Boating Around the Ice Bergs in Laguna San Rafael, Chile
In several lifeboats, we continued motoring around Laguna San Rafael with ice bergs everywhere and the imposing San Rafael Glacier. Laguna San Rafael was discovered in the 16th century by a Spanish navigator, Sir Juan Garcia Tao. The 15km/9.3m San Rafael Glacier forms an impressive wall nearly 2km/1.3m wide. The boats took us in very close (too close for my comfort level) and we just sat for a while, listening to the creaks and groans of the Glacier while every now and then a huge chunk would break off and fall into the Lagoon. There were just our small boats and two research scientists in kayaks in the Lagoon, nothing else.
It was cold, but not freezing. We were taken aback by the beauty of this glacier and the different colored ice bergs and had never dreamed it would be so dramatic….View image… Again, this was 1986, well before I’d even paid any attention to Patagonia and the geography of this region.
At least another hour was spent motoring…View image… between the magificent, blue ice bergs, oohing and aahing over each one…View image…
…and then all the boats came to a sudden stop. A crew member in each boat pulled out glasses, bottles of very strong liquor (vodka/schnapps) and started pouring and passing to each passenger. We sat there, rocking in the swells, while some of the passengers got loudly drunk. They didn’t just get drunk, but started standing up in the boats, making toasts (in Spanish) across the waves to each other.
If I thought I was nervous before, that was nothing compared to a panic attack envisioning overturned lifeboats in the frigid water. Each time someone jumped to their feet to make another toast, the boat rocked vigorously. And, I was getting cold. At long last, the boats turned back to the Skorpios anchored in the Lagoon and we re-boarded. The crew also brought a small bergy bit back on board with us where they proceeded to chop it into ice for the bar… Each ice cube had amazing air bubbles frozen in them. It was mesmerizing just watching the ice cube melt.
An unusual, adventurous, beautiful but scary experience for me…