Uruguay next stop for world traveler from New Kingston
This is the second installment in a series following New Kingston resident Fran Faulkner and her sister, Sandy Holsten, as they sail around the world in 90 days.
Our third port of call was Montevideo, Uruguay. We had to wait at anchor until weather conditions allowed us to enter the harbor. After docking six hours later, we took a tour bus to visit a 3,500-acre ranch owned and operated by a traditional Uruguayan family. We had the opportunity to ride horses, milk cows, and shear sheep, and we were served a delicious four-course barbeque. After eating, some folks boarded hay wagons for a ride through fields (which are really dry as it has not rained in this area since September) to see the beach along the Rio La Plata river, which borders the ranch. We were lucky to be selected to ride to the beach in a 1929 Ford driven by the owner’s 15-year-old son, Facundo. We viewed the beautiful sandy beach, the high cliffs, and ocean-type waves! Buenos Aires is across the river, but too far away to see. We then returned to the bus, sights, and finally reached the dock and boarded the QM2.
During the time between docking at Montevideo and arriving at Cape Horn, the days became cooler and quite windy. We took part in various activities available on the ship including swimming and ping pong and watched other guests play a game called Baggo. We enjoyed sunning on deck and walked a couple of times around Deck 7 each day, weather permitting. The night before we arrived at Cape Horn we went to Deck 9 to listen to a pianist at the Commodore Club. We were there at the right time because Commodore Bernard Warner (who is now serving as the ship’s captain) stopped at our table to visit with us. He said that he expected the weather and seas to be favorable for our trip around Cape Horn, but also indicated that the weather was changeable and as difficult to predict as it had been when we were attempting to dock in Montevideo.
Our fourth event was to sail around Cape Horn. We woke up to overcast skies and near gale force winds. However, much to our surprise, the seas remained moderate to calm the entire time we sailed around the Cape. We are fortunate to have a cabin on the starboard side of the ship so we could view Cape Horn from the comfort of our own balcony. The peak of Cape Horn was covered in a cloud when we passed by the front of it, but we sighted the whole peak for a few moments when we traveled around to view the back.
After rounding the Cape we headed for the Beagle Canal, a fjord that follows northwest along the Andes Mountains, eventually taking us to the Pacific Ocean. We were fortunate that the skies cleared so we could enjoy intermittent sunshine during this part of the trip. Although it is summer in this part of the world, it is quite cool (50 degrees) and breezy. We put on warm coats and hats when we stood on our balcony. All afternoon we viewed magnificent snow-covered mountains and blue-tinted glaciers, one with a waterfall. We passed islands, one complete with penguins sunning on the beach. We saw shipwrecks from many years ago, still showing their rusty bows above the water; a few boats carrying folks to see the QM2; and a few towns along the way, including the one that ships stop at before sailing on to Antarctica. We anchored at one town to let Chilean customs officials board the ship to check over passenger paperwork. At 5 p.m. we were told that the QM 2 was 7,287 nautical miles from Fort Lauderdale. The sun set at 9:44 which allowed us to view the magnificent scenery late into the evening. It is summer here, but much snow remains in the mountains.
We eventually reached port at Valparaiso, Chile, where it was quite foggy. A large ship was tied next to us, giving us fuel. Many ships are at anchor here: military vessels, tugboats, and sightseeing boats. After lunch we disembarked and boarded our tour bus. We went through Valparaiso city then parked on higher ground to view the QM2 in the harbor. Then we toured Vina del Mar, a city just north of Valparaiso. The guide pointed out the tall apartment buildings that overlooked the Pacific and noted that the apartment owners rented them out during the summer months (December, January and February) to earn income. By the time the ship was ready to depart in early evening the weather had cleared and we went up to the top deck to watch. It seems that it is customary for a departing ship to blow the horn, which was quite noisy when one is standing nearby! The smaller ships and sightseeing boats that were in the harbor tooted or whistled as we turned around to depart.
On Feb. 1 we were again at sea. We took a walk on deck then visited the ship’s bookstore to borrow books to read. We attended the Cosmic Collisions show at the Planetarium on the ship, which was fascinating! The next day we played cards and read, and spent time on deck viewing cloud formations and searching the horizon for other ships. Sandy happened to see a helicopter approaching the ship, but we were on the wrong side to view its landing. Perhaps a customs official?
We arrived at 7 a.m. at Pier 5 in Callao, Peru, on Feb. 3. Since neither of us were feeling up to par, we checked in at the Medical Center, had check-ups and were advised about medication for an apparent virus. We cancelled our tour of Palomino Island and just relaxed for the day. From our cabin balcony we watched the ship’s crew perform a lifeboat drill. The boats and tenders were lowered from Deck 8, and they sailed around the harbor awhile before being raised again. Since we were docked next to container ships that were loading and unloading, there was much activity to watch. The harbor contained military ships, sailboats, cargo ships and miscellaneous small boats.
While we were in port we were amazed to see thousands of seagulls clustering the docks and were startled when they all took off at the same time! The sail away procedure occurred at 6 p.m. The ship’s horn sounded, tugs arrived to turn the ship around, and the pilot boat arrived to take the pilot ashore (each port provides a pilot to guide the ship in and out of harbor). The tugs guided us out through the channel to the ocean, and once again we were on our way, and thankfully feeling much better.