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Archive for the ‘Chile’ Category

Three weeks on a leaky boat

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2006

We are now in Valparaiso near where we started our mammoth cycle voyage, at the bottom of Chile. Our bikes are in Quito, some 10,000km away and we want to be in Easter Island 3,300km off the coast. So how did we end up in this bizarre situation? Well it all started with a big night out in Quito after finishing the trip. All our pent up party energy was expelled in a fine display of dancing and hyper activity the Glasto crew would be proud of. We woke feeling like we had been run over by a couple of trains, annoyed by how much we had spent the night before and thought bugger it, let’s fly to Galapagos Islands! So off we went.

Galapagos Islands if you get a chance to go, are awesome, just so much life in the water though the islands themselves are very volcanic and seemingly lifeless in places. After finding an airline which flies to one of the smaller islands nearly half the price of the others, we arrived on San Cristobal island and met a Kiwi who owned a shop there and sorted us out no end. The next day we went snorkeling with him and swam with hammer head sharks, white tip sharks, Galapagos sharks, sting rays, manta rays, turtles and more fish than you could shake a stick at. Bloody good really.

San Cristabel is a good stop off point for sailors on their way from Panama through to the Marquises Islands, French Polynesia and of course mighty NZ (an adventure in the planning). March, April, May is the time to get through, missing the cyclones etc, so we met loads of sailors while we were there who offered to take us fishing and sail between the islands while drinking ice cold beer and cooking fish on the BBQ. Not a bad time had by all. Once we were about to leave the islands on our flight back to Quito we met captain Dave, who asked if we would be keen to sail to Easter Island. I have always wanted to go to Easter Island and on a 16m racing yacht who could resist! So on the boat we went. The first day was very pleasant, light favorable winds and calm seas, then the adventure began. The winds picked up and we found out that the captain suffered from chronic sea sickness and he went to bed for basically the first week. Angela with her iron stomach was on cooking duty. Even in the roughest of seas she was able to fry up a big feed using her now incredible strong legs to pin herself into one corner of the ship’s galley while I sailed the boat and the captain slept in his bunk. We then entered a high which meant motoring, calm waters, the captain surfacing and I read 5 novels in 10 days, a personal record! In fact I have never read one novel in that time. Actualy I can’t remember reading a novel? Heading toward the southern ocean I was on night watch, Angela was boiling the kettle and the captain surprisingly had decided to hit the sack. There were some dark clouds on the horizon and a front was on its way. The winds grew and so did the massive southern ocean swells that seemed to engulf the boat. At the peak of the storm Angela and I were taking watch from inside so as not to get drenched up on deck. Then we got hit by a bugger of a wave that sent us right over. When I say right over I mean right over! The cutlery drawer in the ship’s galley flew from down on one side of the boat and landed on the top shelf on the other side. The rice on the stove landed on the roof and I lay on the inside wall of the boat looking sideways at my bed wondering how strong fiberglass was. The mast hit the water and we popped back up but it was a good roll with plenty of water coming into the hull. So there we were bailing water out a boat in the pitch black in a howling storm wondering why we were not on a plane to Quito on a flight we had already paid for. But eventually the storm did abate and we got the water down to ankle deep. For the rest of the passage a leak opened up above my bunk and would poor like a tap onto my face about once every hour and a half. The captain assured me there were no leaks and that the boat was water tight and I had to admit there was not much water getting out.

Now that we are on dry land after 16 days without seeing land there are some very funny points to the adventure and we were never really in any danger but a quote sticks in my mind that we heard from a French sailor while in Galapagos islands. “When adventuring around the world it doesn’t really matter where you are going, but who you are with and how you are getting there”.

So, we are now in Valparaiso and charged with the task of getting to Easter Island and back to Quito to pick up our bikes. A fun challenge, though after spending 7 months in South America and never once catching a bus or any other form of public transport other than the odd took-took we are struggling to fit into the more conventional style of traveling that faces us. Having to deal with time of day, day of the week and the ludicrous notion of paying to get from A, to B is really going to seem foreign. Though we do have a couple of days to psyche into it and some alternative plans…….

I expect this to find you all in fine fettle, smacking the daylights out of whatever you are cranking in at present. Remember to start out at 100% and gradually pick up the pace and if anyone asks you to sail 3,000 nsutical miles with them this week be sure to ask if they are going to be awake and check their boat for leaks before venturing out!