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Around the World with Captain Mercer: On to Punta Arenas, Chile

Feb. 3-4

Friday, Feb. 3 continued:

Ushuaia, Argentina.

We sail at 1445, a strong wind is pinning us to the pier, (as opposed to blowing us off when we arrived). It takes a minute to adjust the azipod and the bow thrust so that she lifts off evenly, rather than ‘waggles’. The 1st officer is calling out the wind speeds, wind is a huge factor for any vessel, especially one of this size, “30…33…38…26…” it is an ever-changing scenario, however I know that once lear of the concrete on our starboard side, the wind can do most anything, in open water, matters become much easier.

We swing and head out, initially east and then head west, down the Beagle channel. A magnificent sight, towering, snow-capped peaks either side of us, (the lower slopes of the Andes mountains).

The wind is funneled down the channel and we fight quite a headwind. We change our Argentinian pilot back to Chilean. Later, we see glaciers and whales. I’m not sure what they are, Fin by the look of it, as Minke should have a ‘double’ ‘v-shaped’ blow.

During the night we transit the Chilean ‘canals’, surrounded by peaks and then early morning, we enter the Straits of Magellan, the waterway on which Punta Arenas lies.

Saturday, Feb. 4:

Early morning and another sunrise, they are becoming far too frequent for my old bones 🙂 Punta Arenas this morning, perched on the western shore of the Magellan Straits, it had its heyday in the days before the Panama canal was completed. In those golden years, ships passed east and west through the straits, avoiding the longer (and often dangerous) passage around Cape Horn. Ships required food and water, communications with owners, repairs and chandlery supplies; Punta Arenas supplied it all and boomed. Fortunes were made and the architecture of the city reflects that history.

They still supply ships, however infrequently, their main callers are cruise ships now. We anchor today, they have a large pier, however it is ‘structurally’ damaged, subsequently we ‘drop the pick’. Two ‘picks (anchors) actually, there is a storm of monumental proportions, 200 miles to the west of us, off the coast of Chile and we are seeing the effects here, westerly winds blowing a steady 40 knots and gusts of 50. I decide to use both our anchors, in a ‘spread’, or slight ‘V’ shape, this has the advantage of more weight holding us and, should the wind change direction, there is an anchor and chain out, ready to take the strain.

One of the first tours away is that of the Antarctica flight; they all jump on a plane, fly over to Antarctica, land at a Chilean station, shoot penguins, (with a camera :-)), make snowballs and fly back again … I jest of course, one of the ultimate experiences, walking on Antarctica must be an incredible experience and I’m envious.

We are staying here for another day and not leaving until the 5th. The reason is that storm I mentioned earlier; were we to leave this evening, we would sail into the teeth of it and I don’t fancy 9-metre waves (29 feet) any more than the next person. All being well, it will have subsided by the time we put our bow out into the Pacific, although I expect there to be a large swell though. More later………

1 Comment
  • Sharyn Roberts

    I am a Holland America devotee and mariner and am really enjoying the captain’s blog of the world cruise – I have friends on board “doing” the full world cruise and am following their blog also but both blogs are from a different perspective and so complement one another for a real cruise message. Keep up the good work with the blog Captain!!

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