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The beginning of our Chilean Patagonia and Fjords voyage

Embarkation day and beginning of our Chilean Patagonia and Fjords voyage. Night at Puerto Williams 

This morning, Europa, opened her gangway for embarkation. She stands out in the port as a quite unique-looking ship, moored amongst larger fishing, navy, and expedition motor vessels. At midday, she will be casting off and setting course towards Navarino island. 

A day for drills, familiarisations, and enjoying the waters of the Beagle Channel until her anchor drops in the evening to spend the night at Puerto Williams. 

Embarkation procedures were followed by the traditional sound of the ship’s three bells calling for a gathering on deck. The captain and her crew welcomed us on board, introducing themselves and also giving a general idea of the trip, all followed by the safety talk that must be done before departing on any sea voyage. 

With the mandatory pilots on board, all was set by midday to let go of our moorings and start our way.

The weather conditions were as we could expect in this part of the world. A cold breeze blew and the skies were overcast, with rain and snow falling over the mountains. 

Soon after our first lunch on board, the guides and crew took the time to start familiarising everybody with the ship and the duties necessary to run her and the watch system, the safety equipment, and a practical walk around on decks and below. A way to get into the ship’s systems and the life-on-board. 

During our voyage, we will combine the sailing bits with trying to go ashore at several spots along the southern coast of Chile. A large area indented by countless fjords and fjord-like channels from the latitudes of Cape Horn (56° S) to Reloncaví Estuary (42° S).  

Some of them represent important navigable connections between ports like Punta Arenas, Puerto Chacabuco, Puerto Natales, Puerto Edén, and all the way to Chiloé Island.

While navigating through this maze of fjords and waterways, we will come across abrupt shores, leading up to high peaks, cliffs, and rocky headlands. The tides are regular and not strong, with the exception of the exciting maneuvering through the narrowest passages. A sort of rugged landscape always under the unpredictable weather, a unique scenery.  

Our adventure begins in the Beagle Channel, a famed area named after the ship Beagle. Her explorations on those waters started in 1826-30 under the command of Captain Pringle Stokes. In the Straits of Magellan, the hardships of sailing and exploring these lands ended up with him killing himself. It was then that the vessel was handed over to Captain Robert Fitzroy. During her trip around the world (1831-36), she carried along the young naturalist Charles Darwin. An exploratory voyage that profoundly marked the man for the rest of his life. Furthermore, his observations changed the way we all look and understand the world and nature. The experiences he lived during this trip were skilfully put into written words in the book “The Voyage of the Beagle”  

One of the most interesting narratives of voyaging that it has fallen to our lot to take up, and one which must always occupy a distinguished place in the history of scientific navigation. 

The extraordinary minuteness and accuracy of Mr. Darwin's observations, combined with the charm and simplicity of his descriptions, have ensured the popularity of this book with all classes of readers” 

John Murray. December 1889 

About 30nm lay between Ushuaia and Puerto Williams, all framed by mountains and hills covered by old Patagonian forests.  

Magellanic penguins now and then pop their heads above the water, Kelp gulls, Giant petrels, and Black-browed albatrosses fly around, and a few Humpback whales are spotted too. 

Shortly after coffee time, we were already getting to our anchorage at Puerto Williams, the southernmost town in the world, much wilder and less developed than the touristic city of Ushuaia. 

Still, there was time before dinner and nightfall to get done with some more training, now it was the moment for rig climbing instructions, necessary if we plan to go aloft at any point during the trip. Like that we reach the end of our first day on board, we will sit at anchor overnight until tomorrow morning when activities ashore are planned. 

Geschreven door:
Jordi Plana Morales | Expedition Leader

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