Staying at the large and safe mooring at La Punta, Callao with Yacht Club Peruano was a pleasure. The staff and the members were very friendly. We had electricity at the mooring and there was a 24 hour water taxi service which made shopping etc. easy. Callao is a very busy port close to Lima, and the two cities are grown together and houses more than 10 mill inhabitants. Both cities have interesting old buildings and museums. Inside the city of Lima there are e.g. still remains from and Inca pyramid.
All during my stay I had exceptionally support and help from my friend, the local Seven Seas Cruising Association representative Mr. Gonzalo Ravago, without whom it would have been very difficult to get to the right persons, contacts, and shops for repair and special supplies. Also he really made up for the expensive check -in and -out bureaucracy where an agent must be used, and made the process smooth and more relaxed.
Peru is not a country many cruisers visit, but it is a pity, because I have never visited a country / culture so rich and with such variety as here. The roots of these people go back many thousands of years and it is little known how this part of the world developed their culture and existence to a higher level than the peoples in the then known world at the same time. One must travel here to see and experience to believe it oneself. This is not a travel guide, so I will only let some of the pictures taken during my tour around in Peru give you an impression of this fantastic place. Fortunately the people here are very friendly and helpful, and the tour guides are well educated and experienced, so it is easy to share this adventure.
Passage from Peru to Chile
We left early Friday the 13th of August. I followed the general and best suggestion from the “passage planner program” in choosing the route. This program uses the Pilot Charts as basis. I expected wind strengths and directions to be similar to what we had experienced when sailing down the northern coast of Peru. At departure there were no bad weather to see on the weather sights looked at, and with good distance between the isobars no warning signs came to surface. When being out at sea I counted on receiving the weather faxes from Valparaiso, but as it turned out only got them much closer to the Chilean shore.
The first 18 hours where we sailed a course of approx 200˚ were quite good, and the strategy was to make an easterly tack further south, but suddenly we ran into a storm which lasted for a whole week. A counter current of 2 kts, winds against as well between 35 and up to 50 kts, and short steep waves of 4-6 m with breakers on top of the swell. Before we managed to reef the jib a seam was ripped open, so it was furled in, and was not needed at the time. Out came the stay sail, and 3 reefs in the main. The waves were very violent and the boat was pushed around and almost stopped when we hit them even with a quite high speed. Climbing up a 6 m breaker with 1 m green water on the fore deck and falling down with a big bang on the backside was exhausting for the crew, the boat, and the rigging day after day. We managed reasonably for a while until another seam was ripped open in the triple reefed main sail, which meant that it had to come down as well. – The try sail was in the bottom of the fore peak, since I didn’t expect to use it on this trip, and it was not realistic to reach it with so much water and waves on the fore deck.
At this point I realized that without the main sail or try sail I no longer had the option to hive too, and wait for better conditions. Going with the weather and take out the try sail of the fore peak was possible, but I estimated it under the conditions would take 6 hours to make it in operation, risking filling the fore peak with water, and also loosing approx 60 Nm for which we later would have to fight a couple of days to regain. OK, I thought with 1500 l diesel still in the tanks, we can motor the 950 Nm directly to Valparaiso, the nearest harbor for checking into Chile. After experiencing that the SOG with moderate fuel consumption against the elements only amounted to 2-3 kts, it was easy to see that we would never be able to reach Valparaiso this way. During this motoring where the auto pilot had great difficulty in steering because of the powerful waves and the low speed, I decided to wait for improvement in the weather for making the necessary sail repairs, and were lucky for a while, that the wind came down to around 35 knots.
It took a full day to repair the main under these conditions. While tied with several lines to the boat, my two crew members did an excellent repair job under very difficult conditions. It was impossible to think of bringing down and do anything to the jib on the fore deck. Later the wind picked up again and stayed in the 40 kt range for a couple of days before it gradually came down in the 30 kt range. With the repaired main, the stay sail, and the partly unfurled jib plus motoring we managed to reach close to the coast where conditions by that time were calmer and the current much weaker. At that point the cutter stay gave up and broke and a reef line in the main as well, – thanks god it was not during the storm. The rest of the total voyage of 1535 Nm was made by motor, and we reached Valparaiso Wednesday 25th after 12 days at sea and 92 hours of motoring. The fuel left in the tanks was down to only 100 liter.
The fact that we had to fight a constant 2 kts counter current over 1 – 2 thousand Nm, completely changed the scenario. If the weather had been fair the boat speed would have absorbed the current and still have made the voyage good. However with storm wind against, damaged sails etc., and of course limited fuel resources the game was totally different. I can now add another experience to my sailing in bad weather.