January 19 Bahia Ainsworth, Islotes Tucker
January 20 Fjordo d’Agostini, Glaciar Cóndor
January 24 Glaciar Pia
Our cruise departed from Punta Arenas on a Saturday evening and returned there the following morning. This was our ship, a small cruise ship named Mare Australis which carried about 130 passengers. It was a brand-new ship that had just come into service late in 2002 (their previous ship had burned down, which was the ultimate cause of the foulups with our plane reservations).
Our cabin was on the bottom deck, which was actually an advantage in bad weather because it swayed less than the higher decks. The cabins were all small, but that didn’t really matter because we spent very little time there when we weren’t sleeping.
The ship lost no time in getting out into the fjords. We spent a lot of time cruising through the various channels around Tierra del Fuego, travelling from one location to another. Our typical weather was cloudy, so we usually could not see the tops of the mountains, but we had some sunny periods and one big storm.
Every day we went on a “disembarkation”, and occasionally there were two in one day. This involved putting on yellow waterproof clothing and lifejackets, and getting into Zodiacs and going to scenic spots on the shore. Often the trips were to glaciers, but there was usually some interesting feature to walk to.
The disembarkations were always led by cruise personnel. We often went in Rodrigo’s group, because it was somewhat more energetic than the others. Here Rodrigo is telling us about the canelo tree and how it was sacred to the local indigenous people. The flags on Rodrigo’s sleeve are the flags of Chile (on top) and of the Chilean XII Region, Magallanes y Antartica Chilena (below it). Most of the Chilean regions do not have a flag, but you see the Magallanes flag everywhere in the region.
We did visit a lot of glaciers; this one is Glaciar Cóndor. The name is not official; it had no name at all until the crew of the Mare Australis scouted it out. They named it that because they saw condors there, and when we went there we saw condors too.
And this one is Glaciar Pia. It was named by Alberto d’Agostini, the Italian priest who explored the whole area between about 1920 and 1940. It is unknown who Pia was or why the glacier is named after her.
Meanwhile, back at the ship, the kitchen staff were preparing gourmet meals. These decorative birds and flowers were carved from vegetables and fruits by the head chef.