Saturday, March 14, 2015

Notes From Far Away

I love this picture of Elias.  It is a reminder of a great evening - a family barbecue at our last anchorage in continental Chiloé before we pointed it to the big smoke of Puerto Montt, the grungy fishing/aquaculture support port where we are preparing for the transition south.

Poor Elias, though - this picture invokes the wonderful parts of growing up on a traveling boat.  There is also this flip side, which is that the kids tend to take the blame when they're around any part of the boat when it happens to stop working.

Like the time he locked himself in the head.

It had already been a day rich in the sweet and sour mix that makes some days so memorable on the boat.  It was one of the most beautiful days we've had on the boat in quite a long time - see the picture below.

But beautiful days, and the blissed-out, I'm-so-grateful-we're-here sailors that they create, have their own special dangers.

Which is to say that "we" hit a rock soon after this picture was taken.

Normally I don't mind fessing up when I do something really dumb on the boat.  I'm very impressed by the continual danger that human error represents for people who are doing things like sailing their own boats across oceans, and I figure that talking about it is the first step to making us all smarter.  Or something like that.

But this one was just too much of a dunder-head move to confess to too publicly.  Luckily, 1) "we" recovered our wits quickly enough to make it a low-speed event, and 2) we have a steel boat.  I already posted a pic of the result here.

So we went on our way, though the vibe of the family as indomitable traveling team was at quite a low ebb.

And then we dropped the pick in a new spot, also very beautiful, and got ready to have lunch and forget all about the errors of the past, and suddenly Elias couldn't get out of the head.

Of course we blamed him for locking it and not being able to unlock it.  What kind of eight year old boat kid would do that!

Disassembling from the outside the lock didn't help.  Joking with Elias about how much more school work he would get done now that he would be living permanently in the head - that didn't work either.

Eventually I took Dremel and hacksaw to the deadbolt and managed to bust him loose.  And once I did that I was able to disassemble the lock completely, and discovered that an internal part had simply given up the ghost, in the process trapping an eight year old who happened to fiddle with the lock.

It was a day.

The place where all this occurred, Bahía Tictoc, was our southern-most point before we turned back north for Puerto Montt.  We made a few fruitless searches of Chiloé for our stolen dinghy on the way, we soaked ourselves in the hotsprings at Isla Llancahué, and before we knew it we were tying into the marina at Puerto Montt.

That's where the boat is now, though I am in California, spending a week at a National Science Foundation-funded center for ecological synthesis, working with a group that is trying to summarize what we know about the ecosystem effects of the Exxon Vadez oil spill.

As for Puerto Montt - well, there will be more about that later, I'm sure.  We've stacked up quite a few boat jobs for ourselves while we're there, as it's our last chance to get everything organized before we head South.  So there was the inevitable bit of port sickness when we arrived, as the mostly idyllic existence of wandering around on our own boat gave way to all of the deferred tasks that are necessary for keeping us going.

More to come.

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