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August 2002

Dear Friends:

Puerto Montt must rank as one of our favorite ports of call. I loved it from the moment we arrived. Things only got better as we settled in to celebrate doubling The Horn, catch up with three months mail (or should I say, let three months mail catch up with us) and prepare for the next phase of our lives.


The light in the far south is dramatic when the sun shines. This is late afternoon in Puerto Montt.

What made it so special? The location is dramatic, with the snow-covered volcanoes of the Andes only 15 miles to the east. The landscape is lovely with green rolling hills, dozens of islands all around and handsome wooden buildings dotting the hillsides. Wooden churches, painted in bright colors that would normally seem to clash, somehow manage to look exceptional against the rain forest setting. (Yes, the weather is inclement, with rain 4 or 5 days a week from Mid-April to Mid- November, but that is why there is the lovely backdrop of a rain forest.) The local working boats are all painted either bright orange, yellow or red and many of the shore side buildings are on stilts, so there is no doubt you are in an exotic place. The harbor is actually a narrow waterway between the mainland and the northern most island of the Chilean Archipelago. You can anchor right next to either of the two marinas in good holding ground at no charge, or you can tie in a berth for prices that are quite affordable ($5 per night in the cheap seats, $10 per night in the pricey ones, with 50% discount for stays of one month or more). The marinas are simple and tidy with only about 50 boats in each. Town is 2 miles away, but the transport is excellent and cheap. You just walk outside the marina and flag down either a bus (40 cents) or a co-op taxi, which drops you exactly at the shop you wish to visit for 60 cents. Puerto Montt itself is a grand little city with almost everything you could wish for except a regular cinema. Lively street markets are full of fresh fish and veg, good cafes offer excellent German pastries, and street entertainers make a stroll in town, any time of day or evening, lively and interesting.

We first met Henk de Velde when we were in Mar Del Plata. A wild, fun man who has done a lot of single handed racing, and written several books in the Dutch language. He is enjoying translating his web site info into English.

But it was the people that made our stay at Puerto Montt special. We arrived late at night after a really enjoyable day spent beating up through the Gulf of Ancud in bright sunshine; l5 knots breezes, tacking through the islands, exchanging greetings with the local fishermen. As we arrived after dark, we were tempted to anchor outside the port, but due to the extreme depths found along the shore, could not find a spot we liked. As we checked out various possibilities, we became familiar with the leading lights of the actual port. Then the breeze fell light and we decided, if there wasn't too much current in the channel, we could safely drift in and use our sculling oar to make our way to the anchorage noted on our chart. Turned out to be one of those lovely mini-adventures that make our engineless state a treat.

Henk finances his voyaging by sending footage back to the Dutch television people. Unfortunately he finds keeping this array of equipment working is not easy, with over four months or repair time during the past year.


We rowed ashore in the morning to be greeted by the crew of 53 foot Sina, who had chosen to leave Puerto Williams the same day we did and take the inside route as far north as the Canal Trinidad. Litara, Noel and their daughter Sina, then went out into the Pacific about 350 miles north of Cape Horn. They were caught in the same storms we had near 50 degrees south. Unfortunately for them, they were within 40 miles of the coast when the Northwest winds raged at 70 knots. After running with warps, they found themselves on the continental shelf with very large breaking seas and less than 20 miles of sea room. Then Noel tried heaving to and found it worked so well that even before we had climbed out of our dinghy in Puerto Montt, he ran down to give Larry a handshake, me a hug and say he was glad we had discussed different ways of heaving to at Puerto Williams.

Finnrose has four of these detachable reels which make it convenient to handle the 250 foot long lines Becky and Evans used to secure to the rocks and trees in tiny caletas along the Chilean canals.

Then there were the half dozen other folks who had come north through the canals this season and stopped here to recoup and reprovision. As you can imagine, they are a hardy and interesting group. We spent most of a week sharing experiences with folks like Lindsey and Olive Stewart on Cruisaway who are old friends from New Zealand. We got to know Evans Hoyt and Becky Chowning on Finnrose. Evans is a ships captain with 20 years experience on freighters, tankers and tugs. Becky is an experienced delivery crew person, who supplements her cruising funds by using her main profession, nursing. The two of them cruise for six to eight months, then find a safe place to leave the boat while they fly off to earn more cruising funds. Then there was Beth Leonard and Evans Starzinger on Hawk. They enjoyed the channels of Patagonia so much as they voyaged north from the Beagle Canal that they are going to reverse their track and explore more of the isolated areas of southern Chile next season. We had met several times on shore, but never before when we had our boats with us and time to share. Another favorite was Henk deVelde, a crazy Dutch ships captain who sails his boat Campana to far flung destinations and does TV broadcasts from on board. He keeps an interesting web site at www.henkedevelde.com. A wild wonderful man who took Larry and a local sailor for a men's night out at the Rock and Roll Café while Beth and I spent hours at a café talking about writing projects. (Evans had flown home for a few weeks.) We both commented on one of the few disadvantages of the cruising life, that is, it is rare to find other women with whom you can communicate deeply and even rarer to find time together once you do, as usually one or the other of you is bound off for distant shores. I was concerned that Larry would be back on the boat worrying when I didn't get home until well after midnight, only to find Larry and crew did not return until 6AM. Larry made me laugh by saying, "Good to learn what single handed sailors do for entertainment, sure glad I have my partner with me."

Evans Starzinger at rest in Hawk. He enjoyed the challenges of the deep south. His favorite place was Staten Island.


The Puerto Montt is a center for out door types and several of the local folks joined in with the visiting sailors and helped introduce us to the delights of the area. After meals at homes of new friends, and others at restaurants, we came to miss the fine meats of Argentina. When we commented on this our Chilean friends not only concurred but told us how they often took Saturday drives across the border to stock up on fine meats and Argentinean treats. Time began to fritter away and rather than sail further north to look for better weather, we decided to stay put and begin scripting and shooting footage for a video we now feel ready to make, one that uses the same format as the Storm Tactics seminar we have presented to interested groups over the years. The club manager gave us permission to use the little café on the dock and its big television and for the next three weeks we worked hard at filming, ignoring the almost constant rain. As winter really began to make itself felt, we removed most of the gear from inside Taleisin, put a proper tent over her decks, hired a watchman and added double mooring lines so we felt secure about leaving her to fly to our miniature boatyard/home in New Zealand. We knew we could find affordable editing facilities in Auckland and it definitely is a milder climate. As we carried our bags off the dock, three different people assured us they would watch the watchman we hired to care for Taleisin. So it was with light hearts that we left the little boat that has become such a special part of our life. She is in fine condition, her spars freshly varnished, sails safely stowed in a humidity controlled storage room. With only a few days work she will be ready for the adventure we have planned for spring.

Sincerely,
Lin & Larry Pardey
Beth Leonard is eager to head back south to spend more time in the canals.


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