A New England yacht designer sets his sights on the Chilean channels as the locale for the sea trials of his latest 57-foot cat. From our June 2012 issue.
The following day, we worked farther south along the eastern side of Chiloe, zigzagging through a long maze of narrow channels with beautiful and varied views of forests, farmland, and many fish farms. While the boating is spectacular in this region, the sailing is often marginal. The long, narrow channels, banked by high ground, makes what wind there is choppy and typically either dead ahead or dead astern. Throw in two- to three-knot tidal currents and you have waters where motorsailing is the sensible way to travel much of the time. Since cats motorsail so well, with decent speed and very good fuel economy, they’re well suited to the area.
Due to tides, the waterfront buildings in the Chilean town of Castro are built on stilts.
Our goal for the day was Chiloe’s main town and the region’s capital, Castro. Because of the significant tidal range, the waterfront buildings there are constructed on very tall stilts, giving it a unique appearance. After we anchored off the town late in the afternoon, the crew was eager for a walk and a chance to check out the activity. The first stop was to run the gauntlet of seafood stalls along the waterfront, sampling the local oysters and other treats, but the most pleasant surprise turned out to be the famous church in the town square. Built of wood with numerous vaulted ceilings, it was definitely a boatbuilder’s cathedral.
Castro’s famous church, with its vaulted ceilings (above), was a must-see side trip.
We would’ve enjoyed hanging out in Castro, but we had a schedule to meet, so we kept moving. It took 30 miles of motorsailing to reach open water in the Golfo de Ancud. Once we were beyond the shadow of the hills, the breeze filled in. The day was crystal clear, and finally PataGao had a chance to stretch her legs on a deep reach. We made 10- to 14-knots before a 20- to 25-knot breeze, and 50 miles flew by.