Learning to Sail in Patagonia – Chile and Argentina

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Fierce windy breezes, stratus clouds moving rapidly, crispy cold air with glimpses and sprinkles or rain, glimpses of sunshine with dolphins prancing in and out of the water, the sound of banging tools and buzzing machines. The start of the Sailing season in Punta Arenas. We are preparing.

I am currently in the thick of the sailing summer season which starts right around Christmas and tappers off around March. Early January is when most of the prime time weather kicks in for many trips to Antarctica. Summer is in the air, yet with the weather we have here in Patagonia, you would never know it.

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The boat I have been working in is called “Northanger” (above, and we are about to put it in the water in 2 days) owned by pair Greg Landreth (New Zealand) and Kerri Pashuk (Ontario, Canada). For this trip Greg with be the Captain while Kerri is on their other boat called Saoirse. She is currently sailing in the from the Bahamas down to Punta Arenas. Her blog is great, she blogs about cooking and apparently she makes some delicious brownies. I can not wait to meet her. You can check out both of their websites, the couple has been around these waters for a long time and have tons of knowledge and experience. I have a lot to learn from them.

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Above is more or less what we will set off to do. Puerto Williams is actually the Southern most city of South America which is lower than Ushuaia. The Cabo de Hornos, Cape Horn, is a trip we will make twice after Williams. You are looking at the most Southern tip of South America. The lower part where you see a big line, is the border. Argentina is to the right and Chile to the left. Ironically you can not cross from Southern Argentina to Northern Argentina without crossing through Chile. The roads in between the borders are also all dirt filled windy pothole roads. They have quite the history and relationship but more on that later.

We will be setting sail from Punta arenas, Chile – and making our way trough glaciers, Magellan straight, into the beagle canal to Puerto Williams.

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The 7 day trip and a fully hands on experience. I will be setting off with a couple Rene and Duncan from Newfoundland, Canada as well. I also found a friend to come along from Germany! It is looking like a good trip. It will be my first long sailing trip!

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We have less than 4 days before heading out onto the Magellan to go 7 days to Puerto Williams. So far most of my tasks on Northanger have involved cleaning the bilge (the part of the underneath side of the boat, filled with grease and water), cooking delicious veggie meals, revarnishing the food drawers, and helping out with miscellaneous tasks.

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As an introduction when I first arrived to Punta Arenas to the Magellan and Patagonian waters, my friend Jimmy (Missouri, USA) who I met at Erratic Rock introduced me to a wonderful man Marcello who took us on quite the adventure. We took a zodiac boat right out into the straight of Magellan that took 8 hours on a zodiac going against the currents and around the most Southern Tip famously called “Cabo Froward”.

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The destination was an island called Carlos Tercero where Marcello had an organization called “Whale sound”. Pretty amazing Organization that’s works on the preservation and continuation of the families of whales who migrate to the Carlos Terceo waters to feed before going back up the pacific coast to Colombia to breed. They have identified over 150 consistent whales that keep coming back every yet. They can tell what whale is which by the fin and the marks on the tail. They have a whole binder filled with 150 whales and names and identification pictures. Then it took us another 6 hours back to Punta Arenas, but fortunately with the winds.

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Marcello bravely makes the Punta Arenas zodiac journey twice a week. He was generous to let us go with him and experience the process. It was a wonderful introduction and I can confidently say my body took quite the beating from that trip.

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Working on a boat is quite the process and ironically reminds me of painting (like everything in my life does). The process and lifestyle of sailing are much apart of sailing as the actual water experience.

Like painting, when you want to paint a picture, for example a rose; there is also a lengthy process. Buying paints, cutting wood, stretching the canvas, preparing work space, mixing colors, creating a vibrant work space, setting up the picture and then finally you paint the background that takes hours and you learn that painting the rose only takes 1 minute. It’s all about process and steps to get to the final piece. That is what is so beautiful about art, sailing and life.

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We are constantly in a process of changing, growing and learning. A process that will never stop. The more we think about life once we finish that rose, once we get a perfect job, or once we become the perfect person, then we lose sight of what life is all about.

We are only here in the moment, and that’s the life we are creating. Tomorrow and next year will come when they come so why not focus on this moment instead?

Process is important, and what I believe defines a persons. I want to see people for who they are in the moment and not by the outcome of who or what they become but rather by how they got there.

One of my not favorite questions to ask people (preferably older people) is what was your first job? I love the question, and it’s one that I think people get more excited about then if you ask them what they do right now. Why do we have to be nostalgic about something we want to be doing, or dreaming of? The reality is that we can all be making it come true right now. If you can dream it, you can manifest it.

With tangible analogies like sailing and painting a flower, I am able to see this representation of the way that I want to live my life. It’s not slow, it’s present. It’s not fast, it’s absorbent and meaningful. It’s not comparable, it’s just unique and has its own breathe.

I have learned so much from this sailing world already I can’t wait to actually get out on the water. However now I will work. And the work and wait will be just as fabulous as when we start to sail.

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