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Skorpios Cruise

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S: Skorpios Cruise

BC: Photographs and Journal by Janet L. Schubert | "At the end of every human adventure, of each new experience, we direct our inner gaze on what we have lived, so as to have daily appreciation for what we have been able to treasure in our hearts and thus face the future with confidence." Cruseros Maritimos Skorpios

FC: Skorpios Cruise to San Rafael Glacier

1: Friday, 12 – 30 – 11 Sandi and Dick, Barney and I woke up early, walked to Cita’s with our luggage where Juanita had prepared a large breakfast. The bus station was about a 20 minute walk where the bus “Tur del Sur” would take us to Puerto Montt. We packed some cheese, hard salami, pretzels, pita bread, and water for our six hour bus ride. The bus does not stop except to pick up or leave off passengers. In a small town just south of Temuco, called Gorbea, we noticed gas was $8.16 per liter. The exchange today is 521 pesos to one US dollar. That makes the gas around $6.00 a gallon. The bus stops in many small towns and even right along the road to pick up or leave off people. In one small town we saw a dump truck being used as a garbage hauler with someone inside the bed of the truck rearranging the bags of trash. We first noticed her pony tail popping up and down as she flung the bags of garbage to make room for more. (not my concept of the ideal job) | friends | Memories

2: We walked about a block to find a store front advertising Skorpios Cruises. We went in and by luck that was where we were supposed to pick up our tickets! They arranged for a bus to take us to the dock which was 7 km away! (and we thought we were going to walk it) The bus would leave at 5:30. Dick noticed WiFi at a bar about a block away, so we went there and had a refreshment while sending our emails. The bus did leave promptly at 5:28! Boarding the Skorpios was much less complicated that getting on the Infinity. From the bus our luggage was taken directly to our room and in about 30 minutes we were unpacked and settled in. Welcome drinks and snacks were served at 7:30 and dinner was at 8:30. | When we arrived in Puerto Mott we needed to find a taxi to take us to the port where the Skorpios docks. Since we had two hours before we could get on the Skorpios we thought we could also hire a taxi driver to give us a tour of the town. After asking a policeman where we could find tourist information, we walked about 2 blocks. There a young lady introduced Barney to a young man who could line us up with a taxi tour, but he had to go get him. When the taxi driver arrived he wanted to charge us $120.00 (American money) for the 1 hour tour and take us to the Skorpios dock. We declined saying it was too much.

3: The Skorpios II is able to make this voyage every Saturday from September to April. Puerto Montt, where the Skorpios II sails from, is 1000 km south of Santiago. The vessel sails for 800 miles through the channels of Chonos, and Aysen archipelagos, visits Puerto Aguirre, Castro in Chiloe’, and the hot springs in Quitralco. M/V Skorpios II was built in 1988 and was refurbished in 2008. She holds 106 passengers in 53 cabins on 5 decks. | Command Room on Skorpios | Beautiful scenery in Puerto Montt

4: Our room on board the Skorpios

5: One of the Open Bars | A bartender shows Barney how to make Pisco Sours. | Recipe for Pisco Sours Fill a blender about 1/3 full with ice. Add 1 cup of lemon juice, 1 egg white, 1 lime cut in small pieces, 5 T. powdered sugar, 1 bottle of pisco (as much as will fit in blender). Blend until well mixed and minced. Strain liquid to remove unblended lime rinds etc. Add rest of pisco bottle to mixture in a larger container. Pour smaller amounts into a shaker with ice cubes. Pour through strainer/shaker bottle into pisco glass. Add a couple drops of bitter (aromatics bitters) if desired. | The pisco sour cocktail, invented in Peru around 1900, uses a pisco (Peruvian grape brandy) that has a bit of bite to it--that is, nothing too smooth--to create the balance in this creamy, frothy, limey drink. | I have a simple philosophy: Fill what's empty. Empty what's full. Scratch where it itches. Alice Roosevelt Longworth

6: Original Skorpios Ship, retired and resting | Waiting on the sun deck to weigh anchor from Puerto Montt, the capital of the Lakes Region in southern Chile. First settled by Germans in 1853. | Saturday, 12 – 31 – 11 The first breakfast call came at 8:30 AM. I got out of bed and started my morning routine. Barney said, “Do you know it’s 8:30?” I was shocked I slept that long. After about 30 minutes we received another breakfast call saying they were waiting on us to come to breakfast! We did get there about 9:15. At breakfast Sandi said she couldn’t find her sunglasses this morning. After a long hunt she finally found them in her sandal. How did they get there? She did not know! | "Life is much shorter than I imagined it to be." Abraham Cahan

7: Lighthouse near Puerto Montt | Lighthouse near Puerto Montt | Dining tables ready for New Years Eve Dinner | Looking up from front deck. | Happy New Year! | Welcome 2012 | Chile's Flag

8: Dolphins following the boat | Sailing through the LLanquihue Archipelago | Fishing nets placed in the water. | Snow-capped Andes Mountains are visible along the way making a dramatic backdrop to already unbelievable beautiful scenery.

9: Picturesque village of Calbuco on the Chonos Route to San Rafael Glacier | The scenery is absolutely gorgeous! The saddest thing is that our camera will not come near showing the capacity of splendor in nature. Islands of many sizes rise up out of the blue waters. The topography of the islands is gently sloping with trees, pastures and small villages, each seemingly with its own church steeple. Horses, cattle, and sheep contently graze the rolling grasslands. | "Nature does nothing uselessly." Aristotle

10: Lady from Belgium, Vivian and Dr. David Smith from Minneapolis, Minnesota (plastic surgeon) and Dr. Bonnie Rabinowitch from Philadelphia. | Dr. David and Vivian's sons, Graham and Malcolm | We were sitting in the front bar, San Rafael, enjoying the landscaping, wondering how one could describe its beauty to do justice to the reality, when a lady walked up and said in English, “I heard English over here and it just pulled me to this corner.” We found out Bonnie is from Philadelphia and an infectious disease MD. She is traveling alone and has been to many parts of the world before. We told her she would probably be sitting at our table since we are the only English speaking people on board so far. Sure enough, she was at our table seated beside Barney.. | Our English speaking table: Couple from Belgium, closest, across from each other, Couple from Minnesota, and sons | Using the headphones for an English translation

11: Dick showing Graham some necessary life skills. | Sun deck | Sun Deck | Beautiful Scenery of the Andes Mountains in the Chilean Patagonia | Relaxing in the Front Bar

12: Traveling through the Moraleda and Ferronave Channels | After midnight on New Year's Day, we went through the Corcovado Gulf Crossing, where four strong currents come together. Traditionally, this is a rocking and rolling night on the cruise! We were told to anchor everything down and to not let items on the shelves in our cabins. I could hear the waves hitting against the outside shell of the boat. The action of the ship was not as bad as could have been, or has been, we were told. God is Good! | Sailing through the Pilcomayo and Costa Channels. | "The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. " Henry David Thoreau

13: After breakfast we sat in the inside bar with windows to the scenery. What a beautiful, amazing sight! The snow-capped Andes showing behind mountains, with rolling grassy hillsides in front of the mountains. Here we were: SITTING AT SEA LEVEL LOOKING AT SOME OF THE HIGHEST PLACES ON EARTH! Life is good! | Andes Mountains rising above the fog.

14: This region was originally inhabited by “Los Chonos”. There were only about 1300 of them. They built large canoes called “Dalcas” out of three pieces of red wood. The wood was bent with water and fire and then sewed together with vegetable fiber. The man of the Chones hunted for fish, whale, and dolphins. The woman rowed the boats and became very strong. The female of these nomads would dive into the cold water to get shell fish, while the man was in charge of the hut or tent taking care of the children and keeping the fire going. The woman was known to have stronger lungs and could stay under water longer. This tribe of Chones died out in the early 1800’s mainly because they could not fight off diseases introduced to them by the Europeans as they began to settle in this region. They buried their dead under broken sea shells. The burial grounds can be seen on the shores as a lighter colored area that appears to possibly be white sand.

15: Later in the afternoon we were sitting in the front bar area and noticed the boat was slowing to a stop. Barney asked the bartender why we were stopping and he said because they needed to get the lamb that we would barbeque in two days. Barney told him he was pulling his leg (in Spanish) and the bartender just smiled. Then we noticed a small red boat scuttling off to shore. Barney and Dick went outside and they were able to observe a red pick-up truck on shore. Men were loading something from the pick-up onto the red boat. Then the red boat came scurrying back to the Skorpios. Barney and Dick followed the boat to its stopping point against the Skorpios and saw 8 lamb carcasses coming on board. Barney went straight back to the bartender to tell him what he had just observed. | The lamb carcasses came from the red truck on the shore.

16: As soon as we got off the boat at Puerto Aguirre our cruise director told us we would be bombarded with about 25 children wanting to be our tour guide. He said not to give them money because we would be encouraging them to be beggars. There is a beautiful scene from the top of the hill looking down to the pier. He also warned us if we stay too long at the top of the hill we would be seeing the view of Skorpios sailing away. This area also has bacteria called Red Tide that affects shell fish with 2 shells. | Puerto Aguirre | School | Our cruise director, and speaker, Victor Tabeo, likes to be funny! (Most of the time he is successful!) He awakes us each morning with bird sounds over the speakers in our room. Victor video tapes our side tours and adds his own jokes. One of his favorite sayings as he gives his presentations is, “If you don’t believe me, ask me again!” | Videos and Photographs being taken by our Cruise director, | Church | Our cruise director, and speaker, Victor Tabeo, likes to be funny! (Most of the time he is successful!) He awakes us each morning with bird sounds over the speakers in our room. Victor video tapes our side tours and adds his own jokes. One of his favorite sayings as he gives his presentations is, “If you don’t believe me, ask me again!” | Videos and Photographs being taken by our Cruise director, | School | Our cruise director, and speaker, Victor Tabeo, likes to be funny! (Most of the time he is successful!) He awakes us each morning with bird sounds over the speakers in our room. Victor video tapes our side tours and adds his own jokes. One of his favorite sayings as he gives his presentations is, “If you don’t believe me, ask me again!” | Videos and Photographs being taken by our Cruise director, | Church

17: . Dick, Sandi, Barney, Bonnie (a friend who sits at our English speaking table) and I walked together to the top of the hill in this tiny town, Puerto Aguirre, on the side of a large, steep hill. | Puerto Aguirre | School | Church | I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. John Burroughs

18: Our cruise director, and speaker, Victor Tabeo, likes to be funny! (Most of the time he is successful!) He awakes us each morning with bird sounds over the speakers in our room. Victor video tapes our side tours and adds his own jokes. One of his favorite sayings as he gives his presentations is, “If you don’t believe me, ask me again!” | Videos and Photographs being taken by our Cruise director | Church

19: The Hercules boats, built to be special ice breaking vessels, each hold about 50 - 60 passengers. After breakfast we put on our warmest clothes. Actually Barney and I layered. We put on the life jackets and climbed out the side doors of the ship onto the smaller diesel powered vessel. We traveled through the San Raphael Lagoon, on toward the 30,000 year old glacier. Like imagining the clouds to be various shapes of objects, the ice formations of the floating structures sent imaginations free. The colors were a beautiful light blue, glowing like clear glass with waving variations of the color. It was the perfect day for viewing the amazing ancient ice formations, as the hazy clouds sheltered the creations allowing the sediment and particles to reflect the blue from the sky. The blue color is due to a high amount of oxygenation. If the sun is very bright, the ice appears white in color. | Hercules Boats

20: Icebergs in the San Rafael Lagoon | Only 10% of an iceberg shows, 90% is below the water. The water is so cold one would last only 3 minutes in the freezing cold water.

21: 30,000 year old ice, 12 year old Scotch, 63 year old female, 66 year old male, in front of San Rafael Glacier. | At one point the tour boat,Hercules pushed its way up to the clear blue ice and one of the bartenders used an ice pick to chop some of the 30,000 year old ice to be used in a drink we had on board this 80 passenger vessel. Each person was given a Skorpios II glass with some of this ancient 30,000 year old ice, followed by a couple shots of 12 year old Scotch. Whew! That warmed my throat! So cool: 30,000 year old ice with 12 year old Scotch!

22: San Rafael Lagoon | Videographer, Victor Tabao

23: One of the most memorable viewings was two separate events of sea leopards sunning themselves on floating vessels of ice. The mammoth mammals allowed the Hercules to sail amazingly close as it wallowed around to show off its underside. One even opened his mouth as it floundered to show us his mouthful of tremendous molars. | Swaggering Sea Leopard

24: San Rafael Channel | Close-up view of iceberg | All dressed-up and ready for a tour of the San Rafael Channel | We were amazed at the amount of green landscape in this area. But again we have to remember that this glacier is at 46.40 degrees Latitude. From 1978 until present time the glacier has been receding at the rate of 100 meters per year. The rising climatic temperatures make it difficult for new ice to build up and offset the calfing and melting. Calfing is also accelerated by the steep drop at the glacier’s face, which can reach 270 meters or 886 feet.

25: All glaciers are moving crevices. The San Raphael glacier is moving 10 meters per day. The dark streaks or stripes that can be seen on the glacier are dust and bits of sediment from the wearing away of the mountain as the glacier moves. By looking at rocks near the glacier one can tell that the glacier has been there by the erosion of the rock.. The San Rafael Lagoon has markings on the sides of the mountain denoting where the glacier was during particular years, starting as far back as 1871. It is now 2 km long and 70 meters tall, but has a depth of 500 meters. When a bit of the glacier breaks off, ice from the bottom of the glacier can shoot up out of the water to the top with minerals that can give the ice color. Sea gulls, called cormorants, have long necks and will eat the fish that are killed when the heavy chunks of ice fall. | San Rafael Glacier | "I've read the last page of the Bible. It's all going to turn out all right." Billy Graham

26: The San Raphael glacier is 2 km. wide and 60 – 80 meters high, starting in Nevado San Valentin, it spans 15 km. until it reaches the sea, which amounts to 286 square miles of surface area. It seemed like we were close enough to just sail the length of a football field and we’d be there touching the ice. But we threw out that idea when the Hercules headed on and on toward the huge structure, with little change in our view of the amazing formation. As we finally did near the configuration we heard some loud cracks that seemed to come from behind the ice structure. They sounded like loud gun shots that echoed. We also were amazed to see chunks of fresh water ice fall off the edifice into the salt water below. The splash that followed sent slush high into the air with a later sound of the splatter that confirmed the distance we were from this God given earth wonder! Then sure enough, here came the cormorants ready to devour the fish that succumbed to the powerful fall of a piece of the San Rafael Glacier.

27: The San Rafael Glacier is the only one in the world that is reaching the sea. It is also the closest one to the equator. It is best to view the glacier when the skies are partly cloudy. It then has a beautiful blue color.

28: The southern-most region of Chile is sparsely populated with only .8 people per square kilometer. We certainly did not see any homes in the area of the San Rafael Glacier! There were many, square kilometers of trees on steep mountains. When we asked one of the crew members about the trees, he said most are pines or evergreen. We were thinking what a beautiful fall landscape that would be if the trees actually would turn colors. Farther north there are trees that are deciduous. | By 4:00 we were headed back toward Puenta Montt. We remarked that this is the first time on our entire trip that we can say, “We’re headed back toward home!” The San Raphael Glacier is the southern-most point of our journey. Along the way there are many islands, of which over 800 are not inhabited. Some of these islands raise straight up out of the water, covered with trees, until the very top when the terrain changes to rock formations. The Andes Mountains are often visible in the background on the starboard side of the ship.

29: During the evening we anchored at the Quitralco Pier. Here we can see inside the fjord and enjoy the unique scenery.

30: Quitralco Pier | At 10:00 AM we took a boat excursion around the fjords near the hot springs area. It was another perfect day with blue skies and AM temperatures in the lower 60’s F. A few clouds were around the tips of the Andes Mountains. They only made the pictures more beautiful. | Hot springs area where one can take take baths in covered or outside pools where the water temperature is between 32 C and 38 C.

31: On one smaller island we saw many sea lions which were suspicious of our arrival. They heard our tour boat coming and sat on alert. I was able to get several pictures before they slipped under the water or into their private lair in the rocks. As the tour boat pulled away from the island of the sea lions, we observed three “guard seals” sitting up stretching their necks to be sure the coast would soon be clear of these seemingly friendly, but not yet trusting humans. | Sea Lions | Mussels | Sailing around and through the fjords enjoying. the scenery.

32: Quitralco Fiord

33: When we returned to the Skorpios II boat we decided to go to the hot springs. All five of us went to the outdoor hot springs; one that had less people, in fact us 5 were the only people in this particular warm water. There was a sign above this hot springs pool that said: “Piscina Esclusiva Para Tripulantes”. Barney knew most of the four words to say, “Swimming Pool Exclusively for_________.” (He did not know what the last word meant.) Since everyone was walking on by, Barney asked a young Chilean couple what the word “Tripulantes” meant and they said it meant “the workers”. Oh well, we thought, we’d already been in it about hour so what else could happen. Then the bartender from the ship went by and laughed, telling us this hot springs was for the workers. (those stupid Americans!) | Christmas Tree outside hot springs at Quitralco Pier | Hot Springs

34: Lunch was barbequed lamb which the ship had picked up earlier from one of the remotely populated islands. After lunch we laid out in the extremely hot, biting sun for about 30 minutes. Having all the sun we suspected we needed, we went back to the Skorpios ship. | Moraleda and Perez Norte Channels | Old Steam engine used to heat the building. | Old Anchor

35: Famous Franciscan Church in Castro, Chile | Castro, the town’s name means “place of seagulls”. The town was settled in 1567 and is the 3rd oldest city in Chile. The people that originally colonized this area were Europeans and Spaniards. One can find the European and German people more prevalent here. The 1960 earthquake and tsunami, the biggest on record to date in the world, did a lot of severe damage to the city and homes. Many homes called “palafitoes” are now built on stilts. Castro now has 40,000 inhabitants. Up a hill from the dock is the main plaza, called Plaza de Armos, where many shops can be found showing handiwork of its proud people. Castro is the home to 16 churches, and a large museum honoring its beautiful culture. An old church, built in 1906 is Castro’s San Francisco Church. The outside of the building is rusted corrugated metal. The pieces of this once finely painted metal no longer come together to form a solid protection from the elements. (possibly from effects of the earthquakes) But the attractive interior varnished wood reminds me of the fine oak wood in Glandorf’s church.

36: Beautiful Sunset Before the Corcovado Gulf Crossing | We observed an unbelievable sunset, which I tried to put into my camera, but I know, no matter how advanced or how many pixels, a bunch of colors spread on photo paper cannot duplicate what one observes with human eyes at an exact millisecond! | Our last night on the cruise with our English speaking friends Our table server is Miguel, front center in black. | "How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains!" John Muir

37: This was our last night on the Skorpios which meant the Captain’s Farewell Dinner and Ball. It was our night to dress up, take pictures, and say “Goodbye” to our recently found friends. Translating headphones were passed out at our unique English speaking table so we could understand the Captain’s Farewell Speech. Basically he said it was a lucky tour for us because we had perfect weather, we saw 2011 change to 2012 together, and saw many sights that go into making the cruise special: - The children running to meet us as we got off the ship in Puerto Aguirre, ready to be our tour guides for a small bag of candy or treat. - We should consider ourselves fortunate in the fact that we viewed whales, sea lions and sea leopards. All this was possible because a poor Greek fisherman who once worked on cargo boats had a vision to add beds to his own fishing boat to give people a view of the wonder of nature that he saw on his many voyages. People have called him the “Onassis of Chile”. The Skorpios II hires 7 chefs and 34 crew members. Our particular cruise represented 12 different countries. After the dinner we were able to talk privately to our head waiter, Miguel. He is 67 years old and a widower after losing his wife to complications from diabetes in 2008. He has four children, two sons, and two daughters. One of his sons works on cruise ships. | “If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life's exciting variety, not something to fear.” Gene Roddenberry

38: For our last night on the cruise Mother Nature wanted us to be reminded who’s in charge! WOW! I woke up to things falling off shelves, our closet doors rolling on the tracks and slamming into the wall, along with everyone else’s doors in neighboring cabins slamming back and forth with the rolling tides. This was worse than the “rough crossing of the Corcovado Gulf crossing we were warned about. That made the surprise tilt–a–whirl ride even scarier! I was wondering what the other 106 passengers were thinking or doing! At one point there was a broad jolt and I was sure we rammed something like the side of one of those steep, jagged, rocky, mountain islands that seemed to thrust up everywhere. Meeting everyone at breakfast we all had the same greeting, “What was happening last night?” No one seemed to have an answer. We thought maybe an unsuspected storm, but with high technical equipment there should be no surprises. Even our head waiter Migual did not know. Eventually Bonnie did find out there is one passage the ship voyages through that can get extremely rough when there is a strong south wind. That was our case last night! Another experience added to our list! | The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about 7,000 km (4,300 mi) long, about 200 km (120 mi) to 700 km (430 mi) wide, and of an average height of about 4,000 m (13,000 ft). | Captain Luis Kochifas, Janet, and Barney at the Captain's Ball

39: Winter Fun | The Andes range is the world's highest mountain range outside of the continent of Asia. The peak of Chimborazo in the Ecuadorean Andes is farther from the center of the Earth than any other location on the Earth's surface. This is because of the equatorial bulge that results from the Earth's rotation. The world's highest volcanoes are in the Andes, including Ojos del Salado on the Chile-Argentina frontier. | The Andes

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  • Title: Skorpios Cruise
  • Our Skorpios Cruise to the San Rafael Glacier in Southern Chile, South America
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  • Published: almost 7 years ago