December 05 – Cruising the Chilean Fjords.
After a busy day in Punta Arenas we relaxed this morning as Seabourn Quest sailed among the Chilean Fjords.
During the morning the weather was rainy at times and fog blocked our view of all but the closest islands. This did not stop the expedition staff being out on deck searching
for any wildlife that approached the ship. We spotted several black-browed albatrosses, southern fulmars, giant petrels, even a few kelp geese were spotted in one of the few occasions when the visibility allowed further view of the shore.
Just before lunch we crossed paths with a small cargo ferry travelling in the opposite direction, the ‘Guanaco’, transports vehicles and supplies to some of the smaller communities along the channels of the fjords.
Our photo coaches Wolfgang and Daniel studied and encouraged pictures of the melancholic mood set up by the low clouds and the fog near the shore.
We carried on during the afternoon with a deck watch from the Observation Lounge and Deck seven at the aft of our vessel. As the weather slightly improved we were impressed by the larger number of birds near the vessel. For a few moments a young South American fur seal played about in the wake of the ship, and a few fortunate ones got great pictures of the animal in midair. The wind also diminished and we could observe the albatrosses choosing to stay floating on the sea rather than spending energy flapping their wings to fly around.
At around 4:30 PM our Expedition Leader Robin, announced on the public address system that due to the good speed developed during the previous night we have gained a few hours to spare and our Captain had decided to take a deviation to visit the Amalia Glacier. We all bundled up and went out on deck as we slowly approached this tidewater glacier, known also as Skua Glacier.
Our way was led by a group of dusky dolphins riding the waves of the bow of the ship and small group of flightless steamer ducks frantically paddling away from the path of the ship.
Our geologist Jason Hicks described the features of the glacier, mentioning the glacier front being two miles wide and the fact that it originates in the Southern Patagonia Ice Field. Just as the glacier finds its way down to the sea, it surrounds one of the many active volcanoes found along the Andes cordillera, the Reclus Volcano, a cinder cone volcano, with a 1 km-diameter crater at its summit, left over from its last eruption in 1908.
Captain Larsen gently maneuvered Seabourn Quest through the brash ice resulting from the calving of the glacier, until we reached the distance of one nautical mile from the glacial front, always with depths greater than 200 meters beneath us. All along the way we could hear the sound of the ice as it melted on the sea making distinctive popping noises, as if it was trying to talk to us. Suddenly the sound of the ice was broken by the ship’s bow thruster as we slowly turned around to resume our route towards Puerto Chacabuco. Slowly we drifted back from the outer decks to the warmth of the ship, as we finished another day’s adventure.
Ignacio Rojas, Seabourn Quest Expedition Staff