Published: February 5th 2011February 2nd 2011
"Substructure - Firewire"
I am yet to write about my trip from Santiago down to Puerto Montt. BUT I really want to tell my Navimag story while it is still fresh in my mind! This was a boat ride NO ONE on board will ever forget!
I arrived in Puerto Varas a few days before my Navimag ferry was set to depart from Puerto Montt. The departure date was set for 2pm on January 28th. I decided to spend the night in Puerto Varas instead. It is a much nicer place to stay then Puerto Montt.
I had read quite a few reviews about the Navimag. Surprisingly there was a fair amount of negative reviews so I was a little nervous about the trip. Clearly those people who wrote anything negative about the trip were a bunch of prissy douche bags who must be a custom to 5 star all inclusive resort cruises! This was a ship designed to transport goods, supplies, cattle and horses to the remote areas of the Patagonia. The ship was altered to meet the demand of backpackers trying to get to those same remote regions. You had to take that into
consideration when booking your trip and arriving on board. Begin your trip with a strong supply of positive energy, an open mind and plenty of wine!
I arrived at noon on the friday to check in. I was thinking of taking the trip to Puerto Natales a week later rather then this particular trip so that I could spend a week touring the island of Chiloe. However, I had arranged work for myself in Puerto Natales starting Feb 1st so I had no choice but to leave on the 28th. Luckily I snagged one of the last cheap tickets. (480 U.S. $) While waiting to board the ship I met quite a few people and became fast friends with two girls from Montreal.
I'm sure the Navimag trip started off like they often do, 2 or 3 hours behind schedule! Not a big deal, no one was concerned. The bar was open and the weather was amazing. Everyone on board the boat began to mingle and share travel stories! I was informed by a friend I met in Puerto Varas to bring snacks and booze on board because the bar on board can be quite expensive and the
food can be questionable. So I went to the Mercado first thing in the morning. I had a tough decision to make! How much wine to bring on board? I thought one bottle per night would be just fine so I grabbed three bottles of wine. Little did I know then that our trip on board the Navimag would turn into a four night trip. Had I known I would have grabbed a couple more bottles or a bottle of Scotch to help ease the nerves of our near disaster!
The weather was beautiful as we started out. Sure it was windy as hell, but such is the Patagonia! The sun was shining and we were about to embark on a great trip through the stunning Fijords of the Chilean Patagonia! I was set to experience some of the most pristine and beautiful environments on the planet! Emilie and I decided to start off our trip with a game of chess on the top deck! Our game was intense and full of blood, sweat and tears. By the time we had approached hour two of our first game we had gained quite the crowd. Most of them making fun
of our beginner skills and lack of knowledge of the game! In the end I won... of course!
We finally departed from Puerto Montt a full 4 hours behind schedule. We settled into our bunks, grabbed some dinner and as the rain began to fall we started into the first bottle of wine. Wine and playing cards are really the only things to do, or you could read. There is nothing else to do really! They show movies in the evening and have lectures about the wild life in the afternoons, but that is about it.
The weather on the second day kept us inside the lounge for the most part. Early in the morning we had some brief sun and the water was calm. We saw a pod of dolphins swim by, but the light was terrible for a decent picture unfortunately. That day was rather uneventful until we made our way out onto the open ocean for our 12 hour jaunt across the Golfo De Penas! The swells were huge and at times seemed to swallow the ship. Almost everyone on board had motion sickness. A few brave souls managed to drink at the bar
until midnight. That being said, we ALL drank until 3am the night before. So the rough seas had certainly taken their toll. I went to bed, or tried to around 10pm. The night was filled with the always pleasant sound of people throwing up! Sleep was hard to come by because the rough seas tossed me from one side of my bunk to the other! Around 4am we re-entered the Fijords and found smoother seas! I fell asleep quite soon after. I am proud to report I did not get sea sick, I was certainly a minority! The next day was much like the previous two, filled with cards, chit chat and wine! I met a tun of great people on the boat and the comradeship was quite pleasant! It was our last day scheduled on board before we were set to arrive in Puerto Natales the next day in the afternoon. The Navimag crew threw the passengers a bingo party and the bar was packed. We drank far too much, and danced the night away! There was this one dude from Argentina who was friggin amazing, clearly he INVENTED the Tango because he was amazing beyond description. The girls
lined up... bastard!
By three am the bar cleared out and only a few remained drinking the last of the wine and beer in the dining hall! I decided to head to bed and by 3:10 I had lied down in my bunk, turned off my light and started to drift off!
Suddenly, without warning, I simultaneously heard one of the loudest noises of my life and was tossed violently from my bunk onto the floor bellow. My bunk was one of four that was the closest to the hull of the ship, we felt everything and heard everything the most! I knew straight away what had happened. We had HIT something!!! INSANE!! My first thought was that we hit a reef. I knew we didn't have to worry about icebergs, so what else could it be? I remembered our safety course when we first came on board and started to follow the emergency procedure long before anyone really knew what the hell had happened. We were to told to leave our things, only grab what we could fit into our pockets and our I.D. cards and passport. Surely for the officials to be able to identify our
bodies should the worst happen. I had no plans on leaving ALL my gear on board... far too expensive! So I quite literately put on everything I could. I was not only going to stay dry and warm in the pitch black rain and wind soaked Patagonia night, but I was going to save as much stuff as possible. I then reached under my bunk, grabbed the life vest and started to head to the meeting area on the top deck. I had to waddle like a penguin with all that shit on! Everyone was awake now of course and quite a few were completely freaking out and causing more to freak out. Ah, I wanted to slap them... fools! To be honest, I wasnt to scared. I just kept telling myself, "what a way to loose my rucksack and gear!" Much better story then if I was simply robbed. I was smiling, laughing and having fun. Sure it helped that I was completely smashed! I kept thinking to myself, "how did you lose your gear, was it stolen? NOPE, our boat sank in the Patagonian Fijords! We smashed into AN ISLAND!¨" WE SMASHED INTO AN ISLAND! That is what
One of my roommates, Milton, was still drinking up in the dining hall when he was suddenly thrown across the room. He explained how they looked out the window just before impact and saw trees towering above them that they could have reached out and grabbed. The dining hall is about 4 stories about sea level, so imagine how tall those trees were. We slammed into the island shortly after 3am at our full speed of 15 knots, or 30km an hour. The boat was a mess from the collision and the Navimag crew was frantically trying to relay everyone up to the top deck to get fitted with life vest in preparation to abandon ship. We waited around for what seemed like ages, but was really just 10 minutes or so while the crew checked the boat to asses the damage. Shortly after, the captain came up to talk to us and try to calm everyone down.
I was actually having a blast, man, what a GREAT story! I wasnt scared for our lives, this was no Titanic emergency! If we had to abandon ship we would have the time and no one would
have been hurt or worse. So I just enjoyed the experience. Others didnt share my perspective... their loss I guess! "Hey, remember the time we smashed into AN ISLAND?" HAHAHA, love it! The Captain informed us that there was no significant damage to the ship, no breach of any kind! So they made some coffee and allowed us to ease our nerves before heading back to bed. Most didnt sleep the rest of the night.
In the morning we were informed at breakfast that one of our engines was badly damaged and was no longer running. So we would have to crawl into port nearly 24 hours behind schedule! There was a fair amount of people quite pissed about this, mostly the people from France. Go figure! Me, nah, I thought it was nice to get an extra night, breakfast and dinner out of the deal. My only concern was that I had not planned for a near disaster when purchasing my wine. Like I said, had I known I would have bought a fourth bottle. That night Milton and I spent sitting at the bar playing drinking games and reminiscing about the time we smashed into AN ISLAND!
We were never given an explanation as to why the hell we drove a large ship straight into a large island. We only could speculate, the Captain or whoever must have fallen asleep and we veered off course! Some one is getting their ass canned from that one!
Like I said, some people were quite upset. People missed tours, trips, excursions and hotel bookings because of this small tiny little set back! But really, why get upset, isn't this a great reason to miss out on a hotel reservation or the start of a hike that you can easily start the next day? I think so! Most people stayed positive like myself and we enjoyed the experience. Glad we didn't have to abandon ship, Ill make myself clear about that! But no one was hurt and it is now great story! We arrived into Puerto Natales at 2am on the first of January. Milton and I, along with five others, were still up drinking away! We all cheered and clapped, we had made it!
I took nearly 300 photos while on board the Navimag, clearly I cant post them all. I´ll post as many as possible!
For anyone thinking of making the Navimag trip down through the Patagonia Fijords, I would absolutely recommend the trip. You will just have to wait a few weeks while they repair the boat! For now you can fly or take the bus! And remember, pay attention during the safety lecture when you first get on board. It may just save your life!!!
There are more photos below