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December 19, 2010

Greetings from Achao, off the east coast of Chiloe!

Hello everyone,

First of all THANK YOU to everyone who has written to express their well-wishes and encouragement!  It is wonderful for us to feel the support of all our friends while we adapt to our new environment.

Becky and I are currently cozily tucked away at La Nave Hostel in Achao for a little rest, some feasting, a resupply, and some sightseeing around the island of Chiloé.  We´ve been out now for about ten days.  So, a recap is in order.

We departed Puerto Montt in the midst of a 1000 Mbar low pressure system and, predictably, were greeted by strong winds and rain for the first couple of days on the water.  It truly was trial by fire and we slugged out the miles, scoured the rock beaches for shelter, and gave our muscles an expedition style shock treatment.  In some ways I think we´re still recovering from those first hard days of paddling, trying to force the miles.  We learned our lesson and are now adapting our paddling to the conditions.  What a concept! 

Behind the low we were gifted with three rain-free days in a row with skies filled with cumulous cloud, virga, and occasional rainbows as showers passed to our left and right.  The skies here are dramatic, dynamic, and completely mystifying to us.  It seems that we can watch macro-weather patterns evolving in the air before our eyes.  Three cheers to Karel at www.kayakweather.com for providing us with weather updates via text message.  The extra information is proving really helpful as we try to make sense of the patterns.

Coasting south we crossed east of Canal Chacao on the neap tide without much drama, except for racing across the ferry lanes.  It was here, in mid crossing, that we saw our first Magallenic Penguins.  This must be the southern hemisphere!

The island of Chiloé is low and pastoral with sheep and cows grazing above quiet coves filled with aquaculture operations and fishing boats.  The art of wooden boat building is alive and well here and the colorful vessels are beautiful in a utilitarian sense.  We are, however, a bit dismayed to find so many fish farms since the ecological impacts are difficult to ignore.  Whatever invisible damage might be happening to the water quality is hard to tell, but ubiquitous styrofoam, monofilimant, and other industrial trash litters the beaches.

Camping has been easy to find, but very exposed.  Most of the land above high tide is fenced for grazing leaving we kayakers vulnerable, but comfirtable, just above the intertidal.  Every night we attempt to divine the intentions of the wind, generally sw in good weather - nw in bad, and camp in an appropriately sheltered spot.  So far, we´re running about 50%.

Chiloé is home to a slew of 18th and 19th century churches and we´ve been able to use the sightseeing opportunities as an excuse not to paddle.  The buildings are worthy of a post unto themselves, but for now here are a couple of photos.

Now we´re off the the supermarket to resupply for the next stretch of about 21 days to Puerto Cisnes.  Tomorrow we start on our way across the Gulf of Corcovado!

Thanks again for all your support!


Anonymous said...

Fantastic progress & photos, Nick and Becky!! I am so jealous I have trouble staying sane.

"Keep enjoying!" (as Karel likes to write).


karel said...

Like Marcus said:Keep Enjoying and i am happy to be of some help

Heather said...

Sounds like things are going amazing!! Thanks for the updates and pictures.

Anonymous said...

Best wishes from the frozen north. Keep supplementing us with beautiful photos!