Published: February 11th 2012February 11th 2012
HANK & SANDRA
Enjoying the cold fjord scenery
Puerto Montt is basically the gateway to Patagonia, the beautiful and rugged wilderness lands of Chile. We arrived in port on a cool and rainy Sunday and went with Les and Inge in their private van for a drive into the Lake District. The symmetrical Osorno Volcano was hidden under a layer of storm clouds. We took a hike in a rain forest next to a raging river. We happened upon a handicraft market in the resort town of Puerto Varas where locals were proudly displaying their homemade products. Everything from honey to wine and all things knit.
Laguna San Rafael was a very pleasant stop. A modern and comfortable catamaran came right alongside our ship and we went on a three hour ride to the glacier. We've been learning all about these wonders of nature. We navigated around many large icebergs and smaller burgie bits. We saw the glacier calving and some of the bluest of blue ice. The Captain was kind enough to allow us on the bridge for much of the ride.
As Kevin said, we added a notch in our fjord belt on this trip. Now we can include Chile with the other fjords we
have been fortunate to see in Norway, Greenland, Alaska and New Zealand. The Seven Seas Society members were invited to a morning party out on the bow of the ship to view the fjords and glaciers. The ice field is so large in this part of the world that it creates its own weather.
That same morning, in this very remote part of the world, one of our passengers had to be evacuated from the ship by a Chilean Navy helicopter. All the outer decks were cleared, the fire crews surrounded the pool deck and the patient was brought out on a stretcher. A fearless Navy man was lowered from the helo by a cable, prepared the patient and then the two of them were lifted back up to the hovering chopper. It is quite a complex procedure which involves many ship personnel and precise coordination between the rescue pilot and the ship’s captain.
Because of the weather in the open ocean, Captain Patruno decided that we would stay inside the protected Beagle Channel. We spent a lovely day cruising the Avenue of the Glaciers instead of battling rough seas. It was calm enough that we were able
PRIVATE CAR TOUR
Our guide Christian with Les & Inge
to take a Tango lesson. We decided that the Tango is much more complicated than it looks. I can’t wait to see it done properly by some Argentine experts. At Tempano Glacier the ship launched it's rescue boat and several crew members retrived a small chunk of blue ice from a floating iceberg. Fortunately they had gotten permission from the local authorities to do so because this glacier is part of the Bernardo O'Higgins National Park. The very next day we read about a man who was arrested in the O'Higgins Park when the police found he had a truck load of glacial ice that he was taking to Santiago to sell to upscale bars. It would have been quite a nice advertisement for a drink...10 year old scotch chilled with 500 year old ice!
Punta Arenas was our last stop in Chile. It is somewhat like a frontier town in Alaska. The main square was set up with many little stalls selling statues of penguins....wood ones, plastic ones and stone ones. I'm surprised there weren't some knit ones. I think that knitting is the main pastime during the long, dark winters here.
We hired a taxi for
A bit breezy
an hour to take us around to the very impressive cemetery and out into the countryside to get a panoramic view of the Straits of Magellan which continue on to the Atlantic Ocean.
The trip around Cape Horn was quite exciting. Successfully navigating this treacherous stretch of water is considered the epitome of seamanship. It is a tradition that sailors who have made the passage will wear one gold loop earring as a badge of honor. As soon as we put the bow into the open ocean, we were hit by strong winds and heavy seas. We had been reading about our sister ship, the Voyager, and the storm she just encountered while trying to round the southern tip of New Zealand. At 115mph, the Voyager was forced to turn back to shelter from the wind and wait out the tempest. We only had a 90mph breeze as we crossed the meeting point of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. But you would expect that here at the end of the world. This is the furthest south we have ever been. Less than a month ago we were at 0˚ Latitude. Cabo de Hornos is at 55˚ South Latitude...the screaming
50s as they are called. I must go buy a gold earring.
Now we are on our way to Argentina and the Falkland Islands. Maybe we’ll have a spot of tea with the future King of England. Prince William just arrived on the disputed islands for a six week deployment. This is causing all sorts of consternation in Argentina and they have labeled His Highness “William the Conquerer” or as they say here,”Guillermo el Conquistador.”
There are more photos below