As I fly into my later 20’s, questions have come up about the choices I’ve made along the way, as they do with everyone at a certain point in time. Most of the time it hits in your early to mid 40’s and it’s called a mid-life crisis. So I guess you could consider the anxiousness I’ve been feeling a quarter life crisis? I digress. The point is I’ve been feeling the need for a change for quite some time. I think this is a more common occurrence with my age demographic than with older generations. Mid 20 somethings are finding more and more joy in simply leaving their lives behind and searching for their grand adventure all over the world. For me, it’s turning an old van into a living space, and traveling up and down the west coast and Canada. Now I realize that this isn’t feasible for everyone. To be honest it isn’t even feasible for me at this moment in time. I think that is why I enjoyed reading about people like Dwyer Haney. Dwyer decided that he had enough of the everyday hustle and bustle and wanted to do something amazing with his life for the foreseeable future. He didn’t think small though, he thought as big as he could and went out and accomplished his dream. Check out his decision and the amazing effect it had on his life!
This is Dwyer Haney, the author of this amazing adventure. At 25 years old, he wanted something different. So he made the terrifying decision to sell/donate all his belongings and pursue his dream of sailing to Patagonia. He bought an old 30 foot sailboat and taught himself how to sail it. After that, it was the start of the 12,000 mile journey to Chilean Patagonia.
His ultimate goal was to ski directly from his boat on the fjords of Chile. That was a long way off though, he still had a long journey to make, and so many places to visit along the way. He started in the town of Bellingham, Washington and traveled along the Oregon and California coasts for some time. He spent the entire hurricane season in the Sea of Cortez, and then journeyed to Southern Mexico. From there he headed to the Galapagos Islands, and after that was a 37 day, non-stop sail down too Puerto Montt, Chile. He only saw 1 other boat during that 37 day stretch.
After taking a few months to learn the ropes of sailing, he had a big party on the boat! There were so many people aboard that it almost sank though! Luckily it didn’t, and during his journey he was able to capture this amazing picture of sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge.
Experiencing the wildlife throughout the adventure was definitely one of the highlights of the journey according to Dwyer. While sailing on his way down to Mexico, a pod of dolphins swam playfully on the bow of his boat for nearly an entire hour.
Luckily during his time in Mexico he didn’t get to homesick because he had plenty of friends from back home come visit him. Spending time with your friends in paradise would definitely be the highlight of my trip.
It wasn’t all good times and good drinks down in Mexico however. During his time down there, some very powerful storms rolled through. It may have turned into a good thing though, because it forced Dwyer to learn on the fly and become a better sailor. A lot of people would have ended their journey right then and there because the risks would have become apparent. This trip definitely wasn’t for the faint of heart.
Dwyer chose to stay in the Sea Of Cortez during hurricane season because the chances of getting hit by one there are roughly around the same chances of getting hit by one in New Hampshire. Unfortunately, statistics weren’t on his side on this particular voyage. While making his trek through the sea, he had a family reunion back in the states he had flew back for. Luckily for Dwyer, a good friend offered to watch the boat in La Paz while he was away seeing family. Dwyer made sure the boat was anchored and everything was taken care of before he left for the states. Unluckily for his friend, a major hurricane came crashing through Central American while Dwyer was gone. He kept in constant contact with his friend while she rode out the storm on the boat through 125 knot winds (143 mph), doing their best to make sure nothing happened to it. Fortune was not on their side however, as the anchor eventually broke away and the boat was swept ashore. He received one last text message from his friend at 2:36 A.M. followed by silence. He did not receive word from her for hours, and he was terribly worried. Eventually someone from the Air Force called him and told him that his emergency transponder had been activated. It turns out it was his friend! She had been swept from the boat by an incredibly powerful wave and spent 8 hours in the frigid ocean water fighting hypothermia and waiting until dawn for a rescue.
Dwyer was lucky enough to be able to find several areas that weren’t covered with expensive beach houses and crawling with tourists on his journey in Mexico. He said it helped him develop a much greater respect for the beautiful world that we live in.
Dwyer wanted to live as naturally as possible on his voyage, so he decided the sea would be his main source of sustenance, considering it surrounded him on his entire journey. 40-50% of his meals in Mexico were derived from the sea life. He was even able to pull this sailfish aboard the boat one day! He decided to name him Don Rodrigo the Magnificent. By far the largest fish he caught, without refrigeration though, he knew he would never ben able to eat him before he spoiled. So he decided to release Don back into the open ocean.
One of Dwyer’s goals was to see every single sunrise and sunset along his incredible journey. He spent 6 months in Mexico, and he said it definitely provided some of the most memorable rises and sets he has ever seen. He definitely took advantage of the beach and an abundance of Pacifico beer during his time in this gorgeous country.
Once hurricane season was over, it was time to take the boat south to the Galapagos Islands. It took him about 2 weeks to make the journey. Dwyer made special mention of the wildlife and scenery he experienced here. It was also his first big trek in the sail boat, which would be a pretty big thing to accomplish solo.
The most daunting part of the journey lay before Dwyer after his trip to the Galapagos Island. It was a 3500 nautical miles and the hardest thing Dwyer has ever done he said. It took 37 days, and he had absolutely no contact with another living human the entire time. He said he really thought he might go insane, but was able to keep his wits about him. This leg of the journey was not just about overcoming isolation however. After sailing through big swells and high gusts, Dwyer noticed an odd smell coming from the engine bay. When he opened the hatch smoke and fire jumped at him as if he had stumbled into a dragons lair. A leak from the engine had dripped onto a wire and slowly made its way to the starters and ignited. Through sheer force of will and a cool head, he was able to put out the fire and even rewire the motor all in the middle of the sailing.
If his journey hadn’t had enough excitement and amazement already, things were about to get even crazier! A week after making it to Chile on a rewired sailboat engine, Calbuco Volcano erupted and spewed an ash cloud miles into the air! This truly is my favorite picture from the ones he gathered. What awesome natural power! Even though the volcano was 20 miles away, Dwyer said it felt like it really was on top of him. After the calamity of the eruption had subsided, Dwyer went up into the Andes Mountains to help people recover from the volcano. He said the ash was like cement, which was not what he expected.
Dwyer was almost at a loss for words when he finally took in the sight of the fjords of Chile. These incredible natural formations have lush forests across parts, and sheer cliffs that drop thousands of feet into the water.
There are many hot springs scattered all over Chile because of the large amount of volcanic activity. Chile is also very famous for its vineyards and cheap delicious wine. I can’t imagine sitting in a hot spring with that view behind me. It almost seems too good to be true. To think that he sold all his belongings just months before is pretty crazy.
This would be one of the most monumental moments of the trip. Getting far enough to see icebergs is a pretty big accomplishment. Doing it on your own, in a sailboat you just learned to sail not even a year before with an engine that caught on fire mere weeks before is simply incredible.
The sunrises over the Andes Mountains were one of the most unforgettable parts of the trip Dwyer said.
Southern Chile is not a heavily populated area. So meeting new people didn’t happen very often. When he did however, it was a definite cause for celebration! Most of the time the people would be travelers just like Dwyer. Having a cocktail party on an iceberg seems like the perfect way for adventuring travelers to celebrate in this part of the world.
As if all this excitement wasn’t already enough, Dwyer was able to achieve a whale watchers dream down in Southern Chile. He spotted a Blue Whale, a Fin Whale and an Orca all in the same day! This is what is known as a “Whale Watchers Triple Crown.” One even got close enough that Dwyer could smell its breath.
Dwyer’s goal throughout this whole trip was to be able to ski right off his boat. Unfortunately, the dense forests blocked any path up to the best skiing spots. So what’s one to do when the sole reason you came down this far on the planet is to ski off your boat? You use the next best thing, a freaking glacier! That’s right, Dwyer and his friend used a dinghy as an icebreaker to slowly make their way through the dense packs of ice. His friend sitting up front would steer the bigger pieces away from the boat while Dwyer would slowly find the best path through the ice.
Once they reached the shore, it was a couple of mile climb to any sort of skiable spot. The terrain and ice that make up the glacier didn’t offer the best skiing in the world, but I’m not sure if you could beat those views from the top of a glacier.
Dwyer is currently planning on continuing to travel throughout this area until the summer of 2016. He is currently looking for his next life challenge however.
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For most people, this one adventure would be enough to last a lifetime. Not for Dwyer however, he is already looking for his next great challenge. Who knows what it might be? Whatever it is though, you can guarantee he will tackle it with the same enthusiasm and gusto that led him from Washington State all the way to edge of the world!