Beagle Channel, Glacier Alley and Cape Horn

published
I am Bruce Good, Seabourn’s director of public relations. I am currently sailing aboard Seabourn Sojourn on a Patagonian Passage East from Valparaiso, Chile to Buenos Aires, Argentina. It’s a region I’ve always wanted to visit, and I thought I’d blog from here to let you know what it’s like. Hope you enjoy it. Monday was a day of spectacles from beginning to end. The Beagle Channel is one of those classic cruising icons, along with Milford Sound, Geirangerfjord and Glacier Bay. The day started with a glorious sunrise that ignited the snow on the nearby peaks. Seabourn Sojourn was gliding along at close to 19 knots with a favorable current, as the walls of granite slid by. Terns danced above the mirror surface, dipping to pick up breakfast and raise a dimpled ring on the water. A sea lion broke the surface and left puffs of steam as it undulated along. A pair of dolphins briefly arced alongside, but decided the pace was too energetic for them and left it. Ducks scurried toward the shoreline as the ship passed. We slid past a single house standing alone on a small flat at the base of one of the mountains. I guessed this must be home to one of the loneliest men on the planet, watching the occasional ship go by. Small glaciers began to come into view high up on the surrounding slopes. And then, in late morning, Captain Elliott announced that we were entering Glacier Alley, a passage lined with great hanging glaciers on either side. For close to an hour we dashed around on the sun deck in glorious sunshine, snapping pictures and gaping and shaking our heads in wonder at the scale, beauty and color of the ice rivers. Several had dancing waterfalls leading down over the rock at their bases. One hung off the slope in a great, blue overhanging crest, like a breaking wave in a Hokusai woodblock print. Captain Elliott announced at his noon briefing that the weather was favorable and we would go ahead and make a run to Cape Horn. All afternoon we enjoyed the sunshine despite the chill wind. Guests were wrapped in blankets lying on the loungers beside the pool and on the terraces aft of the Club and Seabourn Square. I was in my suite reading in the late afternoon when I noticed a change in the light. I went to the veranda window and saw odd, billowing cloud formations in the distance. I got my binoculars and scanned the horizon, seeing wind-whipped waves and curtains of rain. In five minutes we were in a squall of 70-knot winds and horizontal rain. I laughed out loud. It was Cape Horn defending its reputation! “You come down here and mess with me? I’ll mess you UP!” We passed through the dark and rain for a couple of hours. Albatrosses swirled around the ship. Then it grew calmer. We passed rugged, upthrust slabs of rocks fringed with dashing whitewater surf. Birds circled endlessly. The sun broke through in the west and lit the scene with a dramatic golden glow. Dinnertime approached but the Restaurant was nearly empty as guests stayed in the Observation Bar and near windows watching the drama outside. Finally Captain Elliott came on to announce that we were passing Cape Horn and that we could wave to the lighthouse keeper, who is on duty for a year with his wife and young son. We were less than 400 miles from Antarctica, and more than a thousand miles further south than Africa’s Cape of Good Hope or the tip of New Zealand. We lifted our flutes of Champagne in a toast to reaching another far corner of the world on our steady Seabourn Sojourn.

Morning in the Beagle Channel

 

The incredible hanging glacier

 

In Glacier Alley

 

Another view

 

Cape Horn bound

 

Five minutes later...

Comments

Oh Lordy, you have one of the best careers I've ever heard of! In the last year or so, I read "Over the Edge of the World" by Laurence Bergreen, and have always wanted to go through the Straits of Magellen. I see that your ship went through that lower channel and around Cape Horn itself! I can't stand it!

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