Chile 10

It is now the 12th of March, and we are waiting to start our ferry trip from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales.  For a little reference, Chile is about 2,600 miles long.  Santiago, the capital, is 1,000 miles south of Peru.  We are in Puerto Montt, which is 1,600 miles south of Peru.  And we still have 1,000 miles to go to the tip.  All the referenced distances are straight line.  Not actual commuting miles!  We are going to travel the fjords of Patagonia by Ferry/Freighter for the next 900 miles.  We will see Glaciers and VERY remote islands.  The ship was scheduled for a Monday departure, but due to BAD weather it has been delayed until Tuesday. 

The Atacama desert, as stated earlier is the driest spot in the world.  Some spots have never seen rain!  Now we find out, much to our surprise, that the western slopes of the Patagonia is the stormiest spot on earth.  What contrast! 

This is a model of the ship we will travel on.

I can't wait to gamble in the casino, or see the ice carvings on the dining room tables.

I just noticed that the pool is not visible on the model

We have 2 days to wait it out.....

On Sunday, the 12th, we ride west of Puerto Montt for lunch at a restaurant which overlooks this small island.

This is the restaurant which was owned by a German lady.

When she found out we were from California, she gave us a complete rundown on her trip from San Francisco to San Diego which she took 2 years ago!

It was our lucky day...

When we got to Puerto Varas, Sandy suggested (heavily), that we stay in this hotel.  I suggested that we look around a bit.

We stayed in another hotel (see Chile 9).

We heard dozens of sirens, from our hotel room, on Saturday night.

The Hotel Colonos del Sur was their destination! 

It was totally destroyed.

We spoke to multiple people that were staying there, and they lost everything they had, including their passports!

Take a guess what this is..........?


It was located in the Casino in Puerto Varas.......

As I have stated earlier, the churches in southern Chile have nothing in common with those of Ecuador and Peru.

On Tuesday, the 14th, we start our journey on the ship "Puerto Eden", owned and operated by navimag.

Sandy, waiting to board the Ferry/Freighter for Puerto Natales.

It is a 4 day, 3 night journey.

That is our ship in the background.

The ship has an elevator to transfer trucks, cars and shipping containers from deck to deck.
I thought the crew was a little paranoid in how secure they had tied the bike down.

I would learn later that they more than understood the seas!

This is no cruise ship.

They permitted anybody, at anytime, to ride in the bridge.

I spent nearly 12 hours a day, for 4 days, observing the action from the bridge!

Hey.... It was warmer there than standing on the deck outside!

It was truly a magical and remote trip.

Fewer than 4,000 people a year experience this weekly journey through Patagonia.

When we were in Alaska, 8,000 people a day would visit some of the ports on the Alaskan coastline.

As I climb to the bridge, this is the view.

It is Wednesday, the 15th of March.

For 4 days the captain weaves between islands, and up narrow channels.

During the 900 mile journey, there are only 150 miles which are in open seas!

Sandy seemed to have a nervous smile.

It is getting colder every mile, and we have a motorcycle to get back on!

Sandy also spent much time on the bridge.

Of the 90 or so passengers, it was split between older people (about 20) and younger trekkers (about 70).

It seemed that the younger people spent most of their time watching television, drinking, playing cards, or recovering from drinking!

So the few older people nearly had the bridge to ourselves.

It did get rough in the open seas.

This was in Golfo de Penas.

This is where many of the recovering drinkers were having a much more difficult time.

The bow wave is rising nearly 12 feet above the railing.

The crew told us that starting the engines in the life boats was only a scheduled activity and had nothing to do with the bow diving under the waves!
We saw half a dozen whales.

It is difficult to catch a photo at the exact time the tail or head is out of the water.

We only passed one village during our 900 mile sail.

This is the village of Puerto Eden, which our ship is named after.

The village has a population of 300, of which 15 are of a disappearing indigenous tribe.

Notice that the snow level is now down to less then 1,000 feet above sea level.

During 900 miles we saw less than 10 boats (excluding the boats at the village of Puerto Eden).
Puerto Eden is hundreds of miles from the next development of any size.

Tourism is virtually nil here, but you can get a guide and hike up the western front of Patagonia, and stand where no other man has every been!

It is THAT remote.

Narrow channels, waterfalls, snow and mountains have Sandy a little more than concerned about what is in store for her and the motorcycle.

Did we wait too late into the season?

The primary season is January and February.

You would not think that one month would make that big a difference, would you?

There were literally thousands of waterfalls and cascades on our journey south......
Hey.... What are the big chunks?
I will keep Sandy distracted, so she won't notice the "Cold Stuff"!
The ship got to within 100 yards of the Glacier Pio XI.

We found Africa!

It would be stormy one minute, then five minutes later the sun would poke out.

The sense of remoteness is a feeling which can't be described.

It can only be experienced.

We turned away from the Glacier, and the sun poked it's head out for a few minutes so that we could see the azure colored waters.

The last day of our boat journey (Friday the 17th) had more surprises.  This is where the Glacier colored waters meet the salt water of the Pacific.  The open ocean is more than 50 miles away.

The Captain's dog. 

I put the ball in the Captain's seat, and even the dog was afraid to climb up into the chair!

What a way to start a day.  And to think that only 20 years ago tourism was non-existent in this area.

Puerto Natales was a surprise.  I was expecting an Alaskan type port town.

It is a remote city on a barren plain.

A police officer was brought out to our ship when it was about 2 miles from the dock.

Apparently 2 passengers broke a rule or two, and they earned a "Private" escort into town!

The balance of the passengers riding the elevator, which transfers trucks and containers from deck to deck.

Based on the fact that passengers must use the cargo elevator, and that no passenger elevator exists indicates that the boat is primarily built to haul cargo, not people.

Notice how the people are dressed, and we have to ride the BMW.

Is it too late in the season?

Sandy waving bye to the crew as we ride the elevator down one deck.
The "Puerto Eden"....

Hey... I didn't lose a dime gambling!

Or have to launder my suit after dinner with the Captain!

And it really was a bit too cold to swim in a pool anyways!

The ship at the dock in Puerto Natales, and the Patagonia in the background.
Cold and stark.....
A chance to verify that the Garmin 276 is working accurately.
The view from our table at lunch, in Puerto Natales.

We are now nearly 2,500 miles south of Peru.

And only 750 miles from Antarctica!

Notice that the snow level is now down to 900 feet!

Our hotel for the next few nights as we do some planning for the next few days.

The planning primarily is checking the weather on, and trying to figure out which days will have less rain than others.

The temperatures are now in the low to mid 40's, and dropping to the "Ice Cube" numbers at night.

The good news is I found Rhubarb Ice Cream......

Stark and kind of Alaskan in feel....
And more galvanized buildings....

Sandy is smiling because the sun came out for 10 minutes.

Puerto Natales main church.

I want to be like Herman!

I like St. Bernard's, but this one looked and sounded tough, so I did not approach him.

And I did not know the significance of the "Agustin" painted in the wall.

Maybe everybody in town knows to be careful near "Agustin"?

Well, that's it through the 17th of March, 2006.  This boat journey through the fjords of Patagonia was an incredible surprise.  I would suggest the trip to anybody that does not require Ice Carving, Casinos or swimming pools on their cruise ships!

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