread & Jam
    • Dinner: Mountain House camping meal (the last one from our Grand Canyon trip)
  • Day 43 – cooked last of the potatoes today before landfall.
    • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs
    • Lunch: Nuts (we’re worried they’ll be confiscated)
    • Dinner: Potato soup
    • Snack: Sunflower seeds
  • Day 44 – cooked up a large batch of dried beans, and separately some chick peas (worried they’ll be confiscated otherwise)
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Left over soup
    • Dinner: Rice & beans, and some fruit filled meringue nests
  • Day 45 – We sighted land just before night fall this evening
    • Breakfast: Cereal
    • Lunch: Hummus
    • Dinner: Chili
  • Day 46 – Arrival in Chile at 23:48 (boat time) but we were so excited that we didn’t record what we ate . I recall using up the last of the onions and eggs for a breakfast omelet , and we probably had left over chili. By this time however we’re looking forward to the possibility of arriving, and getting our body clocks back into sync, and maybe even eating out in a Chilean restaurant.

So there you have it. Our meals aboard on an epic passage. Not too many dinner repeats, and we arrived well fed and with plenty of supplies aboard to keep us going for many more weeks.

The mix of provisions we generally carry

  • Dairy
    • Milk – UHT (long life) milk comes in 1L Tetra-pak type containers, lasts for months in the cupboard, and then once opened we just keep that carton in the fridge.
    • Cream: In many countries either canned or tetra-pak long life cream is readily available, we use these both for savory dishes (think vodka sauce) and deserts, but also to make sour cream. Additionally Kyle enjoys ‘squirty cream’ in his morning ‘fancy breakfast coffee’ so we tend to find space in the fridge for sufficient supplies.
    • Cheese: I’m a big fan of Mature Cheddar cheese aboard – I love the taste and it lasts well (even store brought stuff will have a ‘best by date’ month away). We also eat plenty of feta and snack cheeses. Once a package is opened, we keep the harder cheeses safe from mold by wiping it with white vinegar (And when we are really stretching things, by wrapping in a vinegar soaked cloth). Those cute little Laughing Cow triangles you had as a kid? – they keep for months without refrigeration, and are just fine eaten as is, or spread on a cracker. I also tend to keep some cream cheese aboard. This can be used as a spread, a cooking ingredient, or to make French toast or cheesecake (A special treat!)
    • Yogurt: Once the store bought yogurt is gone, we make our own (using a pre-purchased dried starter, or by using a spoon of previous live-culture yogurt to start a new batch – it’s ridiculously simple to make). A fridge-free sailor I met assured us that those store bought flavored yogurts are fine without refrigeration (and we spotted them on normal shelving in numerous French Polynesian islands), but they need to be stored so they won’t break open, and for us just aren’t worth the extra effort when we can so easily make some.
    • Butter and Margarine. We don’t seem to use that much, so we can keep it in the fridge. . We also have ‘just in case’ backup of canned butter also available (easily found in the islands and in New Zealand). Note: Once out of the tropics you can use a butter bell to keep spreadable butter to hand
  • Non-Dairy Proteins
    • Meat: we generally have some chicken in the fridge as we leave port. When we can find them we also keep a small stash of canned meats (chicken, corned beef, pork), but meat is an occasional treat

      Various cured/dried meats are also great to have - Sausage such as 'Summer sausage' or Salami can be diced, fried and put in pasta sauces, omelet, etc, and biltong/jerky are great snack food when you can find it (In the USA we were able to find Turkey Jerky which even Kyle would eat).

    • Fish: We tend to rely on canned fish (mostly tuna, salmon, & anchovies), and if we ever catch one then the menu simply changes to make use of the lovely fresh fish over the next day or so of meals. On this passage, things were too rough to try fishing many days, and on the calmer days we either had no luck, or had plenty of other food that needed using up, so we didn’t try. Dried fish/seafood is also useful, but it sometimes hard to find.
    • Eggs: We buy fresh eggs which last really well, provided they haven’t been pre-washed (which makes them look nice, but seems to make them more likely to go bad, apparently washing removes some of the protective coating – and they simply don’t last as well), and we also avoid those that are kept refrigerated at the store since these have most likely been pre-washed. Aboard we keep the current batch in the fridge, and the remainder in a cool/dark area and simply turn the packet every few days to keep the inside fully moist and sealed. We test eggs (float test) and always crack them open individually into separate container before introducing them to the dish ‘just in case’ one is bad. No problems on this trip. As the eggs age, they get more runny/watery (less easy to make a good fried egg, but just fine for baking and omelets, etc).
    • Beans/Lentils/Peas. We mostly keep a good supply of dried produce, but a few cans too. Having a pressure cooker makes cooking bean dishes relatively quick even from dried beans. We also have a really good variety of recipes for these basics, so they never get boring.
    • TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein, Soy based) – I use this to bulk up a meal, especially Chili, but also cottage pie type dishes. I generally throw it in with the cans veggies I might use, along with a stock cube, and let it sit to soak up the flavors before cooking it up.
    • Nuts and seeds. We keep a good selection of these used for cooking, baking and nibbling (also thrown into our breakfast muesli mix). They can get hard to find and/or expensive so we buy in bulk when we can. Peanut butter also has a welcome place aboard (we prefer crunchy).
  • Fruits and Veggies
    • Veggies . Fresh veggies we eat in the order they might start to go off. E.g.. the hard Squash vegetables, and potatoes last longest so we’d be unlikely to use those in the first week at the expense of some of the shorter lasting veggies. Onions and potatoes will last way longer than any voyage we plan to do. We also keep a stash of good tinned veggies aboard (staples such as tomatoes, mushrooms, potatoes, sweetcorn, etc. and a few specials such as palm hearts, artichokes, etc). Additionally I have a few packets of instant mash potatoes (which I normally spice up with added stuff, like mustard, etc).
    • Salad greens. Once the store bought stuff has gone, we turn to sprouting (we especially like alfalfa seeds which can be used like cress in sandwiches and salads). It only takes 2-3 days from seed to beautiful edible fresh loveliness. We also tend to use shredded cabbage as salad once the salad leaves have been eaten.
    • Fruit. Aside from the fresh fruit we have right after provisioning, we always have a good mix of canned fruit, and a mix of tetra-pak type fruit juices – we get plenty of vitamins! Additionally we have a good supply of various dried fruits (mostly for cooking, but also for making up batches of muesli type cereals).
  • Carbs (aside from potatoes)
    • Bread: once the store bought bread is gone, we bake our own. We also make use of store bought tortillas (which can have a great shelf life). These can be used as wraps, sweet or savory, lining for a quiche/pie in place of pastry, in all the usual Mexican dishes, and in a Caribbean roti with any filling, much like a Cornish pasty! They are ridiculously versatile.
    • Pasta: We eat pasta regularly (Kyle would be happy to have it for every meal). Generally we have a mix of types of pasta, and a good supply of canned pasta sauces (tomato, cream, pesto). The red sauces I normally complement with some added magic (whatever I feel like on the day: olives, pepper flakes, tuna, anchovies, cream, salmon, etc..). We also keep a small supply of instant noodles for those rough days when cooking is too difficult but we still want something hot, I just throw some in a thermos, add boiling water and let it sit until we are ready to eat it (it will keep hot for at least 6 hours!
    • Rice. Such a great starch to have aboard. We generally always cook more than we need for a single meal, and use leftovers in egg-fried rice or soups. When we can find it we also keep instant rice, but we didn’t have any on this trip.
    • Crackers and saltines for snacks and nibbles. Top with your choice of cheese, marmite, fish etc.
  • Baking provisions – we have a good supply of flours, sugars, dried yeast, baking powder and the like. These allows us to cook up almost anything that we wish from scratch. We didn’t have any on this trip - but I love to make up fresh Irish farls for breakfast, they are great hot off the pan and smeared with butter and jam!.
  • Adding Flavor: Condiments, herbs and spices. We have a good range of these aboard along with a selection of oils and vinegars (just like any home). With these and a few other basics, it is easy to make dressings, marinades, sauces and dips in 100s of different combinations. Chilly flakes, ginger, soy sauce, and peanut butter regularly get mixed aboard in various sauces. We keep some canned coconut milk for curries, and Kyle loves his Tabasco and hot sauces. We rarely have fresh herbs and spices aboard, but I do love fresh cilantro(coriander) and basil when I can manage it. Dried whole chilies are great aboard as they are easy to rehydrate into any spicy dish. We buy large tubs of minced or diced garlic, and ginger is also a staple (I generally buy ginger roots in bulk and then peel and cut them into recipe size chunks and store them in vodka until needed – then I simply pull out and grate one chunk at a time as needed – a great tip I leaned from a fridge-free cruiser in Panama a few years ago).
    Note store bought mayonnaise does not need refrigeration – but like your jams, and other jars, we take special care to keep it from being contaminated (by a dirty spoon or knife).
  • Water! We fill our tanks, and spare water jugs before departing, we turn our systems over to manual pump, and use water sparingly. We also have the ability to catch rain water (not necessary on this trip). On this trip we arrived with 180L remaining, which for us would lasted us at least another 2 weeks easily. We used just under 9L a day on this passage (when the weather is warmer we use more).
    Note: We don’t shower (nor do laundry) on a passage, and limit washing to a simple strip wash and the occasional hair wash. When the sea is warm, we swim to start off our ‘bath’ – but on this passage – it was WAY too cold to even consider it..
    We do have hot water bottles aboard, but I simply re-heat the same water so it isn’t wasted.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Passage from New Zealand to Chile

[Kyle]On the morning after my big birthday, we reset all of our onboard clocks to the time zone closest to the middle longitude of our passage. Since the new boat time was on the other side of the International Date Line, twenty-two hours ahead, I got to have a forty-six hour birthday!

Setting our clocks in this manner allows us to keep our circadian rhythms on one zone the whole way while allowing us to theoretically maximize the use of daylight for mealtimes (6:00-8:00 for breakfast, 4:00-6:00 for dinner). Since Begonia is battery powered, keeping the cabin lights off helps us make them last longer and it also makes it easier to see outside when it's dark. This usually works pretty well, but New Zealand to Chile is a VERY long way. Our passage crossed eight time zones. When we left, Maryanne was sitting most of her night watch in daylight and I was waking her up for her day watch an hour before it even started getting light out.

Leaving New Zealand

As soon as we left Whangarei we turned the wrong way. Since South America is way on the other side of the planet, the Great Circle route (the shortest path) plunged away to the southeast to pass within a few hundred miles of Antarctica. Not only is it very cold down there, but the weather can also be violent and unpredictable, so we had no plans to follow that shortest route. A nasty weather system with forty to fifty knot winds was coming from that direction, so we started our passage by going northeast and then north to avoid the worst of it.

Low pressure systems in the Southern Hemisphere turn clockwise, so letting ourselves get pushed along the farther northern side would add miles, but allow us to stay in tailwinds which have a much lower strain per mile on both us and Begonia. The system slowed down as it passed over New Zealand, allowing it to gain strength while we piled on as much sail as we could to keep ourselves moving away from the approaching center in the light winds on the far edge. It was difficult to be starting out on such a long sail so slowly and also watching our total distance to go increasing.

It took a couple of days for the wind to get to us. When it did, we had big seas and tailwinds of thirty knots for several days. With even stronger winds to the south, we angled yet further northward to ride the fine line between them and the calms to the north. At least we were going somewhat in the right direction. During the strongest of it, we were still making six to eight knots surfing down the waves without any sail up at all. The waves collapsing as they broke under Begonia always did so unevenly, causing one hull to drop before the other, which made for a pretty crazy ride. By the time the system had passed over us, we were ready for a break from both being thrown around and having to listen to all of the unsettling noises that accompany such motion.

We were hoping to be able to turn right and angle our way southwards on a more direct course, but the newest forecasts were predicting the development of a tropical storm that would plunge south into our path. To avoid it, we would have to abandon any plans to go east and get south as fast as we could into water that was too cold to support it. We spent over a week sailing into headwinds from the relatively warm waters just north of 30 South into the cold waters of the Roaring Forties. Every watch, about midway through, I would realize the pile of clothing I had worn the previous watch wasn't cutting it, so I'd go down below and find another couple of layers to add. After several days, I was wearing the same outfit I had worn in Antarctica. I was padded so comically that getting through the narrower parts of the boat required getting up a bit of momentum first. I was even wearing multiple hats.

We experienced a mix of weather on the passage, but Kyle's planning kept us from the worst of the systems

Once the tropical system fizzled out, we were finally able to ease the sheets and follow the wind in the direction we wanted to go. Again, we were trying to stay on the edge of a band of howling winds several hundred miles wide. We would have had a faster and shorter passage if we had plunged more deeply into it, but I was willing to sacrifice some speed for comfort and reduced chances of over stressing something on the boat. Every mile further we edged into the forties was unnerving as it increased the likelihood we would encounter rough and changeable weather. Our daily text forecasts were little more then paragraph after paragraph of gale and storm warnings. The Great Southern Ocean seems to be pretty much all gales all of the time. The Antarctic sections always had a horrible sounding blizzard or two - and this was the 'mild' Summer weather.

This was our fist passage since upgrading to the Iridium GO!, coupled with PredictWind, a kind of a wifi router to replace our satellite 'brick' phone, and giving us access to additional weather models. I have now firmly developed a love/hate relationship with it.

The love part is obvious. We now have access to a much broader range of weather data than we did before and our plan lets us connect as often as we like. On such a long passage, particularly in a somewhat scary part of the world like the higher latitudes of the South Pacific, it's good to be able to check different weather models against each other for consistency and then devise an informed plan. We often remarked to each other how much different it would be to be planning our strategy by making big inferences about tiny movements of the barometer needle. On the two occasions we encountered really rough weather, we had plenty of warning and were well-prepared when it finally arrived.

Birds at sea

What we hate about it is that it's a piece of technology like many others today with no obvious mechanism. It's a magic box and all we know is that something is supposed to be going on inside, but we can't know for sure. It is super slow and frustrating, It will drop four calls for every one that goes through, and it likes to do that annoying computer thing where it says it's doing something, but twenty minutes later, you realize it's not even trying and that a little piece of your life is now gone forever. Because of this, and the unlimited data plan, we changed the way we deal with weather downloads. Instead of doing it when we do our morning position reports, I just start it trying as soon as I come on watch so that I have hours to complete the task. Just to give an idea. At the typical speeds we see at sea, a thirty-minute audio file would take about twenty-four hours to download. Their routing software is also just plain stupid. Even if you tell it you want to avoid weather worse than a certain amount, it seems to try to route us on the quickest route to the very edge of the bad weather. I'm glad I have the experience to confidently ignore it most of the time, but I worry about people who would put too much faith in it.

We had a couple of weeks of reasonable weather, albeit a little cold for our tastes. We meandered left and right to stay in the best winds, but were always in the low forties latitude. This was the most remote part of our voyage. We passed only a few hundred miles from Point Nemo, the spot on Earth farthest from any land. We have now sailed in all three of the Earth's regions where it is possible to be more than a thousand miles from anything other than more water. For several days, our nearest land was Easter Island, itself one of the remotest places on Earth. We saw no other vessels either directly or on our AIS display. There wasn't even any static on the radio. The only wildlife we saw the whole time was a lone albatross that would circle nearby for a few hours a couple of times a day. It regularly came right up to the cockpit where I could study its markings. I'm reasonably sure it was the same individual each time. They're such efficient fliers that I only ever saw her flap twice.

Being at sea this long can be dull, but we keep ourselves busy
Fixing things, cooking, keeping our logbook, reading and enjoying the view

Sunsets and sunrises can be spectacular

We had now been at sea for over a month and still had more than two thousand miles to go. Two thousand miles is a pretty respectable distance to sail and here we were feeling like we were 'almost' there. Man, the Pacific Ocean is big!

Another strong weather system passed to the north of us in the tropics. It gave the South Pacific High a shove and pushed the edge of it in front of us. To keep our wind going, we had to go a few hundred miles even farther south. Now we were so far into the forties that it would take us days to get out if something happened.

Despite the gale warnings all around us, our weather remained relatively nice. Once we found our band of wind again, we resumed a great circle course and had almost direct tailwinds as a long swell rolled under us. At our furthest south, we actually deployed our spinnaker and flew it for a couple of days straight as the skies slowly cleared. Flying a spinnaker in the Roaring Forties – that's nuts! We got as far south as 45º 53'. At that latitude, there are only two pieces of land to interrupt the vast ocean: a few hundred miles of the skinny (but tall) part of South America, and just over a hundred miles of the South Island of New Zealand (also tall). We were thousands of miles from either. On our uncharacteristically calm patch, we had that lovely combination of a slow, smooth motion and exhilarating speeds to eat up some of the remaining miles.

Apart from our regular wave sightings and visits by Bert, 'our' Albatross, we had a few events to break up the trip. First was Christmas. Maryanne woke me for my watch wearing a Santa hat and holding the one she was clearly expecting me to don. We opened our hidden stashes of gifts and Maryanne even produced a Christmas cake that she had pre-sliced at Norsand before we left with a borrowed chainsaw. To top it off, just at sunrise on Christmas day we were also visited by the only pod of dolphins we saw for the whole passage!

Christmas at sea started with a surprise visit from a pod of dolphins!

Next was New Year's, which really seemed like Monday since we had no real-time contact with the outside world and we were using a time zone for the passage that probably has the lowest population of any of them. It was just us and parts of Alaska. Maryanne woke me for my midnight watch by blowing a noisemaker. Unexpected noises are generally a bad way to wake up at sea, but it only took me a millisecond to realize that it was not one of our many scary alarms and was just Maryanne celebrating. Her beaming face made it impossible to be upset.

Next was my mother's 39th -again! We managed to patch a spotty satellite call through both before and after her big surprise party. The weather was pretty bad those days so between all of the background noises and the swinging antenna, we had a hard time staying connected, but I think she got the idea.

By the time we were closing in on the South American coast, we had sailed so far east that my night watch had very little night in it before the sun would start coming up. Finally, on day forty-six, Maryanne woke me with a report that she had just spotted land in the pre-dawn twilight. I emerged from our bunk to see the island of Chiloe, South America's second biggest island (behind Tierra del Fuego). Wow! That was a long damn way. Between the monotony of the big middle bit and the fact that the cold weather had not encouraged a lot of going out on deck to enjoy the clouds and the stars, it in some ways had felt even longer since we had seen anything but sea. Since we each do two watches a day, we had each brushed our teeth and climbed into bed ninety times between our last sight of New Zealand and our first look at South America.

Our first port, Puerto Montt, was still another twenty-four hours of sailing away. We had to pass through Canal Chacao, separating Chiloe from the mainland, We caught the current just at the wrong time and Maryanne spent a whole watch sailing hard just to crawl along as fishing boats, ferries and cargo ships maneuvered nearby. We hadn't seen another boat in weeks and now it seemed there were fleets of them to avoid. We also had sea lions and birds to entertain us in the whirlpool of a channel. On my watch, we accelerated through and got some breathing room for the overnight sail to Puerto Montt.

Land at last!
Once we were within the channels - the wildlife kept us entertained as we pushed against the strong current

ALL of the water in Chile is controlled by the Armada (Navy), not just selected areas, and the rules for navigating within them are both numerous and strict. One of the requirements is that all shipping has to give a detailed position reports to all manned light houses along their route. I was actually kind of looking forward to this as I had been studying Spanish diligently the whole way and had finally declared to Maryanne a few days earlier that I was now completely fluent.

I listened in on the report of the first ship passing through the channel ahead of us. Uh, oh. Between the crackly radio and the ridiculous speed of the exchange, I got maybe two words from each side. No tengo fluencia. My fluency did not appear to extend to the spoken language, which I think is supposed to be the point. What I have seems to be 'billboard fluency', which I'm pretty sure is not even a thing My exchange started okay, but then the lighthouse keeper was obviously so impressed with my command of his language that he went off on some rapid-fire tangent about how much cesium there was in underwater substrates and then he asked me a series of questions about which cookies I preferred as a child and I kind of lost him. As a favor to him so he could stay in practice, we finished in English, of which I also seemed to be losing my grip. Bienvenidos a Chile! The pre-school is that-a way.

Subsequent exchanges with other stations through the night revealed a pattern of just ignoring us once communication broke down. No second or third tries were offered. By the time we finally tied to the dock at Puerto Montt, we weren't sure the Armada had actually received the message that we were coming and were half expecting to be met by a group of angry soldiers. We weren't. Instead, the nice guy at the Marina said he'd call them in the morning and reminded us we were not to leave the boat until we had received clearance into the country. That was fine. We hadn't slept much in the excitement of our arrival and needed a good night's sleep anyway.

{Maryanne: Luckily we'd also emailed our position report and ETA details from about 300 miles off shore, the requirement is that you submit this from 200 miles out, but I was making extra sure!}

Overall, the passage had covered 6,380.5 nautical miles and taken 1,091 hours and 56 minutes. Even without sailing in a straight line, we had sailed well over halfway to the opposite side of the Earth in one sail and on only a portion of one ocean. It's difficult to overstate the size of this massive body of water. It is roughly the size of all of the world's other oceans combined and larger by far than the aggregate of every scrap of land. Sailing for weeks over it's surface gave us a rare glimpse of the very scale of it. That said, it was kind of a strange feeling to be here. It had been so long since we left that we had become used to the idea of it just going on forever. For most of the journey, we dared not think about landfall because it was so far ahead. Now we were here and it felt strangely – sudden.

{Maryanne: Before leaving Mexico a year ago, and again before leaving New Zealand, we'd worked really hard to be sure the boat was up to the strains of the Pacific crossings. We wanted to be sure she was able to look after herself (with help from us) as much as we could without access to external support. While we don't fuss too much over the cosmetics aboard, we do really invest in the critical stuff that might otherwise leave us in trouble, we have a ton of spares and manuals and backup systems aboard. This passage we did indeed have some new issues, but luckily nothing too serious. We had a few new leaks, our wind instrument became totally erratic and unreliable (we had a hand held backup, and would fix it once we could safely get up the mast), and a new bilge pump float switch failed (luckily Kyle found that out on one of his regular checks, it wasn't actually needed in action). Overall we had very little to worry about during the passage.}

We knew of two other boats that were making the same passage as us. The first, a French boat called Shana, we met during our last few days in the yard at Norsand. They had intended to leave a couple of weeks before us, but a valve issue followed by a family emergency had them postponing their departure until we were already about a third of the way across, making us the pathfinder instead of them. We had been sending messages and positions back and forth to keep track of each other. The other boat was one we hadn't met, but Shana knew them. They left the Chatham Islands for Ushuaia about the same time as Shana and the two boats spent much of their passages only a couple of days apart. We sent Shana a message informing them of our arrival as well as some tips on getting settled, etc. We were looking forward to giving them a big welcome. They sent a reply saying that they had very strong winds and that the other boat, which was a bit south of them in even heavier weather, had been hit by a wave and suffered a 360º roll. The boat was fine, but the guy at the helm when it happened had been killed. They were now coming to Puerto Montt instead of going to Ushuaia. We felt terrible and powerless to help. It made us each give the other an extra big hug for having made it.

After arriving at the marina, as we were tidying up, the growing twilight reminded us that our good night's sleep was not to be. In local time, it was already well into tomorrow and we only really had a couple of hours. We got just enough of a nap to feel even worse before a knock on the hull woke us. It was the marina manager coming to tell us the authorities were on their way. We poured some coffee down our throats and struggled to stay awake while we waited as we finished the tidying up jobs we had blown off the night before.

It was a few hours before someone came and summoned us to the marina's conference room. Along the way, I realized I hadn't walked more than five steps in a straight line for weeks. Stamp, stamp, stamp, and we were done with Customs. We went back to the boat for another couple of hours before repeating roughly the same five-minute process with Immigration. Last was SAG, the Agriculture and Wildlife Department. The SAG agent actually came to the boat, examined our stores (all the possibly suspect stuff Maryanne had pulled out and had ready to inspect), asked a few questions and then there was a whole flurry of stamping and signing before we were declared officially in the country and told we were now allowed out of the immediate vicinity of the marina.

One of the papers he had me sign turned out to be a citation for violating one of their rules along with a summons to appear at the SAG offices in two days time to make an official apology. Apparently, we were supposed to provide them twenty-four hours prior to our arrival a list of every port we had been to in the proceeding twenty-four months. We had pre-notified the Armada, but not the SAG office and not with the 24-month list. I guess it's a good thing we were planning on staying in town for a few days anyway.

{Maryanne: Each country has its own rules and regulations for visiting boats to adhere to. Arriving by boat means we have a lot more responsibility to do the right thing than when we arrive by plane and are pushed through the necessary bureaucracy at the airport. We make a huge effort to research the requirements, using cruiser web sites (like noonsite) and guide books, and any other resources we can find. This regulation isn't mentioned anywhere. After the SAG agent left, I hit the internet looking for what I might have missed. Nothing. Later contact with the author of the most recent guide book confirmed we were the only sail boat that he'd heard of being cited, and his research on the rules came to the same conclusion as mine – we were being cited for a failing to conform to a regulation that obviously didn't apply to us. But hey, we were now officially in Chile. Our neighbours, Ledda and Alejandra, came and generously delivered some home-made freshly-baked bread as a welcome and we could finally sleep. – all was good}