Monday, April 11, 2011

On Board the Bahía Azul

“Instead of another bus ride, you could have a bit of an adventure.” Back in February, our friend Carolyn—the same friend who suggested the Isla Navarino trek—laid out our options for getting to the jumping-off point for that trek: Puerto Williams, Chile. 

Naturally, we picked the adventure, a 36-hour ferry trip from Punta Arenas, Chile, through part of the Strait of Magellan, among rough-edged islands and along the Beagle Channel to Puerto Williams. Early in March, we spent a couple days hanging around Punta Arenas—a city of aging mansions, metal-faced shacks, elaborately coiffured trees and Bon Jovi tribute shows--waiting for the once-a-week sailing. Then we took a colectivo to the docks to find our boat, the Bahía Azul.

Somehow we expected it to be bigger, maybe with a built-up prow for forging through the ice. But we got on board anyway. (MK)

And after a bit of a false start--out into the channel, back to the dock, out into the channel again--we headed south on the Strait of Magellan. (MK)

The next day started out gray and cold. . . .  (KK)

. . . but even though our little cabin was snug, being up on deck was irresistible. (KK)

There was much more sunshine as we headed into the Canal del Ballaneros. (KK)

After Punta Arenas, we saw not a single human on shore the whole trip--and not a single house, road, light or cellphone tower. (MK)


A Chilean navy ship--one of only a handful of other boats we passed. (KK)


We hugged the shore of Tierra del Fuego for much of the trip. (MK)


On the second evening, a fishing boat moored alongside, and all of us passengers hung over the rail, taking pictures like paparazzi (KK).

While one crew member held the mooring rope, the rest traded fish for cigarettes, toilet paper, booze and dry cereal. (KK)

The second morning, we arrived in Puerto Williams. (KK)
Calm and safe after a memorable trip. (KK)

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