The Voyage pt. 14 – Magellan’s Strait – magical fjords and glaciers
As we churned through the grey seas the weather remained rough and cold. Rain made the decks slippery and the ship lurched, yawed and pitched which made our daily brisk walks around the deck a little dangerous. By now we had our sea legs and took it in our stride. It was fun to find you walking up and then down in time to the slap of waves against the side of the boat.
After a further day at sea we arrived at the shores of Chile, outside the port of Punta Arenas. The idea was to park up and head off into the interior to sample the Patagonian interior. It was not to be. The seas were up with large swells many metres high. A storm was brewing.
We idled out at sea at the beginning of the Magellan Strait.
Something was up. The rumours circulated.
Eventually the tannoy brought us the official version. The Punta Arenas jetty had been damaged by a cruise ship the day before. We could not moor. We could not go in by ‘tender’ because the ensuing storm would make it impossible to get back to the ship later.
It did not stop the various rumours.
Eventually we dropped our Chilean pilot off and headed off up the strait. We were not going to set foot on Chilean soil. It was a disappointment. Yet it turned out to be a blessing. It meant we were able to head down the Magellan Strait with its fjords and glaciers in the daylight.
We set off in the murky morning twilight. There was light drizzle and low clouds that left the craggy Andes Mountains looking stark bluey grey. Giant Petrels floated around us and were silhouetted against the steep cliffs of rock.
As we moved further along there was more snow on the mountain tops. It looked blunt and cold and this was summer. There were no signs of settlements. The barren rocks were picturesque but inhospitable though the giant petrels seemed to cope. I kept reminding myself, as I pulled my fleece hat down over my ears, that this was mid-summer.
It wasn’t until the middle of the day that the sun broke through. The grey monolithic blocks burst into colour with patches of green vegetation, dark shadows, glistening white snow and blue distant peaks. It was pure magic.
The snow was more prevalent and we began to see huge glaciers flowing down the valleys into the sea. They looked wondrous with their crevasses and blue ice.
It went on and on as we slowly slid along the fjord with the mountains dropping down into the waves on both sides. The scene was breath-taking. You first were confronted with one beautiful panorama and then could see the next sliding into view. There was no end.
Even in the cabin you could watch the scenery glide past through the port-hole.
For the whole day we had travelled through some of the most beautiful mountain scenery I had ever seen.
As the day faded the mountains returned to their silhouettes of black, grey and blue but the magic never stopped.
To think that we might have missed all this!
We were grateful for that damaged jetty and the storm we had left in our wake. This was the highlight of the whole voyage.
Now we were heading out of the strait and out the other side to work our way through the myriad of islands towards Argentina, Tierra Del Fuego and the end of the world.