The Chilean Fjords

The Chilean Fjords low clouds 60

OK, OK, the Beagle was Darwin’s ship not Magellan’s; picky, picky, picky.

Hotel Manager, Richard Fenn, invited me to dine at his table last night in Compass Rose. There were 5 guests, three women and two men, all solo travelers, plus, of course Richard. All of us had led varied lives, and the two hour dinner passed quickly. Richard, being in charge of everything asked for any suggestions we might have. A lovely woman, retired MD, from La Jolla, suggested that the elevator buttons be a different color than the metal in which they are set. “I don’t have any trouble with the elevator buttons” the man next to her retorted. I asked why the ship’s clocks were 5 minutes slow. (I have an atomic watch that is to the second for my broadcasts.) “What time do you have now?” asked Richard. “8:35”, I said. “It’s 8:30,” said grumpy sternly. He and I did not have much of an exchange of ideas.

For dessert we were offered, among other choices, Baked Antarctica. How cool to name it after our area rather than Baked Alaska. After dessert, each woman was handed a long stemmed red rose for Valentine’s Day. Grumpy remarked that the thorns were still on the stems.

It is little things like the roses that make Mariner an exceptional ship. I mentioned to Richard that I never saw a line at the reception desk. “And we hope you never will.” he said, “If a line starts to form, we just put more staff on the desk.” What makes this ship work so well is the anticipation of problems before they exist, and as a result they don’t materialize. Even the doors leading to the decks open easily and are dampened so as close slowly. For those who have cruised before, you’ll recognize this as a plus.

As we were leaving the Magellan Strait, a fish went the other direction with the in and out of the water roll that is characteristic of a dolphin. It was alone, and rather small but may have been some sort of Chilean Dolphin. I’ll ask.

The channel leaving the Straits is a bit tricky, with rapid depth changes and little islands that we squeeze between. Our wake looks like the trail of a sidewinder. The Observation Lounge is full, as passengers listen to Terry Breen’s narration and enjoy a hot chocolate or consommé.

We’ll be traveling north along Chile for seven days. Chile is drawn out, but thin, with a coast of 2700 miles; figure from the tip of Baja all the way up to the edge of the Artic, and yet with a width between only 45 and 150 miles. This trip up the fjords keeps a bit of coin from the Mariner coffers as the ships stores are closed, and have been since the 13th. I’m not sure what the folks running out of toothpaste will do, as the stores don’t open again until the 17th when we leave the national waters of Chile, and enter the international waters of the Pacific. Not that we’d be in competition with local vendors. This region is bleak and barren; no inhabitants and no visual wildlife except the occasional cormorant getting out of Dodge.

Today is my birthday, which for psychological reasons of my own, I don’t celebrate. No chance for avoidance on this ship. Birthday cards came from the Captain and the Social Hostess. Birthday greetings will sit all day on the TV’s channel one, the same channel that shows the menus in the four restaurants. As if that weren’t enough, two glasses of champagne and a birthday cake were delivered to my suite. Routinely, my cabin gets two of everything; one of the perks of traveling alone.

Captain Philippe Fichet-DeLavault obtained special permission to approach the large Skua glacier. We turned 180 degrees to enter a fjord, and cruised slowly towards the glacier. As we sidled up to the glacier, hunks of ice drifted by the ship. Skua is about 6 miles long from the water’s edge to its source. We launched a boat to pick up a chunk of ice, which the crew will bring aboard. The ice is hundreds of years old. I’d love to have a couple of cubes in my drink.

And that brings me to munchie time; plump shrimp and cocktail sauce.

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2 Responses to “The Chilean Fjords”

  1. Shelby T Mitchell Says:

    Happy Birthday! Hope you have a great one!

  2. roger carroll Says:

    Geoffe, you are looking great. We leave March 24 get on a big boat in San Juan. See all those countries on our way to the Panama canal and back home. Miss you on the radio.
    Roogee Carroll

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