We arrived at Punta Arenas at 6:00 a.m.
The town was originally a military garrison and penal settlement which had a protected harbour and large forests and water supplies. Early after its foundation the town traded its natural resources including seal skins, hides, coal, gold, timber and guano. The purchase of 300 sheep from the Falkland Islands started sheep ranching and by the turn of the 20th century two million sheep grazed the territory. The town has been one of the gateways to Antarctica for research and recently tourism.
In 1967 Sir Francis Chichester was attempting a solo circumnavigation of the world on his Gipsy Moth IV and attempting it the opposite way around, i. e. west to east at Cape Horn. He was sponsored partly by Times Newspapers which carried daily reports relayed by him and journalists from around the world. One, in particular, was the Times reporter Murray Sayle who was stationed in Punta Arenas to record the rounding of the Horn. 53 years later we are preparing to navigate the same water and with copies of the newspaper reports and photographs in hand! In a report from on board the yacht dated 21st March 1967 it states that it “was filled five times rounding the Horn”; “my self-steering could not cope with the buffeting”; “I have only had two meals in the last two days”. Richard Lindley was on board HMS Protector looking out for Sir Francis and reported that “he sounded tired but thoroughly alert over the radio”. Murray Sayle flew out of Punta Arenas by light aircraft and searched for the yacht. He eventually captured a dramatic photograph of the battle between the yacht and the massive waves and the very deep troughs between them that hid the yacht from view.
This morning we received news from the Captain that following President Trump’s declaration of a state of emergency over coronavirus, Holland-America is to begin a 30 day stop of operations, despite us being a healthy ship. We will have to disembark at the port of Santiago on 21st March. We will however continue as normal until then and all being well, will round the Horn.
At the start of dinner this evening we received the news that Argentina will not allow us to stop at Ushuaia but we will continue cruising until our next stop in a few days time.