Puerto Madryn, or Y Wladychfa Gymreig

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The sailing ship Mimosa sailed from Liverpool in May 1865, with 153 migrants from from Wales, who wished to emigrate to Argentina.
Groups gathered in three main points  Abedare (S. Wales), Birkenhead in Cheshire, England, and Mountain Ash, which is in the Rhondda S. Wales, before they all made their way to Liverpool to board the Mimosa. The cost per adult was £12.00 and £6.00 per child.
They landed in Argentian in July of 1865 and named their landing place Porth Madryn after Sir Love Jones-Parry’s estate in Wales, which was called Madryn Estate.

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Jones Parry 1832 -1891

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An advert to encourage those who wished to emigrate.

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The name of the our next port of call, Puerto Madryn, (due to Port Stanley having been cancelled), rang a bell with me, but not a S. American bell, but a North Wales bell.
As a child I spent many holidays with my parents on the Llyn Peninsula, because my mother came from Caernarvon, and her married sister still lived in Caernarvon, so we had free accommodation. We would all take the bus to various beaches, and places of interest, and one of my favourite places was Nefyn.

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Nefyn Beach

Near Nefyn was Madryn Estate and Madryn Castle.

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Found the above picture of Madryn Castle on the internet – the building burned down over 30 years ago, and the grounds appears to have become a caravan park.

It was this place that rang a bell with me as I was disappointed with the ‘castle’ affect as I expected something like Caernarvon Castle, but as an eight year old I was big in to castles and knights.

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I took this picture of Caernarvon castle in 2008.

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The view of Porth Madryn from our ship earlier this year – now called Puerto Madryn

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The beach and prom

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We were in the town when I took this picture to show how close the ship is to the town centre, which was about a ten to fifteen minute walk.

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This street name caught my eye –

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ARA General Belgrano, which used to be the USS Phoenix. She was launched in 1938 and survived the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour. She was sold to Argentina in 1951 and eventually became ARA General Belgrano.

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During the 1982 Argentinian / British war ARA General Belgrano was sunk by a British submarine on the 2nd May 1982.

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A more peaceful scene – the Monument to Women, on the promenade, the Azamara Pursuit can just be seen in the background.

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Still on the prom – a statue to Hippolyte Bouchard – 1780 to 1837 – he was the first Argentinian to sail around the world. He was also a corsair and attacked various places in California, which were under Spanish controls at the time.

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My photograph of him didn’t do him justice. The above is off the internet.

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A peaceful scene as we made our way back to the ship.

As we walked along the pier we kept a lookout for penguins, as we’d seen some earlier in the day. We did see various penguins, but as I tried to take a photograph they were too fast .

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If you see a penguin in the above pic please let me know . . .

From our balcony we were able to watch sea lions between the ship and the wharf, but once again, each time I grabbed my camera they disappeared – perhaps they were just camera shy.

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Coat of arms of Puerto Madryn

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The living room on the ship and a quiet drink before getting ready for dinner.

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Taken from the Living room, which is near the bow, so you can see the walk-way into town. The blue screen is due to the filter they have on the window.

If you are wondering what the title of this blog means –

Y Wladychfa Gymreig = The Welsh Settlement

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The flag of the Welsh colony in Patagonia.

 

Jealousy is a bridge . . .

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View from Azamara Pursuit’s bridge
sailing north to  Puerto Madryn, in Argentina 

Sailing with two master mariners can come in handy if you are only a second mate. I left it to my two seniors hands to see if a bridge visit could be arranged for a short time during a sea day. They succeeded, and we received an invitation from the Captain to visit the holy of holies on board a ship in today’s troubled world.

The ship’s Master was Captain Carl Smith from the Isle of Man, which is located in the Irish sea between Northern Ireland and the Lake district, in England.
He’d been at sea since 1989 starting with Shell Tankers as a deck cadet, and moving in to cargo ships slowly moving up the ranks to Chief Officer after passing his Master’s ticket. He moved to passenger ships in 1999 and joined Azamara in 2007 and again worked his way up until he became Master of Azamara Journey in 2017, followed by Azamara Quest in 2018.

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We thought it would be a quick in and out, but it wasn’t, Captain Smith was happy to chat about the difference in today’s sea going world compared to ours when we started in the early 1960’s.

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Between us there must be close to 150 years of sea time – Captain Smith on the left, my New Zealand friend (Captain), yours truly, and my UK friend (Captain), the three of us first met in September 1960 at HMS Conway nautical training college. When we left Conway we joined different companies and it was years later before we met again.

DSC04875r           To say that I noticed the difference from my time at sea is an understatement. My two friends had been at sea all their lives and had experienced the gradual change, but for me it was an eye opener.

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The height of technology when I was 3rd Mate in 1966 in LST Frederick Clover, was an azimuth mirror, and a very old radar set – luxury !

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I’d never seen a  ship’s bridge with a three piece suit !

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Same LST all mod cons – open bridge (what’s air conditioning) and note the H & S rope to stop my seat being washed overboard . . . well it wasn’t my seat, but the captain’s and I only got to sit in it when I knew he was not around – I used to like the ‘grave yard watch’ – mid-day to 4.00 pm and midnight to 4.00 am.
Most people used to sleep during those hours, so I had the place to myself.

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The bridge was big enough to play indoor cricket.

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The chair near the computer screen was not the Captain’s – his was the tall chair near the bridge window.

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They had enough electronic stuff to launch a satellite – we were also shown the screen that monitored the amount of chlorine in the fresh water – it had to be just right – I think the bridge monitor was a repeater from the engineering department. Every aspect of the ship was monitored from the bridge – there were alarms that sounded for anything that was not ‘right’.

If there wasn’t any movement of personnel, officer of the watch, lookout etc for a set number of minutes an alarm would go off, which was repeated I think in the captain’s cabin. A very big incentive not to fall asleep on the grave yard watch. . . . .

I think we were on the bridge for about an hour and a half and the time just flew, because the visit for me was so interesting and Captain Smith (aka as Captain Carl) was happy to chat and answer all our questions. Our wives in particular loved the experience, which gave them an idea of the life of their husbands.

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Azamara Quest – 30,277 gt launched in 2000

 

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Frederick Clover on the Sarawak River, Borneo,
approaching Kuching to disembark troops.

We had to cancel our movies under the stars, and compromised with a drive-in.

The LST was launched January 1945 & her displacement was 2,140 tons when light,

Overall I think preferred Azamata Quest :- o)

 

 

 

Falklands Is. or Islas Malvinas

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Coat of Arms of the Falklands

After leaving Ushuaia we would be at sea for a day before our next destination, which was Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands in the S. Atlantic.

Port Stanley, which was named after Lord Stanley in 1843, who was at the time, Secretary of State for war and the colonies. He later became Prime Minster three times.

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Edward George Geoffrey Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby
29 March 1799 – 23 October 1869

The old capital Port Louis, was replaced under instructions from the island Governor who was Richard Moody at the time.

During HMS Beagle’s second voyage to the area, they visited Port Louis in 1833. Charles Darwin being aboard, wrote in his book – The Voyage of the Beagle 

After the possession of these miserable islands had been contested by France, Spain, and England, they were left uninhabited. The government of Buenos Aires then sold them to a private individual, but likewise used them, as old Spain had done before, for a penal settlement. England claimed her right and seized them. The Englishman who was left in charge of the flag was consequently murdered. A British officer was next sent, unsupported by any power: and when we arrived, we found him in charge of a population, of which rather more than half were runaway rebels and murderers.

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HMS Beagle in the Straits of Magellan – illustration by Robert Taylor Pritchett for the 1890 edition of Darwin’s book.

In anticipation of our visit to the Falkland Islands we had booked a day tour with Patrick Watts of Adventure Tours , which would include lunch, and also a visit to Port Stanley to have a look around  – and of course the main attraction would be to Volunteer Point to see the penguins.

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Part of the journey would be off road, so the trip would be in 4 x 4 vehicles. As well as details of the nature of the islands we would also have various points of interest from the 1982 Falkland war, which was between Argentina and the UK.

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According to a friend of mine, who sent me the above picture – you can get quite close to the penguins , ,  for some reason as I looked at the above, it reminded me of a political gathering – none of the members seemed to know which way to go . . .

I also wanted information about SS Great Britain, that had been abandoned in the Falklands in 1937, and is now a museum piece in Bristol, UK.

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SS Great Britain in 1969, before her ‘repatriation’ to her place of birth – Bristol, UK.

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Launched in 1843 – she was the first iron ship to be driven by a propeller, & powered by steam.  She was the largest ship in the world at that time and was the first iron steamer to cross the Atlantic – it took her fourteen days.

One of our group John, had been in the Falklands during the later part of the 1982 war and he was a fund of stories and anecdotes – he was First Officer of  Mv Stena Seaspread ,

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which was a fleet repair ship – look closely and you’ll see a submarine alongside the repair ship.

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Ariel view of the Mv Stena Seaspread with an RN ship alongside her. The view also give one an idea of the landscape.

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even the penguins came out to welcome my mate’s ship !
John did tell me that he knew each one by name . . .

With John’s memories and anecdotes, we were all looking forward to our visit.

It was during our day at sea from Ushuaia that the Captain announced that we would not be going to Port Stanley because the weather forecast for the area anticipated swells of 8 to 10 meters (26 to 33 feet) and this type of swell would make for a very unpleasant voyage when leaving Port Stanley, and considering the average age of the passengers (let’s just say ‘mature’) very dangerous when the passengers moved about the ship.

Once we left the sheltered area of the Beagle Channel and passed Isla de los Estados on our starboard side, which is 29 km (18 miles) off the coast of eastern coast of Argentina  we entered the open sea and the ship altered course to port and head away from the area of high swells, yet even so we could feel the slightly unpleasant movement of the ship as we headed north.
We were bound for a completely different type of port – Puerto  Madryn, now that name rang a bell with me!

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I thought a comment on the island that we passed may be of interest.

Isla de los Estados in English means Staten Island, named after the same person as Staten Island New York.

A Dutch explorer passed the island on Christmas Day in 1615 and named it Staten Landt and believed that it could be part of the Great Southern content.
When Abel Tasman saw New Zealand in 1642 he named the land Staten Landt, and assumed it was part of the great southern land i.e Antarctica.

Of course I always seem to come back to books . . . but there is a link, however small  . . .

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The island was mentioned in ‘Two Years Before the Mast’ by R.H. Dana, which was first published in 1840 –  well worth a read.
The author shipped out of Boston as a common sailor in 1834 and kept a diary. He sailed round Cape Horn and returned to Boston two years later. The book was made in to a film in 1946 with Alan Ladd in the lead part & Brian Donlevy who plays R.H.Dana.

Pilgrim

The Pilgrim is the name of the original ship involved in Two Years Before The Mast, built in 1825 and lost at sea due to fire in 1856.

Today’s Pilgrim (which is a replica & pictured above) was a three-masted schooner on the Baltic trade in 1945.
In 1975 she sailed to Lisbon to be converted to her present configuration as a brig.
Since 1981 she has been based at Dana Point Harbor (named after the author) in California, and has been used in ‘Amsitad’ the movie, and is a classroom that sails in the summer months with volunteers.

But it doesn’t sail around the Horn to Isla de los Estados.

 

 

 

 

 

Whistle up a wind

Ushuaia on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, is considered the most southerly city in the world – also known as the end of the world.

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We arrived in Ushusia at 6.00 pm and immediately went alongside. We were all looking forward to the excursion the next day, which was a trip on the End of the World Train.

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The six of us had booked 1st class seats for the journey, and the price included lunch. Our plan for the day was to go ashore early and visit the town of Ushuaia, and at around 11.00 am take a couple of taxis to the main station of the End of the World Train,

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so as to have a look around the small terminus, and perhaps buy some souvenirs before boarding the train.

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From the ship the town looked an interesting place.

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The pink roofed buildings is the old prison, which used to hold 600 convicts. The prisoners were used to help build the town, public works, homes etc, and they also supplied the town with firewood, bread, and electrical power; prisoners and citizens relied on each other. The prison was closed in 1947, and it is now a tourist attraction.

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After dinner an hour’s entertainment fitted well before an early night.
Helen Jayne  would be leaving us the next day to fly back to the UK.

We rose early so as to be out and about and make the best of our time ashore, but . . .

Over night the wind had increased and by morning we were not allowed to open our balcony doors, nor go out on deck, and the gangway had been taken in for safety, so nobody was allowed ashore. The wind speed had increased to 59 knts per hour (109 km per hour or 69 mph).

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Note the white caps in an enclosed bay, as the wind increased.

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Maureen & I were in the Living Room, which is close to the bow and we watched the above ferry try six times to come alongside just ahead of us.

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At times he got quite close to us . . .

After he’d tried six times the authorities closed the port and ships were not allowed in or out. The ferry was ordered out and to anchor in the harbour.

Helen Jayne missed her flights because of the lack of gangway. Early in the day we could see some planes taking off, but later I think they closed the airport as well.

We had nine mooring lines out forward and nine after (I counted them later) when we usually just had four or five. In addition the Captain had ordered the ‘thrusters’ to be used to keep us alongside. The wind was trying to push us off the wharf and the use of the thrusters was to keep us along side.
Thrusters are used in confined areas to assist with berthing and un-dock of ships, and are not supposed to be kept running for a long time – on this day both were running continuous for seven hours.
Later we had a chance to chat to the Captain and we asked about the thrusters and he told us that he was concerned about burnout, but due to the very cold water from the Antarctic the thrusters didn’t over heat.

After lunch the wind dropped a little, which was enough to open the port again. The ferryboat that had abandoned its effort to dock waited her chance to come alongside and this time made it safely. Also, another cruise ship came in and berthed on the other side of our wharf .

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She was the Seabourn Quest 32,000 gt, which makes her a similar sized vessel as the Azmara Pursuit, which is30,000 gt.

The position of the Seabourn Quest was perfect, because she shielded us from the wind, which was now pushing the Seabourn Quest on to the wharf . By being shielded from the wind we were able to put down our gangway safely and the business of crew changes could take place, i.e Helen Jayne, and some hotel crew.

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The port had reopened and ships began to move.

A little later the wind had dropped enough for the Captain to allow the passengers ashore if they wished.

There is an old sailors superstition that it is bad luck to whistle on board a ship, because this can bring the wind or increase the wind’s strength.
The only person allowed to whistle on board was the cook – because while he is whistling he is not steeling food.

By now it was afternoon and we knew that we had missed End of the World Train, but fortunately we hadn’t paid anything.

The six of us walked in to town and had a look around – Maureen bought two stuffed penguins as souvenirs.

As we left the wharf we came across the monument to celebrate the first white settlers to the area.

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It depicts the Andes mountains, snow & the wings of an albatross, & incidents of the history of the town are dotted around the main monument.

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We did consider a hop on hop off bus but the timings didn’t fit with the ship’s departure.

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During our walk we came across a restaurant that BBQ’d their meat in the window – later we realised that this was normal.

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An Argentinian home BBQ . . . a little different than an Aussie BBQ.

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Everywhere we looked we saw penguins – I don’t think the locals eat their penguins, unlike the Aussies who eat their kangaroo.

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I saw this sign from a distance and thought of a certain book company – and wondered if they’d have any books in English – when I got close enough I realised that it was a chocolate shop – perhaps they do eat their penguins, but wrapped in chocolate.

Ushuaia felt quite prosperous, perhaps they have a tax concession for being at the end of the World. . . .

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Plenty of late model cars around.

For those who wish to pronounce Ushuaia click on this link Ushuaia ,
or just try  . . . .  Ush-U-Why-A

Ushuaia is the capital of Tierra del Fuego’s Argentinian area. The town was founded in 1884 by Augusto Lasserre (1826-1906) who was an officer in the Argentine Navy.

Before the Commander founded the town the area was  inhabited  by many who were not Argentinian citizens, including a number of British subjects.
The town was originally founded in an informal way by British missionaries, following the British surveys, many years before Argentine nationals or government representatives arrived on a permanent basis.

HMS Beagle first arrived in 1833 on its first survey of the area, and the town was named by British missionaries using the native name  Yamana after the area.
Much of the early history of the city is described in Lucas Bridges book Uttermost Part of the Earth, which was published in 1948. The name Ushuaia first appears in letters and reports by the S. American Mission Society in England. It was a British missionary Waite Stirling who was the first European to live in the town when he lived with the Yámana people in 1869.
More British missionaries arrived in 1870 and established a settlement.

Lucas Bridge was known as the third white native of the area, being born in 1874. His elder brother was the first, having been born in 1872. Their father was Thomas Bridges an Anglican missionary, who was married to Mary Ann Varder, who was also English.

Lucas Bridges was fluent in English, Yahgan, and Selk’nam (two of the local languages). His book was about his families experiences in Ushuaia and how colonization had affected the local population after the gold and sheep booms that had brought a considerable number of Europeans, and European  diseases, which decimated the local Yahagan &. Selk’nam tribes.

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Cristina Calderón (born May 24, 1928 – this lady is the last full blooded Yaghan person. According to the internet she was still alive in 2017.

Often called  “Abuela“, which is Spanish for “grandmother”

 

Beagle Channel-Tierra del Fuego

We sailed for the Beagle Channel at midnight on our way to Ushuaia in Argentina. We would have a day of cruising the Beagle Channel.

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The morning brought some dramatic views – the above and the one below were taken from our balcony.

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We didn’t have any idea what the day would bring for our cruise of the Beagle Channel.

The channel was named after HMS Beagle during its first visit to this area of S. America, which took place between 1826 – 1830.
It was during the Beagle’s second voyage to the same area that Charles Darwin was aboard as a self funded ‘supernumerary’, which gave him the opportunity of being a naturalist, although he was an amateur.
On reaching the Beagle Channel in January of 1836 he saw his first glacier and wrote in his diary –  “It is scarcely possible to imagine anything more beautiful than the beryl-like blue of these glaciers, and especially as contrasted with the dead white of the upper expanse of snow.”

Charles Darwin published his ‘Origin of the Species’ in 1859, and used information that he’d gathered during his visit to the Beagle Channel in 1836.

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Later in the morning it brightened somewhat, but it also started to rain.

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After lunch the rain eased and the views became clearer – the ship in the above picture is a small cruising vessel, and looked about the same size as our cruise ship, which was 30,000 gt.

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We are now well and truly in the Tierra del Fuego between Chile and Argentina.

The black and white pictures were not taken deliberately as such, but to show that the world of colour had been naturally drained from the landscape.

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We looked at the gap between the hill and thought it was an inland lake or snow on the hill.

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It was a glacier with the melting under ice causing the waterfall.

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A different angle . .

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Everywhere we looked the drama of the landscaped showed how small and fragile we are in comparison.

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Another glacier – is it any wonder that Darwin was so taken with the beauty of the glaciers.

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The glacier blue was such a contrast to the dark satanic surroundings.

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Pilot boat leaving after the pilot for Ushuaia, came aboard.

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The Beagle Channel opens up, the pilot is aboard, so we can crack on a little more speed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Punta Arenas, Chile

We looked at the excursions offered by the ship and decided against buying.
A visit to see penguins on Magdalena Is. USD $299 / person,

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but we had already booked to see hundreds of penguins on the Falkland Islands, because it was much cheaper. We could have booked to explore Torres del Paine National park, but this tour was a little too rich for us at USD $1299 each . . . .

As none of us had been to Punta Arenas before we thought the best thing to do was to visit the tourist office and pick up a local map, and an information booklet, and have a chat with the staff. A 3.5-hour walking tour off the ship was USD $129, so we figured with a little effort we would see just as much – which we did.

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The rainbow over Punta Arenas made us feel welcome.

Unfortunately, on leaving the ship we had to contend with high winds, and heavy rain much of the time. The ship supplied umbrellas for each cabin, so along with our own umbrella we were well covered. (excuse the pun).

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Welcome to windy & wet Punta Arenas . . a town that joins the Atlantic & the Pacific.

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Two of our friends with the whale tail in the background.

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The town felt small  & friendly, and we enjoyed out short stay, even allowing for the poor weather.
We just had to get used to the rule of the road to cross the streets. . . .

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A visit to the tourist office soon had us up to date with information and street maps.

The office was in the Plaza de Aramas, which also held the statue of Ferdinand Magellan. Note the statue of a young boy on the right side of the monument, he is dangling his leg. Look closely and you will see it is shiny, because if you kiss the toe of the Patagonian boy you will return to the city in the future. Maureen and I didn’t take up the offer – not because we don’t wish to return one day, but we didn’t fancy catching anything that we shouldn’t, being so far from home.

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I’ve cropped out the young boy so that you can see his polished foot.

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The six of us DIY walking tour and trying to keep warm and dry.

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As we crossed the road, I had to take a picture of the local café.
We didn’t go in, as we were on our way to the maritime museum, which was inexpensive to enter and very interesting.

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Took this photo because my daughter’s name is Sara.

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General Baquedano

The first training ship of the Chilean Navy, she was a corvette and was launched in 1898. I took a photograph of the paining in the museum. She was decommissioned in 1959.

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Maureen’s going for her helmsman’s ticket. Perhaps I should have said ‘helmsperson’s’  ticket in this PC day and age . . . just for the record I have a helmsman’s ticket stamped in my discharge book, as yet nobody has taken offence.

During our time in the museum we watched a short film, about thirteen minutes, of Sir Ernest Shackleton, and viewed & read quite a lot of memorabilia.

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Ernest Shackleton – 1874 – 1922

The details of the man who rescued Shackleton’s men off Elephant Island in the middle of a southern winter was an eye opener for me.

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Captain Luis Antonio Pardo Villalón 1892 – 1935

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Tug Yelcho in 1913 –

Shackleton’s three-masted barquentine Endurance, had been crushed by the ice, and sank in October 1915, in the Weddell Sea.

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Endurance being crushed by the ice.

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The final pieces about to sink.

All the crew of 28 escaped, but then had to make their way by sledge and lifeboats to Elephant Island.

Shackleton and five of his crew in April 1916 (southern winter), made their epic journey of 800 miles (1300 km) in an open lifeboat to South Georgia, the life boat was named    James Caird .

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James Caird – actual photograph taken as they launched the boat for the rescue mission.

From South Georgia he made his way to Punta Arenas to organise the rescue of those  left behind on Elephant island.

With Luis Antonio Pardo Villalon in command, and Shackleton as a passenger, they sailed in August 1916 from Punta Arenas to Elephant Island to rescue the remaining 22 of Shackleton’s crew. The rescue was a great success in extreme conditions for such a small ship.

For his bravery and skill in rescuing the trapped men Captain Pardo Villalon was offered a considerable amount of money by the British government, but he refused to accept it and commented that he was just fulfilling a requirement for the Chilean navy.

After leaving the navy Luis Antonio Pardo Villalón was appointed consul in Liverpool (UK) from 1930 to 1934.

The highest point on Elephant Island was named after  Luis Antonio Pardo Villalón, and there is a Cape at the northern end of the island, which was named after his ship, the Yelcho.

The Yelcho was built in 1906 by the Scottish firm G. Brown and Co. of Greenock, on the River Clyde.

In 2016 Shackleton’s grand daughter, the Honorable Alexandra Shackleton flew to Punta Arenas to open the “Shackleton, 100 years” exhibition to honor the great explorer and Piloto Pardo.

The museum was a very interesting and well worth a visit if you are ever in Punta Arenas.

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Azamara Pursuit is alongside the wharf on the far side, and on this side are two other vessels (the red one & the orange vessels).
I think the red vessel is the RV Laurence M. Gould  (RV = Research vessel), from the United States’ National Science Foundation – she is an ice breaker.
The orange coloured vessel is the Almirante Maximiano and she is also a research vessel, Brazilian owned, but registered in the Cook Islands.

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As we made our way back to the ship you can see how fierce the wind was – the white caps are caused by the strong wind.
On reaching the land end of the wharf we were not allowed to walk to the ship (about 200 meters) because the authorities consider that that the wind strength made it too dangerous. They laid on a small bus to take us to the gangway, which was sheltered by our ship.

An interesting few hours, but must admit it was a pleasure to return to the comfort of the ship after being in heavy rain, and then being blown dry by the wind from the Antarctic. It was unfortunate that we missed seeing the replica of Magellan’s ship due to the bad weather, but for me the details of the Shackleton rescue and the museum in general made up for the poor weather.