Tuesday 7 December 2010

Southern Chile Fjords

This morning we attempted a landing on Magdalena Island, where a huge colony of Magellanic Penguins makes its home. The expedition team was ready at the landing site shortly before 6:00 am and was literally sandblasted off the island a while afterwards! The island is made of fine, poorly consolidated sandstone and blows away in the wind. The wind picked up even more, pushed MV Fram off its mooring site, and reached gale force. Obviously, the landing had to be cancelled. This was unfortunate but is the essence of expedition cruising- "you just never know" down in these parts. The time gained by not landing was used to good advantage later in the day when for the first time ever Fram entered the spectacular Seno Angostini.

Quite surprisingly, strong winds continued blowing in the channels and fjords we traversed this day. In fact, whilst we were cruising in the normally calm Gabriel Channel, we were treated to hurricane-force winds: gusts of up to 140 km/hr caused the vessel to heel to one side. The storm was nevertheless a spectacular thing to watch – particularly from the comfort of our cozy panorama lounge on deck 7!

The afternoon treated us to calmer seas, and we were able to enjoy the sight of the many glaciers cascading down the imposing mountains flanking the Seno Agostini. The day slowly became night, and all the while we continued sailing through the beautiful, complex and immense maze of islands, mountains, inlets and bays known as the Chilean Fjords.