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November 30, 2010


Santiago, a city of four million.
Just a quick note to let you all know that we arrived in Santiago safely on Friday.  Yup, Friday!  We enjoyed a free night in Seattle and a free night in Dallas courtesy of American Airlines due to two mechanical delays in a row!  I think we sampled most of the major eateries in SeaTac during our stint in traveller's purgatory.
Si, tenemos muchas mapas!
The airline delays have had the additional benefit of allowing us the weekend in the giant city of Santiago since we had to wait until after the weekend to accomplish our errands.  Today was a busy day of running around town for odds and ends and, importantly, topo maps.  We now are the proud owners of about $300 worth of Chilean topos covering the 1200 miles from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales.  Unlike the US, where you can find topos just about anywhere, Chile only distributes the maps through the Military and specifically, only from one office in Santiago. 

We are now in the land of NesCafe.
Tonight we'll be bussing south for 12 hours to Valdivia where we'll be picking up our boats and thence to Puerto Montt tomorrow night.  Wish us luck.  More soon.
Speed rollerblading, serious business, who knew?

November 20, 2010

Sea Kayak Expedition II

It's 36 F in Bellingham today and that means.......it's time to head south.  In a few days Nick and I will be flying to Santiago, Chile to begin another long distance sea kayak expedition. From Santiago, we will head straight to Puerto Montt, where we plan to spend about ten days applying for permits, picking up our boats, buying food and finalizing any last details. 
Our plan is to paddle approximately 1200 miles from Puerto Montt south to Puerto Natales. We are estimating that the trip will take between 3-4 months. We realize that this is a fairly generous margin and are planning conservatively with the expectation that we will be spending a lot of days on shore. 
A number of family and friends have asked us how this trip compares to our last long distance kayak trip through the Inside Passage. I'm sure that we will have a lot more to say in response to this question in four and a half months, but at this point we can identify a few key differences. However, first let me start with the similarities- both trip are of equal length, spanning similar degrees of latitude (although in different hemispheres) and follow a route through mostly protected waters. The differences between the two trips originate primarily in geography. First of all, Chile is in South America, where people speak spanish. Hablamos solo un poco espanol. Secondly, the larger scale weather systems that track through the higher latitudes of the southern hemisphere are generally stronger and more frequent, so despite the fact that it will be summer in Chile, we are preparing for cooler temperatures, wind, rain and more wind.......... The third and final obvious difference is that there is significantly less information available about this section of Chilean coastline. While planning the Inside Passage we had our choice of the numerous kayaking guidebooks, cruising guides, current tables, tide tables, etc. In researching Chile, we have been fortunate to come across a a small number of very helpful resources (Thanks Reg!), but there are a lot of details that remain unknown.
Therefore, Nick and I are approaching this trip with a humble attitude, conservative judgement and hopefully a bit of good karma in tow. Wish us luck.

Meanwhile, we have been busy planning and packing and asking ourselves, "What are we forgetting?"

 Nick pouring over nautical charts, struggling with the inconsistencies in size and scale and trying to make sure we have coverage for the entire route.

At the Mountain Equipment Co-Op in Vancouver, B.C. We will be purchasing these same boats from an outfitter in Valdivia, Chile. We couldn't pass up the chance to see the boats in person before hand and try out some preliminary packing configurations.

Briefing friends on the trip, over one-two-three-four empty glasses.......

   And asking myself, "Does this drysuit make my butt look big?"

November 13, 2010