Ushuaia Travel Blog› entry 30 of 71 › view all entries
Today I slept in until nearly 11am! It felt good. Especially because I didn´t go to bed til 2am, and because one of my bunkmates woke me up in the middle of the night to say I was snoring and to suggest I roll over. Thanks!
I was still not feeling well...but I had to get the show on the road. Today I was going to do a boat trip. I walked down to the tour offices with Cynthia, as she had a tour today, too. But hers was on a bigger boat. I wanted to do something smaller. We went to her tour place first to check it out and check her in. Then we went to the tour place I´d gone to the other day - that offers daily tours on a sailboat and a fishing boat. I was hoping there was space on the sail boat.
Unfortunately the sail boat was sold out for the day, so I booked a spot on the fishing boat for $160 pesos - or about $60 U.
Since it was only noon, Cynthia and I decided to have lunch before our tours. So we hit Cafe Sara. Service was slow, so we cut our lunch short and headed back to the hostel to get changed.
At 2:15 I headed down to the dock to my boat - Tres Marias. At first, I had mixed emotions about which boat I was on. Moored down at the dock was "If...," a 40 foot sailboat that had a huge mast, was really wide, and looked sweet. It had made runs to Antartica and back so was like a sturdy open water sailboat. I could just picture my self sitting on the deck, rolling with the boat as we raced over the swells.
And then there was my boat, the "Tres Marias", a litle 20 foot fishing boat that looked like it had seen better days.
Anyway, Tres Marias was my boat, so I climbed aboard and shortly we got under way. We cruised out of the harbor, passing the submarine, a battleship of sorts, and a huge freighter. They dwarfed us.
Within a few minutes, we were entering the Beagle Channel. And the wind and swells came. The boat was rocking, the waves were splashing up overboard, and as we sat in the open stern seating area, we got drenched. The passengers (other than I) donned the plastic yellow jackets the captain provided us.
The wind speed was 30 knots - el capitan said that that happened to be his safetry threshhold. Any bigger wind and he would not take the Tres Marias out in the water. The larger sailboat was actually safer - longer, wider, and bigger keel. (Ironically, the sailboat hadn´t open up it´s sails yet...it was just motoring a few hundred meters to our port side.
At this point, I was 95 percent psyched, and 5 percent scared. What if the wind picked up a bit - as was known to happen in these parts? I was comforted by the fact that we had a sister ship with us, plus a lot of bigger tour boats around, so if we got dumped in the water, it would likely be only minutes before another boat could get to us - provided we radioed SOS.
El capitan, and his sidekick, took turns steering the Tres Marias. I could tell how nimble she was. They maneuvered her skillfully around seaweed, taking advantage of wind-blocking islands when possible, and watching out for abnormally large "sneaker" swells - positioning Tres Maria quickly so that she´d hit these waves directly at bow or stern... and not be broadsided.
Within about an hour, we landed at Isla H - a protected island at which ONLY this tour company can land and disembark. It´s a tiny island. We met "If..." there, and moored the 2 boats next to the rocks, where they had hung a couple spare tires as bouys, to facilitate landing.
We spent an hour walking around the H shaped island, with el capitan giving us the tour. We saw some sea birds nesting on a cliff, feeding their young. We visited what he said was an old Yamanan indian site - he showed us a pile of old seal and whale bones, how the hut might have been positioned, the old fire site still full of ashen earth, and some old rock tools. Who knows whether this was an actual site, but the tools, bones, and ashen earth looked at least semi-legitimate. It´s more fun to believe him, so I will.
As we walked, for fun I scoured the ground looking for any other interesting tidbits - maybe I´d find an old tool, or sharks tooth or something. And I did find something - a branch of a tree that had somehow grown around a rock.
We boarded the boats again, and headed out to another island, Isla Alicia. This island had a bunch of sleeping seals on it. We couldn´t disembark, but just floated past the rocks and seals a few times. I took some photos, but then how many pictures of seals do I need.
Then we started the voyage back home. More wind. More big waves. More dreching. In this direction, I noticed "If.
I considered doing the tour again tomorrow, trying to get on the sailboat. But then decided the appeal was really just to be on a sailboat, and I could do that in San Francisco again sometime. (though not for so cheap - it was only $60 U.S. for the 3-4 hour sail here)
El capitan served us coffee and cake on the voyage home. And he continued his dj-ing too. He has a wide collection of Beatles CDs that he was playing (and singing and dancing to) during the trip. Funny guy.
We made it back to port safely and thanked our capitan, crew, and vessel.
Back at the hostel, I showered, ate, did some internet, and met up with Cynthia and Flavio. We played some pool, and then some poker (with a few other guys). Then we headed out to the Dublin Irish Pub. It was a late, late night. But a fun one. I hope to meet up with Cynthia in El Calafate. And Flavio says he may come to the U.S. at some point. We´ll see.
Oh, I forgot to mention something - remember all the complaining I did about my hiking shoes? Well, magically, on today´s hike around Isla H, my shoes didn´t hurt at all!! I just don´t understand it.