Who we are
We’re from Brazil (Gean) and the UK (Xoe Joanna); we were married in 2018 in Chile, in sudden style. We were only there to visit Xoe Joanna’s family, but then we were told that we could marry in Chile easily. Besides the fact that this allowed Xoe’s parents to attend the party, neither of us could marry a non-citizen in our own country without expense. So we invited all our new local acquaintances at short notice. Xoe’s father and mother have been on boats throughout her life, and were sailing the South American coastline at the time. Her brother was off crewing for charter yachts further south on the impromptu wedding day. He soon asked us to head south for a boat delivery, knowing we’d be happy to have extra experience. We aimed to live aboard our own vessel one day.
And so we left Valdivia, where we’d had the ceremony, for Patagonian Chile. We left with fond memories of Valdivia: it’s a lively student-filled riverside city, and famous for its craft-beers excellence. It’s also famous for its rain, though on getting to Puerto Natales we found a far more forbidding climate. We set off on a cruise down the uninhabited channels which perforate the end of Chile. The scenery during this month’s journey, with glaciated summits and glacier-smoothed valleys, was some compensation for the weather, i.e. freezing sleet falling more or less the entire time. We travelled from west to east till we reached Puerto Williams on the Atlantic side. This small remote town is the world’s southernmost one.
We noticed a red boat on a mooring at the back of the bay. It seemed to be in an abandoned state, and it was rumoured to be for sale. We contacted the owners, sending them a short message. But then we went on our travels once more.
The destination was Brazil, as Xoe Joanna had never been before; we’d met in the UK, and Xoe didn’t know Gean’s family. Thus we hitch-hiked thousands of miles through South America, crisscrossing the Andes between Argentina and Chile, and aiming northwards all the time. We waited beside the endless roads which traverse the Argentinian steppes, or camped on the shores of the numerous streams throughout Chile. We made many friends while on our way.
Six months after our arrival in Brazil, and a year after the start of this story, we were asked to buy the boat now behind us by such a distance. Our blog tells the tale of this boat which is our next residence. (Our tent, it seems, is our only home no more.)
As we motored into Puerto Williams following our four-week delivery, Gean looked around at the various boats there already. Several vessels were familiar from earlier visits he’d made, but one vessel was familiar to him from elsewhere. He’d come across its Belgian owner in Argentina once.
Recalling this, Gean said: ‘What’s happened to it since?’ Indentations had been crushed into the boat’s steel sides. And, this apart, it seemed in disrepair.
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 (a rather common misfortune). On snapping its anchor chain in a storm while in the caleta, the boat was washed ashore and was stuck for weeks there, eventually being pulled off by a charter craft passing by. And there was a sadder end to these sad events, as it so happened that the owner died subsequently. We were told that his boat must be his relatives’ property.
Nobody thought that any buyer would want such a damaged boat in such a distant place. ‘It’ll sit here till it sinks here.’ Or at least it would be claimed by the navy when its papers expired one day.
So we asked how we could contact the owner’s relatives.
And that’s the tale of our boat, a Van de Stadt design, built in the seventies. Looks like we’ll have to sail it out of Puerto Williams in its still-dented state. The facilities are too limited, and also too high in price, to make major repairs here. It’s likely that we’ll have to take the boat north from Puerto Williams, either on the Pacific side or on the Atlantic one. Though it’s a long way to anywhere!
Our blog will follow our continuing adventures.