Archive for the ‘Chile’ Category

Shown the Door

Clark June 19th, 2007

June 19, 2007
17 degrees, 54′ South, 70 degrees, 55′ West

I’ve had to leave Chile hastily and now I’m about 200 miles offshore. The Port Captain called me in for a ’special meeting’ on Sunday to inform that I would probably have some serious problems in trying to extend my permit on Monday, and that it was probably best for all of us if I just left. We started the process of preparing my exit papers, which always takes them an hour or so. While I was sitting around the commanding officer’s office chatting, the subject of my voyage came up. As they always do, he asked me how I supported myself. I issued my pat answer, saying I was pretty much broke, but that I made a little extra money as a writer. He answered, “I know.”

Could it be that the Chilean Armada has honored us with its presence at Could it be that the Commander of the First Naval Region didn’t like reading that he had been promoted to the level of his own incompetence? I’ll never know for sure, but they seemed to want to be rid of me and with my expiring permit they had their means. It’s sort of like Hugo Chavez closing that TV station in Caracas: It’s not censorship; he’s just not renewing their license.

Oh well, I’d had two good nights sleep, filled the water tanks, got more food, and there wasn’t so much to do in Iquique anyway. Arica was the only remaining port in Chile, and once you’ve seen one port in the middle of the Atacama Desert you’ve seen them all.

The wind has been pretty light, and I’ve been slatting along at 3-4 knots with five sails up…can’t do that with a sloop. With a 650 mile passage to Lima, not enough fuel to motor the whole way anyway, and diesel at a buck a liter, I’m just living with going slow.

I tried to bake a strawberry cobbler out of these canned strawberries I’ve got, but it ended up looking like a pan full of head wound.


Clark June 13th, 2007

24º14′ South, 71º14′ West

Still charging north under every available bit of canvas, but I made an unpleasant discovery this afternoon. Condesa’s temporary import permit to Chile expires on the 16th, in three days. Most countries are pretty unforgiving on these matters, and the fine for exceeding the date is usually the price of the boat, or some some ridiculous amount. If they won’t extend it, and I get to Iquique on the 15th or 16th, and my new passport is there waiting for me, I could check in and check out of Chile on the same day, but that will make for a lot of solo sailing without a break. If they won’t extend it and my passport isn’t ready yet, I’ll be in a fine kettle of fish. I’m figuring I better play it safe and charge straight to Iquique no matter what, because any stop along the way would push me past the 16th for sure. They could give me an extension and I can relax, but the Armada de Chile hasn’t been exactly easy-going thus far. Soo, at least two more nights at sea, maybe three to Iquique.

I know I’ve said it before, but I think it might actually be getting warmer. It is certainly getting clearer: I’m forty miles offshore and the mountains look like I could touch them. I can see observatories on the mountaintops. There is legendary atmospheric clarity in this part of Chile and several countries have observatories. Last night was the first night without running the heater.

June 12, 2007

Clark June 13th, 2007

27º03′ South, 70º55′ West

I’m flying everything short of the bed sheets, trying to capture what little wind there is.

I have been reading The Arabian Nights, and it almost makes me want to visit Baghdad…almost. What a contrast to read about the Middle East as capital of the world, when Europe was in the Dark Ages, and what a contrast between the Baghdad of then and now. What would we get if we were to combine the Baghdad of the Golden Age of Harun al-Rashid with the Baghdad of today?:

Saying, “Very well, O auspicious day, O lucky day, O happy day,” the porter lifted the basket and followed her until she stopped at the fruit vendor’s, where she bought yellow and red apples, Hebron peaches and Turkish quinces, and seacoast lemons and royal oranges, as well as baby cucumbers. She also bought Aleppo jasmine and Damascus lilies, myrtle berries and mignonettes, daisies and gillyflower, lilies of the valley and irises, narcissus and daffodils, violets and anemones, as well as pomegranate blossoms, but then Sunni suicide bombers triggered sequenced explosions in the marketplace and none survived but the hunchback.


Soon after sundown, she came with a girl, as we had agreed on. I received them with pleasure and delight and lighted the candles, and when the girl unveiled herself, she revealed a face that redounded to “the Glory of God, the Best of Creators.” Then we sat down to eat, and I kept feeding the new girl while she looked at me and smiled, and when we finished eating and I set the wine and fruits before them, I drank with her, while she smiled and winked at me as I gazed on her, all-consumed with love, but then seven American rednecks in full Kevlar with Armalites burst through the door. We offered them tea, but they spoke only of a cache of hidden explosives.

Quick update

Clark June 11th, 2007

27º14′ South, 70º57′ West

The Pacific high pressure system shut down and the wind died. I motored a violently rolling thirty miles today, in search of a calmer anchorage to get some sleep. The huge swell seems to find its way into every cove and snug harbors are few and far between. It continues to be cold, which is disheartening…cursed Humboldt current. I’m running the diesel heater all the time, and right now I’m drinking a mug of hot spiced wine, the recipe for which I learned in Coquimbo. Chile is a long skinny country, and only seems to be getting longer.

Bureaucracy Gone Wild!

Clark June 9th, 2007

Bureaucracy Gone Wild!
31º19′ South, 71º27′ West

The Chilean Armada has finally crossed from the bureaucratic to the ridiculous.

When I checked into Coquimbo, 48 hours ago, I had to take a taxi all the way across town to the Port Captain’s office. This took about two hours in total, and was a bit irritating since Coquimbo was just an intermediate stop and I already had clearance papers all the way through to Iquique. So that I wouldn’t have to do the same again upon departure, the office told me that Anita, the clerk at the yacht club, had a form we could fax to them instead.

Dutifully I went to see Anita on Friday afternoon to have her fax the form informing the Port Captain of my departure at 8AM Saturday. The computer was down and she lost the form, but eventually little Anita pulled it together and faxed in the form. I ran some errands and came back later. Anita informed me that they would not give me port clearance because the minimum safe number of crew was two, and I was only one. Anita is not a great thinker, so the ridiculousness of this was lost on her, but I persuaded her to call the office and plead my case, figuring I had a better chance with the yacht club acting as my intermediary. She got off the phone and told me I had to go in person. I took a taxi all the way across town and appeared at the Port Captain’s office…again.

Continue Reading »

Ships and sailors rot in port

Clark May 2nd, 2007

Pertaining to photo above, see April 17th update (Puerto Island) for definitions of ‘brash ice’ and ‘growler.’

I’m noticing contrast between this photo and the one at the top of this web page. What am I, crazy? Get the hell out of here, man, and to someplace warm and tropical. Enough is enough.

Yesterday was a public holiday in Chile, so everything, including the Internet cafe, was closed.

The weather isn’t looking too hot for going north, so I’m still sticking around. It’s only been five days in port and I’m already slipping into the homely routine of yacht club life: Dinners, movie nights, book swaps, and hot showers. The empty bottles are piling up in the cockpit and I’m sleeping till ten. It’s only ten bucks per day.

Very sad to hear that Kurt Vonnegut died. I’ve just read his last book, Timequake, and enjoyed it.

So it goes.

Patagonian Channel: Photo of the Day

Clark April 28th, 2007