Valparaiso Departure II

View of Aconcagua Mountain at Sunset

After the Ocean Princess sailed off toward its destiny in my last posting, “Valparaiso Departure I,” Pam and I left the deck for dinner to return two hours later for the Regatta’s departure in the magic sunset hour.

This first photograph is 22 minutes before sunset as the ship swung into a course along the northern shore of Valparaiso Bay.  The city grew along the bay shore, starting from the city center in the southern cup and into the north.  We are looking southeast across a lighthouse named “Club de Yates”, identified from the red fiberglass tower, a triangular daymark, toward the north end of Valparaiso.

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Here we see a different city altogether, the fourth largest of Chile and also within the Valparaiso Region and the Greater Valparaiso Area, named Vina Del Mar (Vineyard of the Sea).  The view is almost due east and, from here, it is difficult to discern why it is also called “La Ciudad Jardin” (Garden City), it is do densely populated.  North Valparaiso ends with a ridge with Vina Del Mar the next valley.  Look carefully along the shore to find the Punta Gruesa lighthouse with a red band on a white metal tower daymark.  By way of scale the tower is 56 feet high.  Follow Punta Gruesa to the right for the ridge separating Vina Del Mar (the taller apartment buildings, from Valparaiso.

The distant mountain is huge, visible from 95 miles away.  More about it later.  

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The previous photographs were using a tripod mounted Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III with the Canon 70 – 300 mm f4-5.6 L IS USM lens set to 108 mm focal length, taken 15 seconds apart.  I then swapped  the EF 24 mm f 1.4 L USM lens for the following photograph of the pilot boat heading to a rendezvous with the Regatta, having dropped off “our” harbor pilot.  It will wait beyond the harbor to bring the pilot back home.  The photograph is 7 minutes after the previous.  Punta Gruesa and the lighthouse and the Vina Del Mar apartment towers are just visible, having lost the sun.

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On the northern tip of Valparaiso Bay Punta Concon, the City of Concon and tall sand dunes also called Concon reflect the sun’s light 10 minutes before sunset.  The city is the fastest growing in Chile, 106% between 1992 and 2010 (28,157 to 50,000).  The Regatta is now well underway and I returned to the “long” lens here set to the 3oo mm focal length maximum.

On the other side of Punta Concon (Concon Point) the Aconcagua River flows into the Pacific.  Although the river has the same name as Aconcagua Mountain, the head waters are in Chile, 12 miles from the slopes of the mountain in Argentina.

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A swivel of the camera brings Aconcagua Mountain into view.  This former volcano, dead now for 8 – 10 million years is the highest mountain in North and South America.  The next highest peak is in the Hindu Kush, 10,000 miles to the northeast.  That said, Aconcagua is less challenging than Denali of Alaska and so many people attempt it each year human excrement is a major pollutant there.  We are looking here over the Vina Del Mar Valley 95 miles to Aconcagua Mountain in Argentina.

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Valparaiso Departure I

Thoughts on Departures

Late afternoon of our departure from the Chilean port city Valparaiso,  Pam and I enjoyed entertainments on the Regatta.  This painting of a ship under sail brings to mind the history of Valparaiso, as a place only reachable by ship, clinging to a narrow ledge on the Andes, barely existing for centuries, repeatedly destroyed by earthquakes until the 19th century brought sailing vessels such as this, growth and prosperity.  Major earthquakes hit the years 1730, 1822, 1839, 1873, 1906, 1907.  After 1907, the city was rebuilt anew in the modern form.  The inhabitants must enjoy spot, naming it “Vale of Paradise.”

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While, in the 21st century the city enjoys a refreshment of an influx of artists and visitors such as the Regatta, the danger of the next massive quake is ever present and unpredictable.

As we enjoyed the artwork….

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….a pianist entertained us.

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As usual, I was carting photography equipment to capture the moments as the afternoon moved towards…

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….the scheduled departure among still life painting in the style of the Dutch masters.

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That day I chose the upper decks as the best vantage point.  From there, Pam and I viewed the departure of a similar ship to the Regatta, the “Ocean Princess.”  It must have been the last voyage of the Princess under that name as, the same year, it was acquired by the Oceania line, refurbished, relaunched as the “Sirena”.

The Chilean navy base and Naval Academy is there.  The Ocean Princess navigated around this docked destroyer…..

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…with the assistance of the tugboat Alcatraz, a name derived from the Spanish word for pelican as in “La Isla de los Alcatraces” (Island of the Pelicans) where the former Alcatraz prison was built in San Francisco Harbor.  Spanish speakers think of birds when viewing the tub boat.  Americans think of prisoners (escaping) and San Francisco.  Unlike San Francisco Harbor, Valparaiso Bay is a semi-circle open to the ocean, the harbor is on the southern, north facing (away from the ocean) shore, protected by a long (3,000 foot) breakwater along which the Chilean war ships dock.  We are viewing the Alcatraz after most of the work for the Ocean Princess departure was done.

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The north end of the bay is residential, behind the towers are homes arrayed on the hillside, the only land available.

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Much of the harbor and city business district, in the foreground (below), on the south side is on land reclaimed from the sea.

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All around the Regatta was a working port.  Here rolls of cable (wire?) are prepared for hoisting onto a cargo ship.  Note the hawsers, taught under the strain, between the workmen and the ship hull.

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Passengers board the Regatta from the last tours.  I expect this is the trip to Santiago.  Most of the dockings the Regatta was surrounded by the port, the only way to access the city was on a tour bus as the port activity made walking too dangerous.

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I can only guess the role the Alcatraz is playing here…..

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…. probably it is positioned to give the Ocean Princess a nudge if the harbor pilot misjudges the turn around the breakwater and warships.  In a harbor, a ship’s crew passes control to a harbor pilot who knows the navigation challenges much better than is possible for them.

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Today, as 99.9% of all days, the pilot makes the turn safely.  Here is a better view of the warship.

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Looking back toward the harbor, the crane is hoisting those rolls, the tug boat “Lauca” framed by the superstructure of (I think) the crane.

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The Ocean Princess is will under way, as shown by the long wake.  As luck will have it, When the Regatta follows the sun will be much lower, the light better for photography.  At the stern of the warship, the masted vessel is a training ship for the Chilean Naval Academy.

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Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved 

A Far Country VII: View of Tempanos Fjord

A mountain and waterfall ringed bowl.

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4:00 pm local time the Oceania was approximately 5 miles from the Iceberg Glacier, moving forward at a slow rate of speed, 4.6 knots.  Here are more views of the mountain-ringed bowl behind a 1,000 foot cliff.

Tempanos Fjord View West, Northwest– CLICK ME!!!!

Both photographs are handheld using my Sony Alpha700, ISO 800, variable lens set to 45mm, 1/250 f13.  At the same time I shot from a tripod mounted Cannon, 24 mm wide angle fixed focus lens.

Tempanos Fjord View West, Northwest– CLICK ME!!!!

The following capture from Google Earth is the view from 12,200 feet.  Regatta’s position is the “5 miles from Iceberg Glacier” pushpin.  The formation is almost due north.  We were surprised to see a ranger station in this uninhabited area, not yet in view.  The white line, lower right, is the border between the Aisen (north) and Magellanic (south) Chilean regions.

Tempanos Fjord View West, Northwest– CLICK ME!!!!

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Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

The Scale of Iceberg Glacier

Why is the glacier face blue?

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Glacier ScaleA glacier is more than ice; not alive, it crawls; not feeling, it groans, cackles, shouts; passive, it is dangerous to approach closely backed as it is by the southern ice field, over a mile high. The ship nudged as close as a half mile from the massed ice, navigating using the bow thrusters to face first port, then starboard and back to port. I was lucky enough to be on the 11th deck, pictured above, when we caught sigh of the fast ship’s launch, manned by ship’s crew.

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Three person ship launch and glacier base at head of Tempanos Fjord

The crew prepared for a run to the rock face, almost 100 feet high, beneath 500 feet of glacier. Enjoy the views! Click any photograph to visit my online gallery. Purchase a photograph from this newly published series or any of my other popular works.

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Orientation, Iceberg Glacier, February 17, 2016

Maps of our visit to Iceberg Glacier beginning from Cape Rapier, the Pacific Ocean

Here are a series of maps to aid your understanding of this series of blogs, starting with sunrise off Cape Rapier and ending with my next blog, the approach to Tempanos Fjord and the Iceberg Glacier.

overviewicebergglacier
cape-rapier-to-iceberg-glacier
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Maritime Pilots, Scout Island, Scout Canal

About maritime pilots and the Chilean Fjords

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On our way to Fjord Tempanos and the Iceberg Glacier…..

Background: on a ship, facing the bow (front), starboard is right and port is left).

In the 8 miles from Tarn Bay and Sombrero Island lands press closer, higher, islands increase in number.  This is a listing of some of the islands we passed. These names reflect the history of Chile, the waves of immigrants touch the land with memories. After some of the names, below, I provide in parentheses the derivation.

On starboard was the northern Wellington Archipelago (English General): Pinochet (the Chilean dictator), Penguin, Juan Stuven (Spanish and German), Chang (the far east), Millar (German).

On port, the names have a military flavor: Zealous, Scout, Scylla (Sea Monster of Greek mythology), Alert, Orlebar (British Officer Augustus Orlebar).

These port side island names reflect what is on the minds of mariners as navigational options narrow with the channel.  Innumerable channels, points, mid-channel islets, all looking very much the same, a potentially confusing jumble.  Chilean maritime law demands ships have on board, working from the bridge, a certified Chilean maritime pilot to transverse the country’s dangerous channels and fjords.  The combination of stopping distance (multiple nautical miles) and the loss of steering when a ship moves slowly make it essential to know, exactly, the route ahead.  It was a Chilean maritime pilot who help keep us safe.

A great personal hazard for pilots is boarding the ship from the pilot boat.  From our stateroom terrace we observed fast pilot boats in all seas approach the Regatta miles from port, the pilot on the bow, pull up alongside.  Without a harness, the pilot transfers from boat to ship.  We observed this several times from our stateroom veranda.

Here are shots of the pilot boat approaching the Regatta off the Peruvian port of Matarani. The boat was mirrored by the colorfully painted houses of Peru.

Don Roberto Approaches the Regatta
A fast pilot boat from Matarani approaches the Oceania Regatta. On the bow, the pilot will transfer from boat to ship. On board he will work with the Regatta crew to safely navigate the approach to the Matarani harbor and dock. The whiteness on the land is diatomaceous earth.
Don Roberto, Maritime pilot, approaches the Regatta
The whiteness on the land is diatomaceous earth.

A cautious approach. In the third shot the boat turns to slowly approach the Regatta.

Alongside, boat crewmembers joint Don Roberto on the bow to assist in the transfer. I am not sure which of the two blue uniformed persons was “our” pilot.

I did not capture the boarding of the pilot who served the Regatta through the Chilean Fjords.  Was is at Puerto Montt?  Puerto Chacobuco?  I am not sure.  I do know a maritime pilot was on board as the channel narrowed to 2 miles, named Scout Channel were we passed Scout Island.  I was facing generally east from our port side stateroom veranda while capturing these photographs as the Regatta headed south.

Scout Island and Canal
Scout Island. The water is Scout Channel

The peak on Scout Island is about 2,100 feet. The smaller peaks in front are about 1,200 and 1,500 feet. All rise straight up from Scout channel.

Scout Island
Scout Island lies on the Scout Canal
Scylla Island
Lying just south of Scout Island, Scylla Island is between our ship, in the Scout Canal, and the Kruger Canal. The Kruger is short, between Islands Scout, Orebar, Zealous, Porcia and Tito.
Islet Alert and Orebar Island
Islet Alert is between Canal Scout and Canal Kruger. On the far left there are waves breaking on Pilot Point of Orebar Island, marking the northern end of a small bay, named Hale. You can see the bay behind Islet Alert. On the far left there are waves breaking on Pilot Point

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Views of Larenas and Fresia Peninsulas

mountainous crags over the Pacific Ocean

In English the Gulf of Penas means “Gulf of Distress.”  Open to the storms of the western pacific ocean, ships seeking refuge sail this body of water to reach the shelter of the bays around the entrance of the Messier Channel.

Stargazing Chileans named the channel after Charles Messier (1730 – 1870), author of a catalog of 110 visually diffuse celestial objects such as the Great Cluster of Hercules, the Crab Nebula of Taurus, the Ring Nebula of Lyra.  As Messier catalog objects these are listed on star charts as M13,M1,M57.

The Larenas and Fresia peninsulas of Aisen Province, Chile, on the southeastern shores of the gulf are seen here as we approach the Messier Channel.  The shore is dotted with islets and islands.  The Chilean pilot who came aboard at Puerto Chacobuco is earning his salary, keeping us safe.  To reach the channel we pass through Tarn Bay, generally north to south.  The southern margin of the bay is marked by Sombrero Island, the subject of my next blog.

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Larenas Peninsula and Merino Islets
Larenas Peninsula and Merino Islets
Close-up of the Merino Islets
Close-up of the Merino Islets
Ayautau Isles
Ayautau Isles
Larenas Peninsula from Gulf of Penas
The Northern Patagonian Ice Fields lay to the east and north of these mountains of the Larenas Peninsula.
High Ridge of the Larenas Peninsula
High Ridge of the Larenas Peninsula
Larenas Peninsula High Ridge
Larenas Peninsula High Ridge 2
Larenas Peninsula High Ridge Close 3
Larenas Peninsula High Ridge Close 3
The craggy heights of the Larenas Peninsula
The craggy heights of the Larenas Peninsula are in the rear. On the right are Fresia Point (of the eponymous peninsula) and the entrance to Fjord Eloisa.
Larenas Peninsula High Ridge Closer 5
Larenas Peninsula High Ridge Closer 5

Entering Messier Channel from the Gulf of Penas

Sailing a deep fjord

Gulf of Penas
The Gulf of Penas is exposed to the storms of the western pacific. We are here moving from Aisen Region to the Magellan Region of Chile. Also known as Patagonia. This view is the Larenas Peninsula. The Northern Patagonian Ice Fields are on the other side of those mountains, the Southern Andes.

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Taken with a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark3, the EF 70-300 f 4-5.6L IS USM lens, tripod mounted on a Manfrotto carbon fiber travel tripod.  UV filter  1/160 second at f 6.3 ISO 250.

There is a steady wind of about 12 mph driving a few white caps.  A line of surf is seen breaking against the cliffs.  Shot midmorning from our stateroom terrace as the Regatta cruises south, February 17, 2016.  We are headed to an encounter with the Iceberg Glacier of the Southern Ice Fields of Patagonia.

Photography conditions were poor: shooting into the sun from an unstable platform gives poor contrast for the mountain crags.  The stabilization of the Canon lens was helpful and I balanced the need for a short exposure with the lowest ISO possible.  No time to experiment.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

German Club “To the Watermill”

Nostalgia and Great Food

Our tour of Chilean Lake Country and Volcanoes began from the harbor of Puerto Montt, in the tender we boarded from the ship Regatta. This is a small boat carried in the hold and deployed to transport passengers to ports without docking facilities. Once on land, we met our guide for the day and boarded the bus.

I have yet to post about our first stop, Puerto Varas, a 20 minute ride and our first exposure to the influence of 19th Century German settlers seen, from our bus windows, in the architecture. Today’s post is about our lunch stop, a restaurant half way between Puerto Varas and Ensenada.

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Club Aleman Molino de Agua

Club Alemans (German Clubs) are found in Puerto Montt, Puerto Varas, and here. Each is a gathering place for locals to celebrate their heritage, a feeling somewhat diluted over time to where, now, they speak of themselves as “Chileans of German extraction” and the great majority speak Spanish at home and are exposed to the German language as school courses.

For past generations, the link was stronger, German was the language spoken at home and there was homesickness for the cultural traditions left behind and somewhat alleviated by the similarity of Chilean Lake Country to foothills of the Alps. Once established, the settlers duplicated the architectural features using local wood. Notably, many houses are clad with shingles from the Alerce (also known as Fitzroya cupressoides), a type of Cypress native to southern Chile and Argentina. The roof shingles of Club Aleman, seen below, were of this type.

The sign translates to “German Club: to the watermill” from the two languages used: Spanish and German. The sign reads “lunch, dinner, late night.” “Onces means Late Night.

The “watermill” is a nostalgic, sentimental reference echoed in architectural and decorative details throughout the property, such as this series of posted set to suggest a device used to control water flow. There is no water flowing through the property.

Our lunch was excellent Chilean fare, but I don’t recall what it was, exactly and I didn’t photograph the interior. For us, an plus of using these cruise tours is all the details are taken care of, releasing us to maximize our enjoyment of the surroundings.

A dark side to these settings was the attraction the area had to un-remorseful Nazis fleeing war crime prosecution. In Chile and Argentina they found refuge in the 1940’s, 50’s and were supporters of the Pinochet dictatorship. None of this history was presented by our excellent guide, nor was it reflected in these rustic charms.

I was fascinated, for some reason, by the two dormers of the main building root with the wheel-like decoration.

The Garden

A native plant encountered frequently in our travels, growing wild, and here.
Close-up of the shrub growing to either side of those large leaves.

Calbuco Simmered

An unsettling volcanic neighborhood

Postings last week featured the symmetrical, haunting cone of Orsorno and I have more images and stories to share of this quiescent horror in waiting. Today you will learn of another stratovolcano just 16 miles from Orsorno, also ancient; unlike Orsorno, misshapen and a current threat to local residents.

Calbuco is its name, taken from an indigenous language, “Blue Water” in English. It must refer to the water of Lake Llanquihe. As we drove Road 225 Calbuco was on one side, to the south, the lake on the other. When we visited Petrohué Falls, the river forms a southern boundary to the Llanquihue National Reserve from which Calbuco rises.

April 2015 Eruptions

Where we planned out trip, nine months before this day in February 2016, Calbuco erupted without warning with explosions one step below that of Mount St. Helen’s 1980 event. The volcanic plume of ash and cinders reached more than 10 kilometers ( 6+ miles ) high. It was fortunate the wind direction took the ash away from the nearby cities of Puerto Varas and Puerto Montt. Each is about 17 miles from Calbuco. As it was, the catastrophe destroyed crops and made farmers lives difficult. Farmers and the residents of the rural village Ensenada, nine miles away, evacuated to save their lives. Abandoned farm animals perished. Village residents returned to homes, roads, gardens covered in ash.

Here is a photograph of an ash and cinder drift from the explosion, just off Road 555 on the slopes of Orsorno volcano, above Ensenada village.

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Settlement Beneath Active Volcanos

At the start of the 18th Century the provinces around Lake Llanquihe were thinly populated. The government of Chile, in anticipation of seizure of the land by European powers, cooperated with efforts of German emigres to resettle German families fleeing a disorderly revolution. Today the region show the cultural influence of these settlers. Here is the exterior of the Club Alemain (“German Club”), the restaurant along Road 225 were we had an excellent lunch. ††

Look closely at the chimney. The stones are black and porous, volcanic cinders from Calbuco eruptions.

German settlers were there to witness, and suffer, the 1893-1895 Calbuco eruptions, one of the most explosive experienced in Southern Chile. Debris was ejected eight kilometers with large flows of hot mud. Farmers on the eastern shore of Lake Llanquihe petitioned the government to be resettled elsewhere. Without options, many remained.

Here is a view of the monster, a threatening presence to the south. That is vapor from the active caldera. Today, people live here, enjoying the current moments of their surroundings.

Calbuco Volcano, February 15, 2016

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o and Tourists.”

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