Category Archives: Passages & Crossings

Hanging out on Robinson Crusoe

Storybook Island: Robinson Crusoe

Not many people have an opportunity to visit this small island.  Chileans refer to it as Juan Fernandez, but it is more famously called Robinson Crusoe island.  The storybook is based on this island.  From Valdivia, Chile to Juan Fernandez is about 500nm and should take us 4-5 days.  We did not expect a lot of weather and were hoping for a good sail.  As luck would have it, we sailed the entire way with the mostly the small spinnaker!

TRIP DETAILS

  • Departed Valdivia on Saturday, 9 Mar at 1415pm
  • Arrived Juan Fernandez on Wednesday, 13 Mar at 0100am
  • Miles Traveled 485
  • Max speed 12.1
  • Average speed 5.5

Very early morning arrival at Cumberland Bay, Robinson Crusoe. Certainly not idea, so we took all precautions entering Bahia Cumberland at 1 am in the morning.  We circled for about an hour trying to determine the best anchorage.  It was extremely deep, even close to the fishing boats, at 40-60 meters.  Not good for anchoring.  It was pitch black, no moon, and only a few street lights on shore.  On the first attempt, we dropped the hook in 26 meters of water.  We sat and watched it and decided we did not feel comfortable with our swing.  The second attempt. we dropped it in 24 meters of water.  We had a little more swing room, but didn’t feel comfortable.  Matt ended up staying awake until day break when we moved for a 3rd time.  Deep, dark blue water.

Cumberland Bay at Robinson Crusoe

Cumberland Bay at Robinson Crusoe

FORMALITIES:

Went ashore and first met with SAG (agricultural department) to ensure we did not bring any fruits, veggies, meats from another country.  Then we stopped in to see the Parque National Arch de Juan Fernandez to get our park passes.  Our last stop was the Armada to clear into the island.  Everything went smoothly.

Decision time.  Go back to the boat and try to catch up on some sleep or explore.  We decided to go exploring.  We only have a few days here so why not make the most of it?

HISTORY OF ROBINSON CRUSOE ISLAND

The archipelago was discovered in the 1500’s by Fernandez, a Spanish sailor of Portuguese origin. There are three islands that make up this archipelago.  Robinson Crusoe, Marinero Alejandro Selkirk, and Santa Clara.  These islands are thought to be between 2 and 4 million years old.

Many unsuccessful attempts were made to colonize the islands.  Two ships from the English corsairs anchored in front of what is now known as Robinson Crusoe island in 1704.  A boatswain by the name of Alejandro Selkirk argued with the captain and was left on the island with only a bible, knife, rifle, pound of powder, tobacco and some clothes.  He remained on the island for 4 years and 4 months before his rescue by an English corsair.  Alejandro’s diary and story were the inspiration for Daniel Defoe’s famous storybook “The Incredible and Amazing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.”

TODAY IN SAN JUAN BAUTISTA

Newly constructed buildings now house small tiendas and restaurants along the shore.  It was lovely, but odd because they all looked so new.  We discovered a tsunami destroyed Cumberland Bay and the small town of San Juan Bautista in 2010.

Robinson Crusoe Town

Robinson Crusoe Town

Couldn't find the typical Antofagasta Sign, so this will have to do.

Preparations to Head to South Chile

Before any journey there is a laundry list of things to do.  We are preparing for our biggest passage to date from Chile to French Polynesia.  What does that entail?  Buying staples for 3-4 months, purchasing boat parts, oil, propane, and fuel.  And of course preparations include a few boat projects.

We will be heading to southern Chile before beginning our passage. First we will go to Caldera, then Coquimbo, then Valapariso, then Valdivia.  So what type of preparations and boat projects have we been doing?

BOAT PROJECTS:

  • PHOTOS: We needed another set of passport photos for our carte de sejours which are part of our French Polynesia long stay visa application process.
  • WEE FEE: topped up our sim card plan so we could activate another month as we journey to Southern Chile.
  • FUEL PUMP: We were on the hunt for oil and a fuel pump. Off to find an auto part store. They have entire one street dedicated to auto parts where you can find just about everything. Of course, it was an 8 mile walking day for us. Score, one 5 gl of oil and a pump for fuel filter.
  • FUEL PUMP TESTING: We used a baja fuel filter while we were in Galapagos which was not efficient. We had a fuel pump on board but it died and needed to be resurrected. We got the pump, found the connectors, and bought the hose. Matt tested it by moving fuel from one jerry can to another and voila it worked perfectly!
  • FUEL: Getting fuel was no easy feat. We had two 5-gallon jerry cans and bought two more. We walked the .5 mile to the gas station with a cart and our cans in tow. Filled them up and loaded 3 on the cart which I dragged. Matt hand carried one and we walked the .5 mile back. Gesh, this will take forever! At 20 gallons per trip we would have to make 8-9 trips! After 2 trips, a local cruiser saw us struggling. He loaned us 4 of jerry cans and drove us to and from the gas station 3 times! Lucky for us, the extra help allowed us to fill both tanks 85% full. That’s good enough for us as we will have to fill up further south anyway.
Adventures of refueling

Adventures of refueling

Provisioning:

We had emptied out the boat finally. We stocked up so well in Panama and Costa Rica that we did not have to buy staples or frozen meats for the past 9+ months. Of course 6 of those months we lived in an apartment while the boat was being repaired, but the food stayed frozen and tasty.

We hit up Jumbo and Unimarc Supermercardos, to of our favorite stores with the largest variety of foods. Of course, peanut butter, popcorn, ginger cookies and butter crackers are still eluding us, but we may find them in Santiago.

What does provisioning look like for 2 people for 3-4 months?  Don’t you love the box of veggies and fruits?  So easy to store!

Provisioning The Basics

Provisioning The Basics

We purchased mostly staple items on this run. As the stores here have great variety and are well stocked. Prices are a little higher than we anticipated, but what can you do?

The next day we hit the fresh fruit and veggie mart to stock up on 2 weeks of yumminess. This was a fantastic fresh market, with so much ripe and semi-ripe foods. They had these huge barrels of olives, peppers, juiced items and nuts.

Provisioning Fresh Goods

Provisioning Fresh Goods

Of course, we will have to do another fresh fruit and veggie run before we leave Valdivia.  We will also need bread and eggs to go with the fresh goods.  Always fun to explore grocery stores in new cities though!

Other Interesting Photos:

Couldn't find the typical Antofagasta Sign, so this will have to do.

Couldn’t find the typical Antofagasta Sign, so this will have to do.

Memorial to those who have passed away, just outside the cemetery.

Memorial to those who have passed away, just outside the cemetery.

 

Mano del Desierto

Antofagasta Adventures

Where ever we go we seem to find or make an adventure out of it.  Although we only spent a little time in this city, we had a lot of crazy Antofagasta Adventures.  Whether it be exploring, working on a project, or searching for a connector.

Local sculpture between the water and city

Local sculpture between the water and city

EXPLORING:

Matt and I had not explored the southern portion of Antofagasta.  So, we set out on a bright, sunny day, turned right and kept walking.  We passed several pop up tiendas with locals selling their wares, a new Jumbo grocery market and an Easy hardware store.

Pop up Tiendas

Pop up Tiendas

We finally made it to Balneario Municipal Antofagasta which is “the” beach for locals.  They have a giant slide, a floating islands in the center of the bay, free showers and several eateries.  They even had a sectioned off area for kids to play in the water.  It was a protected bay with about 2′ of water.

Beach: Balneario Municipal Antofagasta

Beach: Balneario Municipal Antofagasta

We walked a little further and realized we were almost to the end of town.  So, we doubled back, stopped in for a cold beverage and hit the Jumbo and Easy stores.

As you know, there is a never ending project list on a boat (as on a house).  After we were rested and finished exploring Antofagasta, we checked a few boat projects and pre-departure preparations off our list.

Mano  del Desierto – Hand in the Desert

Several tour companies highlighted tourist spots in and around Antofagasta.  One of those spots is a giant hand in the desert.  What, you ask?  We had to see it.  We rented a car and drove 45 minutes into the Atacama Desert.  You certainly can’t miss it because it is huge.

Mano del Desierto

Mano del Desierto

The Mano del Desierto sculpture was constructed by the Chilean sculptor Mario Irarrázabal at an altitude of 1,100 meters above sea level. Its exaggerated size is said to emphasize human vulnerability and helplessness.  The work has a base of iron and concrete, and stands 11 metres (36 ft) tall.

Mano del Desierto

Mano del Desierto

Matt thought it would be fun to try to take the rental car (a Chevrolet Sail) up the mountain.  Unfortunately, it only made it half way before we rolled it back down.  We did manage to hike to the top, which was hard with the altitude.

Matt trying to drive the rental car up the hill

Matt trying to drive the rental car up the hill

Cerro El Ancla (Anchor Hill)

We stare at this upside down anchor every day.  We gauge where we need to go and where we’ve been using the anchor as a mark.  The “Cerro El Ancla” anchor symbol, installed since the beginning of the city of Antofagasta, has become one of the emblems of the city

The origins of the anchor lie in the foundation of the city itself. In the founding charter of La Chimba, it was ordered to mark with an anchor the most visible point of the hill adjacent to the nascent population. In 1868 , Jorge Hicks ordered an employee named Clavería to paint an anchor, as a reference sign for the ships that sailed San Jorge Bay to Antofagasta.  Claveria misread instructions Hicks, thus finally painted an inverted anchor.

It is no easy thing to get to the ancla.  First, you have to walk / hike to the top of the city to get to the base of the hill.  Then you hit the dirt roads.  In the first picture, the flag indicates where the anchor is located.  The second photo is a shot 1/2 way up the hill.  The center is a shot from the base of the hill.

Trails to Cerro El Ancla

Trails to Cerro El Ancla

At the base of the hill is the monument to the upside down anchor (top left).  Me sitting on the anchor, resting and admiring the view (top right) Photo with the arrow shows you where Sugar Shack is located.  And if you zoom in on the bottom right you can see me still sitting on the anchor as Matt walks around and to the top.

Cerro El Ancla

Cerro El Ancla