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Sailing the good Westerlies on our way to Ancud and Talcahuano


Early hours of the day. Still dark but under a bright moon that is high in the sky, the Westerlies blow strong and the ship sails hard and fast. Beam Reach is her point of sail. An increase in the wind, now blowing in the high 20s and often reaching the low 30 knots, had made us douse and furl the upper staysails and royals, yet she races at more than 10 even 11 kn northwards. 

The watches are thin, of the few voyage crew on board, several are seasick. Motion sickness has got a solid grip on them. But that’s what an Ocean Passage can be, and usually is. The seas grow, the wind blows, the ship jerks and pitches and rolls and heels. The canvas pulls us ahead. Sails that require effort to set and trim, ropes to pull and ease all in an established order, hands called on a deck which is often washed by the waves. And then, it happens. Some start to feel the drowsiness, nausea, unease, and discomfort. For a few it is just for a while or a day, for others it seems that it will take longer to get used to. A feeling that sure many didn’t think of when romanticizing the sailing world, the life at sea, the winds, waves, and the voyages along the Seven Seas. Metaphors, myths, and allegories about the Ocean are just what they are. There is the need to experience, to learn, to confront ourselves with the reality of the Ocean and the ways of a ship, to learn.  

There isn’t any symbolism. The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The sharks are all sharks no better no worse. All the symbolism people say is shit. What goes beyond is what you see beyond when you know. 

Ernest Hemingway. “The old man and the sea” 

A proper sailing wind and a long mileage to cover, not always the most restful and unchallenging life. Seasickness left aside, some other topics to put up with can be the difficulty of sleeping, walking or even dressing in the cabin, the steep curve to learn the ropes, the work on deck, the challenge of the long hours at the wheel… but as Thomas Fuller wrote in his “Gnomologia” “That which is bitter to endure may be sweet to remember” and sure we will all return home with a great and unique baggage of incredible experiences, both after visiting the sheltered waters of Patagonia and Chilean Channels and enduring the ocean features sailing along the open sea.  

Anyway, the rough night gave way to the good weather, the great sailing continued and altogether made for an increasing number of hands to show up, getting more used to the ship's movements and to steer a proper course. Sunshine and slightly better seas in the afternoon welcome more people outside that until now have been below decks. 

The winds become more variable later on, easing down and now we take it more downwind, slight bracing squarer was followed by hoisting the Royals. Along with it came more rolling and less heeling of the ship. The conditions were good enough though for gathering on deck and practice some hands-on sail-training. Right in time for a quick rise of seas and winds, a squall passes by. That made for a more interesting challenge of dousing and setting the Main Royal as a practice. Wind and sea conditions keep gradually decreasing during the rest of the day, our speed drops, now barely reaching the 6, 5, 4kn. Plans are to arrive to Ancud, at the northern shores of Chiloé Island by tomorrow midday. Slowing down as we are, steering straight is important to keep some speed and also the routing, timings sails or use of the engine have to be looked at in the wheelhouse to try to attain this schedule. 

Written by:
Jordi Plana Morales | Expedition Leader

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