Gold Ribbon Banner
Friday, May 24, 2019

Silver ExplorerSince writing ‘A Voyage to Punta Arenas’ featured in last December’s issue of Sea Breezes, the opportunity arose while visiting our son in Chile, to make a similar voyage. The big difference this time I was going as a passenger accompanied by my wife, and not as a crew member. We booked aboard the Expedition Cruise Ship Silver Explorer, bound for Ushuaia Argentina from Valparaiso via Chilean fjords, Magellan Straits and Punta Arenas.

It was a pleasant sunny 20°C November day for our arrival at the Valparaiso cruise terminal. Like many cohorts from my seafaring years with the Pacific Steam Navigation Company, Valparaiso was dear to our hearts for many reasons. Visiting this part of the world again for the first time since 1964 brought back mixed emotions and memories of an age long past. I felt as if I had stepped out of a time machine seeing some familiar landmarks with different surroundings.

Transferring from our coach to the cruise terminal involved a short walk to the arrival / departure hall. This building had the appearance of a converted dock side shed however it was clean, bright and airy. There were some gift stalls to entice last minute shoppers with Chilean mementoes. The walls were adorned with photographs of the early steam ships associated with the coastal trade dating back over the years. The majority if not all of these ships being Chilean, had played part in Valparaiso’s development as a port city and gateway to the capital Santiago.

The process and security checks were soon dispensed with and for safety reasons we boarded a transit coach for the short distance to our ship Silver Explorer, berthed on the east side of a finger berth. This wharf, as I recall, had been mainly used by ships involved in the Chilean coastal trade. The overseas trade ships having made use of the land backed berths on the western side of the harbour. The berth is now an open wharf devoid of any structures. Gone are the dock sheds and electric cranes constructed by Stothert & Pit of Bath England dating from the early nineteen hundreds. These types of cranes were to be found operating in a number of Chilean ports and most likely would have been shipped out in the holds of Pacific Steam Navigation Company’s ships.

The Mole Prat breakwater was as I remembered, with a number of Chilean Naval ships albeit more modern ones moored to it. The Chilean Naval training ship Esmeralda was also moored there in a similar fashion to when I first sighted her during my first trip to sea in 1958. Dock side, Valparaiso has changed in similar ways to all other major ports of the world, in order to accommodate the modern way of handling cargo. Container stacking areas established where once stood storage sheds. The quay side container cranes purring away, lifting boxes on and off, sporting their yellow flashing lights and audible alarms. To the casual observer few people seemed to be involved in the entire operation. Not like the hustle and bustle I remembered made by hundreds of dock workers and their associated equipment.

Likewise the individually designed shapes and sizes of cargo ships that had once graced these wharfs. Their names, some of which once proudly painted on the seaward face of the quays by errant sailors of yesteryear, no longer visible and relegated to history. The old quaysides have been resurfaced and refaced allowing fender systems to be installed to serve the larger modern ships.

No longer required are the berthing manoeuvres of the past, which entailed letting go the off shore anchor and running a stern line to one of the mooring buoys located in the middle of the harbour adjacent to each berth. This arrangement limited the ship’s surging movement onto the old solid wharf fenders being kept to a minimum. When departing from the wharf, heaving on the buoy line in conjunction with heaving up the anchor, enabled the ship to clear the berth. This afforded little use of the one old steam tug Poderoso, which always stood by to assist.

ValparaisoThe port now boasts a number of modern powerful tugs to assist in handling some of the world’s largest container ships. The old mooring buoys have been removed to make way for the larger ships. Their removal in my opinion is a good outcome, as they had been defecated on by generations of Pelicans – the stench from them when berthed downwind was dire.

After attending the mandatory emergency drill, departure time soon arrived. The customary farewell exchange given on the ship’s whistles with our attending tug, followed by a wave to the harbour pilot who disembarked skilfully down the ladder to the awaiting launch, Silver Explorer cleared the harbour. Our track took us south into a south westerly swell with freshening wind. The combined effect increasing the ship’s pitching together with a drop in temperature and from this aspect I felt nothing had changed – it was as I recalled from past experiences. Silver Explorer being stabilised, managed the ever increasing swell with ease. The swell was coming from approximately thirty degrees on the starboard bow and for its size we found the ship very comfortable in all respects.

There being only 88 passengers on this cruise we were greatly outnumbered by crew members, whose service left nothing to be desired. The master Captain Adam Boczek, a very experienced mariner allowed an open bridge policy for the passengers unless circumstances dictated otherwise. To me this was a bonus and all I could have wished for.

After 38 hours at sea we made the approach to the anchorage off Corral. This port I had visited a few times before during the period of 1960- 1962. From what I could see I felt nothing had changed very much, the weather, the light, even the temperature now a cool 5°C and warming up. The moderate swell had prevailed until we got inside the bay was also familiar. The only major change obvious to me was the area where an industrial plant wrecked by a tsunami during the 1960 earthquake had been replaced by a wood chip stock pile. A Jetty close by to facilitate the loading of wood chip carriers had also been established where we once moored with two anchors and stern lines to a buoy.

Apart from some extra buildings and sprouting of Telco masts, little has changed at Corral. It felt really good to be back amongst these familiar surroundings. The sea birds were just as plentiful as I remembered, also the sea lions and dolphins. The early morning fishing boats heading out into the bay, others returning and heading up the river to Valdivia to land their catch. This daily routine has no doubt been followed by generations of local fishermen.

Read the rest of this article with additional pictures in Sea Breezes Magazine - July 2012 Issue
Click here to subscribe

Subscribe Graphic

Latest Issue - Look Inside!

Island Princess

Most Popular

  • 1
  • 2

Latest Products

Maritime Log

  • Move to Enlarge River Terminal +

    Grimsby River Terminal Associated British Ports (ABP) plans to expand its Grimsby River Terminal to enable it to handle the world’s largest car Read More
  • At the Helm of the RNLI +

    Mark Dowie A new Chief Executive has been appointed by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution to succeed Paul Boissier, who has held Read More
  • Keeping the Tyne Clean +

    Clearwater Each year, the Clean Tyne project removes around 400 tonnes of debris from the River Tyne between Blaydon and the Read More
  • First Part of Huge Port Investment Completed +

    Sheerness Port The 20-year Master Plan for boosting trade through the Kent port of Sheerness has reached a significant milestone with the Read More
  • Ship Sinks After Fire Breaks Out in Cargo +

    Grande America All 26 crew and one passenger were rescued after the roll-on,rolloff container ship Grande America, 56,642gt, caught fire and then Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

North America

  • Houston Ship Canal Closed After Major Fire +

    Houston Fire The Houston Ship Canal reopened to daylight traffic after being closed for nearly a week due to a serious fire Read More
  • Back Home After Eventful Antarctic Season +

    Polar Star The US Coast Guard icebreaker Polar Star arrived back at her homeport of Seattle, Washington on Mar 11 after an Read More
  • Four More Giant Cranes Arrive from China +

    Zhen Hua 31 Four new Super-Post-Panamax container cranes arrived at Tacoma, Washington, from China in early March, just over a year after the Read More
  • Two Hurt as Lifeboat Falls Overboard +

    USCG Reliance Two crew members of the tanker Chemtrans Nova, 73,870dwt, had to be flown ashore for treatment after the lifeboat they Read More
  • Cutters Seize $466mn of Drugs on Patrols +

    USCG Forward At Port Everglades, Florida, on Feb 5, some 34,780lbs of cocaine with a street value of $466mn was unloaded from Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3


  • Three Main Courses Being Plotted for MOL +

    MOL Triumph The major Japanese shipping line Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) has unveiled a number of new objectives aimed at improving its Read More
  • Cargo Ships for Bass Strait Service +

    Tasmanian Achiever II The first of two 700 teu cargo ship for the Bass Strait route between the Tasmanian port of Burnie and Read More
  • Race to Save Coral Reef After Grounding +

    Solomon Trader A major anti-pollution operation was launched in the Solomon Islands after the bulk carrier Solomon Trader, 73,592dwt, with a cargo Read More
  • Special Place for Tanker in Port History +

    Pro Alliance The largest fuel tanker in the 220 year history of the Australian port of Newcastle, NSW, arrived on Mar 18 Read More
  • Data Recorder Recovered From Ore Carrier Wreck +

    Seabed Constructor The Stellar Daisy, owned by Polaris Shipping, of South Korea, was carrying a cargo of iron ore from Brazil to Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Naval Focus

  • US Navy Orders Flight II Landing Platform Dock +

    LDP30 American News The contract for the construction of LPD30, the first Flight II Landing Platform Dock of the San Antonio Read More
  • US Navy Seeks Faster Ship Delivery +

    FFGX Rendering American News The future frigate program for the US Navy is getting fully underway and some idea of the urgency Read More
  • HMS “Dragon” in £75 Million Narcotics Seizure +

    HMS Dragon British News Whilst on patrol in the Gulf, the Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon seized and destroyed ten tonnes of Read More
  • New Generation of Enterprise Confirmed +

    USS Enterprise American News On 31 January, the US Department of Defense announced the awarding of a block buy contract with Huntington Read More
  • Brazil to Take Over HMS Clyde +

    HMS Clyde British News It has been announced by the Brazilian Government in early December that the Falklands Patrol ship HMS Clyde Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ferry World

  • Further Delay for LNG Powered Glen Sannox +

    Glen Sannox The drama surrounding the much delayed new ferries for Caledonian MacBrayne continues to rumble on with the latest, not unsurprising, Read More
  • Favourite Claymore +

    Claymore A poster of Llandudno pier prompted a memory from ex Calmac chief engineer Charlie McCurdy as he took another trip Read More
  • Baltic Battery Power +

    Aurora Scandinavian and Baltic operators seem to be leading the way in reducing ferry reliance on fossil fuels. Read More
  • Electric Solutions +

    Polarkunsult Ferry A new ferry will replace the 1992-built MF Herjólfur to the Westmann Islands and will be in line with Iceland’s Read More
  • Variety of New Builds +

    Red Kestrel I am gratified to hear at Cammell Lairds and Red Funnel have a particularly good record in ordering from UK Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Sail Review/Coastal Comment

  • Thames Tributary Barges +

    Lady of the Lea Most of the rivers flowing into the Thames had their own barge type. Read More
  • Dry Rot and Dry Dock +

    HMS Victory For some time Victory, the 110gun ship of the line, has had trouble with dry rot and is in danger Read More
  • Everards Eulogy +

    Greenhithe Scottish maritime interests particularly may mourn the loss of Geo Gibson. Read More
  • Welsh Port Gentrification +

    Penarth In the Victorian era, there were many coastal places where craft worked off open beaches. Read More
  • Sussex Sterns +

    Edward and Mary and Valiant In the Victorian era, there were many coastal places where craft worked off open beaches. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

From the Lookout

  • Red Funnel’s New Ferry Arrives +

    Red Kestrel Red Kestrel, the newest addition to Red Funnel’s fleet, arrived at her new home in Southampton on 18 April. Read More
  • Keeping an Eye on the Weather +

    Royal Charter storm I was intrigued to read recently about the career of Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy (1805-65). Read More
  • Port of London Trade at 10-Year High +

    DP World London Gateway Trade through the Port of London reached 53.2 million tonnes last year, a level last seen over a decade ago. Read More
  • Northlink Celebrates Apprentices +

    Paul Wheelhouse NorthLink Serco Northlink Ferries has been commended by the Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse, for developing young Read More
  • An Auction with no Buyer +

    Falls of Clyde I was reading recently about the unsuccessful auction to find a buyer for the Falls of Clyde, the last remaining Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Cruise News/Superyacht News

  • Seadream Yacht Club to Build New Ship +

    SeaDream Innovation For over fifteen years, the SeaDream Yacht Club has operated two yachtlike ships, on 7 to 15-day voyages. Read More
  • Tradition Plays Its Part +

    Prana by Atzaro If ever proof was needed that traditionally built craft can still play a part in the luxury charter market in Read More
  • MV "Magellan Explorer" +

    MV Yet another new and modern expedition vessel custom built for Antarctic air-cruises will make her debut in 2019. Read More
  • The Saga Continues +

    Saga Discovery Saga Adventure SAGA Cruises has announced it is taking up an option for it’s second new ship to be built at the Read More
  • Reconstruction of “Danah Voyager” +

    Danah Voyager Reconstruction of redundant offshore oil industry tonnage turning them into luxury superyachts is not a new phenomena, but recent photographs Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ships, Ports and Places

San Juan

A Truly Different Shipyard

The entrance to the port of Pasaia on the Spanish coast of Biscay is one of Europe’s most picturesque. At Read More

Victoria High and Dry

Five-hundred years ago, Ferdinand Magellan sailed out of Seville, Spain, on one of the most memorable discovery voyages ever made, Read More
  • 1
  • 2

Companies, Events and Other Features

SS Eastern (2)

MT Arthur Foss

“The last vessel to escape Wake Island before Japanese forces captured the island” Read More
SS Eastern (2)

Rescue of Crew Member From Tanker Avanti

Captain A J Murdoch served with Eastern & Australian Steamship Company until he retired in 1982. Hailing from Melbourne, during Read More
  • 1
  • 2