Chiloé Island – it’s just famous enough that we’d heard of it before we arrived. Bruce Chatwin, a few glowing reports from friends who have been here before us – it was enough that this place was on our radar as somewhere significant to visit.
North of us is Valdivia and the long unprotected west coast of South America. South of us is the vast abyss of the Patagonian canales, where untold adventures await and winter approaches.
And we’re here, in this happy middle ground, where we can cut our teeth on navigating Chile.
We’re traveling a little blind – nothing much to read beyond the comments in the “Italian Book”, as the go-to pilot for sailing Patagonian waters is universally referred to. We have whatever the Lonely Guide to South America has to say about the place, but when I read other Lonely Guides, describing places I know well, I always come away with the impression that the first (and only) draft of the context material was written in crayon. So we haven’t looked there.
(Biggest apologies to the Lonely author we actually know, and a note that their Tasmanian guide is rock-solid.)
So we’re just following our noses, developing our own extremely idiosyncratic picture of this place, based on the sights we stumble upon and our random interactions with locals. The fishermen are certainly friendly. And I continue to reap the cachet of having fished one season for Bering Sea red king crab.
We started our sojourn with George – scion of the Harcha clan, and I’m sure fated to be the only genuine Chilean politician whom we will ever have on the boat.
Hosting George gave us some great insight into Chile, and it was very instructive to see how he cajoled the reluctant owner of a cocinería – a small restaurant in someone’s home – into cooking us dinner.
After all of our mental, and physical, preparations for the gelid weather of Patagonia, this February in Chiloé has been a wonderful interlude. We’re in baking sunshine day after day, missing the shade of the bimini that I packed away in Valdivia, sure that it was something we wouldn’t want in Chile.
We’ll miss easy weather soon enough. But for right now, it’s giving our time in Chiloé a delightful, languid feel. The days are endless, the livin’ is easy, and there is always a nice estero just a few miles away where we can drop the pick. We haven’t done so much island hopping – Apiao and Mechuque and Lemuy and Quehui, not to mention Chiloé itself – in I don’t know how long. There are a few Chilean sailboats about, and even fewer foreign yachts, and we’re having the great experience of knocking around a new country without living in the parallel expat world that you get in places that are swarmed by foreign yachts.
All in all, it’s no bad.
When we left Alaska to sail to Australia with our toddler for crew, we thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. But then we had our second child, and bought our second boat, and sailed across the Pacific a second time. We’ve been living aboard for seven years now. Sometimes we wonder how long we’ll keep at it, but all we know for sure is that the end doesn’t seem to be in sight just yet. Click here to read more from the Twice in a Lifetime blog.