Amalia Glacier (Skua by any other name!)

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February 16th 2013
Published: June 26th 2017
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Puerto Montt to Amelia Glacier


I was woken by a loud crash in the night. I wasn't perturbed, as I knew it was only the swell of the sea crashing against the bow. My experience in the Southern Ocean told me that. Captain McBain had warned us of the rough weather from now until midnight tonight when we once again enter sheltered water.

The ship was tossing and pitching but as the Skipper had in a previous announcement convinced everyone that this was normal and nothing to be alarmed about, who were we to argue?? We were therefore very surprised when we entered Horizon Court for our breakfast at 09:00 to see it fairly busy. En route the cleaning staff were at the ready at various strategic points with their mops and buckets so you could anticipate today was going to be a bumpy ride and they were taking no chances.

Trivia was early today and had moved location due to our usual venue in Explorers lounge being prepped for an Art auction. There weren't many teams; we counted 5 so maybe we would be in with a chance. We asked a man sitting on his lonesome who we now know as Chris from the IOM to join us. We were off to a flyer! It was during question 12 that I was conscious of someone standing behind be. I turned around and an American gentleman said: 'Don't mind me. I arrived late'.

We invited Glen to join us as well. This must have been another message from the ‘power of the blink'!! He knew that Jean Paul Sartre was a leader in extrastentialism and each player has 15 counters in a game of backgammon. Our final score was 18/20. We had won, by 1 point. Our booty for winning was a magnetic clippy thing to add to the other dozen magnetic clippy things we have at home!!!

We had only won because the ‘know-it-alls' weren't there. They may be phenomenal quiz players but they must be shit sailors!!! I have my own theory as to why I don't appear to get seasick. I have a poor sense of balance anyway so I think this counteracts any motion going on in my ear canal. It's a sort of corrective imbalance, so to speak!!

You are probably all thinking: ‘Is that all they do on these cruises? Play trivia and bitch if they don't win!' If you could see the other entertainment that we have been offered so far you'll understand why this is a welcome relief. Tonight is a choice between Brent Webb: mind reader, Judith Franklin in concert or Fernandez: comedy hypnotist. He probably does a mass hypnosis and when we all wake we will have felt we'd had a great time but won't be able to remember why!!

At noon, the swell was now between 9-12 feet. It is difficult to estimate this when you are staring out from your balcony. Because there is nothing to focus your eye on as far as the horizon to gauge a depth of field, all sense of height and dimension is lost!

We are currently sailing 12 miles off the northern Patagonian coast of Chile. Despite the rough weather; several small fishing vessels are braving these conditions to bring home the bacon, so to speak!! That is what I call dedication. To them it is just another day at the office!

Oh look, time for afternoon Trivia already!!! My plan to spy on this ‘super team' started well. We sat in an adjacent chair. Roisin pointed them out to me.

‘Would you like to join us dearie? said the sweet old lady from the Super team. I looked to my left then to my right and if my names not Robert de Nero, I said, ‘Are you talkin' to me!!' I seem to recall the witch referring to Hansel and Gretel as ‘dearie' as she enticed them in to her sugar coated house!!

We pulled up a chair and joined them. The ‘opposition' couldn't have been nicer. They consisted of a husband and wife from Edinburgh both, I'd guess, well in their 70s and a lady from Buenos Aries. She must have been in her 80s!

It turns out that the Scottish lady DID attend the morning session but her husband was a bit poorly. Was he their secret weapon?

We won with 19/20. However, the man wasn't the star of the show, the Argentinian lady was. It is unlikely that this will be a regular occurrence, as everyone seems to be touting for an invite to their table. I think, though I have spotted their weakness!

We entered sheltered water shortly before midnight just as the Captain predicted. This was via Canal Trinidad. I couldn't understand why somewhere so remote from the Caribbean had a passage named after one of its islands. It turns out that one of Ferdinand Magellan, the explorer chappy's ships, was called ‘La Trinidad'. We had now entered Bernardo O'Higgins National Park. The park itself is fairly inhospitable. The only 2 ways to access the park is either by water or helicopter.

We arrived at Amalia Glacier, also known as Skua Glacier at 7:30am and stayed until around 9:00am. This glacier is a tidewater glacier located in Mr O's National Park. The glacier partially surrounds Reclus volcano and erodes the northern flank of it.

On our approach to the glacier, ice floes became more prominent ranging from a few feet in diameter to 20 or 30 feet. The tide, in these parts is very gradual so the ice floes posed no threat to the vessel.

Did you know that the depth of a fjord can be measured by gaugung the height of the land mass it runs through. The fjord is as deep as the surrounding mountain is high. In our case, this fjord is 550 feet deep (169 m)

So that everyone on board, whether in their stateroom balcony or on deck got maximum views, the Captan spun the ship around 360°. The most I learned from this is that the Captain can make the ship do ‘doughnuts!!!'

There are only so many photos you can take of a glacier!! Some people were taking photos for nearly 2 hours and will probably show every last one to their friends and family. Don't worry. We may have been in the mix, BOTH taking (the same??) photos for 2 hours but I have only picked a small selection of photos to display in this blog. I wrote this about the Norwegian Fjords as well but I will repeat it. No photo can capture the beauty and awe from seeing this monolith of power cutting its way through solid rock. I thought that I would never see blue ice but it's there to see before your very eyes. No, I did not forget to adjust the white balance of my camera! The ice is actually blue!! This is caused by oxygen being trapped in each layer of ice. Lets face it, if you were trapped in that sort of cold for any length of time, it wouldn't be long before you turn blue either!!!

The rest of the afternoon was spent sailing through the Chilean Fjords where we eventually hit the high seas again outside from the Archipelago Reina Adelaide. The sea became a little choppier but this would only be for 2 hours when we would then once again enter sheltered waters at the entrance of the rugged terrain of the world famous Magellan Strait en route to Punta Arenas.

Additional photos below
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17th February 2013

I'm enjoying reading your blog and looking at your pictures - the glacier ones are superb. But what makes me want to go on a cruise most is the entertainment - it sound like Phoenix Nights on water!
18th February 2013

Andrew, ha! ha! spot on. Billy London (if that is his real name!!) is the cruise director. That says it all!!!
18th February 2013

It doesnt seem like fun to me mate, more like torture with the rough seas, but you lot are a sea faring group so enjoy. Beach, pool and bar for me. May go back to Magalluf again this year.

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