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Cape Horn

Mar 20, 2009 6 Comments by


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Greetings yachties,

Cape Horn



From Japan Today

Solo sailor Minoru Saito conquers Cape Horn for 5th time

Tuesday 07th April, 08:15 AM JST

CAPE HORN, Argentina —

Solo Japanese yachtsman Minoru Saito took another step into the annals of sailing Monday, rounding Cape Horn for the fifth time in his 36-year yachting career, this time going the “wrong way around.” He celebrated with a half-bottle of champagne, pouring a portion into the sea in the traditional gesture of thankful crews who pass this dangerous spot.

“I’m really happy” he told shore support back in Tokyo over a satellite phone connection.

Cape Horn, just 500 miles from the top edge of the southern ice pack, is considered the world’s most treacherous sailing grounds with frequent stormy weather and gale-force winds that can blow for days on end. For Saito in his 56-foot yacht Nicole BMW Shuten-dohji III, the weather could not have been more ideal with mild seas and steady, favorable winds. Strong headwinds are expected in two days but by then he will have started moving up the west coast of Chile into gradually warmer and less threatening waters.

On Day 186, he is now 60% finished on the 26,000-mile solo voyage he began last October that is his record eighth single-handed circumnavigation of the globe. The voyage is expected to take another two to three months.

Saito will be 75 when he returns, completing a yachting feat that promises to make virtually invincible his standing as the world’s oldest and most-accomplished single-handed circumnavigator. He’ll be able to claim records for most, oldest, and oldest westward “contrary” circumnavigations. He already holds the Guinness Book world record as the oldest person to complete a non-stop solo circumnavigation at age 71 in 2005.

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The Cape Horn route around South America is one of the most dangerous nautical passages in the world. Both sailors and passengers fear it because of the many sailing mishaps that have occurred there.

Cape Horn was discovered because of commercial restrictions imposed by the Dutch East India
Company early in the 17th Century. The East India Company’s charter forbade any other Dutch trading company from traveling to the East Indies using either the Straits of Magellan or the Cape of Good Hope.

A wealthy Dutch merchant, Isaac Le Maire, was convinced that there was another route around South America located south of the Straits of Magellan. The land south of the Straits of Magellan was Tierra Del Fuego. Most sailors at that time believed that that Tierra Del Fuego was another continent but Le Maire was convinced that it was just a large island and could therefore be rounded to the south. Also Sir Francis Drake, years earlier, reported sailing in open ocean far south of the Straits of Magellan. If an alternate route to the Straits of Magellan could be found then Le Maire could legally travel to the East Indies to establish trade without violating the East India Company charter.

Le Maire therefore obtained the services of an experienced navigator, Willem Schouten. He also formed a trading company known as the Goldseekers consisting of city leaders of the Dutch town of Hoorn. Money was raised for two ships, the Eendracht and the Hoorn, to find the new route.

In May 1615, the two ships began their expedition, sailing from England. Unfortunately, while the ships were outfitting in Patagonia, the Hoorn accidentally caught fire and was completely burned. The Eendracht continued on alone and in January 1616 it passed through a route south of the Straits of Magellan. This new route is now called Strait Of Le Maire. As the Eendracht passed through this strait, a high point on an island to the south was noted and named Cape Hoorn in honor of the town that raised funds for the expedition as well as for their recently lost ship. The English later changed this name to Cape Horn.

The good news for the expedition was that they found an alternate route to the Magellan Straits. The bad news was that when they reached the Dutch settlement of Batavia in the East Indies, no one believed them and they were imprisoned for violating the East India Company Charter because they were accused of actually using the forbidden Straits of Magellan.

Their claims of finding a new route around South America were later verified. This route through the waters of Cape Horn became more popular than sailing the Straits of Magellan since the new route was much wider.

However, due to the violent weather in the Cape Horn area, sailors navigated this route only with the greatest of apprehension. These hazards became well known to sailors in the 18th century as this route came to be sailed more often. The waves in this area often reached heights of over 65 feet. There are also an average of 200 days per year with gale storms and about 130 days per year with heavy clouds. Most of the rest of the year the winds are and the waves are high. As a result, there were frequent shipwrecks in the Cape Horn area during the 18th and 19th Centuries. Captain Bligh aboard the HMS Bounty even tried to cross this route on three attempts in 1788 to reach Tahiti but finally had to give up and continue his journey by rounding Cape Hope in Africa instead.

The Cape Horn route became most popular following the California Gold Rush in 1849. This route was considered to be preferable to crossing the dangerous prairie of North America. After the opening of transcontinental railroad in 1869, passenger traffic around Cape Horn began to taper off in favor of the safer and quicker method of train travel to cross the continent. The opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 further cut back travel around Cape Horn. Today, many sailors choose to travel the Cape Horn route simply for the challenge of it due to the hazards involved.

Our voyages are to remote areas so the skipper reserves the right to alter and/or cancel part or the whole voyage due to serious bad weather, and/or political circumstances in the area of the voyage, and/or any other reason beyond his control. Because of the same the skipper accept no responsibility for missed flights or buses nor their consequences and strongly recommend our clients that international return flights are fully flexible to allow for missed connections due to bad weather, mechanical breakdown and for any other reason whatsoever as mentioned before.
Skipper’s say attending to safety reasons amongst other factors must be accepted.

Micki Porco Fischer was born in Patagonia, Argentina in 1970. He lives in Ushuaia and loves sailing. He also does mountain ski and trekking. His wife and sons together with the untamed nature from Tierra del Fuego keep him alive. He’s very professional and a very good partner. He speaks spanish, english and german.

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Ericsson 3’s hard-earned lead was slipping away.  It was day 29, 14 March and the boats in the Volvo fleet were benefitting from a low-pressure system as they raced through the Southern Ocean towards Cape Horn and the points that could be scored there.  The chasing pack was closing on Ericsson 3, and closing quickly.

After 30 days at sea, Torben Grael had brought Ericsson 4 to within 33 miles of Magnus Olsson and Ericsson 3, and what had looked like certain leader’s points at the scoring gate a few days ago, now seemed to be doubt.  She had 854 miles to run to the gate.  Would it be enough to keep Ericsson 4 at bay?

The low pressure swept over the fleet, giving proper Southern Ocean conditions for the first time and the fleet started to compress.  “The rookies onboard must have been wondering if all those stories about it [the Southern Ocean] were true,” wrote Torben Grael.

By day 31, the fleet was down to 54 degrees south, and the ‘furious fifties’ were in full force.  Ericsson 3 had managed to pull out her lead again in conditions that Green Dragon’s Ian Walker had described as ‘brutal’.

“It’s borderline of what boat and crew can take,” said Ericsson 3’s navigator, Aksel Magdahl.  Ericsson 4 had been piling on the pressure and the crew was showing signs of wear and tear from the constant salt spray and cold.  “This is when the crews dig deep to keep it all together in boat and people-breaking conditions,” wrote navigator Jules Salter.

Telefónica Blue, now 795 behind, had escaped the gales and the team was happy.  “It looks like the weather isn’t set to give us too much of a beating in the next few days on the way down to the Horn, which comes as a relief to everyone onboard,” wrote skipper Bouwe Bekking.

It was day 32, 17 March, when Ericsson 3, still in pole position passed Cape Horn and collected maximum points.  Ericsson 4 was just 36 miles behind her and PUMA followed in third place.

Magnus Olsson, who made this his sixth rounding of the classic Cape, was ecstatic for his team.  “I am most happy to all the rookies on the boat who have never done it before, because I could see how happy they were.  It is a fantastic achievement to go round first. I can hardly believe it,” he said.

For the skipper of PUMA, rounding the Cape for the first time was enough to turn tough guy, Kenny Read, into sentimental reflection.

“I am in awe of the sheer magnitude of the passage and the final toll booth that lets you through and awaits the next yacht to venture this way.  We appreciate safe passage more than anything right now, and with that in mind, we thank this Great Cape,” he said.

In fourth place, Ian Walker brought Green Dragon round, beautifully timed to coincide with Ireland’s St Patrick’s Day.  Walker had stood 30 miles off the Cape and rounded in darkness.

“It was not an easy passage this time with 30 – 40 knot westerly gales and a large and disturbed sea state.  We took a cautious approach given the conditions, and stood offshore to avoid the worst of the waves and to make sure we didn’t have to gybe round the Horn,” he said.

By day 33, the first four boats were clear of Le Maire Strait and heading north towards the Falkland Islands, which they all passed to the west, when Ericsson 3 hit the wall and came to a halt.  Ericsson 4 came barrelling in, and they too were becalmed.  By the time Ericsson 3 was set free, two hours later, her lead had diminished to only five miles.

Thursday 19 March 2009 16:30 GMT

By Cameron Kelleher

It’s business as usual now that Telefonica Blue has rounded Cape Horn and, like the rest of the fleet, made good its escape from the hard labour of the Southern Ocean. The pleasures of Rio await.

Bouwe Bekking and his men passed the scoring waypoint at the Atlantic-Pacific intersection at 13:39 GMT. Apart from the job satisfaction, they added another two points to their pay packet to move to within half a point of PUMA in the overall standings.

Their rounding came almost two full days after Ericsson 3 (12:20, 19-03-09), though they are mere statistics. What matters more is that a battle-weary crew on a jury-rigged boat can seriously contemplate Copacabana at last.

Telefonica’s tale of woe on this 12,300-mile marathon is well-documented. The self-inflicted wound of a three-point penalty due to a rudder change, leaving Qingdao 19 hours behind the scheduled starters after hitting a rock, mainsail delamination and a broken forestay were all low blows.

In keeping with the catalogue of incidents and accidents, Bekking reported that they had collided with a brick wall at the Horn. In an audio interview with yours truly (also available for weddings and bar mitzvahs), he said: “We are still right next to it (the Horn), we don’t have any breeze. We are becalmed basically. We have four knots of breeze and big waves so we are only moving about two to three knots. Looks like we’ll be hanging here for a few hours more.”

The drop in wind allowed the pressure valve to be released on board. It was also the prelude to a party. “We had some grappa and some big cigars out. It was a big highlight particularly given how this leg has been going for us. It took a bit of pressure off.”

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click the link below to watch Ericsson Racing Report

………Leaving a man on deck on watch, everyone else retired below and got ready for a capsize. It would take just one rogue wave. Now they were the fish in the pork barrel; the mighty catamaran helpless before the non-linear maths of wave generation. The crew dressed in survival suits, stowed away anything made of…….

Cape Horn Tales

I didn’t want to tempt fate previously, but now the Volvo Ocean Race fleet are as good as round Cape Horn, I thought I might tell my favourite Cape Horn story. It dates back to the first Jules Verne season in 1993. Both ENZA (Peter Blake and Robin Knox-Johnston) and Charal (Olivier de Kersauson) had hit Unidentified Floating Objects south of Cape Town, and returned to South Africa manning the pumps.

And that left Commodore Explorer – the old Jet Services V, a 23 metre catamaran – the last man standing in the Southern Ocean. Skippered by Bruno Peyron and assisted by, amongst others, Cam Lewis. I first came across Lewis’ account of their circumnavigation in a Seahorse article written shortly after they got back. He later published a book about it, Around the World in 79 Days, which I read way back in the day, and dug out again recently to get myself in the mood for the Volvo Ocean Race. more here

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At 0050 GMT this morning, (19/03), Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz sailed into the history books on Desafio Cabo de Hornos when the Chilean duo rounded Cape Horn earlier today. Instantaneously, their offshore sailing CV has quadrupled in size. The first yacht in the Portimão Global Ocean Race to pass the cape; the first Chilean team to round Cape Horn in a race; the first modern, 40ft yacht to race around the bottom of the globe and the first Class 40 to take on the Southern Ocean and reach 56°S.

The overture to rounding of the world’s southernmost cape has been dramatic for Cubillos and Muñoz. At 1700 GMT yesterday (18/03), Desafio Cabo de Hornos passed three miles south of the Islas Ildelfonso: nine jagged, uninhabited and unlit stacks of rock at the western entrance to Drake Passage. Immediately, Cubillos fired off an email to the rest of the fleet: “Please take care of these rocks,” he warned. “They are north of our current position, but my impression is that they are a little bit south of the position marked on the chart and they’re unlit.” Three hours later, a Chilean Navy P-111 spotter plane buzzed Desafio Cabo de Hornos, quickly followed by a congratulatory call from the office of the Chilean President and greetings from Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme 85 miles astern in second place on Beluga Racer.

At 1000 GMT this morning (19/03), Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme clipped very close to Cape Horn on Beluga Racer, just under ten hours behind the Chilean race leaders, Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz on Desafio Cabo de Hornos.  Timing their arrival to perfection, the German duo arrived at the world’s southernmost cape at sunrise. “It was amazing,” reported Boris Herrmann via satellite phone shortly after passing the cape. “The sun was just lighting up the land and we could see everything very clearly.”

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Team Mowgli blast round Cape Horn

Thursday (19/03) was a landmark 24 hours for the Portimão Global Ocean Race with Felipe Cubillos and José Munoz rounding Cape Horn at 0050 GMT on Desafio Cabo de Hornos complete with fixed wing, helicopter and warship escort provided by the Armada de Chile transporting friends family and supporters to this rocky outcrop of Chilean territory at 56°S. Just under ten hours later as the Southern Ocean sun rose, Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme in second place on Beluga Racer squeezed close enough inshore to smell the guano on the cape’s cliffs.

This morning (20/03) at 0404 GMT, the British duo of Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson took Team Mowgli round the cape under the cover of darkness, holding third place in the double-handed fleet. “We have just rounded the last of the Great Capes on our race around the world – and we feel completely fantastic,” reported Salvesen in very high spirits at 0600 GMT this morning. “To put this achievement into a little perspective, it is worth noting that in the last two years, fewer than 20 people have achieved this in short-handed racing and, of course, only the seven of us ever in a 40ft racing class.” Salvesen and Thomson have now joined a very exclusive group: “To date, 11 people have walked on the moon and nearly 500 people have been to space,” he continues, “and over 500 people reached the top of Mount Everest last year alone.”

Yesterday morning (19/03), the speed averages of Team Mowgli and the fleet’s solo entry, Michel Kleinjans on Roaring Forty, rose as the two boats approached the cape. “The weather forecast we received from the Chilean Coastguard was for 40-50 knots of wind with gust of up to 100 knots,” explains Salvesen.  “Neither of us has ever been in an area subject to such a forecast! So it was with not a little trepidation that we sailed onwards towards Cape Horn with the wind at our backs and the knowledge that as the sea bed rises, so do the waves.” Fortunately, conditions were less wild than predicted. “In the event we ‘only’ had gusts of just under 60 knots and the sea wasn’t as bad as we had feared,” he continues. “It was rough and far more than the autopilot could handle, so we spent the last 12 hours helming one hour on, one hour off. And it was brilliant!”

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The leading pack are looking forward to the Cape, and hoping to spring a surprise in the Atlantic.

A special radio session today, including a live video link with leader Michel Desjoyeaux on Foncia, first to round Cape Horn early this morning (see VIDEO section later today). Also news from the chasing bunch: Bilou, Riou and Le Cam, plus repairs looming for Safran…
2nd – Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement): I can see the Horn coming up! Now it’s grey and a squall coming. Pleased to see the Cape. Since yesterday though it has been nice seeing the albatrosses and seas have been calmer. Nice to be turning left to stop punishing the boat. Have some cracks in my hands, but always uses gloves for manoeuvres. Impatient to get outside after being confined inside for so long. But it’s not going to be easy ahead. A nice gap built up over those behind, but remains prudent. Doesn’t yet know which route he will take immediately after the Horn.
3rd – Jean Le Cam (VM Matériaux): 12-35 knots of wind making it a very complicated night. Today it’s the squalls that are making it difficult. Huge squalls, which you have to keep watching — no sleep allowed but doesn’t feel as tired as 4 years ago, because he hasn’t had the stress of icebergs. The Horn is coming up, so isn’t going to start crying now! Already a feat to be in the race still. Only one day left before the Horn. Has seen the Southern Star and it really shines!
4th Vincent Riou (PRB): Rough cross-seas but above all variable conditions — 25-35 knot winds and cold wind. Roughly 48 hours behind leader at Cape Horn, but weather will decide when exactly he rounds. Different from last time, but this time was probably more like normal conditions. Has a lot of work to do just after the Horn. The South really continues until they start to leave the South Atlantic. There will be a group of three with Jean joining them for the battle in the Atlantic — hoping for a surprise…!
7th – Marc Guillemot (Safran): Was thinking of maybe stopping, but that has now become absolutely necessary. The screws keeping the mast track in place are not holding it in place. After the repair at second reef, it’s ripped off on third reef. Currently fixed at third reef. Needs to put in place bigger screws. May be doing a pit stop where Bilou stopped after the Horn, but that depends on the weather. The second possibility is the Falklands. Rounding the Horn gives you the impression that you are going home. Well done, Michel — he’s done a Desjoyeaux! Very clever choices in his strategy and great sailing since he returned to the race. Not easy to judge the Jury’s redress compensation, but he’s satisfied with their judgment and thinks they have done a good job as it’s fair.

His face crumpled from much needed sleep, Jean Le Cam spoke this morning by video-conference about his accident and being pulled from the waters off Cape Horn by his friend and Vendée Globe rival Vincent Riou.

The two skippers, supported by Armel Le Cléac’h, recounted the incident which paralysed the Vendée Globe and wider community while the skipper was inside the upturned VM Matériaux for more than 10 hours.

Le Cam was almost his back to his typical nonplussed self as he explained that he knew that had ‘only one bullet in the chamber’ – only one chance when he finally expelled himself out of the upturned hull.  He explained that he had been on the phone to none other than Riou immediately before he hit something, what he said he believed to be possibly a container which caused him to lose the bulb off his keel and capsize.

Le Cam said his reflex actions were to recover warm clothes, his survival suit but was trapped near the front of his boat, the only dry area with an airspace, while the stern sections of the boat were under water, presenting a very difficult and potentially dangerous escape route. Le Cam said he worried about his reserves of air, particularly on the principle he would not leave the boat unless he knew there was help there.

Riou, who reached the spot at 14h21 on Tuesday had one major worry: he feared that Le Cam may not have had time to put on his survival suit and may have been already suffering from hypothermia, with the sea temperature down to 5 degrees.  That is why they both seized the opportunity, which arose at around 1800hrs GMT. It was Le Cam who took the initiative, as soon as he realized that his friend was close at hand. After pushing out boxes that were in his way in the flooded stern compartment, then pushing out the emergency hatch, he waited for the stern of the boat to rise up on a wave, before squeezing his way out and clinging on to one of the rudders. “You know then that you have only one bullet in the chamber.” he said with hindsight.

A fantastic sight for any follower of the Vendée Globe in today’s special broadcast, which included a live video link with Jean Le Cam and Vincent Riou, both at the nav station of PRB…

There was also a live video link-up with Armel Le Cléac’h, the second skipper diverted to the rescue attempt, who has now rejoined the race and was this morning sailing past Cape Horn — the famous rock clearly visible in the background! News from them and other French skippers from this morning…

Jean Le Cam (VM Matériaux): He was on the phone to Vincent and felt a shock, something unusual. The boat went over, but not very violently. Thinks it may have been a container floating just under the surface. There are a lot of boats in the area. Jumped to get his clothes and survival gear. Made a little nest in the bow section. Upside down it is normal that stern is lower in the water.
Feels like someone who has just woken from a long sleep. Difficult to explain what it was like during the incident. Always had in mind that he would have to leave the boat. Didn’t know how long he could stay in 10 cubic metre space.
He heard Vincent clearly once and thought he heard him again later, so thought it was time to get out. The stern section had flooded so he returned to bow, but then told himself he needed to get out. Had capsized before with Tabarly so knew that he would need to attach himself to rudder, so he took a rope with him. Thankfully Vincent saw something coming out. Once outside he told himself to grab the wind generator and immediately saw Vincent. Caught Vincent’s rope after a few attempts and set about consolidating the mast and gybing straight away.

Vincent Riou (PRB): Heard shouts and guessed Le Cam’s distress. Saw that the boat was sinking into water and it would be cold and wet inside. Didn’t know if he was injured or whether he would try to come out, so set up surveillance with Armel. Jean managed to hang on to boat and cling onto rudder, but Vincent wasn’t sure he’d manage that if he came out. Fourth attempt was a desperate one because he was beginning to wonder whether he’d manage. Only the outrigger touched VM Matériaux. Now they are heading to the Horn and hoping to anchor this evening somewhere in the entrance to Beagle Channel. What’s next is the question he is asking, and wondering what jury will allow. Riou is hoping to drop off Jean at Ushuaia with the collaboration of Isabelle Autissier who’s in the area.

2nd – Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement): Was pleased to get regular news from the Race Directors about the rescue. A bit tired after the Southern Ocean, had squalls during the night. Mich is still annoying him, as he seems to get the best weather all the time. Disappointed about the lack of opportunities after Cape Horn. Mich has gone further east, which may pay off for him according to the charts. Very irregular winds – during the night 20-40 knots, now 15-22 knots of wind. Unfortunately he lost his crickets when he entered the Pacific!

3rd – Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air): Currently five miles from the Horn: the champagne is ready. Yesterday he experienced a wide range of emotions and a long wait. We did what we could. No other choice, when you’re at sea. Didn’t get back to race immediately afterwards as needed to rest and get over the excitement. Today he’s being the tourist with his camera. Pleased to be at the Horn Thinks he will have a shave after the Falklands. Was very cloudy this morning, but clearer skies now. Now in third place, not really deserved, as others sailed better. Still a long way to go to get back to Les Sables.

6th – Marc Guillemot (Safran): Relieved with the news and impressed by Vincent Riou’s achievement. Has had a very winding course, because of sail limitations. Now conditions are allowing him to sail directly down towards the Horn. Feels extremely tired after the Southern Ocean. Will be stopping just after the Horn, but more likely to be at the Falklands. His round the world voyage has been marked by islands.

After a tense morning of waiting, there was huge relief for Vendée Globe organizers and competitors this afternoon with the news that Vincent Riou (PRB) had arrived at the scene of VM Matériaux’s capsize at 1421 (GMT) and made contact with Jean Le Cam inside the upturned hull.

The pink IMOCA 60 is floating upside down around 200 miles west of Cape Horn (56° 17’ S, 73° 46’ W), with the bulb of her keel detached, in a slightly stern-down position — possibly due to the ballast tanks being full at the time of the capsize. Riou was able to spot a ‘flag’ poking out of one of the through-hull fittings of the yacht and shouted for Le Cam, who responded. Both EPIRBs have also been activated on the yacht.

At 1920 GMT, only a matter of an hour and 20 minutes since passing Cape Horn, Vincent Riou called his team to report that PRB has been dismasted.

Riou called his team and said bluntly: “We have been dismasted. We are in the islands.”

When the call was made PRB was in a position approximately 55 deg S and 65 deg 59 W, about 7.8 miles to the North West of the Cape Horn light. Both skippers Riou and Le Cam are safe and well.

He called back to his team about an hour later, saying that he did not want to issue a Mayday signal, but was trying to locate a suitable vessel to tow them, perhaps through the contacts of Isabelle Autissier. He had been on the phone to Isabelle discussing their planned rendezvous tomorrow not long before the mast collapsed.

They believe that the temporary lashing which they had made to the chainplate gave way.

They had around 25 knots of NW’ly wind when the rig came down but have a limited chance of setting a jury rig while they are in the islands. Riou and Le Cam acted quickly to cut away the rigging and free the broken mast. Since they cut the mast free PRB is reported to be drifting at 1.5 knots to a course of about 25 degrees, effectively away from the islands.

A PAN PAN call was made, a simple request to any available assistance, as opposed to the obligations of a Mayday. Vendée Globe Race Direction have been in contact with the Chilean authorities. The  32.7 m  general purpose  vessel  Alacalufe  of the Chilean  Navy  has been dispatched  from Port  Williams , 55  miles away.  Making  around  20 knots it is due to reach PRB around  0200hrs GMT.

The Horn for Sam

Remarkable British solo skipper Sam Davies on Roxy rounded Cape Horn at 0920hrs this morning in difficult conditions, over 40 knots of wind and big seas, weather completely typical of what one would expect for the windswept legendary rock at the tip of South America.

Davies’ time from Les Sables d’Olonne is 62 days 21 hours and 18 minutes.
She told this morning’s visio- conference that she had been scared for the first time in her incredible race, shutting herself inside Roxy as a big, 50 knot squall hit knocking Roxy over.

“It’s incredible to be here, especially after horrible conditions over past 24 hours.” Said Davies, who rounded in fourth place, “I have had 50-knot winds and so it was a relief to see the Rock, as the boat went right over during the night. I had to wait for the wind to drop to 40 knots to gybe.”
“ Now we still have 42 knots with boat sailing at peak speeds of 25 knots on the waves.”  I am a bit sad though to leave the Pacific after such a great voyage.”

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All you ever wanted to know about Cape Horn here

Cape Horn to Starboard

“Hey Lin, wake up!” I hear Larry’s voice over my storm-tossed dream. “You wanted this chance, come and grab it.”
It takes my body and mind several minutes to coordinate sensory information before I realize my dream wasn’t far off the mark. We really were trying to bash our way past Cape Horn and into the Pacific. But now, instead of the body jarring crash and lurch of a hard driven sailboat fighting to gain weathering against storm force southwesterly winds, I barely feel any movement at all. Instead of dark of night and howl of wind I hear rambunctious terns and see streams of glorious sunlight pouring through the open hatch. Had I dreamed the snow flurries, and frequent squalls? I climb clear of the thick sleeping bag and grab my jeans then add two sweaters over the thermal inners I’d slept in.
All around me are signs of hard sailing. Every devise we’d installed to keep gear securely inside lockers and under floorboards is fastened. Sponges sprout around the edges of dishes and spice jars, a sure sigh Larry has been in to quiet rattles as I slept. On the cabin sole, out of the path of traffic, a half dozen stray items have joined the basket of fruit, and cheese I kept handy to snack on because it had been too rough to cook.
“Were you serious about flying the nylon drifter at the Horn?” Larry calls. “You’ve got your chance. This light air can’t last long. Let’s grab it.”
I don’t waste a second. I’m out the companionway, gloves between my teeth, watch cap only half on as Larry pulls the drifter bag from the lazarette. He laughs as I spin in a circle and almost miss the most significant landmark of our lives together. Then, he reaches out to hug me while he points, “there she is, Cape Horn to starboard.”

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800 Shipwrecks surround this land



In 1616, when Spain’s reign over the seas had weakened, a Dutch captain called Willem Cornelius Schouten – on the verge of his fiftieth year – navigated through virgin waters in the southern seas. He was accompanied on board the UNITY by a handful of young men, wearing leather capes greased with sea lion fat and heavy hand knitted woolen jackets. They were seeking a new route to the Pacific to avoid the restrictions in the East Indies. It was summertime, the short night of 29th January, when Schouten wrote in his diary: “We encountered high seas coming from the South West. The water was also a bluish color so we judged that to the right, South West of us, there was a large and deep sea and presumed that undoubtedly it was the Great Southern Sea and that we had discovered a passage which until then had been concealed and unknown…

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painted by Anton Otto Fischer (1882-1962)


The Chapel at Cape Horn is named Stella Maris, “Star of the Sea,”
dedicated to those captains and crews from all over the world, who have
made the long journey around Cape Horn, and who have lost their lives in the process.

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SEAWITCH rounding Cape Horn with a Nor’easter
History of the Sea Witch

Jim Wilson’s Antarctic Blog

11th January 2008 – Drake Passage, Cape Horn and Beagle Channel.
Time: 09:54, 57 degrees 21.00′ South, 65 degrees 42.50′ West, overcast and occasional showers at first, brightening up and staying dry later, Air Temperature 3 oC, Water Temperature 4.7 oC, Wind Southwest force 6. This morning was a memorable albatross day on board the Marco Polo.

Since the start of the season I have found it hard to convince passengers of the size of these birds because on the open sea scale gets thrown all out of shape. This morning however I had no such difficulty. A young Wandering Albatross hovered about 30 feet (9m) directly over us for a short while and it looked like a small aeroplane.


Young Wandering Albatross this morning.

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Want to take a trip to Cape Horn?

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6 Responses to “Cape Horn”

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