February 6, 2020 Punta Arenas and the Straits of Magellan, Chile
Sunset, Sunrise, Abandon Ship orBells and Whistles Redux.
We didn’t get enough sleep last night. We stayed up to watch the sunset as we entered the Pacific from Beagle Channel and we got up in time for sunrise and the sail into Punta Arenas through the Straits of Magellan (both worth it although no green flash.)
So, we decided, after sail-in and breakfast, with the ship safely tied up along the straits of Magellan, to take a nap before going out to explore Punta Arenas. We’d been there before and had no need to repeat the main sights. But we wanted to go to the wonderful plaza, a hub of activity where you can also get a good cup of coffee, and see magnificent buildings that used to house the wool barons and the merchants who made their fortunes from the California Gold rush and the shipping traffic before the Panama Canal. But we would do that in that later. At 8 in the morning, while most of our shipmates were heading out on tours, we put out the do not disturb sign to take a nap.
The last time we were in the Straits of Magellan my post blog post was entitled “Bells and Whistles.” A fire had broken out in the incinerator room and the first stage alarm went off after we had gone to bed. I turned to Suzi and said “This can’t be good.” It wasn’t but it wasn’t that bad either. We could certainly smell smoke and, because of the smoke the captain could not immediately ascertain, visually through cameras, if the fire was out. But within an hour the Captain told us all was well. “You can go back to sleep, if you can.” That was not so easy. So, on our first visit to Punta Arenas we were a little bleary eyed.
This would be different. We would be awake and alert because of our morning nap. I was asleep and missed the preliminary announcement of a drill. So, when the shrill alarm went off in the room it was enough to part my hair and curl my beard. Right after that hideous sound the soothing voice of the Cruise Director explained that in this drill. There “was” a ship wide emergency and they were setting up a triage unit in the “Crow’s Nest” and, while passenger services were curtailed and the elevators were not in service we should not be alarmed. Easy for him to say. As Suzi and I were lying in bed trying to get back to sleep we heard a loud noise outside our window, they were lowering the lifeboat. Suzi said “They must have failed the test” and indeed they had because soon we heard the dreaded seven short blasts followed by one long blast, the general alarm. Again, the soothing voice of the Cruise Director warned us this was only a drill and we did not have to abandon ship. We looked out the window to see that they WERE abandoning ship, as least a few of them on the port side. The life boat lowered to our deck, crew members in life jackets filed into the lifeboat, and the lifeboat lowered to the water.
I took certain comfort that one portly staff member actually had a life vest that fit. But they were abandoning ship. It was fascinating. After watching the show, I took a shower and got dressed. By the time I was dressed the drill was over, the elevators operating, and we were on our way to Punta Arenas.
It’s good to know that the crew is prepared and an interesting start to the day.