So today we left Puerto Williams behind for the last time, and were sad to leave Chile. It seems the Chilean people you meet there are happy to have us there, to help us through the never ending paperwork, and to make sure we have a good time. Also, we had the company of around a dozen other boats in Puerto Williams, and the international crews and staff of those made sure a good time was had by all.
It’s an amazing community that thrives in this hostile part of the world, and I thought I’d’d try and describe it a wee bit. There’s a group of maybe a dozen charter yachts from France, Holland, Australia, Germany, the UK (although usually registered elsewhere), that work going back and forward to Antarctica in high season, along with a another dozen slightly smaller boats that sail the Chilean channels and cape horn. As well, there are some superyachts with paid crews and shiny winches, and smaller boats single handing or short handed cruising going their crazy way around the world and exploring the worlds scary places.
Everywhere we’ve went we’ve been made to feel welcome, particularly by the charter boats where the size and type of our boat is both well known and proven in this part of the world. Their staff are remarkably similar to sail training crews in the UK. Laid back most of the time with an easy smile and the kettle always on, almost completely self reliant and serious when they have to be (but don’t tell anyone it was hard work!) The atmosphere when these boats gather with such out and out individuals is jovial, a shared knowledge that soon everyone will be off in different directions and happy in their own self – contained bubble. The knowledge and opinions that have been passed down from those early pioneers like Skip Novac and Jerome Poncet is shared and expanded upon, debated and disagreed with. Spares and fresh fruit and advice are traded willingly because soon you might need a favour in return. Boat handling is blasé and reefing expert, i saw at least 4 engines being serviced yesterday alone, anchors and rubber boots and tired oilies de rigour, and henry lloyds and dubarries found wanting.
Yesterday we (clare and I, with Richard and Kirsty and Nick) threw everyone off the boat and got diesel(woo hoo no barrels for us!), serviced the engine, fixed the dodgy wiring on the electronics and have done most of our weekly/monthly checks. Then we cooked a huge meal using two boats ovens and retired to Pelagic Australis huge saloon for dinner and merriment.
I’m sad to be leaving this community as it’s very attractive and we seem to fit in. But next we go exploring another one, and then we think about putting some warmth back into our bones. Malcolm Macarthur has a weather forecast that says a force 7 is “Excitement tinged with fear” and thats my thoughts on South Georgia!