After departure from Punta Arenas we motor sailed late into the night and anchored beneath a tall cliff at San Gregorio where there is a very large terminal for oil and gas storage. This morning we had a pre-dawn departure in order to go east with the tides through the narrow channel where the Chilean ferry crosses over to Argentina. Everyone was soon awake to enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea and witness a stunner of a sunrise!
When we got to the narrows our welcome new passenger, Michel, called out the first of what would become many visits from Commerson’s dolphins. These extremely fast dolphins in the genus Cephalorynchus, have a very distinctive black and white colour pattern that reminds one of police cars racing to the scene of a crime. But in this instance they were racing for the “sweet spot” below the bow that provides them with some undisclosed feeling of enjoyment. They frolic gleefully, and unbounded joy emanates from these creatures as they vie with one another for the supreme position. At times, there were as many as ten directly below the five or so cameras madly clicking away. One Peale’s dolphin joined the melee but it was soon over powered by the numbers of Commerson’s.
As has been the case for much of our travels, we were in the company of Magellanic Penguins and the omnipresent Imperial Cormorants, but to add to the mix, along the shore Bob spotted the first group of long necked camels called Guanacos. Once we recognised their silhouettes, we saw quite a few grazing the rim of the cliff and a few right down near the waters edge.
We passed the two ferries carrying their cargos of sheep trucks and automobiles, and came to the final stretch of Fernando Magellan’s Strait before hitting the full Atlantic at Point Dungeness and Cabo Virgenes. A few aboard were surprised to see so many oil platforms in front of us as we entered a somewhat calm Atlantic Ocean. Few platforms were pumping at this time but one would surmise that they will begin again when the price of a barrel gets a bit higher.
The mainsail and jib were spread but the direction of the wind and the light airs caused us to go back to the trusty engine for the long night ahead.