Sunday, 21 November 2010

A bumpy ride in the Chilean Fjords

Today was a sea day with a difference- we had land around us all the time as we sailed through the southern portions of the Chilean Fjords. Like Darwin, we were fascinated by the barren landscape, the rounded ice-scoured grey rocks below which we could see dark green cool temperate rain forest. The mountain peaks were snow covered and the overall look of the landscape reminded many of the fjords on west coast of Norway. 

The remnants of the last glaciation period, which ended 10000 years ago, can be found in the southern and northern Patagonian ice fields, in the Andes Mountains. Many glaciers flow down the U-shaped valleys from these ice fields to the  fjords below and we were lucky enough to see one today. Lucky because many of these glaciers are shrinking dramatically due to global warming. The particular glacier we sailed by was called "Contramaestre", which means boatswain or "bosu'n".

Our arrival to Punta Arenas was delayed by 60 knot winds that caused the temporary closure of the port but eventually we arrived and slowly moved towards the wharf, the final few meters sideways using our bow-thrusters. We docked opposite the world famous "Natheniel B. Palmer", the US National Science Foundation ice-breaker used to supply US Research Stations in Antarctica. 

Some adventurous passengers decided to explore the city of 120000 people by nightfall.