Magdalena Island

As dawn breaks this morning, we thought that we would be entering the Almirantazgo Inlet sailing into Ainsworth Bay, mooring near the 120-foot-high Marinelli Glacier instead; we were still at dock in Puenta Arenas. At 6:30 a.m. an announcement over the shipboard speaker stated that the sailing had been cancelled because of a malfunctioning generator. It all sounded so final, no sailing, no Cape Horn . . . but we have traveled so far.

George had awakened during the night and noted that he could still see the light of Punta Arenas. I on the other hand slept straight through and awoke to the announcement that our voyage to the southern end of South America was “cancelled”.   To say we were disappointed is a colossal understatement. We wandered down to the lounge for coffee and to gather our wits about us.

The rest of our group began to appear; we were all a bit stunned by the news, not yet completely grasping what had happened but slowly it began to sink in; the disappointment was evident on everyone’s face.  There was much conjecture about exactly what went wrong, was this lack of maintenance or was this just an unavoidable mechanical failure it was as though we needed someone to blame for this upsetting turn of events. The discussion and speculation continued at breakfast until Eduardo appeared looking very tired and then the Captain announced that indeed the ship would not sail but that we were welcome to use it as a hotel for the next four days, they would continue to wine, dine and provide all regular serve to those who wished to stay.


Eduardo talked to each person to see what they would like to do; a couple were so disheartened they just wanted to go home, some of us wanted to continue with the rest of the trip and extension to Iguaçu Falls. He would try to accommodate everyone’s wishes and that meant changing flights for 22 people, moving up hotel reservations, and moving up the flights, hotel and transportation for the Iguaçu extension for 8 of us what a nightmare! It would take time for all of these changes to be made but we definitely wanted to continue on to Iguaçu.


Later in the morning the Captain announced that the shipping company had arranged for a boat to take all those interested to Isla Magdalena for the afternoon. The island is a nesting site for the Magellanic penguins about 2 hours NE of Punta Arenas in the Straits of Magellan. Sign me up!


This is a real treat, Magdalena Island is one of Chile’s largest and most important Magellanic penguin breeding sites with a population of up to 65,000 breeding pairs.

As we walk off the ship penguins are everywhere. A path to a lighthouse has been roped off to minimize actual contact with the nesting penguins but they do occasionally cross the path.


The distinctive white bands that loop over the eye, down the side of the neck and meet at the throat can identify this species of penguin. A thick black band also runs adjacent to the border of the breast and belly, extending down the flanks to the thighs





The Magellanic penguin produces a loud, mournful call, similar to that of a donkey bray, most commonly used by the males when seeking a mate or territorial disputes.



Antarctic Terns


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