Category Archives: Passages & Crossings

Robinson Crusoe and Easter Island

Live Blog: Traversing the Pacific

We interrupt this program for a live message (for those of you old enough to remember when they said that on TV).  Matt and I are starting a long passage across the Pacific Ocean. We will suspend our normal, narrative blogs while we live blog.  We will resume the narrative blogs around mid-April.

Our journey will start today, from Valdivia, Chile.

It will take us 4-5 days to make it to Robinson Crusoe island.  We hope to see how the original Robinson Crusoe (Alexander Selkirk) entertained himself for four years on a deserted island.

After a day or two of rest, we will head to Easter island, also known as Isla Pasqua and Rapa Nui.  This passage should take us 2-2.5 weeks.

Hopefully we will get 3-4 days to recover and explore the Moai before setting sail for Pitcarin Island.  We may or may not stop here, depends on the weather and protection of the anchorage.  This passage should take us 8-9 days.

After Pitcarin, we will make our way to Mangareva, Gambier (first archipelago of French Polynesia).  We hope to arrive here by mid-April.

The map shows Santiago.  Valdivia is south by 500nm miles.  You will then see Robinson Crusoe and Rapa Nui.  The other islands are off the charts.

Robinson Crusoe and Easter Island

Robinson Crusoe and Easter Island

The Pacific is a huge ocean and can be both beautiful and inspiring while also fraught with danger.  We hold a great deal of respect for the Pacific and will take all pre-cautionary measures to ensure our safety and the safety of the boat.

The “live blogs” use a satellite service, so we are not actually online.  We won’t be able to see any comments until we get back to wifi.  However, our blog will automatically post to the Sugar Shack Facebook Page so be sure to follow that to get updates. (Christine’s personal FB page will not be updated)

If you want to track our progress across the Pacific, you can click on “Current Location” tab on our blog svSugarShack.com.

Chile at 9p at night

The Hunt for Necessities

It is summertime here in Chile.  Which is strange as it is chilly to me, in Chile!  The sunrises before 0700 and sets after 1900 which makes for a long day of light.  As much as we wanted to, we could not sleep in.  We had a lot to discover and some necessities to find.

This photo was taken at sunset, just before 9:00pm.

Chile at 9p at night

Chile at 9p at night

First things first, we had to get Ron and Sally on a flight to Santiago where they could catch their connecting flights.  With no wifi we had to resort to using GoogleFi to book the flights.  After some trial and tribulations, we got them confirmed.

Our next goal was to walk around town in search of necessities: local sim cards, laundry service, port captain, bank-ATM, and markets.

Theo, from the marina, gave us the lay of the land and some directions.  We walked around a little on New Years Day, but everything was closed.  However, it was bustling with activity today.

The Necessities:

First order of business – find the port captain.  We had a “general” idea of where the port captain office was located, but we got a little turned around.  We finally stumbling upon their building after asking a few people.  Everyone was super nice and very efficient.  Luckily, we stopped at an ATM earlier to get pesos (local currency is about 650 pesos to $1).  We were able to pay 5600 pesos (or about $8.00) and were on our way within 20 minutes.  Easy peasy.

We stopped at Boraton Columbiano for some brunch.  Matt ordered a traditional Chilean chicken lunch which came with soup, rice, beans, salad, and a ¼ chicken. Poor thing struggled to eat it all.  The rest of us ordered a super yummy ham and cheese empenada.

Right down the road was an Entel office which was or is the best data provider in town.  We bought a sim card, topped it up and went on our way.  A little giddy at being “wired” again.

We found one of the local fresh fish and veggie markets, right next to the marina.  It was a little different than other fish markets in that they had little eateries along with the fisherman vendors.  So, the smells did not make it a pleasant place to eat.  They had lots of unrecognizable fish and some we knew.  Lots of clams, squid, and red fish.  Check out the huge partial fish in the middle photo.

Fresh Meat Market Antofagasta

Fresh Meat Market Antofagasta

The lavandaria evaded us.  We asked several people who seemed to think they knew where one was, but we couldn’t find it.

SEA WOLVES – LOBOS

The lobos, or sea wolves of Chile are absolutely enormous.  It just cracks me up watching them swim, waddle, and jump up on the docks.  And they have this massive head of hair.  They really look like the mastiff of the sea.  They are well over 300-400lbs a piece and bark like they are in pain.

Los Lobos or Sea Wolves

Los Lobos or Sea Wolves

The next day we said “goodbye” to Ron and Sally.  They had to catch a flight to Santiago where they were each getting on connecting flights.  Ron was going to see a car rally in Peru and Sally was going to house sit for a friend in California.  Sure, was awesome to have their help on the passage, thanx guys!

Ron and Sally

Ron and Sally

The main square in town has a beautiful church and tower proudly flying the Chilean flag.

Antofagasta Town Square

Antofagasta Town Square

Antofagasta from our temporary anchorage.

Land a Ho: Arriving in Antofagasta, Chile

Imagine arriving into a new country at 0400 on New Year’s Day.  Brilliant, right?  How the heck are we going to get officials to clear us into the country on a National holiday?  Ugh.

Our new IridiumGo enabled us to communicate with the marina and local officials before our arrival.  However, because we motored in at 0100 Galapagos time or 0400 local time, nothing was open and everything was pitch black.  So, Matt dutifully drove us in circles until sunrise.  Once the sun the came up, we headed over to a shoal where we dropped anchor in 15 meters of water.

Land Ho:

Antofagasta is a much bigger city that any of us anticipated.  In this photo below you can see all of the foam that surrounded us prior to getting to the marina  entrance.

Antofagasta from our temporary anchorage.

Antofagasta from our temporary anchorage.

Unfortunately, the red tide has found its way to Chile and has turned the water a dark muddy red.  In addition, there is a huge pocket of foam floating around as we get closer to shore – very unappealing.  The photo doesn’t show the red tide, but trust me when I saw it aint pretty.

More foam ahead of us

More foam ahead of us

There were also dozens and dozens of jelly fish.  Their sizes ranging from the size of a lemon to the size of a basketball.  Huge, swirly tails trailing behind them.  I could not get a decent photo with anchoring and other activities going on at the time.

Giant jelly fish all over the marina entrance

Giant jelly fish all over the marina entrance

Entering the bay requires local knowledge.  The marina said they would send someone out to meet us at 1030 so we had some time to kill.  We set a temporary anchor and hit the sack for a few hours.

True to their word, Theo, the marina manager came out to greet us, explain the mooring process and guide us in.  There are shoals and large shallow patches all around, so we were grateful for the help.  We came in, turned around, dropped anchor, pulled back to first buoy where we tied bow lines and pulled back more to a stern buoy.  We tightened up all the lines, thanked them profusely and wished them a happy NY.    They informed us officials would be on board at 1530 and we had 5 more hours to burn on-board.

Formalities:

Three officials came aboard.  They were extremely professional, efficient and friendly.  Lucky for us, I had been in communication with SAG, the local official, before arrival so I had all of our paperwork prepared ahead of time.  In addition, we had made sure we had no live plants, animals, organic food, fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese, nuts, coffee beans, and limited frozen meats.  All part of the dance you do when you enter a new country.

After forcing some of my cookies on them, we wished them a happy NY and sent them on their way.  It did not take us long to hop in the dinghy to go to shore.  We were all in need of a good walk!

We have some new neighbors.  Giant “Lobos” call the marina home and make an awful lot of noise.  These enormous sea wolves are some of the biggest sea creatures I have ever seen.  Most of them well over 300-400lbs a piece.  In order to get up on to the dock, they dip under and burst up and then sit on the edge to catch their breath.  Sometimes it takes two or three times before they make it up.

Los Lobos playing in the marina

Los Lobos playing in the marina

The sea lions like to sit half way up with their noses in the air.  Might because they are posturing or declaring their dominance.  Maybe they just like to stretch their necks or dry out their underbellies.  Who knows.  Either way, sometimes they just look like a giant, hairy turd.  Still, they captivate us.

What’s Next?

We explore Antofagasta, find a movie theater, bowling ally, two markets, and a well-stocked hardware store.