Mondays are for meeting the crew! One of the aspects that makes our voyages most unique are the people you share your experience with. Meet Chilean guide Jonathan (31), who will be guiding the Chilean Channel sailing expedition in March 2024!
What inspired you to join the crew of Bark EUROPA, how did you join the crew?
As a Chilean, tall ships are something that we are not available to see very often. When you see a ship like that, the first thought is, I really would like to sail on a ship like that.
In 2016, one of my best friends got on board in Europa for an Antarctic trip, probably many of you know him already. When he told us about it, it was the first time that I got that feeling, I really wanna have that experience in my life.
Years later, my friend asked me if I was available to join a trip to Antarctica on board Tecla. Gijs, one of the owners and the captain, had worked as a mate on Bark Europa and he was looking for a guide to go to Antarctica.
In the summer of 2020, I sailed the whole season with Gijs, including our extra time being trapped on board because of COVID, taking the ship from Cape Town to the Netherlands. I think that it was a good beginning after all, and then knowing already part of the crew that used to work or still working in the Europa, was a bit easier to end up here.
Europa has always been in my mind, and after sailing on Tecla, I really wanted to experience a sailing trip with a bigger crew, overall because I knew that the people that work there are very special, and here I am.
What is it like to live and work on a tall ship like Bark EUROPA?
I was right, I just found amazing people on board, very skillful and humble, super cozy ambiance, tasty food, and always good moments to share. You feel like living with a big family and very soon you become part of it, so all of us take care of each other, making life at sea just much more easy and enjoyable.
Can you tell us more about your experience as a guide in the Chilean Channels?
The first time that I was in the Chilean Fjords was in the spring of 2012, actually with the same incognito friend who introduced me to the tall ships world. He needed somebody to join him on an incredible adventure in Tierra del Fuego Island to do a study about a small elephant seal colony. So, I stopped my studies for a while, and I joined him there, living in a tent for 3 months in the most remote place that I had been ever at that time.
After taking this decision, Patagonia just opened its door for me, and since then I have been working in the Chilean fjords. I have participated in different science projects, also working with artisan fishermen, but I guess that tourism it`s has been the most consistent activity among all this time.
Chilean fjords offer an incredible opportunity to experience wilderness and wildlife, there are no roads over there, so still very pristine, with evergreen forests, and steep mountains that emerge from the ocean and hold large walls of glaciers. Thus, dolphins, whales, sea lions, and penguins are just some of the inhabitants that compose this beautiful ecosystem and are possible to see on a visit to those places.
Could you tell us about a unique place you've visited in the Chilean Channels and what made it special?
Most recently, I was working in the Marine Park Francisco Coloane in the Strait of Magellan, doing special whale watching tours, where we were working with photo-id of the humpback flukes, and with people that have been recording this data for the last 20 years.
I would say that is one of the most special places that I have been, mostly because a small population of humpback whales come every year to visit this area as the main feeding ground, that’s means that those whales stay in the strait and don’t migrate to Antarctica, as the rest the population does.
So here just you get the perfect combination between whales and glaciers, and you still experience a little bit of the rough waters of the Strait of Magellan. This Channel is still a hard place to navigate if you are sailing in a small vessel, and heading around Cape Froward always the northwest winds can build up the waves and give you more than one surprise.
Can you share a funny or unexpected moment that happened during one of your voyages?
Cape Tamar is the closest point where you face the Pacific Ocean if you are coming out from the Strait of Magellan, there you will find the navigational route to continue further north in between the Chilean Channels.
It wasn’t good at all, but we were already there. A bit of tension in the ambiance, with just 3 of us on the bridge wanting the crossing to be as short as possible. So, in the middle of the waves, rolling in all directions, I decided to take my little Cuatro ( kind of guitar), and I sang Rio Manzanares (already people on board Europa know it very well), one of the strophes says, “River let me pass because my mother who is sick ask me to come”, so the three of us we sang, smiling raising our voices and spirits and we chanted the song in a kind of loop till the sea became calmer, and the swell was left behind, and we were sheltered again in the inner channels.
What's the most memorable moment you've experienced while sailing the Chilean Channels?
In between the way from Ushuaia to the Strait of Magellan, there is a passage where you are completely exposed to the swell of the sea and the strong northwest winds that are blowing from the Pacific. We were in a super narrow channel, and after that, we came out, sails up, ready to cross the Paso Gonzalez. Big waves, wind, and a lot of adrenaline on deck captured this moment for me, crossing kind of a little drake but just around the corner of my house, experiencing the Patagonian landscapes, like I never had before.
I guess that is the magic behind this trip for me, to sail around the land that I fell in love with and became my home, but on board of such a nice tall ship, experience this place in a completely different and special way.
Looking forward to this with an amazing crew and friends.
Will you explore the Chilean fjords together with Jonathan in 2024? Find out more here!