s/y Nine of Cups
Coast Hopping in Chile
December 2005 - February 2006
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Republica de Chile

Capital: Santiago
Population: ~16  million (2005 estimate)
Land Area: ~292,260 sq mi (about 2x the size of Montana)
Highest Peak: Nevado Ojos del Salado (22,572')
Political units: 13 regions
Language: Spanish (Castellano)
Currency:  Peso...currently ~530 pesos = $1USD
Exports: Copper and minerals; seafood, wine and fresh produce.
Arica...Chile's First Port
The prominent headland El Morro is one of the
first things you spot from the sea and figures
predominantly into the view ashore. Battles
have been fought atop it and now it's an
historical monument with a wonderful lookout,
park and museum on the top which we visited.
A pedestrian mall in the center of town
offers restaurants, boutiques and artisans.
From the top of El Morro, we photographed
the anchorage comprised primarily of fishing
boats, Nine of Cups was the only sailboat in the
harbor and one of few visiting yachts in 2005.
The Iglesia San Marcos on the plaza is a
Gustave Eiffel design, fabricated in Paris,
shipped in pieces  and erected here in 1876.
Familia Delgado Celis...Jorge, Oriana and
4-year old Javiera became good friends. Jorge,
a member of the Chilean Coast Guard, was a
most gracious host, showing us the city of
Arica and sharing both his home and family
with us.
There were lots of sea lions here. They barked
us into the harbor and the anchorage and
continued to entertain us throughout our visit.
From Arica, we took a daytrip to Lago Chungara in Lauca
National Park...from sea level to 15,000' in a matter of a few
hours. The scenery was fantastic as you can see. The
altiplano region differed greatly from the arid desert coastline
we had become accustomed to. It snowed while we were
there and Marcie made good use of a scarf purchased from
a local artisan. A view of the Lago Chungara above.
There are four members of the camelid family indigenous to the
Andes. We had already seen the domesticated alpaca and llama
many times. We spotted wild vicuñas in Ecuador and Peru. It
wasn't until Parque Lauca, however, that we finally saw the
fourth member...the elusive guanaco, pictured above.
This was an interesting town to
visit. That's David in the photo
to the left in the red shirt,
enjoying the morning sun and a
cup of coffee at a sidewalk cafe.
To the right, an interesting town
clock on the beautiful Plaza
Pratt. Iquique has the dubious
honor of shipping more fishmeal
than any other port in the world.
San Pedro de Atacama
We trekked along the dunes in the Atacama
Desert, appreciating outstanding views in the
driest place on earth. Some areas of this desert
have not had any recorded rainfall in the past
400 years!
We took a land trip to San Pedro de
Atacama, a small, dusty (touristy) oasis
town in the middle of the Atacama
The terrain of the Valle de la Luna was
rugged and red and reminded us of the
Southwest U.S.
We continued south staying a few days
here and a few days there depending
on the weather, the wind and our
whims. We visited Antofagasta,
Mejillones, Taltal and Cifuncho. Each
town has something unique to offer,
something interesting to see. Without
exception, the Chilean people have
been warm, friendly and helpful. We
are sometimes overwhelmed by their
generous hospitality
Mejillones del Sur
The Port Captain's office in the pretty little town
of Mejillones del Sur was once a working
San Pedro de Caldera, the patron saint of this
little town, watches over the harbor. We
really liked his seahorse.
Isla Damas
Located only a few miles offshore, Isla
Damas is a 60 hectare metamorphic
outcrop and part of Chile's national park
system. We anchored off the beach and
dinghied ashore. There was a small
network of well-defined trails lined in
shells criss-crossing the island. The desert
was in bloom when we arrived and the
flowers were astounding in colors of
pink, yellow, red, orange and purples.
Left, one of the many cactus in bloom.
Right, Cups at anchor off Isla Damas.
We stayed several weeks at anchor at
the Yacht Club in LaHerradura,
Coquimbo. It wasn't the plan, but then
plans are always subject to change.
David had some medical issues to be
handled (we found Chilean medical care
to be excellent) and some business back
in the U.S. prompted a trip home in
November 2005.

Right, Crux del Tercer Milenio (Cross of
the Third Millenium), is nearly 100
meters tall and overlooks the city.
At anchor at Yacht Club La Herradura,
Not to be confused with the critter of
the same name, we visited the little
town of Vicuna by bus from
Coquimbo. The whole area known as
the Elqui Valley, is rich and fertile and
home to an inordinate number of
vineyards. The town is also home to
the Gabriela Mistral museum, Chile's
Nobel prize winning poet and
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Talcahuano / Concepcion
We returned from the States at the end of
November and left Coquimbo within
days, hoping to make it to Puerto Montt
for Christmas. Adverse current and
stubborn southerly winds worked against
us. When we knew we couldn't make
Puerto Montt, we thought maybe
Valdivia...after heaving-to for several
days in our fruitless attempt to make some
southerly progress, we finally pulled into
Talcahuano 2 days before Christmas.

We anchored the first night with the
fishing boats and enjoyed a spectacular
sunset. Talcahuano is the headquarters of
the Chilean Armada and they hailed us
early the next morning and invited us to
stay at their Naval Yacht Club.

Christmas Eve was spent in the
neighboring city of Concepcion, gathering
provisions for Christmas dinner...a small,
smoked turkey and all the trimmings
including cranberry sauce hand carried
from the States. We didn't have a
Christmas tree, but found a lovely
bouquet of bright red glads to add some
color to the holiday...and according to
Jelly, some really good smells.

Christmas Day was quiet, but lovely. With
difficulty, we found a phone and called
home.  Two days after Christmas, we
headed south once again.
David looks at the "Huascar", a Peruvian
battleship captured by the Chileans in the War of
the Pacific.
Shearwaters line the boom of an
unoccupied sailboat in the yacht club.
Jelly takes time to "smell the roses"...I mean glads.
Spectacular Talcahuano sunset.
Vineyard view
Town clock on the plaza in Vicuna.
Continue with us on our journey when we
finally reach Puerto Montt and begin our
voyage through the canals of
Recommended reading...
  • Travels in a Thin Country: A
    Journey Through Chile  by
    Sara Wheeler ... a fun read!
Interesting Chile facts...
  • The country is long and skinny with nearly 2,700 miles of coastline, the distance between San
    Francisco and New York. It is over 10 times as long as it is wide, but is only about 265 miles
    wide at its widest point.
  • Copper is the most valuable resource and export. Chile has about a fifth of the world's known
    copper reserves and ranks as the world's leading copper-producing nation.  Chuquicamata in
    the Atacama Desert is the largest open-pit copper mine in the world.  The world's largest
    underground copper mine, El Teniente, lies southeast of Santiago.
  • Chile's name probably comes from chilli, an indigenous word meaning “where the land
  • About 250,000 Araucanians form the largest indigenous group in Chile.
  • Chile lies along a major earthquake belt and is frequently struck by earthquakes and huge
    destructive waves…tsunamis.  The largest earthquakes have been in 1922 – Central Chile
    8.5 on the Richter scale and in 1960 Southern Chile, 9.5 on the Richter scale.
More South America?