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Enjoing Chacabuco

Aggiornamento: 22 set 2023

August 18, 2015

Finally a day with no wind and no rain.

After some “home work” we decide to go ashore to do some shopping.

Chacabuco is a small town that is growing pusher by the port and of a of a large salmon fishery company.

It is located on the headland that divides Puerto Chacabuco with the lagoon where we are anchored.

The houses are tesi typical of the area, all built of wood and covered with sheets of corrugated aluminum. Very frugal but in return, very colorful.

But every single house in their own courtyard shows up a luxury pick up, an unmistakable sign of how in these area of the world you affirm your status symbol.

There are four small grocery stores and, as usual, we visit them all.

We buy bread and butter from Miguel, potatoes and avocados from Luis, cheese and dish detergent from Donna Adriana and lettuce and broccoli from Hector. In this way not only we choose the best, but we do not disappoint anyone.

In fact everyone here is already aware of our presence (los gringos del fate) they already and they are all extremely courteous.

Here they do to see many yachts and during low season, even tourists are scarce.

Around 15h we receive an email from Ray?!?! Ray sends email from Chile?!? Him with his dislike for technology?

He is informing us of being just landed at the airport of Balmaceda, to have an iPhone, and a Chilean phone number. This is really a scoop.

We call him on the phone;he is already on a bus taking him directly to Chacabuco. He also tells us that we can keep in touch via WhatsApp. What? Ray, WhatsApp? He must be kidding !!

We wait on the roadside, where the path leads to the beach at the head of the lagoon, hundred meters from our anchorage.

We spend the night on board in front of aperitifs, which as Ray tells us about his trip around the world in 90 days, becoming more and more substantial, culminating in chicken fajitas dressed with, peppers, guacamole and sauces to taste.

Outside is incredibly quiet and we struggle to tell about the severe weather conditions we faced up to now.

Tomorrow the forecast gives little rain and very little wind, High Tide will be at 09: 00h and so we decide to beach the boat to remove the propeller and see what to do.

August 19, 2015

By 09h the boat has already secured on the beach, the bow still floating, but aft graze the bottom with the plates at the base of our keels.

We released our spare anchor from the stern, entrusting the issue to Vale. I at the helm and Ray in the water to check the "beaching" within my dry suit.

Now we just have to wait for low tide around 13:00h in order to more easily access and remove the propeller.

Unfortunately we are in a phase of the month in which the excursion of the tide is at its lowest, so despite low tide the propeller is covered with a few centimeters of water.

Once having taken apart the propeller from its shaft, we take it inside the boat, to be opened and so accessing its internal mechanism.

We film all the dismantling process, so as to keep track of the various steps and especially the tightening of the different components.

In reality, the task is easier than expected, almost banal.

Unfortunately, once we opened we realize that different sprockets are damaged, but more importantly one of the three blades is blocked and do not change her pitch, and being connected to all the other lades, this is the reason why the propeller is just pushing the boat forward.

We should try to extract the sprocket of this blade by its hub.

We try it with a rubber hammer and with a puller, but without any success.

Our friend Raul of Puerto Montt has recommended a close friend here in Puerto Chacabuco, Mr.. Jatton running an excellent workshop.

Tomorrow we will look for it.

August 20, 2015

By 09h we visit Luis Jaton, a sympathetic and reassuring big man. Just mentioned Raul’s name and if possible, he turns even nicer than he already his.

We mention our problem and show the damaged blade.

Unfortunately, also Luis with all his skills and the help of its hydraulic press can’t separate the sprocket from its hub.

For days, I have been trying to contact the manufacturer, but it is mid August and no one answers.

I ask Luis if is there any possibility to find and fit a propeller to my shaft.

He disappears in one of the secret rooms of his workshop from where he reappears few minutes later with a propeller in his hands.

Its a 3 blades propeller but 2 of them could not definitively compete for the world record of fluid dynamics, but compared to the efficiency of our propeller right now, this is like having a offshore racing boat propeller.

He measures the cone of the propeller and compare it with the cone of our propeller.

A genuine, contagious, liberating smile comes from his big face: estas bien!

We must now try to mount it and see how secure it to our shaft, but ….. it is already high tide!!

Luis will meet us tomorrow at 13:30 on board.

August 21, 2015

As precise as a Swiss watch Luis shows up 13:30 o'clock on board of his flaming pick up.

We tight the dinghy alongside our port hull so he can dive his big hands on our shaft and with a caliper he takes some measurements.

Half an hour later we are back in his workshop. A 36mm bronze bar sits on his lathe and he makes out of it two nuts.

One will be used to secure the propeller to the shaft, the second will act as a locknut.

Me and Ray go back to the boat try to finally fix the new propeller to our shaft, but the new nuts are struggling to be screwed.

Ray runs back to the workshop. The nuts are made out of bronze, while the shaft is in stainless steel, material extremely harder than bronze, so Luis’s choice was to make a thread slightly steeper than necessary, perhaps too much.

Corrected the tolerance, Ray return to the boat and we try again.

This time the nut is screwed, though with the support of a huge wrench which we use to tighten the turnbuckles of the stays, but there arises a new problem.

After tightening the first nut there is not enough room left for the locknut.

Meanwhile is already High Tide and we have to postpone any further action to tomorrow.

August 22, 2015

By 09h we are at Luis workshop were in few minutes he solve the problem by reducing the thickness of both nuts.

But we have to wait till low tide, before attempting again.

As soon as the tide allows I dive again and easily screw inn the 2 nuts. The propeller is secured but to test it we have to wait until tomorrow. The high tide will come back only in the dark and I do not want to venture into this maneuver without knowing if the propeller works.

August 23, 2015

We well prepare the maneuver so that everybody knows what to do. It is blowing again 22 knots of wind and it comes from our port stern.

I expect the wind, will pus hard us once the ropes securing as ashore will be released.

Downwind we have a half sunk metal pontoon which would not contribute to the aesthetics of my hull sure if we will touch it.

We try, but as soon as we slack the lines ashore the boat starts dangerously drifting toward the pontoon.

Vale, who no longer need orders or even suggestions, jumps to port side winch where she starts recovering the upwind stern line as a consummate America's Cup grinder .

Meanwhile Ray turns himself into Hulk, jumps on the pontoon and pushes the boat thus preventing she hits the wrecked pontoon.

Saint Don Miguel, the friendly Chilean living in the house on the beach right in front of our boat, who was apparently monitoring our operation, understood the things were turning for the worst, so he also jumps on the beach the smartly trough another shore line which I pick and start recovering.

Angelique slowly goes back to her original position. Nearly there !!

We decide to enjoy our Sunday's try again tomorrow ....... Wind allowing.

So we pay a visit to Donna Margarita who runs a small restaurant with good Wi-Fi, which we experienced few days ago.

Being Sunday the kitchen is partially open, so they "only" serve excellent empanadas.

Aug. 24, 2015.

By 8:00 am we have enough water under us to try again and, above all, there is no wind. .

This time in 10 minutes we are already anchored a few hundred meters from the beach and, more importantly, the propeller seems to work very well.

We call again by phone the manufacturer of our propeller, which finally answer.

We talk with a courteous technician who confirms what we feared. We can not remove the pinion from the hub of the blade. Simply we do not have the necessary tools that they have built especially for this operation.

We just have to ship everything to Italy.

We prepare a package and run to Chile Express office, the Chilean courier we noticed on the main street of Chacabuco.

The employee half amused and half bewildered tells us that we need to visit their office in Cojaique, 70 km from Aysen !! Only there they manage international shipments.

Our tireless Ray encourages us to try.

We jump on a collective minibus to Aysen and one hour later we are on our way to Coyhaique.

The road sinuously cut through the valley, wedging between the peaks overhanging the river Aysen, itself is worth this unforeseen detour.

The river banks offer verdant pastures for horses, cows and guanacos, many guanacos. The few buildings we see are ranches, farms, all made of wood and beautifully maintained, a clear sign that here rural economy is still worth something.

Coyhaique is a fast growing city thanks to the presence of industries for the processing of wood and tourism.

From here starts many excursions to the Cordillera, to Laguna San Rafael, and some ski resorts. We arrived for lunch time and the Chile EXExpres office is closed. Excellent opportunity to test the local empanadas which we buy from Lucia, a nice young Chilean preparing them on he cart.

By 15h we ship the propeller and we are told us that in 5 working days will 5 working days it will be at the destination.

Now we have to find a way to make it back home. Does anybody volunteer?

In the evening we are back in the boat and at dinner we comment the unexpected and pleasant trip to Coyhaique. Among other things, the small town is "only" about seventy kilometers from Balmaceda, the Chilean airport that serves this region which we know not being far from the Argentinian border. We check on Google Map and find that it is actually ”on" the border with Argentina.

Our interest derives from the fact that the Chilean visa lasts 90 days. Myself and the Vale enter Chile in early July, so ours VISA will expire in early October, most probably before we get to Puerto Natales, our next stop in civilization. If that this is the case we would be subject to a fine.

So we decided to reach the border, enter Argentina and return immediately to Chile with a new valid visa for another 90 days.

Aug. 25, 2015

At dawn (08:30) we are already on our way to Aysen and after about 1/2 hour we are already on a bus to Coyhaique. From there we shall take a bus to Balmaceda where we should arrive at 13:30.

The airport is located on a large desolated plateau. There are only few houses, the only ones that we have seen since leaving Coyhaique.

The border is one hundred meters away.

We enter the the custom office where a zealous agent of the immigration police welcome us.

At first he does not understand. We walk in a immigration office, in the middle of nowhere getting there by foot, with no luggage beside a small backpack.

In our well-educated Spanish we try to explain our need.

It responds, seraphically: but this is illegal !!!

I try again: no look, we are here in order not to commit anything illegal. We will be sailing to Puerto Natales in a few days, where we hope to arrive in mid-October when our VISA will be already expired. That is why we have to come all the way to here. We cross the border, we come to Argentina and we return to Chile.

All unleashing two angelic smiles.

And he seraphically questions: how are you going to get to the border of Argentina, is more than 5 km away?

Evidently the look that me and Vale we exchanged must have been totally lost.

So he addresses to one of the two men behind us, waiting to be received. Can you can drive this couple to the border with Argentina?

Few minutes later we are on a minibus with Ricardo.

With his van Ricardo is carrying people around the region and in particular today he is here to drive from the Argentinian to the Chilean border a Chilean technician who works in a mine about 200 kilometers away in the Argentine territory.

Arrived to the border he takes to an office where we are welcomed by a funny customs officer.

We explain again our problem, assuring however that Argentina is in our future travel plans and that we will be in Ushuaia for the end of year and then up to Buenos Aires.

When looking our passports he understands that we are Italian, he asks: what do think of Maradona?

Now many of you know that I do not understand anything about football, but Maradona is like Michael Schumacher. Any Italian should be able to put together two words on Maradona. Thus I begin to praise San Maradona, of how good he was, how he loved his team and his fans, tc.

Meanwhile the Maradona fun clubs gets 2 new members, 2 young officers of the immigration police, who amiably stamp our passports and ask about of our trip.

Wishing us to "disfruttar el viaje" they greet us with warm handshakes as we move towards the Ricardo’s border car which will drive us back to the Chilean border.

We feel I to point out that Ricardo, regardless the fact he is a taxi driver, he did not ask anything for the "service" he provided us.

The friendly Chilean immigration officer was waiting for us with amused interest as he stamps 2 shiny new VISA on our passports rewarding our indisputable audacity.

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