Surfin safari.

We are currently anchored in an estuary. Bahia de Jaltepeque in El Salvador.

Arcross the penisula on the ocean side there is a pretty shitty surf break, but a couple times a week we will grab the surfboard and head over there with a couple of our friends that are anchored here as well and are surfers too.

Actually, they are surfers. I’m just a person that owns a surfboard at this point. If your friends with me on Facebook, you’ll probably know that I ended up getting six stiches in my lower lip last week in an incredible display of my surfing skills.

A week or two prior to that we all decided we wanted to go surfing somewhere with an actual/good surf break.

So we rented a van and driver. Loaded that up with our boards and headed up the coast about an hour to a little town called El Tunco, which is near La Libertad, El Salvador.

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Our little group is quite the collection of surf/boat bums from around the world.
Tawn & I: USA
Christian & Jay: Chile
Darrin & Jodi: USA
Morgan & Petra: France & Sweden

There is also Gaston and Valentina from Argintina, and Paul from the States, but they did not go on this trip.

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Halfway there some local farmers were protesting the fact that some large corporation left some sort of chemicals laying about and it was leaking in to the ground water and poisoning the farmers and their families. So we had to wait till that ended. I think we made it on the local news though. There were a couple news crews that kept walking by us and just filming us.

“Tonight at 11. Why were these gringos standing around sweating so much…..and how it might effect your family”

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Made it to our hostel and set up camp by noon anyway and had time to go out for some surfing as soon as we got there.

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We unfortunately did not take any pictures of the actual surfing. Sorry about that.

I’ll hit up some of the other crew and see if they can get me some of the pictures they took.

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Backup paper Charts.

Paper charts.

Everyone says they have them, or plan on getting them. I’d be willing to bet that half of those people don’t really have them, and/or never get them. Or, if they actually do have them they are horribly out of date.

I’m solidly in the out of date category myself. But to be honest, computer navigation systems are getting so friggin reliable, robust, AND cheap. Paper charts are becoming more and more backups for your backups.

You could go with a dedicated navigation system like Garmin, or Simrad (Installing this on our boat now), or anyone of the other options available. You could save a bunch of money and go the iPad route and install Navionics. Or do like we did for years and run some version of Navigation software on your laptop, plugged into a handheld GPS. The possibilities are almost endless.

All that being said, stuff on boats get wet. Electrical stuff getting wet, does not equal awesome. So back-up paper charts are still a good idea. One of the major drawbacks to paper charts though is the freakin’ cost. Which probably contributes to why a lot of boaters either don’t have paper charts or “plan” on getting them someday. It sucks paying a few hundred dollars for something you will most likely never use, or are out of date, or you don’t even know how to use properly.

Which brings us to the reason for this post. I was poking around NOAA’s website the other day and found they have an experimental program going on. Check it out here. The booklet format is experimental, not the charts. :)

Quote from the website:

The NOAA BookletChart™ is an experimental product that you can print at home for free. They are made to help recreational boaters locate themselves on the water.
The Booklet Chart is reduced in scale and divided into pages for convenience, but otherwise contains all the information of the full-scale nautical chart. Bar scales are also reduced in scale, but are accurate when used to measure distances in a BookletChart. Excerpts from the United States Coast Pilot are included. Most chart notes are consolidated on a single page for easy reference. Emergency information for the charted area is printed on the back cover.

Printable charts from NOAA are not a new thing. What is new is the booklet format. Click the region and sub regions you want, download them as .pdfs and print them out at home or work. Or go to something like Fedex.com’s online printing have it printed out and bound for around $30 per booklet. Which is a lot cheaper than than buying all those charts the old school way. And they will be up to date.

The really nice bit, is that in this format, each edge of the map is marked so you know which page to flip to.

Being a bit of map geek. I prefer to plot/navigate on the old school, large charts. But having these booklets on board as a back up is great/cheap alternative to spending tons of cash on charts for regions you are just passing through.

Posted in Maps, tools | Leave a comment

Finally!! I posted the photos from our Trip to Chile.

I really dropped the ball on this one. It’s been four months since our trip to Chile. I had meant to include a bit of a write up of the trip, but I just kept putting it off, until we get to now.

I uploaded all the pictures to our Flickr account. You can view the full collection of photos from the whole trip here.

I broke them up in to small sets, based roughly on the town or area we stayed in. I’ll break them down a little below. The order they are listed below is the order we visited them. Starting on October 9th and returning home on November 2nd 2009.

Sorry if this update is so short and not up to my usual witty standards. :P

Santiago: Link to pictures

Our first stop was the Capitol of Chile, and the largest city in the country (+5 million). We were completely exhausted after flying 13 hours from Seattle to Atlanta, then Atlanta to Santiago. But we took a bus from the airport to downtown and then jumped on the subway and explored the city. We did not really want to spend much time in Santiago. As in our view, big cities are big cities. But we did have 8 hours to kill before our bus south to Puerto Montt left.

We traveled from our home in Seattle to Puerto Montt, Chile. Which as the crow flies is a distance of over 6800 miles. But only actually walked probably less than a mile to get there!

  • Walk a hundred yards from our boat to the parking lot and into a car.
  • Get out of the car and walk another couple hundred yards into the Seattle airport and to the terminal.
  • Sit all the way to Atlanta, then walk from one terminal to another, a distance of another hundred yards or so.
  • Sit all the way to Chile, walk out to a shuttle bus, get off that bus and on to another and sit all, until we get to Puerto Montt.

All told, we could not have walked more than a mile. Not sure why I find this so interesting?

Puerto Montt: Click here for pictures

After sleeping most of the overnight trip from Santiago to Puerto Montt (11 hours) on the most comfortable bus in the world, we showed up in Puerto Montt around 10am. We spent the next two days exploring the town and getting used to the way things worked here.  This process actually took longer than a few days. But we had to start somewhere.

Isle Chiloe: Click here for pictures

We rented a car in Puerto Montt for a week and drove all over this large island. The largest island in Chile, maybe even South America. We stayed in a number of little towns, Quellon, Castro, Ancud. And visited many others. By the time we turned in this little rental, I sorta felt bad. We drove the shit out of that thing. And I think that the car was actually the guys personal car that he rented to us. Not some random rental car. It was a little expensive, renting cars anywhere in Chile is. But we thought this would be the best way to see the most of the island.

Puerto Varas: Click here for pictures

After leaving the island, we drove to a town named Puerto Varas, which is north of Puerto Montt about 15 miles. The town sits on the southern tip of a large lake named Lago Llanquihue (pronounced Yankeeway). Very cool little city with a heavy german influence.

Mount Osorno: Click here for photos

Still having the car, we drove east from Puerto Varas to hike around a very large, very active volcano named Mount Osorno. The volcano was covered in clouds most of the day, but just as we were about to turn back, the clouds cleared and we got some awesome photos.

Frutillar: Click here for photos

This was another very small town on the shore of Lago Llanquihue, again very heavily influenced by german immigrants.

Valdivia: Click here for photos

After returning the rental car, we started taking the buses everywhere. It is very cheap and they go everywhere. For the longer trips we took the more comfortable buses with the larger bus companies. (Pullman, Turbus). And would take the local buses for trips around town or to closer towns. Valdivia is on the coast. We visited a few old forts that protected the city from pirates way back in the day and also stopped off at the Kuntsman brewery for dinner and some local beer.

We also saw what had to be the largest freaking sea lion in the world.

San Baralocia, Argentina: Click here for photos

When we came down here we had just over 3 weeks total. And no schedule or plan. So, for what ever reason, we decided to take a bus from Valdivia to San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina. We figured, we were all the way down here, might as well take a visit to Argentina. Bariloche is a ski town and much more touristy than the other places we’d visited so far. But it was a very cool town. And as you can see from the pictures, the modeled themselves after a typical swiss alps villages. Again, heavy on the german/swiss influences here.

Osorno: Click here for photos

Prior to our trip down, Tawn had been email back and forth with a british couple that had sailed from Britian down here to Chile 15 years ago. They had sold their boat and bought a chunk of land and started a ranch/b & b. We had planned on stopping there for a few days to meet them and visit. But the guy was going through some medical stuff and they were up in Santiago. They thought they would be home while we were there, but were unsure of the dates. So we started moving in their direction and visiting towns and areas along the way in case we could setup a visit.

It turned out we never did get to meet them.

Pucon: Click here for photos

This town was a very cool town. Sitting on the shore of a large lake. It reminded me a lot of a mountain town in Colorado. A lot of outdoor tourism goes on here. Just about anything you can imagine. White water rafting, kayaking, mt biking, hiking, horse back riding, motor cycle tours, zip lines. They had it all here. We rented some mountain bikes and took a ride on day and took a bus tour up to some natural hot springs on another day.

You probaly also notice we have a lot of pictures of random dogs. Chile loves their street dogs. Every town has a crap load of them. They are all friendly, dirty as hell, but very well fed. Some are owned by people and some seem to just belong to a certain neighborhood. Out of all the street dogs, we liked the ones here in Pucon the best. Not sure why.

Constitution: Click here for photos

Leaving Pucon, we decided that since we were running out of time. We would head north and visit some towns in the famous wine regoin of Chile. This would also get us a little closer to Santiago, so we would not have to take a huge 11 hour bus ride again.

We decided on going to a town called Talca. To me the funniest thing about this town, was people kept asking us why we came to Talca. They could tell we were americans. I guess Talca was not high on the list of tourist spots in Chile. On our first day in Talca we jumped on a crowded bus and headed to the Town of Constitucion. Which is on the coast. Sort of a small coastal town, and we really had no idea what to expect. But after walking around abit, we found these very cool caves and a HUGE rock outcropping.

We were told to take the train back. We did, that in and of it’self was a very interesting ride. When we saw the train, I thought it was an old piece of shit and kept wondering when the real train would show up. We sat in the back and the lady checking tickets kept coming back and yelling at me for opening the back door of the train to take pictures.

Talca: Click here for photos

As I mentioned, the main reason we went to Talca, was to visit some of the wineries. But it turned out that the day we were there was  national holiday and all the wineries were closed. Booo!

So on our second to last day in Chile, we jumped on a bus and went out to a national park and went for a hike.

We jumped on a (nice) train the next day to Santiago. We wandered around town checking things out before jumping on our flight that night.

Posted in Adventures, CB, Chile, Maps, Tawn | Leave a comment

Big trip to Canada. Day 31

Sunday-Monday August 10th-11th:

This is it, the last post of the long ass vacation posts.

This morning we had a choice to make. Actually we had a couple, but after the breakfast and coffee choices were made we were down to one biggie. We did not have to be back to work until Wednesday, and it was only Sunday. We could head all the way back to seattle from Port Townsend (about 35 miles) or we could half the distance and stay in Port Ludlow and head home on Monday or Tuesday. We decided we did’nt want the vacation to end just yet, so we headed to Port Ludlow for the night and would go back to Seattle on Monday. This would give us a day to get the boat unpacked and easy back into city life…..whatever that means.

Port Ludlow is not a bad place, some people love it. Mostly old people it seems. But to me, it’s the last stop of our last two cruises. So it makes it even more crappy.

Ghost followed us down and we had one last dinner aboard Palarran.

I do have to mention that people on boats are wierd when it comes to anchoring. I don’t know if it is their insecurity about their skills at anchoring their boat. Or maybe its their herd mentality. Or maybe they just assume that because your already anchored, you must know something that they do not and want to follow your lead. But more times than not, when your anchored somewhere in a large bay, with tons of room. Someone will come along and drop anchor as close to you as possible. This happened in Port Ludlow, amoung other places.

I understand it if the anchorage is small, I understand it if the anchorage is crowded. I understand it if there are some spots in the anchorage with poor holding. But in this case the anchorage had exactly 4 boats in it. We were one of them. Ghost was another and anchored about 200 yards way. Another boat was behind us another 200 yards way and a fourth boat Waaaaaay over on the other side of the anchorage.

And just so you don’t think I”m over reacting and to let you know just how big this anchorage is, I measured it with google maps. And being very conservitive with the area I would consider anchorable, I came up with 116 acres. Thats a big area. Depending on wind and weather this number could grow or shrink, but it’s a fair number.

So with 116 acres of water to choose from the SS ‘No Personal Space’ comes in and drops anchor right in front of us. His stern was 50 feet from our bow. 50 feet!! 116 acres of room to anchor and 3 other boats to fuck with and he drops anchor 50 from us. Why?? It’s the equivient of going to a movie in a empty theater and having the only other person in the theater coming in and sitting right next to you.

No harm no foul guess and it’s not illegal, I just don’t know why people do it.

Anyway, after raising anchor the next morning we headed south for home. No wind at all so it was alot of motoring.

As we rounded Point No Point the Seattle Skyline came in to view. BOOOOOO! It was over. The vacation was done. We had a blast, did’nt break too much stuff and saw some freakin AWESOME sights. And learned alot about our little boat and what she can handle, and what we can handle as well.

The pictures I posted in all these updates are only a fraction of the pictures we took. Follow the links below for more pics, vids and the map of the trip.

THE END!

Next up, Underwater boat maintenance.

Posted in Adventures, Big trips, Canada Trip, CB, Maps, Palarran | 2 Comments