Patagonia, Chile – Seno Glacier

February 20, 2024 we motored as the sun emerged from a week long sleep. Ahead was the most exquisite sight I have ever seen. Words cannot do justice for what we saw. The Seno Glacier, one of Patagonia’s jewels. From a distance the glacier looked white. Upon closer inspection it was varying colours of blue, from light blue to cobalt.

We anchored Synchronicity and launched the dinghy to get a closer look. The bergie bits, broken off from the glacier were miniature works of art.

We found a small piece of ice about the size of a dinner plate floating. We scooped it up and have it safely tucked away in our little freezer for when we can share it with our family.

After our breathtaking visit of the Seno Glacier we settled back on Synchronicity to let the beauty of this place sink in.

This cascading falls kept us company overnight at anchor. A truly magical place.


Nightmare Passage: Easter Island to Valdivia, Chile

Easter Island anchorage hanging out with the big boys 

We had been nervous about the passage from Easter Island to
mainland Chile for some time before the trip. While in Ecuador Dave
brought up that this passage would be challenging, because of the
variable winds and the succession of lows that pass through the
area.  Little did we know just how difficult it would be. The
challenges actually began before we even left Easter Island, as the
anchorages there were untenable.   

After one week spent at Easter Island we decided to get out of
dodge! During our short stay at Easter Island we fought terrible
anchorages, spending the majority of our time circling the island
looking for sheltered waters. Even the town came with a surf
landing. On Sept 11, 2023 we cut our visit short and prepared to
check out for Valdivia, Chile. We radioed the Armada and in Dave’s
Spaglish (a little Spanish and a little more English) we asked to
check out. We were told to meet the Armada ashore at noon.  We waited for the Armada (Customs) ashore for 3 hours. Eventually we called the Armada on the radio to enquire why they hadn’t met us. After a confusing radio conversation (with our beginner Spanish) the Armada sent a police car to pick us up and drive us to their office. They finally gave us a zarpe (necessary paperwork to clear out of Easter Island) for Valdivia, Chile.  

After checking out we had a wild dinghy ride back to our boat with
a squall providing too much wind raining down upon us, and waves
splashing continually over the dinghy.  

Returning after the dinghy ride ashore to Synchronicity.
Time to go!  

Easter Island hadn’t finished with us yet. We had one more go
around with freeing our anchor from the bottom. In the large swell
the chain fouled on the rock and coral causing the boat to snub up
hard. We had put a float on the anchor in hopes of ensuring we could
free the anchor when the time came. While using the boat hook to
snag the float, a large swell came through burying the float below
the water level. The boat rose up, the float stayed under, and the
boat hook pulled the float out of Dave’s hand.  With these kinds
of conditions, we feared upping the anchor could tear our windlass
off the boat. We had to work on the anchor for quite a while to free
the chain.  Pulling this way and that with huge swells snubbing the
chain tight, we eventually got free and were able to recover the
anchor. At 4:30 p.m. Monday, Sept 11, 2023 we upped our anchor and
set sail for Valdivia, Chile.  

We hired Commander Weather to provide forecasts for what we knew
was going to be a somewhat challenging passage. What we didn’t
know was how challenging! Commander Weather forecast said it looked good for four days with some weather late in the week to keep an eye on. We had three days of decent sailing with the wind on the beam and the sun out. 

Commander Weather Forecast 

Commander then told us to go south for a day to avoid a front.
Wind came with the front right on the nose, so we sailed due south
very slowly for a day. Eventually we turned back to be on course and
the wind was ahead of the beam. Second forecast from Commander
Weather said we would get 40 kts of wind. In that period, we had
squalls with 40 kts, and other squalls with hail. The sky was
without light, hues from gray to black adding to the dread we felt.
Night was worse with visibility being poor and waves breaking over
us. And the temperatures started to drop. Clothing layers were

Every day the squalls lined up like soldiers ready to pummel us
with their intense wind. We started looking at these weather bombs
as constant weather, not squalls, since they hit one after another. 

Squally Skies 

Our windvane, Windy was a solid and reliable third hand. When a
small period of calm arrived, we tried to use the autopilot. It was
acting up once again, even after bleeding it to remove any air.
During this passage our one-year-old wind generator blew up and quit
working, so Dave tied it down. When the wind lessened Dave released
the generator and then it blew up again. Once again Dave tied it
down. The next forecast from Commander said gusts to 50. Commander said go north to avoid a cold front which would have made us fight to get south to Valdivia. We ignored Commander’s advice and held our course. Our daughter Leah was also providing weather info to us. She agreed we should hold our course. That night we went through the front. Winds were high but were on the stern and we were able to sail it. The next day we realized we had gone through the front anthe weather opened up with winds finally looking favourable. Davsaid it was a miracle. At times I was so worried and prayed all would be well, and then twice we saw rainbows. Those rainbows were a sign that gave me reassurance we were going to be ok. 

We relied on Starlink for internet as well as our InReach to chart
our course. Once a day we turned on Starlink and heard from our
family. It was a highlight to our day. Electronics are challenged in
boat environments. Our iPad and iPhone started to act up due to the
continual moisture. Neither wanted to charge. This was followed by a
loss of internet and satellite for three days. We felt sick. Leah
was used to hearing from us daily. She was our communication person.
After day 3 our Starlink and InReach miraculously started working
again and we received an InReach message from Leah.  

It said, “I decided I would wait a week before contacting the
Chilean navy. I figured that would be as much time as you would want
to spend in a liferaft.” I bawled after reading her message. Guilt
filled me that we were causing so much anguish to our family. And
the harsh reality of what could happen sent shivers through my body.

For the most part the waves were strong and crashed relentlessly
into our hull. 15 footers smashed over the cabin top and dodger,
hitting the hull hard numerous times. I often jumped when the hull
was slammed by the water. The waves cascaded over the port side
windows looking like thunderous waterfalls. They had no rhythm.
Swells came in different directions which only added to the chaos.
Movement was treacherous.  

Looking Out From the Port

Sept 18, 2023. We continued to beat into the weather. Commander
Weather forecast was 45 knots that night. I burst into tears. I was
terrified. I was plagued with the thought that I couldn’t do this
anymore. Well, that wasn’t an option. So, I pulled up my big girl
panties. I practiced taking deep breaths and reminded myself of my
coach Pam’s words, “You’ve got this.” Honestly there
wasn’t much I could do other than hang on and pray. We were
sailing with the staysail and a small handkerchief of our jib out.
Daughter Leah sent an email saying: “There are all these moments
you think you won’t survive and then you survive.” – David
Levithan. There was some solace knowing our family was at home in
Vancouver rooting for us. That night winds were as high as 40 kts.
Dave crawled up to the bow and took the staysail down, replacing it
with the tiny storm staysail. We had the drop boards in and relied
on the AIS for shipping during our watches, with occasional popping
our heads over the boards to check for traffic. Fortunately, there
were no ships in the area. We weren’t even halfway to Valdivia.  

Then at one point our rigging came loose – the Cap shroud.
Thankfully, Dave spotted it was slack on the leeward side. It kept
unwinding itself, so he put a wrench on it and taped it to the

Dave Being MacGyver 

We could have lost the rig but thankfully Dave caught it in time. 

With all this water coming over our boat we found leaks everywhere.
The worst was the port side where the stanchion leaked – and the
butyl tape failed. Prior to leaving Canada we rebedded all our
stanchions changing from 5200 to using butyl tape. We learned too
late, that in the extreme Mexican heat the butyl tape melted and
started to squeeze out of the stanchions. Once back in cooler waters
the seals were gone. Salt water poured in behind the stove, through
a locker and onto the floor. I was sponging up puddles three times
an hour. It was very disconcerting. Thankfully, the bilge pumps kept
up and our sponging helped. I hate to think what could have happened
if the bilge pumps broke down. The leaks were everywhere. Leaks in
the aft cabin caused our bedding to get wet. I made hammocks of
plastic and wrapped our soggy mattress in plastic so we could still
sleep there off watch. Unfortunately, that didn’t last as the
water seeped in again. We were down to a couple of small dry
blankets that we used on the port side of the boat on our curved
settee. Sometimes we slept laying down, sometimes sitting up.
Sometimes the motion was so violent we couldn’t sleep. 

Catching Some of the Leaks 

Dave Sleeping in the Last Dry Spot 

Mary Trying to Stay Warm and Dry and Sleep  

We discovered the port side aft cabin locker where I stored all the
eggs also leaked, shelves were wet the whole trip. A ceiling leak in
the galley almost took out the light. Fortunately, Dave spotted the
light filled with water, and got it drained before the light burned
out. The light under our dodger turned itself on because it was full
of water.  That light was discovered too late to save.  It seemed at
times everywhere you looked water was leaking into the boat.  

At one point the motion was so bad with the leaks everywhere. I
turned to Dave and asked him if we were going to die. I didn’t
really think we were going to but it had crossed my mind and I
needed to hear him say no. He turned to me and with a big hug said
no we would be ok. Somehow that was a little reassuring. Dave
offered the option of turning around and heading back to Ecuador. I
looked at him incredulously. I said no way were we going all that
way back! Miraculously even though the motion was the worst we have encountered I never once got seasick – and I didn’t even take
seasick medicine. I even managed to cook most days. Instant noodles
became our go-to lunch. At one point the stove stuck under full
gimbal. That was a first. A few of the day’s meals were cold as it
was too dangerous to cook.  

Stove gimballed to the max

We stuck to our three-hour watches. Three hours on, three hours
off. The motion (yes worth repeating again) on Synchronicity was
excessive, ongoing and relentless. In over 30 years of sailing
(including a world circumnavigation) we have never seen motion like
this. No matter what you did you had to hold on. I gripped so hard
to stay upright that I ended up with blisters and then callouses on
my hands. No movement could be made without a tight grip on a handhold, and a plan where to grasp next. Going to the head (bathroom) required gymnastics, balance and sheer strength just to hold on as the boat plunged. Plus patience as I would inch along to get to the head and strip off my pants. I’ve often thought in these
conditions a tail could be very useful. 

Mary’s Hand  

My body ached from bracing myself when doing any movement. One
night as I opened our aft cabin door, a large wave hit. Before I
knew what was happening I came flying out the door and was thrown 6 feet across to the galley, hitting my head on our stove and sliding
to the floor. I sat on the wet floor taking stock of my body hoping
nothing was broken. Tears streamed down my face. My shoulder hurt,
the back of my head had a bump, my thigh and back were bruised.
Thankfully nothing was broken, except maybe my pride.  

For almost the whole trip we had a triple reef main and storm
staysail. At times we could unfurl a little of the genoa to help
with the speed. During the worst of it we sailed with a tiny
handkerchief of a storm staysail. The winds pushed us north. Then
came one more miracle. As we approached the Chilean coast slowly the skies lightened and the sun peaked out.  The wind clocked, and we
were able to sail directly to Valdivia with a couple of better
sailing days bringing us to our destination.  

When we finally arrived in Valdivia, Dave said this passage was
more of a challenge than he ever thought it would be. Yet, we made
it after 19 mostly terrifying days. These 19 days brought us closer
as a couple and a team. 

Happy Dave as We Enter the River to Valdivia, Chile 

Happy Mary as We Enter the River to Valdivia, Chile  

Oh and our wind generator…we sent it back to the manufacture.
They said they had never seen anything like it. In the
manufacture’s words the wind generator had “catastrophic
failure”. I wonder what the winds really were at times. Maybe it
is better that we don’t know. I think we are done with long
passages in the variables for a while…

Easter Island to Valdivia Passage Track