Superyacht in Explosive Territory

Atmosphere sails silently through the night. Navigating in such sheltered waters she has little need for her Quantum Zero Speed stabilisers with which she is fitted. Smooth seas and roll free anchorages each night seem to be the success of this exciting voyage along the Patagonian coast of Chile.

We have arrived in Auchemo an anchorage in the shadow of the volcano Chaiten, which last erupted on 1st May 2008 when, what everyone thought, was just a hillside, exploded spewing out ash onto the nearby town and causing over 2000 people to flee their township and relocate the homes when the river began to flood.

Volcanoes dominate the activities today. The fishermen among our group are off to fish in lakes high in the volcanic areas of Cesar and Quitachurrines. The helicopter makes two sorties to get them and their gear into the area they are going to fish. They are gone all day and with them goes their lunch, gas stoves and even the tables from which they eat it under specially carried tents. At each of the fishing locations the yacht has stashed boats that are used for the activities.

We, on the other hand, are to fly into the crater of the Volcano at Corcovado, which has not erupted inside the last two hundred years. Francisco packs us into his aircraft and takes off, whisking us across terrain that is so wild and majestically bleak. We skirt snow-capped peaks flying so close you swear the rotors are going to clip the rock. High above the clouds we fly to the very top of the Corcovado Volcano and then swoop down into the plateau at 3000 ft from where we will trek down to the Corcovado Lake, which fills what was a former crater.

Once the helicopter leaves us at the top of the mountain the complete silence is eerie broken only by the sound of our own breathing. Standing there on the rocks it is hard to fully comprehend the fact that we are probably the first humans to be standing on that exact spot and as we set off it was almost conceivable that we could hear the voice of Captain James T Kirk use that split infinitive from the Star Trek TV series to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Now all we have to do is descend to our own pick up point some 700 feet below us on the shore of the lake that looks so close. Easy right? Wrong! It is, as we stand there looking at the most obvious path down that we first hear the sound, quickly followed by the sight of hefty rocks as they cascade down onto what would be our route down.

Our guides Ignacio and Pablo quickly change their names to Caution and Prudence and after a short conference decide to split in attempt to discover a new and safer route down. Ignacio is to take what looks like being the shorter and we set off with Pablo on the flatter looking trek around a hillside and we agree to meet on the other side. Little did we know it at the time it was the last we were to see of Ignacio until we meet up with him at the lakeside.

What we thought was a hill, turned out to be a ridge and that offered no chance of circumnavigation. Both parties were now boldly going where no man had been before. Our own course followed the dried up river bed whose roughly strewn boulders made progress difficult. We climbed into the forest and the wet trees together with our need to push through them, made sure we were soaked inside minutes. Such is the fate of the explorer! At one point we found our way blocked by what would have been a waterfall! There was no way down so we had to climb back and navigate around the obstacles.

Eventually we found the Volcano’s main lava flow that stretched down to the lake and the last half-mile was done in double quick time. We found Ignacio waiting for us in the decimated former forest of trees whose tops just poked above the lava rock.

We had a few minutes to wait for the helicopter and Pablo chose that time to scratch out a picture of the map of South America. On this he sketched the position of the various tectonic plates which have caused this volcano and in fact the recent earthquakes here in Chile. “The two dominant forces collide at this very point of the continent here,” he said as he planted a stick into the sand. We observed that was exactly where we were now stood and this was confirmed by Ignacio who neatly stepped to the other side of the map in the sand and said, “Its safer on this side, come over to Brazil.”

Atmosphere is available for charter through Robert Shepherd at Edmiston