The Gulf of Penas is a sunken bowl of the western side of the southern Andes. Instead of canyons and valleys, fjords surrounded by craggy peaks are the rule. Sailing ships, driven by storms of the western Pacific, found ways through the fjords all the way to the straits of Magellan. This was our route as we entered the Messier Channel, a route discovered in the earliest years of colonial exploration.
Looking back the way we came…..
At the mouth of the channel, Zealous and Sombrero are neighboring, and isolated hills. Surrounded by water, they are also islands. Zealous is just under 2,000 feet. Sombrero, at 200 feet, is prominent only for its position and shape.
Here we are crowded by headlands, points, islands all rising steeply from the water.
Here I have views of these islands with craggy peninsulas in the distance. The view is to the northeast and east.
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.
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.
Taken with a tripod mounted Sony DSLR A 700 DT 18-200 variable lens set to 18 mm. 1/40 second at f4.5 ISO 6400. The sun was still low, after sunrise with gathering storm clouds from the terrace of our state room (a moving ship).
While most of our fellow passengers were sleeping, as usual I woke at 5 am to pull the gear together, dress warmly, step out onto our magic window on the world. Our decision to request a port side cabin continues to pay off. The Cape Rapier lighthouse flashes every few seconds. One of these shots caught the light.