August 4, 2008
I wandered out on deck last night and spotted the first signs of civilization in weeks before turning in for the night. The Strait of Magellan was busy with ship traffic and we were close enough to land to spot beams from lighthouses and buildings. The Strait Pilot had boarded before I emerged from my cabin in the morning and I was disappointed to miss it although I was up in time to watch us maneuver up to the dock. Punta Arenas was covered in a fresh layer of snow and the sun was stronger and higher in the sky then I had remembered before we left. The white on the mountains was lit up brightly and the seals seemed to be welcoming us, as they darted around the ship as we pulled in. The port was bustling with activity, reminding me of what the New York´s South Street Seaport may have looked like "back in the day." The Chilean government ships, part of the Armada that monitor the local waters, play an anthem while pulling out and I watched the officers scurrying around the deck to music as they left for sea. The king crab boats were in and inspectors where measuring the catch. Many of the factory trawlers where unloading their cargo of frozen packaged fish by the ton. It was strange to be back in civilization and I was already missing the Southern Ocean.
The big job of the day was offloading gear and getting our frozen samples weighed and packed in dry ice before they were to be shipped out. Raytheon officials will ensure the packages are replenished with ice at some of the stopovers on their trip to the labs in Hawaii and North Carolina. As it is often said, it all went by so quickly, and it is amazing to think how much was accomplished in the past few weeks.