Its windy on the Navimag Ferry
The Navimag Ferry runs from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales. Sailing south you have 3 nights on the boat, with only one stop (Puerto Eden, where you will not be allowed ashore as there is no jetty. This is the only habitation that you will see during the entire trip. This really is the end of the earth)
The ship sails through the Patagonian channels. This means that for most of the journey the passage is protected. The channel is deep and the average width is around 2 miles, but on a couple of occasions narrows to 200 metres. There is only one short section of open Ocean, 6 hours or so during one night - we were lucky and had a flat calm for the open ocean run.
Navimag crosses the Reloncaví Bay, the Ancud and Corcovado gulfs and the Moraleda channel then along the Coastal cordillera of the Taitao peninsula. Puerto Edén claims to be the home of "the last surviving aboriginal people in the world, the Kawescar (or Alacalufe) people." The ship stops here to unload supplies and exchange a few local passengers. The journey then winds on south through a labyrinth of islands and channels, to reach Puerto Natales, the stepping-stone town for the Torres del Paine National Park, and Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park.
Your passage on the ship includes full board and talks on the area. The canteen is fairly basic and the food, whilst edible, is pretty much "school dining room" complete with a lady nagging you repeated to take your empty plates back to the serving window. The talks are in a similar vein, being loosely informative but not really educational. You also have the option of paying more for a 2 berth rather than 4 berth cabin - if you can possibly afford it go for the 2 berth option, these cabins are seriously small and cramped. Having said all that, we enjoyed the voyage. It is cold down here, so you need to wrap up well from the wind. Access to the bridge is whenever you want, the scenery is stunning, the maneuvers to pass the 200 metres wide narrows spectacular, and the Pope Pius IX glacier was amazing.
Arrival at Puerto Natales can be problematic, as winds make mooring difficult, and the captain can have to wait several hours to be given permission by the port captain to moor. Bear that in mind if you are intending to catch transport straight on to Torres del Paine - it may leave without you.
Evangelistas the Navimag Ferry
|Sailing south by Navimag|
|You are never far from Land||but it is seriously windy, yes those are his dreadlocks in the breeze|
|Typical channel between islands||You are free to visit the bridge whenever you like.|
|Distant mountains||Old sugar freighter stuck on the only rock for miles in water usually 2000 feet deep|
|The freighter in context||Puerto Eden settlement, Chile|
|Pope Pius IX Glacier||Pope Pius IX Glacier|
|Pope Pius IX Glacier with icefall||Pope Pius IX Glacier. These glaciers really are blue.|
|Its cold!||Got warmer after the glaciers|
|Through the narrows||They are narrow|