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Nomads of the Seas

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We wake up in the morning and look out the window. Fog.

Surrounded by water and mountains the blurry landscape is a little surreal. A knock at the door signals morning coffee has arrived. The warm cabin has everything a person could want, and only the promise of adventure - and breakfast - are enough to woo us upstairs.

The dining room has clusters of tables, enabling those who are awake enough to be social to eat together, and leaving those who need another cup of coffee a few more moments of peace. The bar is covered with fresh fruit, cereal, juices, salmon and morning meats. On the sideboard are the muffins, breads and a toaster. We fill our plates, but not too much, because freshly cooked eggs are on their way (I'll have mine poached, thanks).

While we eat the fog begins to burn off. We hear the helicopter lifting off from the roof, taking the first group of fly fishing guides to their day's location.

We recheck our flight time on the schedule and go down to the wet room to put our waders on. Layering is the key to adventure in Patagonia. I start with a capilene undershirt, then my R2 hoody and a raincoat - Simms for him and Patagonia for me. R2 pants do the trick for keeping warm under my waders. Hats are required - you'd be crazy to go fishing without one. Not usually a cowgirl, my fishing hat has a wide brim, I love to fish but that doesn't mean I want to end up with skin that resembles shoe leather.

Boot laces tied tight, we make our way up to the staging area where we wait for our turn on the chopper. Honestly, as much as I love to fish, the flights to and from the ship are the highlight of my day. Francisco used to be the personal pilot to the president of Chile and I trust him completely. The ride never lasts long enough, and often takes us near the volcano. We swoop down to the river's edge and land gently on the rocks. We'll be hiking today.


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The water is crystal clear and the fog is gone. We are totally alone. Two pairs of fishermen and two guides surrounded by miles and miles of open river. We rig up our rods and spread out along the bank. I can see our guide, but I can't see my partner and I can't see the other fishermen. Which is okay with me. I know they're having fun and so am I because now I have a fish on.

By the time we break for lunch I've caught 2-3 more fish - a couple of rainbows and a brown, and I'm hungry. The guides put up the lunch table and chairs - complete with a white tablecloth. Two bottles of wine are already open and snacks, to tide us over, are also on the table. The guides get to the business of cooking lunch. The lunches are always hot and delicious and we never know what we're going to eat. Paella, steak, chicken. Salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Hot coffee. Dessert.

Fortified, we return to fishing. We traverse the river again and again, looking for the best pools and riffles as we make our way downstream. More rainbows, another brown. We all catch fish today. We haven't seen a soul all day, except for a couple of cows. When the helicopter swoops down to pick us up, we are startled by the noise of civilization. Grinning ear to ear, we take pictures all the way back to the ship.

It's almost cocktail hour and some of us go up to the roof to relax in the saltwater baths.Others shower or take a short nap while some of us get a head start on our cocktails. Many do all three.Dinner is on the late side (8:30) and features exquisite course after exquisite course, topped with dark chocolate, tea or espresso. After dinner we gather for the daily slide show to admire each other's adventures. The pictures are full of fish and birds, dolphins and other wildlife. While we were fishing some of the other travelers decided to take the souped-up zodiac out looking for blue whales. Dressed in their all-weather suits they looked a little like hazmat workers, but the suits kept them warm, and if they were to have fallen in, the suit would have kept them insulated and afloat.

The slide show gives everyone a chance to plan the next day: Fish? Look for penguins? Climb a glacier?

Fish.

I always pick fishing. But the other stuff sure looks like fun too.