Our Antarctic Adventure – Part XVI

Mon, Feb 16th – Punta Arenas, Chile

From the Navigator

After some nice scenic cruising we will arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile. Tonight after we let our lines go we will commence our voyage towards Puerto Chacabuco, Chile. We will be sailing on mainly northern courses throughout the Chilean fjords.

Punta-Arenas,-Chile-Arrival During the night our good Captain managed to recover two of the hours we lost with our delayed departure from Ushuaia. I don’t know how he and his team do it but they are good. Last year on the Rotterdam, they were moving out all their maps and brochures on the Antarctic and we were able to purchase several items, one of which was a “Patagonian & Fuegian Channels – Chilean Fjords Cruise Chart”. On this chart was a dotted line that closely traced our route though the above described area. We were amazed when looking at the route that the bridge staff had to navigate after we left Ushuaia. Apparently at one point we sailed out into the Pacific Ocean and back into the Fuegian channels as we made our way north to Punta Arenas. When I woke this morning we were 30 miles away and about to enter the “Estrecho de Magallanes”.

The sky was overcast with low clouds, but that certainly did not dampen our spirits, for by the time we were in the straits and abeam of Fuerte Bulnes (Fort Bulnes), the skies were looking more promising. By the time the two tugs and pilot boat rendezvoused with us offshore from our assigned dock, the sun was out and it had turned into another “Halle Thon Gundersen” day. Que Suerte? as the Spanish would say.

Punta-Arenas,-Chile-039 Once we were docked the ship was cleared by Chilean customs and immigration in short order, by then it was noon and time to assemble for our excursion; Penguins of Patagonia – a visit to a Magellan penguin colony or rookery on the shores of Otway Bay. This was a four hour tour which included a mile walk to reach the viewing areas. Once again we were treated to an excellent exhibition of local people preserving the habitat of their neighbors. It was well worth the effort. Our guide Patricio was very helpful, knowledgeable, and a joy to be with. This tour had been Punta-Arenas,-Chile-Penguin arranged through Cruise Specialists and as we have become accustomed to we were very well taken care of. Our hosts Hank and Lucia Barnhoorn made sure nothing went astray. Besides being great hosts they have become our good friends – win-win!

At the end of the tour Patricio had obtained permission for the bus to drop off those who wished, at the square in the center of the city. Barbara and I were hoping something like this could be arranged; we just had to make our own arrangements to return the four miles to the ship afterwards. At the beautiful square we were treated to Punta-Arenas,-Chile-dog Chileans and visitors alike just enjoying life. It was obvious that the stray dogs enjoyed the square and its comfortable wooden benches as well.

Our main purpose was to visit the Cabo de Hornos Hotel. This is the hotel where I spent several days on my return from Palmer Station in 1966. I wanted to see if we could get one of those great crab salads that I had become so fond of while here. It was obvious upon entering the hotel that some major renovations had been made over the years. Using my rusty Spanish I Punta-Arenas,-Chile-Cabo-de spoke with the Jefe de Recepcion; Rodrigo Gallardo and explained the purpose of our visit. When he told me the dining room was closed, my heart sank, however he said he would call the chef and see if something could be done. Anyone who has ever dealt with the Spanish knows that a question cannot be asked/answered with just a few words. Soon he returned and invited us to come and sit in the bar area and our King Crab dish would soon be served. We were grateful and settled in at one of the tables and ordered an Austral beer for me and a “Te” for Barbara. We were treated with such respect. These folks have not changed a bit over the years. Prices Punta-Arenas,-Chile-foot have but not the people. The dish I paid a dollar for in 1966 was now $11, but it was worth every cent. When we got ready to leave, we asked where we could get a cab back to the ship. Rodrigo quickly had the reception clerk order one for us and even told us how much to pay. We had barely sat down when the doorman motioned to us that our cab had arrived. We were somewhat surprised to find a lady cab driver in the car but she proved to be just as competent as any man. This was such a wonderful day, it just added to the string of days that started from the day we boarded. We get underweigh at 11:30pm.

The next two days will be exciting as we continue “cruising the fjords”… JWC

4 thoughts on “Our Antarctic Adventure – Part XVI

  1. I really enjoyed catching up with your journey today. I especially enjoyed the Antarctic portion and the pictures of the icebergs and penguins. I’m sure it must have brought a tear to your eye to return to the area. Sorry that I haven’t had a chance to read your blog before today. Enjoy the rest of your adventure and I am looking forward to your next post! Love, Joni

  2. hi barbara and jack it looks like everything is turning out fantastic I am so glad I read your notes every day, can t wait to see more pictures

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