About our masts: it’s varnishing time

Our boat, in fact, has masts, in spite of the impression some might have been getting lately. It has two wooden masts (but it’s a yawl, so that’s one and a half, really). We lowered them to varnish them, six months back, and hold-ups happened and snows came. This was a problem in that varnish doesn’t set in such low temperatures. So we were mastless through the wintertime (we’d likely have been stuck here anyway). Did reduce the wind-in-the-rigging noise.

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Our new chart on our not-so-new table

Winter in the south ended outside work for a while, so I finished a less structural boat project lately, one started last winter but discontinued since. This was to draw a chart of the world onto our central wooden table, admittedly not the most essential project aboard Space Oddity. But it’s something which can be done while the snow’s blowing by, if made harder by the short hours of light in the day. And here’s the result finally.

The result: our table
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Ways to heat a boat: our wood-burning stove

It’s been over a year since we installed our boat’s wood-burning stove, and since I wrote about that whole slightly-eventful procedure, so let’s report after months of running the thing continually. First a little of what’s involved in fuelling our wood stove (in case anybody wondered what we do with our time). Then I’ll talk about how it’s been as a boat stove.

Collecting wood for our sailing boat's wood-burning stove

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Boatwork in quarantine

When we bought Space Oddity we had plans to sail to Brazil and then haul the boat there, somewhere better equipped than here in the remote south of Chile; but it became clear we’d have to do something about the weeds on the bottom anyway, or we wouldn’t be travelling too speedily. We decided to haul in Puerto Williams eventually; then the start of lockdown shut down such ideas for a while. We were able to haul in late April, once restrictions had relaxed partially. This left the last of the early-autumn sunny days, after which the weather turned wintry. Continue reading “Boatwork in quarantine”

Autumn in Patagonia

Autumn’s my favourite of the seasons of Patagonia, the nothofagus trees creating incredible colours here, and the weather less wet than in summer (and warmer than winter, of course). Quarantine’s meant we’ve been a bit less busy, so I shot some pictures this time, mostly while walking the doggy. These leaves are falling as we enter May.

Yachts in quarantine

The news of the Covid-19 disease, and then the first cases of the disease, seemed to reach South America somewhat behind Europe or North America. UK friends were filling Facebook with coronavirus memes before we could appreciate these fully, and Brazil’s president’s supporters still suspect the communists of inventing the whole story, even after the US president has reluctantly started to advise that everybody stay inside. Here in Chile, as perhaps in other places, the news and the first cases formed a start from which the rest escalated rapidly. One day the neighbour’s saying it sounds like it’s only some sort of a cold really, the next he’s shouting through a mask from two metres away.

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Orcas and whales

Last Monday (9th of March) Puerto Williams had a dramatic day, by the standards of this little isolated city: a number of orcas chased two whales onto the shores, and went on to kill them eventually. Orcas are seen in the area rather occasionally, and while whales are common in the channels of Chile, they don’t often enter the bay. They tend also not to be sei whales as these ones were, being the smaller humpbacks normally.

Head sei whale
The calf whale

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The 2020 Cape Horn race

Conditions didn’t allow the Desafío Cabo de Hornos race to reach the Horn itself this time; instead boats competed in the Beagle nearby. Click to view photos individually.

Bible boat: Chilean-built tall ship Victory

Wreck of Williams

Bow of Chilean-built wooden boat VictoryTied to the Pontón Micalvi, the stranded naval vessel that acts as dock in Puerto Williams, are boats of two varieties, all moored onto one another in rows with the last to arrive outside. There are the charterers, with their trips in the summer to Cape Horn or to Antarctica, and there are the cruisers, stopping for a few months at the tip of South America before they turn north from here. But one yacht’s never left Micalvi in the years we’ve known the place, innermost boat in the innermost row throughout that time, next to Micalvi with six visitors outside. Continue reading “Bible boat: Chilean-built tall ship Victory”