I was fortunate enough to sail throughout the Chilean channels for a second time. The sailboat was called “Imvubu” (significance is a hippopotamus in Zulu). It’s a 54 foot South African steel boat that was only launched 5 years ago.
Owner Ralf Dominick offered my friend Jimmy and I positions to crew in exchange for food and lessons in sailing.
Swells swimming in from the open ocean push us to 1.9 knots and gusts of 45 knots against the currents and winds. Up and down. I feel thankful I don’t get seasick.
Patagonia is breathtakingly beautiful, with waters tinted a pale glacier green and mountains soaring and diving into the sea with mossy patches and happy green trees.
My favourite part of sailing is when we are not moving. Anchored in a cove. This is the best part.
One can hear all around the nature untouched and vibrant. The thick smell of the trees dancing with the shoreline. The sea mixing with the heavy winds creating a whimsical misty spray that follows the design of the erratic shifting winds.
The sounds are chilling as birds voices echo throughout the forests and the stillness of the bays and coves consume one with purity of the air and open sky. If your lucky you can see pockets in clouds with striking stars in all their radiance and beauty with sometimes their only chance to say hello.
Weather changes quickly and the cove is alive. Alive with chaotic calmness as this change is frequent and can send the boat dancing with the clanky anchor chain.
Sailing is not as romantic as one may believe.
Sailing takes a toll on your body as energy used to maintain balance is sucked away and one can feel helpless and useless at times. Sleeping becomes a routine in the daytime and eating becomes a highlight. The romance lies in the seam of the nighttime and the assurance in being sewed back together in the stillness.
I learned a new language while sailing. New manoeuvres, parts and functions of a sailboat. Not only that but the importance of wind direction, strength, wind angle, and interaction with the boat. Navigation, meteorology, currents, cloud patterns, and air all play a vital role. You must be constantly aware yet the slow pace of the boat makes you want to drift to sleep. It’s quite the difficult balancing act.
5 am or 6 am we wake up and anywhere from 6 pm to 11 we arrive to a cove to anchor for the night. Dinner, a drink and off to sleep. It’s become routine but almost mundane. No sailing is not as romantic as they say.
45-80 Nautical miles a day, 8, 10 and sometimes 12 hour days.
Coffee and tea become quite the treat, as it takes time to make such a thing. When you have a warm cup and are in the crispy wet conditions it can warm a heart and body right up!
Try cooking in conditions with open water swells and strong winds blowing. It takes 3-4 times to make anything.
Overall, I don’t get along with sailing too well. I think I prefer meeting new people, walking and exploring.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a wonderful experience but I think I was made for a different lifestyle.
Meanwhile feeling grateful and appreciative for the openness and willingness the sailing world provided for me. There are always lessons to be learned in every experience.
Here is a look inside of the boat!