Strait of Magellan
January 29 was a ship day as we sailed through the Strait of Magellan toward Punta Arenas. The Strait cuts all the way through the continent several hundred miles north of Cape Horn and, as you might have guessed, Fernando Magellan was the first European to go through it.
In the morning we saw our first glacier, called the Amalia Glacier. Most of the glaciers down in this area have been shrinking for the last 200 years, but faster & faster over the last 30 years or so. The Amalia Glacier is the biggest one we have seen in South America (I expect we will see more in Antarctica).
The front wall of the glacier, which you can see above, is about 200 feet high. On the first small picture, after the one with Mary in it, you can see an island in front of the glacier. If you look very closely, there are evergreen trees on top of the island, which are fairly tall, so that gives you an idea of how high the glacier wall is.
We continued through the Strait of Magellan after that. It is lined with impressive hills and mountains, but it was pretty overcast & hazy, so the pictures really don’t show the mountains very much. We could see them in person, though, & the swirling clouds around them gave a mysterious air to the whole affair.
In the afternoon we came to a shipwreck from 1969. The story (perhaps apocryphal) is this: The convention at that time for instructing the helmsman was to say “all left” or “all stop” or “all right” or “all ahead.” It seems that a crew member made a proposal to the captain, who agreed, saying “Alright.” He said it a little too loud and the helmsman immediately turned the ship to the right, directly into the big rock you can see in the first picture. It reminds me of the people who follow their GPS directions onto a railroad track or into a lake. I guess (hopefully) they now say “all starboard,” rather than “all right.” Anyway, no one was killed in the mishap, but apparently no one saw any reason to clear it away either.
We spent the rest of the day cruising toward Punta Arenas, with some small lighthouses spotted on top of hills by the water.