2019 was a pretty amazing year for Zephyros and her crew. In all, we sailed over 10,300nm. We began the year with about 900nm remaining on our passage across the Atlantic Ocean. Arrival in Martinique was quite sweet as we dropped anchor just before dark and began to savor the accomplishment. We then spent almost 4 months sailing in the Caribbean Sea with friends and family. New friends were made as we often sailed with other "kid boats" and old relationships were reinvigorated as friends and family visited and sailed with us as well. We enjoyed the easy life in the Caribbean with beautiful weather, easy provisioning, great snorkeling in warm waters, fantastic inland adventures, and plenty of good restaurants and drinking holes when we wanted a break from life aboard. Magical memories include our explorations of Antigua and Barbuda, the US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.
In April we made the sail from the USVI to Panama, and then transited the Panama Canal. The canal transit was another surreal adventure that we had a chance to enjoy with friends aboard and tied alongside. From there, the Pacific beckoned, as did our friends who tried to sell us on joining the great run across the Pacific to New Zealand. After taking time to explore the Pacific side of Panama a little, we sailed to windward to the Galapagos where we bid farewell to the last two kid boats we had been sailing with off and on since meeting in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. The Galapagos we're certainly special and a place that Daxton had really wanted to visit. Our plan was to sail next to Easter Island, but the weather window closed and we headed to mainland Ecuador instead.
In Ecuador, we again met new friends, had the chance to enjoy a resort for weeks almost entirely to ourselves, and made our first trip into the magical Andes. A couple of long ocean passages followed as we sailed out to Easter Island and then on to mainland Chile. The Moai of Easter Island were spectacular, and we had the opportunity to spend a week with them. The anchorage was rocky, but the experiences made it totally worthwhile. When the winds began to change, we sailed for Patagonia.
I first learned that Patagonia existed when I was about Ronan's age. The early Patagonia catalogs were a gateway and inspired my dreams. I always wanted to see it for myself, and sailing here was part of the vision when we began planning to take the family off on this voyage of discovery. When we reached the Chilean mainland we proceeded through the Chacao Canal (channel), and anchored in the Gulf of Ancud south of Puerto Montt to sleep and recover from our passages. Recharged after a couple of nights, we slipped around the island that sheltered our anchorage, and saw the mountains of Northern Patagonia for the first time. It was a dream realized, and the start of a whole new adventure and style of sailing.
Northern Patagonia was easy sailing with frequent small towns scattered amongst pristine wilderness marked only by salmon pens and muscle farms. As we moved into the heart of Patagonia, we found ourselves sailing all alone through narrow canals and gaping at sublime wilderness scenery knowing that if the clouds ever opened the views of the peaks would be spectacular as were the glimpses we were allowed. We are now used to stern tying into narrow caletas each night, and have become spoiled by the absolutely still anchorages (even when the winds gust over 40 knots). Another visit from a friend brought us welcomed parts, company, and sunshine before we headed further south and really left all civilization behind as we sailed to the San Rafael Laguna to visit our first tidal glacier. The growlers, bergy bits, icebergs and calving glacier were all amazing.
We spent Christmas Eve in a remote anchorage alongside the first other cruising boats we had encountered since leaving Puerto Montt. Christmas day we visited another tidal glacier, and on New Year's Eve we visited the massive Pio XI glacier, the only growing glacier in the region, and a true behemoth of flowing ice.
Over the course of 2019, the boys really have grown. Ronan is now standing at Megan's nose. Both boys are eating more provisions than we can carry from the store. The boys still aren't doing much sail handling, and getting them started on the dishes still requires prompting, but they have begun standing night watches from inside the pilot house on passages by themselves (with a ready parent dozing in the salon). When we stern tie, Ronan calls out ranges to shore, then controls the anchor while Daxton secures the shorelines and their slings to the trees, then carefully pays out the two lines as I row us to the boat. They lift the crab trap on their own in search of treasured delicacies, and often row off to explore a beach or small isle in the anchorage. Their school work is becoming more complicated, and they spend long hours reading on their own.
Amongst all these great high points, there have also been some of life's inevitable lows. Megan's father and my Grandmother past away. We discovered new things that could go wrong on a boat, and fought the usual battles to fix things in paradise without parts. There were the occasional fights over schoolwork, cleaning the boat, and all living in the same small space.
And so, here we are at the start of 2020. We still haven't decided our sailing plan for the year. We may stay in Patagonia for another year, or sail on to the Falklands, the middle Atlantic islands, and back to France and Northern Europe. The sun is now out in full force, my jacket is off, I've gybed a few times, the wind has died, I've started the engine and taken in sails, a sea lion is frolicking to port and another dolphin dances to starboard as I gaze at the incredible 360 degree view of incredible, majestic, untouched wilderness. The adventure will continue, and we will continue to grow as sailors, ambassadors, environmentalists, people, and citizens of this amazing world. It's a story we will continue to share in our posts to svzephyros.com, Facebook and Instagram when we can. We thank you all for following along this epic journey with us! Special thanks to those who have inspired, enabled, supported, and joined us along the way. Have a great 2020!
Best wishes, Jon and crew
Sent via Iridium from the wilds of Patagonia.