Day 14: December 3, 2013
We awoke this morning to an announcement from the bridge that we had entered Glacier Alley. Our passage through the Beagle Channel overnight brought us
to the spectacular scenery of a series of large glaciers flowing down from the mountains on either side of the ship, and Jason gave us a geological insight into the formation and recession of these amazing rivers of snow and ice. And speaking of rivers, the narrow Beagle Channel opens to the tidal seas at either end, so depending on the oscillations of the tides, it flows with fairly strong currents that are not always visible on the surface. Consequently it is necessary to carry pilots who can “read” the invisible currents and adjust the engine speed and steering to keep Seabourn Quest “surfing” along in safe channels. The Chilean pilots possess a combined seventy years on these waters, and they mentioned how far they had watched these glaciers recede even in the last fifty years. It was easily possible to see how much of the fjords were now exposed as the ice diminished.
A little further along the Channel we headed up into the Garibaldi Fjord, a long stretch of navigable water at the end of which we saw an amazing and enormous glacier. The fog and brief spells of rain did not discourage us and we headed out onto the outer decks to get a look. In fact, the overcast conditions serve to enhance the soft colors and create spectacular contrasts of the blue-white ice of the glacier and the surrounding landscapes.
As we left the Garibaldi Glacier and the Beagle Channel behind, we prepared to enter a patch of rough sea before heading back into the protected channels of the Chilean coast. Quest handled the seas smoothly and we had the opportunity to watch the giant petrels, black-browed albatross, and sooty albatross, which gather here in large numbers, surf the air currents behind the ship. Even the Chilean skuas and imperial cormorants were out, though they seemed to be struggling more in the high winds. We headed to bed with memories of the stunning landscapes we were leaving behind and looking forward to a morning in Punta Arenas.
Alex Borowicz, Seabourn Quest Expedition Staff
Tags: Antarctic Dispatch