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Yearly Archives: 2018 − News & Stories

Amalia Glacier – 24 March 2018

Puerto Bueno lived up to its name and gave us a beautiful and calm night. Very pleasant. Which was followed by a stunning sunrise and a new weather forecast, which gave us some more time before the next period of strong wind is supposed to come. So we could set course for the Amalia Glacier, which was great, because we had all been looking forward to it. We went under sail and sunshine with the view of the Campo de hielo, the inland ice of Patagonia, in the distance. Great sailing.

Sunrise in the

Sunrise in the “Good Harbour”, Puerto Bueno

We were followed by dolphins on the last miles to the famous Amalia Glacier, a stunning blue ice cliff leading up the the snow- and ice-covered mountains in the area of the inland ice. Again, we were lucky with the weather and had great views; often the whole mountain scenery is hidden low clouds. Another great day!

So, tonight it is supposed to be windy. We have set course for a small bay where the wind should not bother us too much. All these great anchorages here in coastal Patagonia are really a treasure. A great convenience and always a scenic pleasure.

Amalia Glacier

The cliffs of the Amalia glacier

Gallery – Amalia Glacier – 24 March 2018

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Canal Sarmiento – 23 March 2018

The wind should have calmed down over night, and so it did indeed. Not that it was really comfy, standing outside and steering the ship. Still 30 knots of wind on the nose of ship and helmsman, plus a bit of rain and the occasional bit of hail. Patagonia.

But then came different times! Blue skies and sun! We followed various waterways for many miles to the north, enjoying weather and scenery on deck. Paso Victoria, the long Canal Sarmiento and other big, beautiful channels most people will hardly ever have heard of.

Canal Sarmiento

Blue Sky over Canal Sarmiento

Broken land. Many these channels are drawn like with a ruler, a straight line. They follow huge faults, that is geological cracks, in geometrical patterns; sets of fault lines follow certain directions and then there are several of these main directions. Altogether forming patterns that you can clearly see on the hillsides and on the map. The vegetation is a bit more sparse here, especially on some light-grey mountains with rounded tops, which appear to consist of granite or some similar crystalline rock.

The latest weather forecast causes mixed thoughts regarding tomorrow. Our plan is to visit the famous Amalia glacier, which is said to be beautiful. But the new forecast promises a lot of wind already tomorrow. We will have to see how that all fits together. We will see. In the end, nature rules.

For the moment, we decide to drop the anchor in a little, silent bay called „Puerto Bueno“, hoping that the name does not promise too much.

Gallery – Canal Sarmiento – 23 March 2018

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Peninsula Zach – 22 March 2018

After several hours sailing northwards in Canal Smyth, the wind picked up beyond 50 knots, straight on the nose, of course. After criss-crossing a few miles and gaining nothing but chaos on the galley, we gave up and went rather into a lovely bay to anchor. A small pod of dolphins (Dusky, probably) accompanied us on the way into the bay, and once there, we were welcomed by a curious Marine otter. A very friendly place!

Marine otter, Peninsula Zach

A Marine otter welcomes us near the Peninsula Zach

And it did provide the shelter that we wanted. Calm waters and no wind, except from some occasional gusting. We waited for a strong rain shower to pass through and then we went out to explore the area a bit. The name is promising: Peninsula Zach is named after Wolfgang Zach, the master carpenter in Longyearbyen who is building those great picture frames from Spitsbergen driftwood of which we had a few on offer last year (and we will have some more again later this year … ) so, a promising place! We were curious what Peninsula Zach would have to offer, but it had to be good anyway.

We were not to be disappointed. Peninsula Zach is almost an island. Our anchor bay is separated from the bay on the other side by just 200 meters of dry land (it was actually pretty wet). It is a walk of ten minutes before you reach a little hill from which you have a view towards a bay in two opposite directions. The remaining directions are occuppied by mountains. A stunning panorama!

View from the Peninsula Zach

The panorama over the Peninsula Zach was worth the short but wet walk

The coastal lowlands were lovely with its low forest – less dense than elsewhere – and wetlands, but we went a bit further. From an elevated perspective, the views were even better. The view to the southeast was towards a wide-open valley with a river, lakes and a lot of wetland areas. The sun sent a bright beam down onto this landscape of water.


Gallery – Peninsula Zach – 22 March 2018

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Then it started to rain again, and we made sure we were back on board in time for the Piet-show (the daily masterpieces of Piet, our cook).

… by the way: Peninsula Zach was named after Franz von Zach, a Hungarian astronomer who joined the famous Beagle with Captain Fitzroy on the first expedition, from 1831 to 1836 (Darwin was on the second expedition).

Dolphins, Peninsula Zach

Dolphins accompanied us on our way into the bay of Peninsula Zach

Isla Hose – 21 March 2018

Calm night, well sheltered? Forget about it … that works well as long as the anchor is holding, but once the wind starts blowing strongly from the wrong direction and the anchor is dragging, you suddenly find yourself at ungodly early times undoing shorelines from trees on steep, slippery shores in the darkness and so on. Well, some time later the anchor – both of them, to be precise – went down in the middle of the larger bay, and everything was fine again. Back to bed for another little while.

Isla Hose

View from Isla Hose over the Patagonian archipelago

A windy day, which kept us inside the bay in Isla Hose, enjoying life on board and later making some walk on the island. For some of us who had an uncontrolled outbreak of motivation for hiking it turned out to be a good bit of a walk, following a couple of hilltops, crossing small wetlands, very dense forests and steep slopes. Good fun!

Isla Hose

A walk through dense forests on Isla Hose

Gallery – Isla Hose – 21 March 2018

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Caleta Profundo – Isla Hose: 20 March 2018

Magellan discovered the strait that he got named after him in 1520 during the famous voyage that was to become the very first circumnavigation of the globe. A great advantage for us: we know that the Strait of Magellan exists and where it is, so we can easily enjoy the passage of the eastern part, which we do happily while the weather is good for this long channel.

Caleta Profundo - Isla Hose

Another beautiful quiet and remote bay and after all: the Sun!

After a passage of 30 hours, we entered Canal Smyth north of the Strait of Magellan, leaving Tierra del Fuego behind us now. The anchor went down in a lovely Caleta, one of these sweet, little bays made by the glaciers just for sailing boats. It takes always a bit of climbing on the steep, slippery shores to get the shorelines fixed, which is good fun, and once it is done, you have an almost bombproof place for the night, in most cases (still, we usually keep an anchorwatch).

We still had time to explore the surroundings in the morning, and we even had sunshine on top of it! Can you believe it? It had been a while, these waters are not exactly sunshine country. Still, it is beautiful here in almost any kind of weather, but of course it is so much more enjoyable when the sun is out. All these colours! All these shades of green in the lush coastal forests! The water, the sky, the clouds, the land … breathtakingly beautiful on a day like this. Bay, narrow channels … A Ringed kingfisher was sitting on a branch as if it was getting paid for it.

Ringed kingfisher

Photoshooting with a Ringed kingfisher

Later, we had the opportunity to stretch legs a bit on Isla Hose, kreeping through the densely vegetated forests while trying to get up a hill to enjoy some great views. Now we are enjoying a calm night in another well-sheltered Caleta while some heavy weather is said to come up outside. Shouldn’t really bother us in here.

Gallery – Caleta Profundo – Isla Hose: 20 March 2018

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Puerto King – 18 March 2018

We reached Puerto King yesterday after many wet an windy miles. The name seemed to suggest a harbour of royal qualities, at least a fishing village, maybe with a cosy pub at the harbour … but no, it is much better: a lovely natural harbour, exactly our size. Parking kind of in the middle of the rain forest, we fix shore lines on three sides, securing the boat perfectly safe. No anchor watch! Good thing, as we all easily agree.

Puerto King

Wet and funny: A walk through dense rainforest

It continues to rain the next day, which does not keep us from going out to explore a bit. After all the rain, the landscape is wet. Water everywhere, it is splashing with every step you take, wherever you put your hand. One should not be afraid of getting wet here, it is much better to re-discover the pleasure that we had as children when we played in the water, then it is fun! There is very dense Patagonian rain forest almost everywhere near the shore, a chaos of trees, stems and branches standing and lying everywhere, densely covered with mosses and lichens. A green chaos, almost impossible to penetrate.

A few metres further up, the rainforest is giving way to a more open kind of landscape, wetlands with little streams and rocky hills. The latter are partly steep and slippery, the further have grown to be real obstacles after all the rain. So you have to find your way through this landscape somehow, which is not always easy.


Curious and significantly larger than the European Red fox

Back at the shore, a Patagonian Grey fox follows us curiously for a few metres. They are surprisingly large, much larger than the European Red fox, not to mention the Arctic fox far up north. For a moment the inexperienced observer might think to see a shepherd dog! And the Grey fox is only the smaller one of two species that you may find here.

Gallery – Puerto King – 18 March 2018

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Canal Ballenero to Caleta Macias – 16 March 2018

Canal Ballenero, Whalers’ Strait, was just one of many channels that we are passing these days. Canal O’Brien, Bahia Desolada … you name it. Unknown places, names that sound like adventure.

We have to make some miles now. We have got 25 days altogether, a lot of time, but also a total of more than 2000 miles. Stunning scenery all the way around us. The weather lives up to its Patagonian reputation of being wet and windy, but still, we get our lovely moments of sun and patches of blue sky, stunning light surrounded by a scenery that might remind one of Greenland or Norway, but without losing its very own character.

Canal Ballenero

Sunrays playing on Patagonias fjords

The anchor goes down in yet another beautiful Caleta, one of these little natural harbours which were obviously made for ships like hours. The shorelines are fastened to wind-beaten trees, giving us a calm night despite the strong wind.

Cala Ballenero to Caleta Macias

Shelter from the wind in one of many “caletas” (Caleta=natural harbour)

Gallery – Canal Ballenero to Caleta Macias – 16 March 2018

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Caleta Beaulieu – 15 March 2018

It had cleared up a bit during the night, so it was nice and calm in the morning. Perfect reflections of the scenery around us on the water were the first thing we saw in the morning. The clouds had lifted a bit and now we had a free view of the Cordillera Darwin: a rugged, high-alpine mountain scenery, strongly ice-covered with a mighty glacier coming down to the fjord.

And that was the thing for today.

Glacier, Cordillera Darwin

As close as possible: Glacier, Cordillera Darwin

A longish Zodiac ride took us to the rocky shore west of the glacier. Even without the glacier, the place would be worth a visit. Glacier-polished gneiss with amphibolite lenses, beautiful to see no matter if you understand the background or not.

And then there was the glacier itself. A mighty calving cliff of ice and behind that a chaos of crevasses and ice towers. The higher parts framed by a wild alpine panorama and the lower part by – forest! That is quite unusual for me: either glacier or forest, but both of them together, that is quite unusual for an Arctic fox like me. Actually, the glacier has obviously advanced into the forest quite recently: broken trees are lying under boulders on the steep edge of the glacier. Yes, an advancing glacier! There are not to many of them anymore, but still a few. A shame we don’t have more of them.

Caleta Beaulieu

Either glacier or forest? Both!

You don’t have to do much at a place like that, just find a nice spot – there were plenty of them anywhere – and keep an eye on the glacier (and the rest of it, for that sake). A permanent rumbling and thundering, the glacier was very active and pieces were constantly breaking off and falling into the water. Amazing!

Obviously, the hours were going by quickly.

After a little rest on board, we went once again for yesterday’s little walk up the mountain. Doing it without rain did not do any harm.

Caleta Beaulieu

crevasses and towers of ice and stone

Gallery – Caleta Beaulieu – 15 March 2018

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Brazo Noroeste – 14 March 2018

After the sunny, calm day yesterday, today’s weather was a bit closer again to Patagonian reality: wind and rain, a lot of both. An hour was long enough to stretch legs in the morning. Beach, woodland, wetland, hill, wind-beaten trees, view of Caleta.

Brazo Noroeste means northwestern arm, and that’s exactly what it is: the northwestern arm of the Beagle Channel, which is splitting up into two branches at this points. The mountains to both sides of Brazo Noroeste are rounded by mighty glaciations of the past. Today’s inland ice of the Cordillera Darwin, which is where we are now, still sends some streams of ice down to the water. Views were limited due to rain and low clouds, but still, great scenery. The weather is just normal life in Patagonia. Or, rather, Tierra del Fuego. Patagonia starts north of the Strait of Magellan.

We dropped anchor in the Caleta Beaulieu in the later afternoon behind a peninsula with rocky hill, covered with dense woodland which was giving us shelter from the wind. It was pouring rain, but that did not keep us from exploring the area a little bit, so we made a hike up the mountain – and felt like Indiana Jones at work. The forest was so dense that it was difficult to get through. Water everywhere, from all directions. Lovely! You just have to drop the idea that nature is only beautiful under a blue sky. That is not the case. It is always beautiful.

Gallery – Brazo Noroeste – 14 March 2018

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This was proven by stunning views over the fjord and glacier, even in the rain. Just great!

Brazo Noroeste

Pouring rain, but still a stunning view over the fjord with Anne-Margaretha and glacier

Beagle Channel – 13 March 2018

This is not the first time that „Beagle Channel“ is the headline of an entry of this blog. So far it meant travelling from Ushuaia to the Drake-Passage (or back). This time, not so.

How many times did I see these beautiful mountains further west in the Beagle Channel without ever getting there. So, today!

Mountain view - Beagle-Channel

Mountain view – Beagle-Channel

We set sail in Puerto Williams and enjoyed the company of many Black-browed albatrosses, shags and even a few dolphins. South of Ushuaia a Humpback whale waved us off with his fluke. Very friendly.

The rest of the day? A scenic dream made of sky and sea, islands and fjords. Mountains and clouds were mirrored on the water. New islands, new views mile after mile. A dream coming true.

Late in the evening, the anchor fell in Caleta Olla (Caleta seems to be the word for little, well-sheltered natural harbours) under a beautiful southern sky of stars. No artificial light anywhere around us! The Milky way, Magellanic cloud, the Southern cross … so beautiful that a small group of us even went ashore to put the tripods up in darkness. Well, amazing how quickly the clouds can cover the sky down here … anyway, it was still a nice way to finish the day.

Beagle-Channel, Caleta Olla

Evening mood, Caleta Olla

Humpback whale, Beagle-Channel

Humpback whale, Beagle-Channel

Gallery – Beagle Channel – 13 March 2018

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Puerto Williams – 12 March 2018

Puerto Williams! I must have sailed past Puerto Williams about 80 times, but I have never actually been there. So it was about time! The place started out as a naval base in 1953, so it is not actually one of the world’s great wonders in terms of architecture or whatever, but it has grown a bit into a civilian settlement which claims to be the southernmost town in the world!
That is certainly disputable and the result will depend on your definition of a town, which will need to be quite flexible in order to include Puerto Williams. But there are some shops and small restaurants (at least one of them is really nice, as we were happy to find out), the bow of the Yelcho (the ship that rescued Shackleton’s men from Elephant Island), an ATM and the very charming Yacht’s club house, on a boat that is grounded in the Yacht harbour. A lovely place to spend some time and I am sure it has seen some parties over the years!

Gallery – Puerto Williams – 12 March 2018

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We went on a „beaurocratic sightseeing tour“. Something that may be a rather strange approach for a tourist visit and it is by no means more interesting than it sounds. But we had to enter Chile officially with the boat and all souls and that requires paperwork at a number of addresses in town. Not the biggest place in the world, so that was alright.

And Puerto Williams is surrounded by dense, dark patagonian mountain rain forests. I am wondering if they have got Ents there? I’m tempted to believe that there must be some there! ?

Ushuaia – 11 March 2018

The photos may seem familiar. No coincidence, because this is where we said goodbye and farewell to SY Anne-Margaretha at the end of the trip to Antarctica four weeks ago. And now we are coming back on board again! Same place … but beyond that, nothing will be the same. Just the first steps are similar, saying officially goodbye to Argentina, getting passports stamped, leaving the harbour in the evening, setting course eastwards through the Beagle-Channel, but then … in a few hours, we will go alongside in Puerto Williams, the southernmost position of the whole trip! After that, we will continue west- and northwards, sailing through the beautiful, stunning waterways of southern Chile. New land, new passages, new places. Good stuff! It is not exaggerated to say that we are all very excited about it!

Gallery – Ushuaia – 11 March 2018

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Even the veterans of Chile and Patagonia, and we do have some on board, are excited. It is such a remote, hard-to-get-to-area. There is nobody travelling there, compared to Antarctica. It is empty, remote and wild. Patagonia, that is Torres del Paine, Perito Moreno and so on for most people. Stunning places for most people, no doubt about that, but what is lying ahead of us is very much different, and by no means less beautiful and impressive. But far off the well-trodden path! There is no infrastructure, no general guidebooks, no tourism.

Patagonia, here we come!

Harberton – 07 February 2018

As much as we longed to get ashore after almost a week on the boat, the land did not want us today. We knew the sound of the wind good enough, so I did not even have to leave my warm bed to know what was going on outside. Wind, wind, wind. We had been anchored since midnight in the bay at the Estancia Harberton, looking forward to go ashore, to explore some of the green hills of Tierra del Fuego, to walk on land again.

But there was a backdoor which served us well. Up went the anchor and we set course for Ushuaia, making the last miles of this trip on board Anne-Margaretha. Once alongside, we went to get the paperwork (immigration) done and enjoyed a cosy evening on board. Next morning, we took to rental cars for an excursion to Harberton. Cars and – to some degree – roads are available in Tierra del Fuego, we were not in Antarctica anymore, so let’s take advantage of that! And that included being able to stop wherever we felt like it during the trip out, a good 90 kilometres on the road. And there is some great landscape in Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia! Mountains, wide valleys, wetlands, wild rivers, and … trees! We had almost forgotten that trees exist, after 3 weeks at sea and in Antarctica. Amazing trees. Wind-beaten, bent double and triple, knaggy and knotty, awe-inspiring beings. Very impressive, very photogenic.

A great appetizer for a lot more of Patagonia’s amazing landscape (if you want more – we have still got some space on our Patagonia trip with Anne-Margaretha in March!

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Harberton itself also turned out to be a very interesting place. Founded in 1886, it is the oldest farm in the Argentine part of Tierra del Fuego. The founder, Thomas Bridges, must have been a bit of a character. He was found as a 2-year-old on a bridge (hence the family name) in England and later became a missionary. He learnt Yamana (Yahgan), the indigeneous language of Tierra del Fuego, and wrote a dictionary (30,000 entries) and grammar without which we might not know much, if anything at all, about this lost language. Sheep farming had always been important for Harberton, but was abandoned in the mid 1990s after severe winters, so today’s inhabitants of the farm, which is still owned by Thomas Bridge’s descendants, are focussing on tourism to make a living. As a result, we could enjoy the Casa de Te (tea house) and an interesting guided tour to see the colonial-style historical buildings, remains from the times of active farming, the old, picturesque cemetery on a hill within a little forest, lichens hanging down from the trees. Blue skies, white clouds, blue water, white horses. A beautiful day.

The next day would not bring more than saying goodbye and farewell, so this was in a way the end of our great trip to Antarctica. Something that we celebrated duly in one of Ushuaia’s fine restaurants. What an adventure! Referring to the whole trip, of course, Antarctica under sails. Big thanks to those who were part of it, and thanks for reading! Travelling in the south and the blog will continue in a few weeks from now in Patagonia.

Tierra del Fuego – 05 February 2018

Land! What a pleasure, after 5 days at sea. Cape Horn is far off in the west – the wind was just not right to go any closer to it. For the moment, the wind has, at least, taken a bit of a break. It is „only“ blowing with 20 knots – from the north, of course. Time to get into more sheltered waters. The next storm is supposed to be just around the corner. The low pressures are passing through one by one these days, not taking a rest at all.

Gallery – Tierra del Fuego – 05 February 2018

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It feels great to see land again, green islands under a blue sky. The sun is warming, and we spend hours sitting on deck without many layers. Black-browed Albatrosses and Shags are flying near-by, dolphins follow us for a while … life on a boat can be so good!

Drake-Passage – 04 Februar 2018

Anyone who might have thought that we had had our share of wind, water and waves had to realise that the Drake Passage still had some more in stock for us when the wind just kept getting stronger yesterday afternoon. The windmeter hardly fell below 30 knots and rather went beyond the 50 mark. That is force 10 on the Beaufort scale, „storm“, simply and plainly. Sounds great, doesn’t it? At least from a distance … although, I have to admight: I don’t want to miss my turn on the steering wheel in the evening and I mean it! Wild and beautiful. The overwhelming powers of nature. The waves may have been up to 8-9 metres high, of course there is no way of knowing accurately, but that should be quite realistic. The howling of the wind was by no means disappointing either.

Gallery – Drake-Passage – 04 Februar 2018

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Later, Heinz shut the ship down. Engine off, sails reduced to the storm fock. It worked surprisingly well and life on board was actually quite ok. Yesterday was indeed the first day since Thursday or so that we saw everybody up and about again. Of course, that is something not to be missed: storm off Cape Horn … great!

Now we are back to course and speed again, towards Cape Horn. We have lost 20 hours or so, but now we are on the way!


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