Arrived Valparaiso - eventually

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Fri 24 Sep 2010 00:25

Position: 33 01.6 S 071 34.83 W
AlongsideYacht Club de Chile
Wind: West, F3, gentle breeze
Weather: Mostly sunny, mild
Day’s Run: 31 miles

As we approached Valparaiso around midnight I tried to call the port authorities on the VHF radio several times to seek clearance in and guidance as to where we should go, as the information I had on the facilities here was rather scant. I knew there were some marinas but they were not clearly shown on my chart. Without this information I pondered whether I should perhaps stand offshore for the night and return for a dawn entry but with such a nice breeze decided to push on. The wind fell calm as we passed Punta Angeles so I resorted to motor for a short spell, but once clear the wind returned so we sailed some more before finally giving up as we drifted around the Bahia Vakparaiso at 2 a.m. going no where. Not sure as to where the marinas were I found a spot off a beach and anchored in seven meters of water. The swells from the Southern Ocean continuously roll in around Punta Angeles into the Bay and the sailing directions warn of being caught out if a northerly picks up so the anchorage was far from ideal, but the plan was just to anchor for the remainder of the night until daylight would hopefully reveal a clearer picture of our surroundings.

Which duly arrived. I was in fact aroused from my slumber by the drone of an idling outboard approaching. Jumping on deck my sleepy eyes squinted in the bright sunshine at the black inflatable that bore two Armada ratings. After a short exchange mostly consisting of pantomime and gesticulations they seemed satisfied and I thought I had established the whereabouts of a nearby marina. I motored over to this general direction but found myself in the port area for large ships and commercial traffic, with no sign of any place suitable for a yacht. Even here the smaller commercial and fishing boats jostled in the constant surge. Definitely no place for Sylph’s new paint job. I looked at my charts and decided I had best head up the coast a bit further where I knew a marina existed, a little disappointed I could not be closer to the city, which from my earlier reading had sounded interesting. As I was clearing the port environs however the Armada boat turned up once more to collect some information from me, this time their boat had someone on board who could speak very reasonable English and he kindly directed me to the yacht club which was in fact only a very short distance from where we had anchored, being hidden behind a small point of land.

As we approached I was warned off by some men in orange overalls. I circled for a bit and one of them came out to Sylph in an inflatable. He directed me to a buoy where I tie up, took down some information and then took off. He reappeared a couple of times after that requesting different bits of information and on the last visit bringing someone from the agricultural department. I fill out a form and the inspector says you can lower your quarantine flag now. I try to explain that I can’t bring it down because my yellow Q flag isn’t up because I have been in Chile for the last five months and so this should not be necessary. I think now maybe they will let us go into the marina. But there still seems to be a problem which alludes my non-existent Spanish and limited dramatic ability at playing charades. I eventually understand, rightly or wrongly I am still not sure, that we must wait for the jefe to arrive at 5 to decide where I can berth. Well five came and went, and later I am told 7. I must confess to being rather frustrated by this time, largely because of communication problems but also with my perception that there was no one around who could make a decision. Finally I go ashore and talk to the boss on the phone myself - he speaks English well - and he tells me that actually he won’t be coming into the club until tomorrow but sure, no problem, of course I can come into the marina.

But … as soon as I hang up it seems we are back to square one. A little bit more discussion in I do not know what language but eventually something is worked out and Sylph is now secured Mediterranean moor style in the small yacht basin. There is quite a bit of surge in the basin but it isn’t too bad and is a lot better then rolling around outside on a mooring. It might sound strange that a night on a mooring should be a problem after all the time I spend at sea but the fact is that without any sail up to steady the boat even a small amount of swell can cause a very uncomfortable motion, and undoubtedly there is a psychological element to it as well - looking forward to getting alongside, a hot shower, a good night’s sleep. Well I have had my hot shower and …

All is well.

Bob Cat:

And I am all for a good night’s …. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz