Chiloé Island

Warm weather, friendly faces and untold adventures await the crew on Chiloé Island.

February 11, 2015
Locals row; visitors row, too Mike Litzow

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.

That’s where we are – the red oval is more or less over the east side of Chiloé Island

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.

George Harcha Uribe earns his passage Mike Litzow

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.)

Dalcahue is something of a South American theme park Mike Litzow

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.

Palafitos – houses built on stilts over the water, Mechuque Island Mike Litzow

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.

The view from Chiloé Island Mike Litzow

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.

Another incredible view from the island Mike Litzow

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.

Chilote Mike Litzow

All in all, it’s no bad.

Cocinería Mike Litzow

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.

Sailor in port Mike Litzow
This picture reminded Alisa of Alaska. We’re wearing Xtra-tuffs and Carharrts…and there are no kids in sight! Mike Litzow

More Destinations