Day Ninety Five – Seven (7th – 9th Dec) – Sailing from Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt

18 12 2010

After a good night’s sleep in our nice and cozy cabin, we woke to the truly stunning Chilean Fjords. Large and small islands and mountains scattered along the Southern coast of South America, and we were sailing amongst them for the next three days.

The rest of the boat was nice with a dining area, bar and plenty of outdoor deck space. However, this was a car and passenger ferry and not an out and out cruise ship; and being South America, a couple of lorries were laden with cattle. Our route took us from Puerto Natales, north through the Angostura Inglesa narrows, just 80m wide. We passed countless waterfalls and snow peaked mountains, making minor detours to a couple of glaciers and a small village Puerto Eden (150 people) only accessible by boat. Then onto a 12 hour stretch on the notoriously rough Pacific Ocean before getting into Puerto Montt on the morning of the fourth day. This 1200km journey took us through a half dozen national parks.

Day One:

Every available moment was spent out on deck, taking in the views and looking out for sea birds and marine life; such as sea lions, dolphins, whales etc. That was, when it wasn’t blowing a gale, raining, snowing or hail. This was still Southern Patagonia – temperatures were around minus 5 to plus 5 degrees Celsius, and full outdoor gear and cups of tea were essential when out on deck. The rest of the time was spent making friends, playing cards and drinking the 6 litres of wine we brought on board.

Day Two:

As the boat was only one third full, it was very comfortable on board. Most of our fellow passengers were from Europe or North America, with only about a dozen locals on board. There were various talks on board explaining what flora and fauna can be seen in the area, how glaciers shaped the region, and what to see around Puerto Montt…

We hit the open Pacific Ocean at about 5pm, and everything changed. If it wasn’t nailed down, it fell over. By our limited experience of sailing it was rough going. However if you asked someone who worked on the boat ‘this was nothing’.

We were allowed on the bridge anytime we wished to spot wildlife and meet the captain. However, during the rough seas, it was great to watch the ship ride the swells and crash through the waves.

Common areas thinned out, dinner was quiet, walking became interesting and sleep was almost impossible.

Day Three:

We actually got a couple of hours of blue skies and the deck was awash with people playing chess, taking in the views and seeing who could throw a shoe the furthest from between their legs!

In the evening and after dinner we played bingo for wine and Navimag merchandise. However, before you could collect your prize you had to do a dance in front of everyone. Fortunately neither of us won a game. After the bingo came the party. It was highly amusing to dance on a boat that was still moving in the moderately choppy Golfo Corcovado, after having a few glasses of the old vino tinto.

Patagonia is a very beautiful area of the world, and on the boat you get a unique view of it in true wilderness. The trip was stunning and unforgettable.

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