The highlight of my second week on Isla Tenglo was actually getting *off* the island and helping Christian’s son-in-law, David, with a yacht delivery. (David works at the shipyard at Club Nautico Reloncavi as marine engineer / mechanic / boat manager / general handyman. If you have a boat problem, David is your guy to fix it.)
On this occasion, the owner of a new 58-foot Beneteau wanted his yacht moved from Marina del Sur in Puerto Montt down to the city of Castro, on the island of Chiloe. It was about a 100-nautical mile passage.
From Castro, the owner and his guests would join the boat and sail further south for a couple of weeks – with David staying onboard as skipper/navigator/engineer. Unfortunately, the rest of the delivery crew – me, Tomas, and Blanca – had to disembark at Castro and drive the owner’s minivan back to Puerto Montt.
We left Casa Roja on Monday morning, December 25. Yes, Christmas day. We met David at Christian’s house, and took a boat taxi to the mainland. At the Club Nautico Reloncavi, we picked up David’s sailing gear from his boat, “Catch the Wind”, and drove up the road to Marina del Sur.
There, we boarded the Beneteau, “Homero II.” As far as Beneteaus go, she was a beauty. Sleek and modern, with all the bells and whistles, including electric winches, two headsails, dual helms, bow thruster, bluetooth stereo with Bose speakers, and a television and wet bar that rise out of the cupboards with a push of a button. She was probably more an island cruiser instead of an open blue water boat; but for this deliver, that was just fine. There was also a separate “crew quarters” (with 2 berths and a head) in the bow. This is where David would sleep during the longer passage, while the owner and guests would enjoy the 3 bedrooms, 3 heads, and huge salon and galley.
We stowed our gear, removed sail and instrument covers, topped off the water supply, and pretty quickly cast off the lines, with the help of a few guys from the marina. David manages this boat, and sails these waters regularly, so he didn’t need the prep time that I might need if I was chartering this boat for the same passage.
Our first day was going to be a short 4-hour sail down to the island of Puluqui, where Christian’s family owns a small cottage. (I spent a lot of time here two years ago helping them insulate, sand, and paint the house.)
With 20 knots of wind behind us, we unfurled the large genoa headsail and sailed along at 7-8 knots. We didn’t even hoist the mainsail. (Or, actually, the proper term would be “unfurl the mainsail” since this boat had an in-mast furling mainsail. Not my favorite setup.)
As we approached Puluqui, we had to keep a sharp lookout for chorito (mussel) farms which consist of a lot of floats and buoys, as well as underwater lines. The entrance to the cove on Puluqui was especially difficult since we arrived just after low tide, and there was a shallow line strung across the entrance of the cove, from the beach to an offshore chorito farm. We took 3-4 approaches to make sure we got it just right and didn’t snag our propeller on the line. Well done David!
We then coasted up to one of the mooring balls. David stopped the boat, while Tomas and I picked up the mooring ball and ran our bowline through the splice. We tied off the bowline, shut off the engine, and we were set. We enjoyed a beer as a small rain storm passed overhead. Then we splashed the dinghy, packed up food for a barbecue, and headed ashore.
We took a quick tour of the cottage, which was pretty much just as I remembered it – but David has now laid concrete and piping for the bathroom that is in-progress. Then we headed out back to the “quincho” – a small structure with a vented roof and big barbecue pit in the center of the floor.
We lit a fire, cleaned the grill, and had a traditional “asado” with different kinds of meat, supplemented with cold beer, red wine, and some pisco. It was such a great setting to have the lawn and trees outside, rain and wind blowing, and yet we were tucked away in the quincho toasting by the fire, enjoying the food and beverages.
We headed back to the boat later that night for sleeping. (The cottage isn’t yet ready for accommodation.)
The next morning came early. We had a long transit ahead of us – nearly 80 nautical miles – so David wanted to start early. I missed my alarm, but awoke when David fired up the engine at 6:30am. By the time I had dressed, he’d already cast off the bowline line from the mooring ball. I helped guide us out of the cove, around the chorito farms again.
David and I stood watch, enjoying some hot coffee and the sunrise, while Tomas and Blanca continued to sleep.
There was absolutely no wind, so we motored the entire day. That was kind of a bummer, but the Beneteau’s engine is pretty quiet so it wasn’t that bad. If anything, it made it easy to sit back and enjoy the scenery as we weaved our way in-between islands and waved to boats we passed.
At one point, a small pod of dolphins swam alongside us, playing in our bow wake. By the time I got my GoPro out, they had pretty much had enough.
Tomas and Blanca cooked some great meals that day – breakfast of eggs, ham, and toast; lunch of build-your-own tacos, using leftovers from yesterday’s barbecue.
We arrived in Castro about 5:30pm, and anchored just off the center of town. We packed up our stuff, cleaned the boat, enjoyed a cold beer while we waited for the owner to arrive. Upon the owner’s arrival on shore, David shuttled us to shore, and then shuttled the owner and guests onto the boat. I watched with a bit of envy as the 8 or 9 guests dinghied back to the big boat. They were in for a fun adventure the next couple of weeks! And David too!
Tomas, Blanca, and I had made a reservation at a local Airbnb for the night, since we knew it would be too late to head all the way back to Puerto Montt. We packed our bags into the van, and drove off, in search of our Airbnb. It was a “palafito” or "home on stilts," so we knew it was nearby. As it turns out, it was literally 3 houses down from where we had landed ashore and picked up the minivan. We did a double-take as we drove right by the house – so we did a quick U-turn and parked right back where we had started and walked to the house.
Violeta showed us the nicely-equipped and centrally-located palafito. From the balcony, overlooking the water, we could actually see Homero II. We texted David, and waved to him, laughing that we were so close.
That night we had a delicious dinner at a restaurant nearby, called Mercadito. I had a big bowl of choritos, which seemed appropriate having spent the last 2 days sailing by so many mussel farms.
The following day, we packed up and made the 3-hour drive back to Puerto Montt. We stopped in town to do some grocery shopping, and then headed back to the yacht club where we parked the van and took the water taxi back to Isla Tenglo and Casa Roja.
It was great to be back on the island, but I couldn’t help but wonder how David was doing on the trip south through the islands. It’s exactly the kind of thing I want to do part-time.
The next few days, we stayed around Casa Roja, catching up on projects like weed-whacking, stirring the compost pile, and general house cleaning.
We did have one other bit of excitement when one windy evening a large tree from the neighbor’s house blew over, and crashed into the side of Casa Roja! Some of the top branches and leaves actually hit my bedroom window. Nothing broke, thankfully. The next day Tomas had to go to the neighbor to arrange for clean-up. Sure enough, a guy came by with a chainsaw a few hours later and cut away the tree. We were left with some new firewood – well, it won’t be dry for a few months I guess.
Tomas and Blanca continued with their great cooking. The highlight this week was some tasty lamb ribs and lentil stew. Gracias!
The coming week will be quite active. We host a New Year's Eve party at Casa Roja. Then (after cleaning of course) we convert the house into a Bed & Breakfast and welcome several guests over the next few weeks. Stay tuned!