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(Chile bans our ship from Punta Arenas)

overcast 31 °F

Many excursions were scheduled at Punta Arenas - to sheep farms, vineyards, and the city, but, what a surprise, Chile closed its doors to us as we arrived. So we sailed on and we are now almost to the bottom of the world! We have said goodbye to our last port in Chile ☺ and are sailing through the Strait of Magellan to go around Cape Horn and across the Drake Passage to the Antarctic. There has been much preparation for this adventure. Yesterday while we sat inside drinking coffee, the crew dragged deck furniture and cushions back inside through a wind that was so strong it tore the hinge off a glass door.

Then a huge amount of gear arrived in our cabin: a complex backpack system and a multilayered parka with enough straps and zips and pockets and tabs to befuddle all but cold weather trekkers, colored red so we can be found if we fall into the ice. We tried them on; they take up a lot of room in the suite and on us (we look like overstuffed ducks). The next event was a presentation by the Expedition Team, eight fascinating men who spoke of their talents and interests and responsibilities – like the ornithologist who will be on deck identifying fauna and the meteorologist who is one of the Zodiac drivers, etc, etc. This morning our butler brought not coffee but .... rubberized trousers and boots. We tried them on; boots didn’t fit. Next stop: boot exchange.

The skies are now darkening and the waves are rising, and it’s very cold. THIS is summer in the Southern hemisphere?? Our Expedition Leader got serious about what is ahead. He laid out our projected route: to the Antarctic, then to South Georgia and across the South Atlantic to Cape Town – and gave us the sad news that Tristan de Cuñha won’t allow us to land because they are the only place on earth that has no Covid as yet and they don't want to take a chance on us. Then we heard the protocols for when we leave the ship in Zodiacs and go ashore to the Antarctic Peninsula. In preparation, we are to bring any of our own gear not issued by Silversea (hats, gloves, scarves, camera cases, etc,) for a bio-check and cleaning. Masks are mandated even outside; sun screen and sun glasses are important because when it is below freezing under the hole in the ozone layer, you burn easily because you don’t feel it. Also, tonight is expected to be rough, so we are to prepare our suites and remove anything that may fall. The actual forecast for the Drake Passage is designated in color; smooth sailing is represented by light blue, our forecast map is all red and orange.

Now we are in the Beagle Strait looking at glaciers and waterfalls pouring down. We go outside to take photos and then in to the Observation Lounge where they are serving caviar on blini and blue Curacao "ice drinks" and mulled wine. Tomorrow is a rehearsal of Zodiac protocols and a presentation of IIATO requirements. Both are mandatory; if you don’t go, you won’t be in a Zodiac. WiFi is very erratic. We’ll try to post this now and hope to send photos of penguins soon!

Love, Bill and Hope

Posted by HopeEakins 00:59 Archived in Chile

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It must be disappointing for everyone, perhaps less for you because you were in Antarctica few years ago. I wonder if they will let you into the research area - Covid fear?

Big waves while you are in Zodiacs!! You two are brave (or foolish). I hope you see penguins and sea creatures.

How long is the cruise to South Georgia?

by Seabury

Enjoy the caviar. South Georgia will be so worth all the Chilean disappointments.

by JaneKline

Fascinating!! Hal B.

by BuckinghamHal

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