June 30, 2016

choosing a birth place

Like with our first three kids, James left choosing the birth-place of our fourth child ultimately up to me. I personally didn't want to go anywhere. If I could have given birth in the moss-covered forests of Navarino, I would have. 

James and I joked about hiding out in the woods until the baby came. We figured if the indigineous tribe of Yaghans had pro-created and survived winters on the island practically half-naked, then we could too in autumn with all our high-tech clothing and camping gear. 

We wondered what, if anything, they would do to us if we didn't leave the island on the required control date?

The majority of women living in the Magallanes region gave birth in Punta Arenas. We did not want to live in the city with the kids, and found it difficult to avoid getting in buses, taxis, and cars in PA. 

James and I thought the towns of  Porvenir and Puerto Natales could be two good small town options for us.

I asked my friends (& local island doctors) Carolina Zolezzi and Victor Guerrero what they personally thought and recommended. They said Punta Arenas had the most comprehensive hospital facilities, equipment, pool of doctors and anesthesiologists. They told me that it was not possible to give birth in Porvenir, but that it definitely was in Natales.

Since I already had three natural births without complications, they thought it was likely the fourth would be similar. C-sections were possible in Natales, but they warned me that a pre-mature birth or any serious complication would require getting transferred to Punta Arenas - which was a 3 hour drive away.

James and I spent time on and off in Natales over the past seven years and had built friendships with the community of climbers and locals living there. We imagined that we could be there without a vehicle and get around easily, living a pedestrian lifestyle.

Canal Señoret, Puerto Natales - Provincia de Última Esperanza, Region XII CHILE (octubre de 2015)

To be 100% certain, during a visit to Natales in October (while road tripping with film-maker Sam Greenfield), I dropped into the Augusto Essman Hospital. I asked for a tour of the maternity wing and met one of the midwives on duty - Camila Perez. She was young, fit, and spoke perfect English. She told me that there were two obstetricians, two anesthesiologists, and four midwives on their staff. A new hospital was under construction but would not be completed for another year. She said the biggest issue they were dealing with was lack of space.

The building was old, but clean, and in the maternity wing there were no private rooms. The pre-delivery/labor room had two beds and the recovery room had 8 beds. I could not walk in and see the delivery room or operating theatre without scheduling an appointment.

Tormentina at age 2 had been present in the delivery room for Raivo's birth in the hospital with Dr. Doug George in Jackson, Wyoming. When I was pregnant with Pearl, she watched all kinds of birthing videos on YouTube, and had it all planned out for me. We were going to have a water birth, with dolphins swimming in the pool, her swimming alongside, and we woud name the baby "Flower Rose."

Nothing quite that Hollywood happened for Tormentina, but she did get to have a magic experience as a 5-year-old. She assisted my midwives (Tina Patrick and Justine Small) with the home birth of Pearl at Tina's house in Auckland.

Raivo (at age 2) wanted nothing to do with the birth, blood, or hearing me grunting or screaming so he dragged James into a bedroom two doors down in the house to wait. As a result, Tormentina was the first person in the family to see & hold Pearl and she even got to cut the umbilical cord.

Camila told me that unfortunately in Chile, they were very conservative and only one person could accompany me into the delivery room. No children under age 12 were even allowed in the maternity wing.

I told Camila I was concerned about the high rate of caesarians in Chile and asked if I gave birth there in Natales, would I have any issues with trying to have a completely natural birth?

She assured me that yes it was possible and that there had been plenty of women who had done this. She said she personally hoped that Chile would move toward a more relaxed attitude toward midwifery, but for now, the country leaned toward the safer, more conservative side.

I was nervous about giving birth in a foreign language and sad about the kids not being able to participate, but I knew that the biggest priority was having a safe delivery.

The most important thing was that I had a good feeling from Camila and the hospital. I left feeling comfortable going there for the birth, and felt that it was possible to have a natural experience like I had with my previous three children.

June 28, 2016

pregnancy control isla navarino

There are no obstetricians or midwives on Navarino Island. For pregnant women, an early delivery means getting air-lifted to the closest hospital in Punta Arenas. As part of the island's medical control to avoid such a dramatic child-birth, pregnant women are required to leave for the the mainland six weeks before their due date.

Our plan with the birth of baby #4 was to go to the town Puerto Natales, look for housing and give birth at the local hospital there. The size of Natales compared to Punta Arenas was much more manageble for us and we believed we could have a pedestrian lifestyle and be part of a small mountain town community.

As timing would have it, in mid-February, at 34 weeks pregnant, James was managing a one-month refit job in Grenada that would keep him out of the country during the required exit date.  This meant the move & transition off the island would be a solo task for me to manage.

Alone with the the kids, I packed our lives into five 120L Black Hole duffel bags and one BD 70L Haul bag: clothes, camping gear, photo equipment, portable office, art supplies, & James' tool bag. 

Not an easy task to decide what the bare essentials for a family of five (soon to be six) were for moving house to an unknown destination, much less easy while pregnant, and even less so solo.

Thanks to everyone who helped carry our gear across the flotilla of boats (Nick & Jill Schinas, Roxanne Schinas, Gean Montero - SV Mollymock crew & Beate Loecker - from SV Galadriel) so we could get on the ferry.

On February 16th, we shut down Anasazi Girl and boarded the Transbordadora Austral ferry the Yaghan for a 300 nm / 30 hour trip through the channels to Punta Arenas to begin a new phase of life as a family of six.

Mist & fog.
Beagle Channel, CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
Beautiful shadows & light.
Beagle Channel, CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
Visual morning vitamins for my family on the Yaghan ferry from PW to PA.
CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
Wild windblown seascape of the Beagle Channel
CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
Light of ice & snow sandwiched between dark moody clouds & sea.
Beagle Channel, CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
The last weeks of our little crew living as a trio.
Beagle Channel, CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016

last day on navarino

My two oldest race each other home to the Micalvi Yacht Club
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
Hillside anchor.
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)

sending out the love

Before we left the island for my 34 week prenatal "control", we finally mailed off a collection of home-made post-cards the kids have made over the last 12 months. Lots of stamps to lick.

Pearl with her postcards and knee-patched pants.
Oficina de Correos de Chile, Centro Commercial, Comuna Cabo de Hornos
Puerto Williams. Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)

June 18, 2016

finished pendants

Watercolor painting in the cockpit of Anasazi Girl.
Club Naval de Yates Micalvi. Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
First to finish. Raivo's limpet rings all yellow & ready to string.
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
Kids prepare their shells to string as necklaces.
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
Kids on the transom with their hand-made shellfish necklaces.
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
Pearl & Raivo on the transom of Anasazi Girl with their hand-painted shellfish pendants.
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)

summer clouds & sky

Clouds of summer sunset.
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
Late summer blues & whites.
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)

savoring our last days on the island before the birth of #4

Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
The three musketeers on the grassy shoreline of Seno Lauta. We had some very special moments this past February as my kids and I took in our last week on the island before having to head to the mainland for the birth of #4. Emotional to imagine the dynamic of our family changing and to think of the last three years of our lives as a family unit. Dismasting our boat and landing on Navarino was a life-changing event. The addition to our family was sure to be another game changer. Happy, excited, and missing James who was away on a refit job that we knew would at last pay off the final balance due on our mast.

May 5, 2016

pearl on the beagle

Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
"Mom, come catch me!"
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
Stirring magic spells with a feather wand.
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)

olga bely

Olga Bely / SV KotikIsla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
Olga & my girls.
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)

black-crowned night heron / nicotyrx nicotryrx / huairavo

Black-crowned night heron (juvenile) / Nicotyrx nicotryrx / Huairavo poised for flight.
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
Black-crowned night heron / Nicotyrx nicotryrx / Huairavo & reflections of expeditions boats.
Club Naval de Yates, Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)

sunset stretch

Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)

endless collection

Inspired by the shell and feather jewelry made by the indigenous tribes of the Austral region, Tormentina is always searching for tiny shells she will eventually string.

Collection in a mussel shell.
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)

April 17, 2016

limpet pendants

Raivo's collection of limpet shells - part of a project to make shell pendants.
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)

bending water

Bending water.
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)

confetti on the beach

Flower confetti & a big breath of wind.
Beagle Channel, Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
Seeds on the shoreline.
Beagle Channel, Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)

April 12, 2016

pearl the girl with the beautiful curls

Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
Limpet shells filled with flower confetti.
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)

the simple joy of harnessing the wind

Pearl's kite on blue & white.
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
Tormentina's dragon in flight.
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)

March 27, 2016

magellanic penguin

Raivo was very excited to see his first penguin in Puerto Williams. We spotted it at dusk, just along the shore of Seno Lauta, after one of our long days out walking.  He was beside himself with curiousity and could not help but go in for a quick look up close.

He did not remember seeing the Magellanic penguin colony (70,000 mating pairs) at Monte León National Park in Argentina when he was 6 months old or the Jackass penguin colony in Simons Town when he was a year old.

It is quite unusual to see penguins within the area of Puerto Williams, so we figured that there was something wrong with the little guy, and that he was probably sick or injured. 

We heard from some other sailors, Auli & Irjala from SV Manta, that they saw the same penguin a day later, a bit further down the shoreline of the Beagle, with a wound under its right wing.  It was falling over, getting attacked by the vultures. Sad news for my kids to hear, but also a gift for them to learn in real time about the cycle of nature and life.

Raivo takes a look at a lone juvenile Magallanic penquin on the shore of Seno Lauta Harbour.
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)
Magellanic Penquin (juvenile) - Seno Lauta Harbour
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)

viviana's puppies


Racing up the hill with their walking sticks to Viviana's house.
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016).
Tormentina and Raivo give love to the two puppies left in the litter at Viviana's house.
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016).

March 25, 2016

cruising world (usa) / april 2016

Cruising World (USA) / April 2016 print issue
"Finding Home at the Bottom of the World" - Story & Photos by Somira Sao

A destination piece about our in-port life in Puerto Williams (post-shipwreck) is featured in the upcoming print issue of Cruising World (USA). Magazine should be available on stands by April 1st and arriving by mail to subscribers now.

Thanks to editors Mark Pillsbury & Jennifer Brett for printing this piece and to Dave Weaver for the beautiful layout.




March 18, 2016

path to the whiskey bottle forest

Navigating and balancing on a narrow old path through the wetlands.
Isla Navarino - CHILE / XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena (febrero de 2016)