In the wee hours of the morning, our bridge team aptly slipped us behind the lee of the South American continent, offering us much-desired protection from the swells of the Southern Ocean. Dawn light lit up the distant hillsides as a rainbow greeted us in the morning. We reopened the bow and raised our penguin flag on the jack staff, setting our sights on the entrance to the Beagle Channel.
Named for the ship that Charles Darwin sailed upon centuries ago, the Beagle Channel thrives with wildlife. Upon approach, we watched the seabirds change from open ocean species to more coastal varieties. Sooty shearwaters gave way to South American terns. South American sea lions swam by the bow. In the distance, dozens of dolphins frolicked. A small group of dusky dolphins joined us for a spell. When dolphins choose to bow-ride, it is always a treat. Often, these creatures are spotted for mere seconds. Distant glances are enchanting but leave us wanting more. Looking down on the calm, clear waters from above, we could see the incredible patterns these animals make. Riding on the pressure wave created by our ship’s bulbous bow, the dolphins glided along as we watched in awe.
We prepared for our upcoming departure by checking off the logistical hurdles inherent to international travel. The hotel staff prepared incredible meals, including Swedish pancakes at teatime. Michael led a well-attended and lively game of trivia enjoyed by all. The winning team earned a few highly sought prizes. As the day started to wind down, we picked up our ship’s pilot and headed into Ushuaia. The captain gave us a farewell before dinner, and we enjoyed wonderfully warm weather on the last night of our voyage. A great end to a great trip.