Navimag in storm

boardingWe sailed from Puerto Montt, Monday, 25 December. As we moved from the Pulluche Channel on Tuesday evening we sailed into bad weather. By one report, winds were 120 kilometer or 80 miles per hour and the waves were five to six meters or 15 – 18 feet high. The Captain found himself unable to navigate around a point of land and was unable to head south to the Penas Gulf. Instead we headed due West and at various times were headed Northeast, essentially treading water in a treacherous storm. I’m unsure why we sailed into the storm. We saw numerous dishes broken and heard many more. Soup flew in the air, spaghetti covered the floor, hot coffee went into laps, waiters made heroic efforts to save food and drink. A section of the bar in the pub was broken and lay on the ground. A medicine cabinet and locker were ripped from the walls. Numerous passengers were sick and many (including me) retreated to the realative safety of their bunks to wait out the storm. By one report, it was the worst encounter by Navimag in three years.

lifeboatThe NaviMag website shows sunny weather, dolphins, whales, glacier and smiling passengers. After we embarked from Puerto Montt, we had a pleasant cruise through the Moraleda Channel. It was overcast with a few sprinkles and a brisk breeze. However, as we moved through the Erràzuriz Channel and went thru through the Pulluche Channel, we could sense a change in the weather and could see the whitecaps and storm cloud ahead of us. We had been previously advised to take our motion sickness pills around 1 p.m. in the afternoon in preparation for our 3 p.m. arrival in the ocean. Our normal course put us in the open ocean for about 12 hours. As a ferry service, Navimag is different from Skorpios and others that stay inside the inner passages.

The wind and wave height were abnormal. While standing beside the bridge, I could watch the waves crash into the ship. About every sixth wave was large enough to spray foam across the bow and cause the anchos to bang against the hull with a large boom. The weather progressively worsened. At dinnertime, plates were flying off the table and passengers chose to remain curled up in their bunks rather than stumble down the hallway to the dining room where they would grope bolted down tables while attempting to move hot soup from its bowl into one’s mouth. I found that lying in the fetal position in my bunk was the most comfortable position. Even so, my body physically moved in rhythm with the waves alternatively lifting me up to the had of the bunk and pushing me down to the foot; I was physically moving, being pushed around, up and down the bunk.crewAs the night progressed, the tempo of the anchor boom increased to a solid beat. The ship’s hull and walls squeaked and groaned. Everything in our cabin table flew onto the floor. I could hear more dishes crashing in the dining room. The mirror on the wall swung back and forth and banged against the wall. Rain and waves darkened the portal view of the horizon pitching up and down. At midnight, I got up to take more Dramamine. Our compass showed we were going due west. Our original course at midnight was to turn left on a southwest course. In the morning, I confirmed the captain chose to go out to sea to avoid bad weather and potential conflict with land. I put my ear plugs in and slept well until 7.30 a.m.

We are now about 12 hours behind schedule. We are cruising southeast through the Penas Gulf (yes, it means Gulf of Pain). I think we will be happy to see the San Pedro lighthouse where we will enter the Messier channel and presumably escape the waves and wind. We are now running with the wind. The waves rock the ship back and forth like a ferris wheel ride in an amusement park. The scene outside the window changes from looking at the sea almost at our feet toward gyrating up through the horizon well up into the sky.

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