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Navigation from Quintero to Rapa Nui - Leg to San Felix and San Ambrosio Islands

Captain's log. At sea, Friday, December 1, 2023

El piloto automático, el “Capitán Nemo”
El piloto automático, el “Capitán Nemo”

The sailing after the departure from Quintero was heavy. A relatively relaxed first day was followed by a stressful night with challenging wind and sea conditions. Winds of 25 to 30 knots around the block combined with swell, chaotic ocean waves from the SW and SE. These conditions lasted throughout the day and into the second night.

We carried an autopilot windvane steering system, a highly valued and even revered device aboard sailing yachts that have it and must sail long distances. It is so highly valued that they are often given a name, the Beau Geste's name is "Captain Nemo". The reason behind so much love is that it frees the crew from having to be permanently steering or "steering" the vessel and thus, dedicating more time to contemplation and spiritual development of the crew. It is enough to set an angle to the wind and this device maintains it. Any variation in the wind will require a correction to maintain the course, but on the high seas this can be done without the neatness and sense of urgency that would be required when sailing close to shore.

Well, in the middle of the night and in the middle of this storm, the nut that holds the pilot's vane broke and this, the vane, was miraculously hanging... we were on the verge of losing it. This required a night repair, with a lot of movement and with half a body leaning out of the stern, using tools to remove bolts, glands and nuts that, in circumstances like that, have the dreadful tendency to slip out of our hands and disappear overboard, usually after giving two or three bounces in order to extend the anguish. After several contortions and a good dose of ingenuity, it was very well repaired and our "Captain Nemo" was able to continue doing his job, now with a safety line on the vane.

After this storm, we continued with better conditions, which allowed us to tidy up, eat and rest properly. I was getting used to the rhythm of sailing, a process that usually takes two to three days. Some people take the whole navigation and a few others... never do.

Unfortunately, this time we did not get to see San Felix and San Ambrosio islands, as we passed about 60 miles to the westwest of them. These islands of volcanic origin are part of a submarine system, also integrated by Rapa Nui, Motu Motiro Hiva (Salas Y Gomez), Robinson Crusoe and Alexander Selkirk, along with several submarine elevations that do not reach the surface like these islands.

Capitán Raúl Zapata en la cabina del Beau Geste
Capitán Raúl Zapata en la cabina del Beau Geste

We were in a hurry to reach Rapa Nui in order to participate in the "Taputapuatea" festival, so we had to take advantage of the conditions and route that would take us as fast as possible to the island. The other condition, sailing exclusively under sail. This is not so simple, since these conditions must be searched for and the course or track must be chosen in order to make the most of them to reach our destination.

The days went by without any major news. It strikes me that we had no sightings of cetaceans, only a few birds, which my friend Felipe Araya taught us to identify in the previous stage between Valdivia and Quintero. Perhaps it has to do with the distance we sailed from San Felix and San Ambrosio Islands.

What never ceases to impress me is the color of our ocean, two hundred miles from the coast it turns a pristine blue, contrasting with the very white foam of the crests of the waves. The light blue of the sky completes a very special combination of colors on the horizon, which always evokes beautiful memories and gives me the beautiful feeling of being in the right place.

It was during this stretch that Alfredo Silva informed me that he no longer wanted to continue sailing. Used to going out in the mountains or doing his business for shorter periods and returning home, the challenge of being far away and isolated means a very strong pressure for some.

Anyway, I want to thank Alfredo's valuable contribution to the project and acknowledge the mettle he always showed on board to help and fight, despite being seasick... very well, a true warrior!

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