I commence my visit to Valparaiso, Chile, with a cautionary tale. But, let me first remind you of my 2013: driving a road mere hours before it was hit by a killer Oklahoma tornado; experiencing a 7.1 magnitude earthquake and being sideswiped by a super-typhoon in the Philippines. I had hoped 2014 would not be similar.
The evening of our arrival in Valparaiso, I'm alone, walking towards Minerva's bow, when there's a very loud CRAAACK! It takes two or three seconds to realize what's happened. As shown in the picture above, just feet away one of the ship's lines had snapped. Large ships' lines - when they part - can slice a person in half.
One section of the offending line wraps itself around another.
You can see how the temporary passenger fencing on the dock leads forward. I had gone well beyond the fencing to check for a shuttle bus into town.
There's no one from Minerva about, so, backing off from the remaining lines, I return to the gangway and yell at one of the crew just inside the ship. In a moment or so, an officer appears on the bridge wing.
Shortly, as there are no dockers, ship's crewmen are scrambling.
Then, one of the stern lines begins to part.
The captain (in the centre) arrives on the bridge and I consider a drink for which, now that I think of it, Minerva should have paid.
Two days later, heavy swell and the ship's consequent movement mean more lines have gone.
I head into town, returning a couple of hours later for lunch. But, Minerva isn't where I left her. With so many lines mangled, the captain's decided enough. I find myself on a scruffy sightseeing boat, squeezing through a nautical traffic jam and being ferried out to Minerva, now anchored in Valparaiso Bay.
My visit to Valparaiso is cut short - but, at least, I wasn't. I have learned a very good lesson. Not even when a pedestrian path is clearly marked close to a ship's bow or stern will I go anywhere near.
In my next posting, less unsettling activities in Valparaiso.