Before Space Oddity

Gean’s from Brazil and Xoe Joanna’s British; we were married in 2018 in Valdivia, Chile. Some months later, we travelled to southern Chile to do a boat delivery; we didn’t have a boat of our own at the time. It would be a lucky decision to do this delivery.

Bow of boat in ice

Spending a month in the uninhabited channels of Chilean Patagonia, we traversed the Beagle to reach Puerto Williams on the Atlantic side. This small town is the world’s southernmost one. We saw an abandoned yacht in the bay, so we emailed its owners briefly. But soon we continued on our way.

We hitchhiked thousands of kilometres towards Brazil through South America, crisscrossing the Andes continually. After one year and when we were in Brazil already, we were asked to buy the boat in Williams so far away. Our little tent was no longer our only home.

Space Oddity

As we motored into Puerto Williams following a four-week delivery, Gean looked around at the different vessels there. Some were familiar from his earlier visits, but one he’d seen elsewhere. He’d met its Belgian skipper in Argentina previously.

Recalling this, Gean said: ‘What’s happened to it since?’ The small yacht was in a derelict state.Derelict boat as we found her initially

We soon discovered that the boat had been beached, a year before, in an isolated caleta nearby. A rope trapped around the propeller had disabled the engine. On snapping the anchor chain in a storm while sheltering, the boat was washed ashore and was stuck for a week, being pulled off by a passing charter craft finally. Sadly the owner then died unrelatedly.

This was the yacht we’d buy eventually, a steel yawl by Van de Stadt, built in the seventies. She would have been claimed by the navy when her papers expired shortly. We bought her from the owner’s family.

We called the boat after a Bowie track, Space Oddity.



While living in Williams and working on Space Oddity, we came across some unwanted puppies under a house. Though hesitant at their German Shepherd mother’s size, we brought one aboard to grow into a guard-doggy. His mum had the name Laika after the first animal in space. Zibby’s name comes from one of the other space-puppies of that time.

Zibby’s fond of sticks, and of swimming – and scaring burglars, of course. Hopefully.



Nya was born in Williams six months later than Zibby. The local vet convinced us we had room for a really tiny kitty. Nya was a few weeks in age, weighing 50 grams at the time. She’s named for an old space-cat meme.

Nya likes to kill stuff, such as toes, or the tail of the doggy. Her job’s just to be fluffy.