January 11, 2010. 22:00 local time.
After five days of waiting, our packages have finally arrived from Santiago. Because several of the containers were too heavy the local airlines would not fly them to Punta Arenas. Instead, they were transported by truck over the Andes Mountains, into Argentina, and then south to the southern tip of Chile. The packages arrive just in time. The Chilean government has eliminated the fuel subsidies for this area of the country, and the residents in Punta Arenas are going to start a general strike on Wednesday. Once the strike starts nothings will move until the strike is resolved. Our dock space is also in high demand by cruise boats going to Antarctica. As we were leaving two cruise ships were coming into the dock to offload passengers.
Fortunately we are moving! We are currently passing through the Straits of Magellan, headed east-northeast toward the Falkland Islands and the Atlantic Ocean. The photos in this post show some of the scenery as we pass through the Straits. This is probably the last land we will see for the next 36 days. The currents through the Straits can run up to 6 knots, so the ship has taken on a local pilot to make sure we navigate the straight successfully.
We have spent the last ten hours tying all our instruments down to the lab benches and securing sampling gear to the deck. The waves in the straights are small, but we will reach the open ocean in about 4 hours (2 AM local time) and anything not tied down will end on the floor or in the ocean. It has been a long day and I am going to bed.