Friday, January 30, 2015

A First

It's on.

We've busted out of the sticky embrace of our first landfall and ventured into that live-by-your-wits, incredibly dynamic, surprise-a-minute experience that is sailing into the vast south of this country in our own boat.

Sooty shearwaters.  Seen 'em in Alaska.  Seen 'em in California.  Seen 'em
in New Caledonia and New South Wales and Tasmania.
Now, seen 'em in Chile.
We had the 140-mile sail to get us from Valdivia to Isla de Chiloé, our first taste of maritime Chile.  As always, the sailing life is generous with its transitions.  We even had a pretty-darn-sure-it-must-be-them sighting of several blue whales, our first ever, to sweeten the the overnight sail.

And, in a departure from all that is routine aboard Galactic, we had crew.

Jaime Elias Harcha, chance acquaintance at the Valdivia dentist's office and our introduction to all things rodeo in Chile, came along as supercargo.

We've only very occasionally taken anyone along on an overnighter…and they've either been family or friends of long standing.  Keeping family life going on a traveling sailboat requires us to stick pretty closely to our ways, and we're very aware of how the consequences of spontaneous decisions gone wrong will fall most heavily on the boys, and on the very small tolerances that we operate under while caring for them on passage.  So we haven't ever taken a chance acquaintance anywhere on the boat.

At some point in our short acquaintance, Jaime began to joke about coming with us when we set out for Chiloé.  And then, when he and his wife Karina had us out to their house in Los Lagos for a fantastic asado, I realized that what had begun as a joke was becoming more serious.  Jaime really would like to come.

Alisa and I were in a great travel mode that had us feeling open to whatever good things might come along.  We felt an instant affinity with Jaime, in spite of our communication being limited to the very basic (and basically mis-spoken) ideas we could express in Spanish.  And Jaime had just made the trip on his brother-in-law's sailboat, so we figured he knew what he was in for.

So, when we set out, we were a crew of five.

And having Jaime on board added a great dimension to what would have otherwise been a thoroughly routine overnighter for us, albeit wonderful.

A natural sailor
It was great to share the experience, and this brief taste of our life afloat, with a new friend.  Jaime was an easy guest, in the sense of being adaptable to whatever was on offer, and very good company in his ability to just hang out, and his willingness to stay up through most of the night with the on-watch crew.

As a plus, it just happened to be his birthday.  So we got to do the thing Galactic-style, with a pineapple upside-down cake (muy tipico de norte america de la edad de mi mama, Alisa tried to explain), a crown for the birthday boy, and a few simple gifts.

Elias presented Jaime with a depiction of el rodeo

Six knots of current behind us in Chacao
By the time we rode a rippin' tide in through Canal Chacao, on the north side of Chiloé, we were thoroughly pleased with the experience of having him aboard, and sorry that he couldn't stay with us for a few days of knocking around the area.

But then, when we dropped Jaime at a working dock in La Vega, we got a bonus in terms of a crew exchange.

What we lost in the form of Jaime, we made up for with his 30-year-old son, George.

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