Day 3 - Arrival in Puerto Natales
Trip Start Feb 26, 2012
36Trip End Apr 02, 2012
A much better sleep last night as the seas were calm…….just the sound of the partiers until well after 3 AM in the dining area above our cabin as the only disruption!
It was surprising to see so many of the revelers at breakfast, even if they were complaining of their hangovers and were wearing dark glasses despite the fact it is a very overcast day. Shortly after breakfast we are summoned to a briefing on the unloading process which will occur late this afternoon when our cruise ends in Puerto Natales. Apparently we can just leave our luggage in our cabins and they will have crew transport it to the Navimag office onshore or we can look after getting it off the ship ourselves if we prefer. Are you kidding……manage those bags on the stairs that are more like a ladder in terms of width and steepness
Shortly after 1 PM we made the turn into Canal Santa Maria headed for Puerto Natales our destination. Around 1:30 PM the Captain announces that we will be passing through the very narrow narrows at the end of the Canal in a few minutes and the bow would be a good place to watch from. There has been no build up to this, so how exciting could this be, but we decided to make our way forward. In the distance a pair of markers mark the shore on either side of the narrows. As the ship approaches it swings to port and then back to starboard as the Captain lines up with the narrows. The current, at 3 to 5 knots and wind at 20 knots are both running from astern increasing the ships speed and reducing the ships maneuverability. As we pass through the rocks are just feet off the port side. Has the Captain misjudged the wind and currents effect on the ships track? Part way through the rudder is turned to port pushing the stern around further. And then like a watermelon seed being squeezed between your fingers the Evangelistas is spit out the other end of the narrows. The onlookers broke out in spontaneous applause. The Captain comes on over the PA and announces that we have successfully passed through the 80 meter wide narrows
While on deck watching the navigation and manoeuvering we are treated to a show of jumping seals as a bonus.
Back in the lounge the kids from Boston are getting restless after 3 days aboard the ship…must have watched all their movies as they have resorted to playing cards. It is interesting to watch the 20 somethings meet and figure out how they will organize their trekking in the Torres Del Paine National Park once they get off the ship. Really nice to see that these folks who didn't know each other before boarding the ship are now planning a once in a lifetime experience together.
We go to our cabin after lunch to pack and shuffle stuff so as to be able to get off the ship efficiently. We have one suitcase and one backpack each…..we don’t need most of the stuff. It seems that every time we travel we have too much stuff and only end up wearing a certain subset of the inventory over and over again…..too bad there is no way to know BEFORE you leave home which items will be useful and which will be useless!
As we enter the natural harbor at Puerto Natales we note that there is a fabulous private yacht in the anchorage…..the Titan. We have seen this 78 metre yacht previously in Fort Lauderdale and have been told a couple of times now that the Titan is owned by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. When we were in Valparaiso we were told that Paul Allen had been in town on his yacht, so there is little doubt that this is his yacht. We were later told by the owner of the hotel we stay at, that very rarely do private yachts come to Puerto Natales. It would appear that he may be going around the Horn at the end of South America…..a very challenging trip due to the constantly high winds and seas.
Everyone gathers on the deck to watch the unloading of the cargo on the lower decks. Some of the cargo needs to be moved before the passengers can get off the ship. After about an hour the passengers were able to disembark and we got a cab to our hotel. A very small car with 340,000 kms on it and our bags are put in the trunk, although they won’t fit so the lid is simply bungeed closed as much as possible and we bounce down the road! We are staying at Weskar Lodge and it is lovely! We have a fantastic room facing the waterfront and our room is glowing with all the lights from Titan anchored just out front
We head to the dining room of the hotel for a very interesting dinner…….guanaco stew (these are animals very similar to llamas), seafood soup and crepes for dessert!
Set the alarm for 6:30 am in order to be up and ready for our tour of Torres Del Paine National Park tomorrow!