Day 9 |
Nov 11, 2008

Chilean Fjords

By Victoria Salem

Noon Position: 53˚ 54’S, 71˚19’W
Depth of Water: 200m
Ship Speed: 15 knots
Speed of Current: 2 knots
Temperature: 9˚C, 48˚F
Beaufort Wind Scale: 6
Overcast & raining

We had a gentle, late start to the day, which we all appreciated after a 4 am ‘wake-up’ call of heavy swell and slapping waves as we hit open sea in the night! After a leisurely breakfast, many of us joined Robin West (Expedition Leader) in The Theatre for his informal talk on ‘The Making of the Prince Albert II’. Robin worked on Prince Albert II in its former incarnation as World Discoverer and was able to show us fascinating ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos! He sketched-in the history of the ship before her purchase by Silversea and subsequent transfer from the dockyard in Singapore to Italy for an extensive overhaul and refit. Most areas of the ship were gutted and remodeled including engine room, suites, deck and all interior public areas. And the result?The streamlined and comfortable vessel we are all experiencing on this expedition.

At noon, Captain came on the PA system to tell us that a couple of hours previously we had crossed from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean as we progressed through the Straits of Magellan in the direction of Punta Arenas, which was at that time 233 nautical miles ahead.Shortly afterwards, we passed Cape Froward on the port side of the ship, with its white ‘Cross of the Seas’; this point was the southernmost tip of mainland America. All other land to the south (including Cape Horn) consisted of islands. Those of us who were out on deck saw a yellow cargo ship in the distance and later a red yacht was also sighted.

We continued our way through the Chilean fjords, passing a glacier and a narrow section during lunch. Once again, our Captain navigated us safely through a channel between points of tree-covered land, impressive to watch.

Just after our 3:30 pm recap and briefing had been announced, we had a potential Blue Whale sighting, which caused great excitement and hope. Our marine biologist, Rob, was on deck looking for whales in perfect sea conditions, and he caught sight of a tall blow outlined against the horizon. This tantalizing sighting was all we were destined to see as the whale went into a dive and must have moved away from the ship. A slightly delayed recap brought us up to date on the characters behind the names of some bays we had been passing (such as Bougainville and Roca), gave our ornithologist a chance to show us his less serious side, and concluded with Robin’s (Expedition Leader) briefing about the next day’s activity at Punta Arenas visiting a Magellanic penguin reserve.

But today was not yet over; at about 4 pm we approached Tucker Island, an amazing bird sanctuary, and despite driving rain, many guests were out on deck to listen to Chris (ornithologist) tell us which species to look out for. Miraculously, as we peered at the bleak cliffs, covered in nesting imperial cormorants (aka blue-eyed shags) and rock cormorants, the sun came out and a perfect rainbow formed at one end of Tucker Island. A dolphin and swimming penguins could be seen in the water, but the sea birds were the main draw as we gazed through Chris’ telescope at Magellanic penguins and Chilean skuas patrolling the cliff top, Chimango Caracara and Striated Caracara (extremely scarce) perching on tree branches. The lichen-covered rocks gleamed in the sunlight, snow-covered mountains loomed in the background and we saw quite large expanses of blue sky for the first time today, as we basked in the evening sunlight.

Some of us enjoyed a ‘Food and Wine Pairing’ session hosted by our Executive Chef and Head Sommelier at 5:15 pm in the Panorama Lounge; this consisted of a Cooking demonstration and Wine Tasting Lecture.

As evening drew on, the majority of guests prepared to attend a Venetian cocktail party, prelude to this evening’s much-anticipated Venetian Dinner, which was served at 7:30 pm for our enjoyment. (Venetian Society membership carries valuable benefits and privileges and begins after a guests’ first Silversea voyage; members wore their Venetian Society sterling silver lapel pins in honour of the event, incorporating the winged lion emblem of Venice - reflecting Silversea’s Italian heritage and the Silversea logo.)

As ever, after a delicious and very special dinner, the evening ended in mellow mood as we enjoyed the smooth sounds of Adam, our pianist, in the Panorama Lounge.