Tuesday 2nd February
Due to arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile, this morning. Except we didn't. We hovered on the edge of the port and could see the city spread out along the coast. The Chilean port authority were concerned about damage to the pier if we were tied up to it during the high winds that were forecast later in the afternoon. So they wouldn't let us dock. Apparently you are not supposed to enter Argentina straight from the Falkland Islands and vice versa, which is why we went to Montevideo in Uruguay after we had been to Buenos Aires in Argentina, before going to the Falklands. Someone said there were Chilean authorities on the ship frantically stamping our passports to show we had been in Chile - even if it was only Chilean waters!
We missed the trip that we had booked, BUT we got to go through the Chilean Straits in the daylight and it was amazing! The weather was a little misty and very cold but that didn't deter us from spending most of the day out on the decks. First we saw some whale spouts, but too far away to see the whale. Then, we went through mile after mile of rocky island coastline either side of us. The passages we took through the islands were named Cockburn Channel and Brecknock Channel. As we sailed on the peaks around us got higher and higher and had snow on top, then glaciers, then blue glaciers. It was so quiet in the Straits, the water was calm and we were going slowly. It was as if we were the only ones around. Then we saw a tiny yacht in the distance - what a wonderful place it must have been for them before we came steaming through! But we soon left them behind and carried on through the Straits. I was in the Bistro getting a cup of coffee and suddenly a shout went up, and I thought someone had spotted a whale! Everyone started waving and then a huge P&O cruise liner went past us quite close, going the other way, casting a massive shadow in the Bistro.
Martin was chatting to a guy today who turned out to be the ship's emergency doctor. He confirmed that there had only been one death and the lady with a stroke had left the ship in Rio. The other person who had left in an ambulance in Rio was now back on the ship.
We continued to marvel at the Straits until the sun went down, without a sunset, around 9pm. If we had docked at Punta Arenas we wouldn't have seen the Straits because we would have been travelling through them overnight to Ushuaia.
Tonight we watched ET member Rob perform an excellent solo cabaret, singing with his guitar.
Overnight the ship continued slowly through more Straits - Ballanero Channel, Darwin Pass, and the Beagle Channel to reach Ushuaia in the morning.