Valdivia, Chile (S39 50.953 W073 19.077)
|Moon over Valdivia River|
Our previous blog mentioned how we got stuck in Chiloe at Quinched Marina, about 200 miles from our final destination to put Motu to bed for the southern winter at the Alwoplast boatyard in Valdivia. That is where we spent last winter. The area is considered one of best or perhaps the best place to leave a boat if planning to do some travel on land in the winter months. Other favorites are Puerto Montt a rather large city located somewhat near the location for exiting the protected channels before heading into the Pacific. The third location is Puerto Williams at the extreme end of southern Chile in Tierra del Fuego.
In our opinion, Puerto Williams is way too far south to spend the winter and has this white stuff that floats down and makes us long for the tropics.
|Club Nautico in a very tranquil Pto. Montt|
|Pto Williams - too cold for us! (Heart 'N Soul photo)|
There is nothing wrong with Puerto Montt and it is probably the most popular choice among cruisers and the only place in southern Chile where it is fairly easy to haul out a boat and leave on the hard, but we much prefer the university city of Valdivia with its good restaurants, nice walks, and student atmosphere. The temperatures require the diesel heater to be on some hours of the day but the rain---there is lots of it--- defines the area in winter. Think Seattle.
Patience is everything when it comes to weather but our patience really got tried as it took about 19 days for a break from the almost constant northers for heading the final leg to Valdivia. The first issue is that the final 120 miles to Valdivia is out in the open ocean with a very inhospitable coast. The second is the notorious Chacao Channel with its swift currents of eight knots plus.
The night before leaving to enter the Chacao Channel we dropped the hook in a big bay called Caleta Manao about three miles from the eastern entrance of the natural canal. We left at 1130 to catch the ebb current as it started flowing out to make the 12 plus or minus miles toward the entrance to the Pacific Ocean and leaving the last protected channels of Chile. (When heading south, you are pretty much, with some exceptions, inside channels that can take you all the way to Puerto Williams in the far south.) The good news is that while you go out in the ocean to points north or northwest, you are climbing in latitude. Valdivia is just out of the "Roaring Forties."
The ride out the infamous Chacao Channel was fast with dear old Motu going between eight knots and 12 knots. In other words, we were getting up to six or seven knots of current.
There is a short cut that is used by local yachts, called Paso Chocoi, that allows you to exit the canal and stay in relatively protected waters to make some northing before going out into the Pacific as opposed to heading straight out the channel into rough seas beyond the lighthouse Punta Corona and an anchorage near the lighthouse called Puerto Ingles.
Not stopping at this anchorage proved to be a mistake that added a little excitement to our exit. We entered Paso Chocoi and noticed that it was rather rough but certainly not alarmingly so. The big surprise we got was that the further we went north, the rougher it got. We banged and crashed our way through the turbulence, feeling a little stupid about not going first to the lighthouse anchorage and waiting for the current to abate, but soon we were out in the Pacific heading north. We initially had some nice wind but soon we were doing our all too usual motor-sailing.
We proceeded through the afternoon and then night with light conditions and continually dropping seas. The morning was lovely but with only about six knots of wind. We were heading right for the river entrance at Valdivia and suddenly BANG AND CRASH! We hit something with the prop and the vibration was terrible above 1100 rpm. At this point we were 42 miles from the nearest anchorage and we were making about 2 knots under sail. We kept thinking this is going to get interesting when the current runs out from the river system upon which Valdivia is located. It did.
|We've traded penguins for pelicans!|
|Capt. Steve's Birthday|
Our 0800 morning arrival turned into 2030 at night and we entered a commercial harbor, called Corral, under radar and dropped the hook. The final chapter of that passage may turn out okay as we discovered that once we tied to the dock at Alwolpast, whatever caused the prop problem disappeared in the current. We suspect we picked up a heavy plastic bag of the type used by fishermen here or a polyprop rope. The GoPro showed no damage to prop but we will know more when we haul the boat next spring. Now work has begun to prepare the boat for her winter stay.
|Stephen cleaning the bundle on the Beta|
Motu is snug in her slip, the rain has arrived, and we are getting ready for a glass of Carmenere wine with our very dear friends from Erowal Bay, Australia, Alan and Cindy Nebauer. All is good in Valdivia, Chile.
|Stephen, Marja, Cindy and Alan with Vulcan Osorno behind us.|
|Ah, Chilean wine|