It is now 1:11 pm, and the temperature has risen to 51 degrees - finally - after being in the freezing fjords. Wayne expressed his feeling of chill hatred in the cabin, wearing his Patagonia jacket as we go through the Patagonian Fjords to Puerto Montt.
Our first part of the two days of cruising was up the Strait of Magellan as we were leaving Punta Arenas. The strait comprises a navigable sea route immediately south of mainland South America and north of Tierra del Fuego. The waterway is the most important natural passage between the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans, but is considered a difficult route to navigate because of the unpredictable winds and currents and the narrowness of the passage. The strait is about 350 miles long and about 1.2 miles wide at its narrowest point.
There is also a Coastal and Marine Protected Area (the Francisco Coloane region) which serves as a sanctuary for Humpback whales.
Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese sailor in service to the Spanish king, became the first European to navigate the strait in 1520, during his global circumnavigation voyage. Because Magellan’s ships entered it on November 1st, All Saints’ Day, it was originally named Estrecho de Todos los Santos (Strait of All Saints). Later, the Spanish kin changed the name in honor of Magellan. Other early explorers included Francis Drake, Phillip Parker King, and FitzRoy of the HMS Beagle.
Chile took possession of the channel in 1843, with the first settlement at Fuerte Bulnes, in a forested zone on the north side of the strait. This was abandoned, and in 1848, the city of Punta Arenas was founded where the Magellanic forests met the Patagonian plains.
Until the Panama Canal opened in 1914, the strait was the main route for steam ships traveling from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It was considered the only safe way to move between these oceans, as the Drake Passage was notorious for turbulent and unpredictable weather.
Much of what has been presented at our Mac classes for the last two days has been pretty much old hat for the two of us, so we’ve taken to amusing ourselves onboard ship. I have continued with my morning exercise classes, along with “Boot Camp,” which has been effective enough to make me want to take classes when we get back to Hawaii. Sue has been there with me for that all the way. There has also been a mixology class, a Puerto Montt discussion, and trivia. Mom would make a killing here. And I have personally subsidized the pay of almost every technician in the spa -- I love to get pampered. I have decided that since we have a spa about 1 mile down the road from our house, I am going to book a facial and massage on the second Sunday of each month. I shouldn’t wait a year between treatments! It has made for a very relaxing 2 days.
We’ve finished our Mac classes for the day, and are planning on lazing around a bit today. I’ve assembled a bunch of post cards that will be uploaded and mailed when we hit Puerto Montt and better wifi tomorrow. In another hour, I will head up to the gym for my last Boot Camp session and a little extra cardio. I saw the menu for dinner tonight, and I think I need to have a few negative calories to appreciate it fully!
Tomorrow is Puerto Montt, then one final day at sea, and then, alas, the cruise is at an end. We will head to Cuzco, hike Machu Picchu, and then it is all over and done. I am not looking forward to ending the vacation, but there are three little (figuratively) kitties waiting at home, and we are looking forward to seeing Darien before she heads to Costa Rica.