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Update for Cruisers Visiting Chile and Argentina

By Sue Richards last modified Dec 29, 2008 12:23 PM

Published: 2008-12-29 12:23:42
Countries: Argentina , Chile

Evans Starzinger and Beth Leonard are currently sailing their yacht "Hawk" from St. Helena to Antigua having successfully completed a voyage to South Georgia. Evans kindly sent noonsite the following update on the situation affecting cruising boats visiting Chile and Argentina.

Changes in Chile
There have been two major changes in the Chilean Armada regulations.

First, while the rule is still on the books, they have stopped asking for insurance papers because they found it difficult to enforce (Armada personal could not tell valid insurance policies from invalid ones).

Second, a command came down from Valdivia "to more closely control the foreign vessels". Each Armada office seems to have interrupted this edict differently.
- In Puerto Montt it has meant that they will no longer issue zarpes all the way to Puerto Williams, but only to another port North of Gulfo de Penas, where you then have to get another zarpe to Puerto Williams.
- Most cruisers have been going to Castro where they will issue zarpes to Puerto Williams but where they also have been trying to enforce the full Chilean safety equipment requirements (flares, life rafts, etc.).
- In Puerto Williams they have started only issuing a maximum of 10 day zarpes for trips within their local area (e.g. to the horn and to the glaciers). This causes no problem for the charter boats as their normal trip is 10 days, but does inconvenience the cruising boats as having only 10 days means a lot of motoring is typically required and you cannot wait as long for good weather.

Changes in Argentina
In Argentina you no longer need a zarpe for local cruising along the Beagle Canal (as far as Staten Island). You just call the Prefectura in Ushuaia on the VHF just before you leave and tell them where you are going and for how long.

On the negative side, in Ushuaia, the old Club Nautico dock was torn down by the city (as a safety hazard) and they have promised to replace it with a new larger dock. Given the speed with which things move, the betting is that we will not see a new dock for a long time, and in the meantime Club Afasyn has taken their new monopoly position to try to extract large fees from the foreign boats.

Club Afasyn claim to have authority from the harbour master to collect harbour fees from anchored and moored boats - both the harbour master and Prefectura say this is a complete fabrication and they have no authority to do this. They have also increased their dock fees by a factor of 5X for foreign boats - setting the price at a full service marina price (for an unsafe rickety old dock).

Club Afasyn is on leased navy land and the navy is desperately trying to find a way to break the lease and force the club off the land, as it has become quite valuable at the town has grown. The navy has declared the club "illegal" as it is supposed to be a non-profit organization but has been making a profit for years (which the directors have taken as "directors fees"). There is no telling how or when that drama will play out.

In the meantime, cruising boats have been spending as little time in Ushuaia as possible and docking in Puerto Williams.

Evans Starzinger
S/V Hawk