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.
With the start of 2020, our arrival in the Cape Horn province, which was I think 6th of January, is now a year behind us already. We weren’t planning on spending so long here, but as we bought a rather dilapidated boat in a rather distant place, a lot of delay was always likely. Gean has some work restoring another yacht locally, so raising some rather necessary money. But of course repairs to our own boat have decreased in the meantime. Still the area’s a scenic one, if sometimes limited and chilly. Not bad till we can be off on our journey.
Wreck of Williams
Tied to the Ponton 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. An enormous wooden schooner with the paint lost from her planks long before, adding to her folkloric appearance. To port, the name on the bow was now incomplete. The starboard bow read ‘Victory’.
Since we bought our boat going on six months ago, it hasn’t moved from an inlet of the Puerto Williams bay, thanks to engine troubles of which our readers are aware. Or rather it hadn’t until recently. Thankfully we became mobile shortly before the temporary import permit’s expiry, enabling us to fulfil the requirement of re-entering the country. More detail in earlier updates. The standard solution is a visit to Argentina’s Ushuaia, 45 km distant on the Beagle Channel’s other side.
Back in January, I wrote that we were about to buy our then-derelict boat to start our sailing journey. Four months later, the boat’s looking a lot better, though the sailing remains in the future. We’ll be forced to make our first excursion shortly, when our vessel’s import permit expires, which will require that it reenter Chile. So we’ll visit Argentina on the Beagle Channel’s opposite side.
‘I wouldn’t buy it in that state,’ was the conclusion of the friend whom we’d asked to check out our prospective boat while deciding whether to travel down here. On the basis of his photos, and also his thorough written survey, we differed from this sufficiently to make the journey. We doubted we could afford any boat in any better state. But we arrived in Puerto Williams a bit apprehensively.