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Cape Horn Sailing is featured in the

November, 2008 ISSUE OF PATAGONIAN NEWS




We now have broadband here in the world's most southern town and are sharing it for free by Meraki WiFi with 120 persons here just 60 ,miles from Cape Horn! :-)

See http://public.meraki.com/network/capehorn?map_lat=-54.93561165282011&map_lng=-67.60816812515259&map_zoom=16

The last 4 years has been an interesting time for us here at Victory Adventure Expeditions.

Captain Ben retired as tour Captain of the 19th century replica S/V VICTORY to Cape Horn in April 2003, but today is very active in managing the Virtual Agency in Puerto Williams, a new 13 bed hostal, providing Internet for PW, a bakery, fast foods restaraunt and mini market..

This is the first edition of the Patagonian News for several years due to his retirement and subsequent bout with prostate cancer, from which he has now, very thankfully, recovered.

He and his family plan on translating to the U.S. in December 2009 for the education of his 2 younger girls, Victoria age 10 and Aimee, age 9.

The chilean flag "Victory" has been sold to a local hotel owner, but will continue to charter to Cape Horn with her new owners.  See http://victory-cruises.com/victory_darwin's_route.html

Since the initiation of the MARE AUSTRALIS cruise ship in 2001, thousands of persons from all over the world have been able to get to know Cape Horn Island and the Tierra Del Fuego fjords and glaciers. http://www.victory-cruises.com/australis.tierradelfuego.html

Cape Horn continues to be the dream and challenge of many sailors with hundreds of sailboats rounding it every year.

Also there is still availability to sail there aboard several yachts: http://cape-horn.net/ends_earth.html , but the Chilean Navy may shut these yacht tours by foreign vessels down anytime during the season 2009/2010.




Cape Horn

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


Approaching Cape Horn from the SW

Cape Horn is the southernmost point of South America .  It is located in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago .

The cape was first rounded on January 26 ,1616 by a Dutch expedition of Willem Schouten and Jacob Le Maire . They named it Kaap Hoorn after the city of Hoorn , Schouten's birthplace. The spanish name of the place is a degeneration of the dutch: Cabo de Hornos.

Cape Horn is famous for the weather conditions that made it difficult to round in the days of sailing ships .  Even so, the open waters of the Drake Passage south of the Cape meant plenty of sea room for maneuvering, while the narrow Strait of Magellan through the Tierra del Fuego islands could be a slow and tortuous passage.

The area of the Cape is in Chile . A family lives at a small station maintained by the government, consisting of a main house, utility building, chapel, and lighthouse.  A short distance off there is a large sculpture featuring the silhouette of an albatross .  The terrain is entirely treeless, although quite lush due to the frequent precipitation.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_Horn


Where is Cape Horn? It is the southernmost tip of South America, the place where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet. The map shows a common route of the Sarah W. Vorwerk, the boat Mr. Gagnon  will be sailing. Cape Horn is a challenge for sailors because of  its storms, strong currents, and icebergs. Throughout history many ships  wrecked at this spot because of the hazardous conditions. Today's technology makes the voyage safe, but the experience of crossing the Horn is a goal for many sailors.





PUSSYCAT CAPE HORN


By Björn Karlin



This is a rare photograph,  taken at the Cape Horn on January 1, 1995 and published in Yachting World as a very unique  picture of 'Pussycat Cape Horn!'


Sailing round Cape Horn is normally a both extremely difficult and dangerous task. In the     so called normal weather conditions the wind force is 10 or more (30 m/sec, 55 kn/sec).     The relatively narrow Drakes Strait, between South America and Antarctica raises the waves     40-50 feet. Rain or snow reduces the visibility to zero. Most of the few yet living     Horn-rounders have actually not seen the Horn.

Cape Horn is a rocky island, two times one mile, at the bottom of the Patagonian     archipelago on the most southern tip of South America. The picture was taken from the     south on the deck of the 49 ft steelketch s/y Callas. She was crewed by three Swedes, one     Finn, three Argentineans,  including the skipper Jorge Trabuchi, and one Chilean     pilot. Callas had sailed from the most southern town in the world, Ushuaia in Argentina.     She sailed first east in the Beagle Canal, of Darwin considered the most beautiful place     in the world, surrounded by glaciers and snow-covered mountain peaks. Callas entered Chile     at the navy base Puerto Williams on the island of Navarino. She turned south on the     Atlantic, rounded the Horn and returned to Ushuaia. The voyage took seven days.

The weather was mainly normal - stormy, rainy and bitterly cold though it was in the     middle of the summer in the Southern hemisphere - due to neighboring Antarctica. Twice     Callas was violently knocked down by 'williwaws', most feared tornadoes that suddenly hit     you with a black wall of solid water and wind.

But on arrival at Cape Horn in the afternoon of December 31, 1994, the New Year´s Eve,     the wind and waves suddenly calmed, the clouds vanished and revealed the midsummer sun     enlightening the deadly ugly Devil´s Tooth south of the Horn. The permanent screaming     from the rigging silenced.

'It´s a miracle!' shouted skipper Trabuchi, nervously touching the image of the     Horn-sailors saint, Stella Mares, at the steering wheel. It was felt unreal, almost     spooky.

Due to the sudden extremely good weather conditions a sailing yacht was, via radio from     the Chilean Navy, for the first time in twenty years allowed to anchor at Cape Horn,     letting the crew ashore and stay over night. The crew dinghied ashore between strings of     thick kelp. They were met by three young and very lonely Chilean soldiers who guarded the     island in 30 days turns - and by Cape Horn´s only permanent resident - a sheepdog named     Bovitt, living on a daily penguin.

The soldiers guided the crew on a grand tour of the island, visiting the old light house,     the small Stella Mares-chapel, and the Albatros monument of surviving Horn-rounders. The     second photograph is taken at the Chilean monument of the many drowned sailors. It shows     from left Hannu Olkinuora from Finland, Arne Mårtensson, Björn Karlin and Hasse Olsson     from Sweden. Then the visitors passports were stamped with the famous and highly desired     penguinstamp. Earlier during 1994 Cape Horn had been visited by 20 persons.

The crew of Callas was invited to spend the New Year´s Eve in the soldiers tiny hut.     Callas could contribute to the New Year-festivities with resources that are seldom found     in the supply of remotely commanded soldiers, namely a lot of tasty wine and a first class     chef (Señor Carlos). It became a fantastic party, dedicated to peaceful friendship among     a multinational group of eleven men and one dog at one of the most deserted and dangerous     places in the world - The World´s End, as it is called
by the locals.

From natural reasons the crew woke up rather late on New Year´s Day finding it still     sunny and calm. The Finn improved his recovery by jumping into the ice-cold water and     swim! The South Americans regarded him, of course, as perfectly insane being the first     human deliberately swimming at the Horn and surviving it. So, Callas rounded the Cape     Horn, slowly drifting pass it, hardly beating the current, while its crew experienced     emotions that continued to grow inside them long after returning to, what some people     carelessly call civilization.






SKIP NOVAK'S PELAGIC AUSTRALIS AT SEA ON HER WAY TO ANTARCTICA VIA CAPE HORN


On Saturday November 8th Pelagic Australis left the Cape Town docks on her way to Stanley in the Falkland Islands with Pelagic skippers Richard Haworth and Stephen Wilkins on board.


So far Pelagic Australis has more than met her design requirements.  She motors at 10.5 knots under full power and cruises at 9 knots comfortably at 1400 RPM.  Very stable, she is a powerful boat and sails easily at 8 to 11 knots.  The cockpit is a dream; very workable and comfortable - and safe for the heavy weather to come.  On the delivery down from Durban we had 12 people aboard and no traffic jams in the interior with the triple access from the pilothouse.  It was a real pleasure to sail!

Pelagic Australis is fully equipped for diving expeditions with a bank of 8 10.5 liter bottles and 100 kg of weights supplied by the vessel in addition to her Bauer Utilus Compressor.  For more photos.  http://www.victory-cruises.com/antarctica_with_pelagic.html



CAPE HORN by SKIP NOVAK

The anchor chain snatched hard against a strong gust of wind
dumping down off the mountain at 0400 and I woke from an otherwise
fitful sleep to hear the pitter patter of a light rain beginning.
Water droplets on the hatch filtered what there was of the early
morning light. I rolled over and resigned myself to another aborted
attempt at climbing Mt. Francais, one of the highest mountains in the
Darwin Range. It was late November 1993 and we were anchored in
Caleta  Olla in the Beagle Channel on our way down to begin
another charter  season with Pelagic in Tierra del Fuego and
the Antarctic. After four seasons in the area I had come to
know Cape Horn and its environs intimately, but an old
dream of standing on the highest land around and at once
demystifying the geography , because of work schedules and
the regions typical stormy weather, had always up to now alluded me.
In those early morning hours I thought back not how it all  began,
many years ago - how this area - dismissed by most people as a Terra
Incognito, yet considered a 'Godhead' for sailors of all kinds, had
become for me a lifelong obsession.

I first rounded the Cape in 1977 on board the British Cutter Kings
Legend in the second Whitbread Round the World Race. I was the
navigator at the tender age of 25 - in the days when navigation had
nothing to do with computer literacy and all to do with the ability
to shoot a quick round of stars through a hole in the
clouds while bucking through a full blown gale. That first
circumnavigation, or for that matter the first Whitbread
you do (for those of us who made it a way of life) is
always the best and the memories are easily recalled.

We had been dead reckoning for five days without a fix on the last
afternoon before we were due to round the Cape. The anticipation and
anxiety were real. We didn't know precisely where we were and in the
strong westerly flow and following seas it can easily be imagined we
would be way off course. This reality, somewhat ignored before on the
safety of the open sea began to have its affect as we "smelled
the land" and the once carefree, round faces of my shipmates
began to visibly lengthen under their black sou'westers. Providence
showed its hand at the right moment; the sun broke through and I
bagged it and was therefore able to make a line of position, then
cross it with another two hours later. We were ten miles north of our
supposed track and a healthy forty miles ahead of schedule!

That evening in the fading southern ocean light we made landfall on
the snow clad summits of high mountains in ;the hinterland of Tierra
del Fuego. Moments later another squall ripped through and they
disappeared. At once the seed of future travel had been planted. We
rounded Cape Horn at night running hard in forty knots of wind with a
poled out jib and saw nothing more than a weak light flashing when
five miles off.

At dawn we were surprised to find "33 Export" on our stern
surfing up to ;us quickly. As they pulled abeam (close enough to
exchange fusillades of beer cans with the French) we broke out the
storm chute with reckless bravado and surged ahead half underwater.
We rounded the eastern tip of Staten Island that afternoon
and I remember it was like deflating a balloon, the
pressure, anxiety and all that goes with a Southern Ocean
run had gone out of it. We were "safely" back in the
Atlantic, a metaphorical millpond. Cape Horn and Tierra del
Fuego slipped astern - the mystery was left in tact.

Mystery goes part and parcel with Cape Horn. The coast of Tierra del
Fuego (defined by all land south of the Straits of (Magellan)
appeared on Ptolomy's map and many others subsequently, but
all were certainly apocryphal prior to Magellan's
documented discovery in 1520 of the passage that bears his
name. By 1540 a rumor in Spain had circulated that the
Straits in fact did not exist because out of 21 ships
dispatched there only one had returned to Europe. Later in the 16th
century when the conquest of Peru and Chile and attendant
privateering were in full swing, Drake, de Gamboa, Camargo,
Ladrilleros, Hawkins, Cavendish and John Davis (recognized
as the first scientific navigator) ran the gauntlet of the
Straits of Magellan preoccupied not with exploration
further south byt with riches around the corner to the
north. It was left as late as 1616 when the Dutch men Jacques Le
Maire and Willem Schouten in the Unity plied successfully further
south (there were many prior failures) and discovered the Straits of
Le Maire, Staten Island, Isla Barnaveldt and of course, Cape Horn,
which they named after their ship the "Hoorn" which had
burned in Port Desire on the Patagonian coast. Soon after in 1624
another Dutch expedition, the "Nassau Fleet," under there
command of Jacques L'Hermite found the passage he named Nassau Bay
which by-passed the Cape Horn archipelago to the north. On this
voyage they were the first to encounter the nomadic Yaghan
Indians who lived  as far south as Wollaston Island and
traveled nearly naked in bark canoes.

By mid morning the thick weather began to lift over the
Beagle channel and what had been a wet blanket of cloud rolled back
and uncovered puffy white cumulus flying along with a fresh
southwesterly. A small front had passed and by noon Frank and I had
decided to give Mt Francais a go. We had only two days to spare in
the attempt so our rucsacs were light with only sleeping
bags and bivy sacs, a cooker, minimum food and the most
basic of climbing gear. We  waved goodby to Hamish and Jan
on Pelagic who would be standing by our mobile base camp.
Her stern was securely tied to the trees behind a  gravel
beach with a bow anchor out in a turquoise pool of glacier
flowered water where crested ducks, kelp geese and the famous
flightless "steamer" ducks were tending their chicks hatched
only days before.

A half miles walk on carpets of spongy sphagnum bog, typical
to all of the region, brought us to a steep forested ridge. Grappling
for holds By mid morning the thick weather began to lift over the
Beagle Channel and what had been a wet blanket of cloud rolled back
and uncovered puffy white cumulus flying along with fresh
southwesterly. A small front had passed and by noon           Frank
and I had decided to give Mt. Francais a go. We had only two
days to spare in the attempt so our rucsacs were light with only
sleeping bags and bivy sacs, a cooker, minimum food and the most
basic           of climbing gear. We waved good-by to Hamish and Jan
on Pelagic who           would be standing by our mobile base camp.
Her stern was securely tied           to the trees behind a gravel
beach with a bow anchor out in a           turquoise pool of glacier
on branches of the indigenous nothofagus           (beech) and drimys
winteri (winter bark) we levered ourselves up           through the
glorious, but scratchy undergrowth of barberry and
faschine, all in full flower. An hour and a half later we broke out
into the open, on the exposed top where more sphagnum and some
grasses           held down a fragile ground cover where fewer and
fewer trees, known as           "bandera arboles" (flag trees) were
now stunted and bent           horizontal by an incessant westerly
wind. Higher still, these same           beeches, majestic and
upright in the valleys, are forced down into a           crouch and
can only creep inches from the ground. Below, Pelagic had
been reduced to a toy boat in an extraordinary green bathtub.

At 2,000 feet we were clear of the tree line and began to
scramble on mosses and than rock decorated with lichens in ;shades of
orange, green and brown. The south face of Mt. Francais, an imposing
wall of ice flutings, hanging glaciers and vertical rock slabs
towered           above us. We kept to a subsidiary ridge that we
hoped would link up           with the main southeast ridge, first
climbed (and possibly never           since) by Eric Shipton in 1963.

While balancing precariously on a ledge we heard a swoosh
behind our backs in space and just caught the wingtip of an Andean
Condor, a master of these high places, disappearing around the
buttress. Later, this scout was joined by six others who circled us
close overhead for the entire afternoon. From our perch we gazed out
over the Beagle channel far below. Fjords branched off north and
south, and beyond to the southeast still hidden behind Isla Navarino
would be the Wollaston Archipelago with Cape Horn at its southern
apex.

The 18th and 19th centuries brought attempts at colonization form
Spain, exploitation for seals and whales by all interested countries,
missions to save the souls of the aboriginal "canoe Indians,"
and most important of all expeditions for science. James Cook with
the  botonist Banks and Solander made collections from the
region during two expeditions in 1769 and again in 1774/75.
In 1787 William Bligh in; the Bounty tried for twenty nine
days to round Cape Horn and was forced to circumnavigate
via the Cape of Good Hope to reach Polynesia.

It was left to a British expedition to accomplish the first
significant hydrography of the area. In 1829 William Parker King in
the Adventure and Robert Fitzroy in the Beagle brought their two
ships           into the archipelago for five months and discovered
what is now the           Beagle Channel, which in addition to the
Straits of Magellan and           Nassau Bay offer the only
alternatives for the mariner wishing to           forego the Cape
when passing from one ocean to another. His surveys of
small coves and bays are still current on British Admiralty charts!

In 1982 Fitzroy returned in the Beagle for more surveying, this time
with a young Charles Darwin whose somewhat unkind observations on the
aboriginals helped formulate his theories of natural selection.
Fitzroy, who believed in devine providence rather than Darwin's
environmental determinism had collected his won specimens for
investigation on the first voyage. ..The four Indians he brought back
to England for an education and spiritual indoctrination were
supposed           to be the vanguard of another mission. The idea
back fired; one           quickly died and then when his protege
Jemmy Button fled into the bush           after he was returned to
Tierra del Fuego on this second voyage.           Fitzroys hopes of
Jemmy setting an example to his savage brethren were
shattered. The already famous Jemmy was later implicated and stood
trial for the massacre of the Wulaia missionaries on Navarino Island
some twenty years later.

In 1839 the American Wilkes based in Orange Bay just west of Cape
Horn did further exploration in southern Tierra del Fuego and in 1842
Captain James Ross accompanied by the scientist Joseph Hooker
wintered           on Hermite Island. A succession of lesser known,
but equally           significant explorations of discovery continued
into the 20th century.           Sadly, the Fuegan Indians, fragile
in numbers from the outset quickly           succumbed to European
diseases and were reduced to below sustainable           levels by
the end of the 19th century.

Although Tierra del Fuego never had an intrinsic commercial worth it
quickly became the crossroads of commerce; Clipper ships doubled the
Horn regularly in the middle of the 19th century supplying the
California Goldrush. As political conflicts deepened in a post
industrial revolutionary Europe, nitrate clippers, then windjammers
loading in Chile and Peru made the passage back around the Horn with
the ingredients for world wars. When steam began to erode the
windjammers predominance on the high seas, the relatively sheltered
waters of the Straits of Magellan was the preferred route and Cape
Horn would see less traffic. In 1914 when they opened the Panama
Canal           even the Straits took a dive, and the port of Punta
Arenas just west           of the First Narrows and already famous
for its seaman's brothels           slipped into decline. It wasn't
until very recently when the advent of           super tankers and
cargo ships too big for the canal began to  ply the           oceans
that the route around the Horn was used once again.

We had to bivouac for the night in ;the open. The altimeter
read 4,500feet. The only possibility seemed to be in one of the
cavernous windscoops that had formed on the edge of the glacier hard
by the rocky spur. We dropped down into one, excavated a level
platform on the ice and began closing in since early evening and a
light snow began to flurry. By eight o'clock we were in a white out
which didn't give us time to contemplate the conditions over a
leisurely meal. Instead we wolfed down our freeze dried meal, drank a
liter of hot fruit drink each and crawled into our bivy sacs not
exactly over confident with our situation. If it came on to blow
things could get desperate as the ice was too hard to easily dig a
snow cave. When I woke at two o'clock in ;the morning covered in
three           inches of spin drift, the wind was blowing, but not
ferociously. In           any event I was preparing myself for an
unpleasant descent later that           morning.

The reputation Cape Horn weather with 100 knot winds, mountainous
seas and snow storms in ;high summer may seem like exaggerations, but
they have foundation in a record of shipwrecks that is substantial.
The features on the chart of ;the area are named for good reason and
the warning is clear; Isla Desolacion, Isla ilDe Fonso, Isla Hope,
Arreclife Peligroso. Falso Cabo de Hornos and Isla Deceit.

The area is dominated by an airstream that is unmodified by any land
to the west and the easterly moving depressions that spawn in the
Southern Ocean any where south of 50 degrees will have gathered full
steam by the time they strike the Southern Andes. The Drake Passage
drowns and seperates those mountains from their natural counterparts
500 miles further south which surface like a dragons spine to form
the           Antarctic Peninsula. In summer, these lows usually
track through the           Drake south of Cape Horn subjugating the
region with a strong westerly           flow having a northerly bias
at the onset of low pressure. The           southwesterly cold fronts
that follow can be savage and sailing           through heavy snow
squalls while in the archipelago is commonplace.


On good days, between weather systems you can be in a T shirt on
dick in the sunshine, but the slightest wind will be chilling.
Paradoxically it is the winter that is the easiest time to move
around           by boat accepting the short days (similar to
northern Scotland). In           those months between May and August,
the lows tend to track north of           Tierra del Fuego giving the
region south more easterlies, and because           the speed of the
depressions are subtracted from the gradient wind,           they
will be therefore that much less. In fact, mirror calm conditions
can persist for weeks in winter, even while the area is in the middle
of a trough. And because of the frequencies of depressions near the
Horn, the average pressure there is only 996mmb. Anomalies like these
teach the navigator to treat the barometer with suspicion at the best
of times. There is also a diurnal component to the wind in the
channels; calm in ;the night and morning and blowing a 40 knot
westerly down channel by midday is typical. Then there are those
famous katabatic winds or "williwaws," which can wreak havoc
in short order. If you feel sudden rises in temperature - beware.
This           is an air parcel coming down from the mountains and is
in compression.           In its most violent manifestation ( a
williwaw) it can dump over high           land spilling out onto the
water at well over 120 knots whipping up           the water into a
white frenzy. Sails must be lowered at the first sign           if
underway and it is a good habit to hoist your dinghy on deck at
night while at anchor and lash it down - we know, as our, a 4.0 meter
inflatable with a 25 hp outboard, usually taking six strong people to
get up a beach, was flipped into the air like a childs toy and landed
face down in the cockpit!

Only an hour later, at 3 o'clock the clouds had miraculously
lifted and I could see an array of stars already in a field of light
blue to the South heralding what could be perfect, cold climbing
conditions. By the time we thawed out, had a morning brew and packed
up, it was getting on five and in the mountains it was a late start.
We donned crampons and armed with iceaxes popped out of the windscoop
and slowly began to plod up ;the easy slope of the glacier toward the
summit ridge an hour awa. The sunrise was a spectacular display as
the           summit pyramid was already ablaze and the penumbra of
the spur we were           sidling along was quickly dropping down
slope to greet us with its           welcome warmth. These are the
great moments when you fall into that           special rhythm and
there is no sound but the crunch of hard snow           beneath your
frozen toes while the anticipation of what lies ahead is
boiling inside you.

To the south more of the geography was opening up. We were
as high as any of the peaks on Host Island on the other side of the
Beagle. Seno Ponsonby struck into the heart of the island just south
of the famous Murry Narrows and away to the east the mountains of
Peninsula Mitre beyond the port of Ushuaia on the Argentine section,
tapered off towards Isla del Los Estados (Staten Island). It was
ludicrous to ;think that a territorial war had almost been fought
between Chile and Argentina over the control of these waters as
recent           as 1978.

Although the Argentine/Chile border in Tierra del Fuego was defined
on the land section of Isla Grande during the 19th century, the exact
claims of the islands in the archipelago around Cape Horn remained
"all           at sea" until recent times when it was obvious there
would , one           day be commercial gains from these island
territories. Chile has by           far the most of the territory
south of the Straits of Magellan           including Cape Horn, but
while it is vast, the land is mountainous and           poor.
Argentina, by contrast has the best land to the east - drier
climate, better drained soil and flatter land which lends itself to
the grazing of cattle and sheep. The added bonus that came later was
a           gas field and some oil (Argentina's only one), while
Chile has some           well heads on the Straits.

Navigationaly speaking it is chile that has the upper hand,
controlling all traffic on the Straits of Magellan, Beagle Channel
and           inshore waters off Cape Horn. Ships must take a pilot
during those           passages and yachts must file an elaborate
cruising plan. Many parts           of the southern archipelago in
around the Beagle Channel has been           restricted to foreign
craft of all kinds administered by a very strong           Chilean
Navy based at Punta Arenas on the Straits of Magellan and in
Puerto Williams in the Beagle Channel. When asked why it so tightly
controlled, any Navy spokesman will tell you its because that they do
not trust the Argentines, who have actively and successfully
populated           the region north of the Beagle with the city of
Ushuaia now having           over 40,000 of the most unlikely
frontiers people that can be           imagined.

In 1978 a border dispute between the two countries (one on dozens
that have been settled up and down the Andes) regarding claim to four
islands near the eastern approaches to the Beagle Channel was so
hotly           debated that shots were fired on each others light
houses. A full           scale conflict was just averted and the Pope
was called in to           arbitrate. Chile came out ahead and today
there is no hostility, but           certainly a lack of trust on
both sides.

We gained the east ridge leading to the summit in short
order cramponing over a hard surface. Once again, the weather was
looking dodgy. Overcast and snow flurries gave us cause for concern
because if a was breaking we were along way from any shelter.
Deciding           to wait for two hours while walking in circles to
keep warm paid off           as the wind eased, the clouds again
broke into cumulus and our summit,           once again visible
looked like it would"go". We roped up for           glacier travel,
but what would be an otherwise easy ascent was           complicated
by a series of crevasses that we would obviously have to
cross. For three hours we gained height winding our way through giant
blue ice blocks and precariously balanced seracs perched on edges of
bottomless chasms. Steepening at the tip just below the summit
pyramid           was an astounding collection of ice mushrooms
formed by moisture laden           winds, and we began to belay each
other one rope length at a time as a           slip here could have
its consequences. The higher we climbed, the more           puffed
and thirsty we became. At the belay stances we now fantasized
not about ice mushrooms, but imagined them to be giant scoops of
vanilla ice-cream stacked on each other higglety pigglety - a childs
dream - inspite of my 41 years I felt as enthusiastic as any seven
year old to go and rub my face in it. We were close to reaching the
summit and well above the cloud layer at 7,000 feet. We thought we
could just catch glimpses of the Wollaston archipelago well away to
the southeast.

Horn Island, only five miles long across a northwest/southwest axis
and 1400feet high is part of the Hermite Group and is typical in form
and vegetation with all the islands in these archipelagos. Most
species of avifauna found in Tierra del Fuego are also found here and
the Condor, master of the mountain, can be seen on the same day as
the           Great Wandering Albatross, the ;undisputed King of the
open sea. Most           of the plants in the Beagle channel are also
represented, but all in           their creeping forms. Trees grow
only in deep ravines and open ground           is dominated by
spaghnum and tussock grass, which on the southeastern           tip
of Horn Island is home to the Magellenic Penguin that burrows
below the ground cover to nest and tend its two chicks that hatch in
November.

The classic aspect of Cape Horn, the one that is photographed and
celebrated is the cliff face on ;the southern headland. Well below
its           summit the old lighthouse that I saw burning feebly
back in 1977 still           stands but shines no more below the
clouds. Exposed rocks a mile           offshore break heavily even on
a calm day here as the rollers coming           in from the Southern
Ocean pile up on shelf water 75 miles away to the           southwest
. In 1982 on Alaska Eagle in ;the Whitbread we almost ran
into the cliff during a foolish photo session with an inexperienced
helmsman in the "cardboard cut-out" which happened to be at
the steering wheel. He promptly gibed her all-standing and we were
making headway on ou side into the shore before an enormous wave
fortuitously flung the hull in the other direction, back out to sea.
Score was a blown mainsail, broken spinnaker pole and one shattered
ego.

To our horror we found the summit ice scoops, having the
consistency of same, even that of a drippy sorbet, and they seemed to
be overhanging in all directions - impossible to get a hold in with
the ice axe as it all just came away in shards of rotten ice. After a
tense closer inspection we found a weakness and with some inelegant
climbing we grappled our way up and within 30 feet we were on the
summit - the altimeter read 7,300 feet and we were as high as any of
the other mountains in the range. We spent a half hour saying little
content on snatching spellbinding views as windows in the cloud
rolling along beneath opened and closed. To the north and west the
Darwin plateau was bisected by glacial rivers of ice and pierced by
ragged peaks and ridges. To the east was the sole of Isla Grande
stretched out along the Beagle Channel dipping its toe into the
Straits of Le Maire. And to the south were channels, fjords and
islands - the archipelago in its entirety. I couldn't see Horn Island
as the Wollaston group was shrouded in its own mist, unwilling to
give up all of its secrets. This was all for the better as
had stripped some dreams bare that day and it would have
been somewhat hollow to have descended completely
satisfied. I an quest to fulfill and unravel your
curiosities there is always an element of loss. It had been a
great day.

The mysteries of Cape Horn and its outlying regions have for
centuries given the world something to wonder about which has
intrinsic value to a certain quality of life. Without this hidden and
rugged part of the world we would not have Colerdiges "Rhyme"
nor Poe's "Narrative." and Paul Theroux and Bruce Chatwin
would not have felt the need to analyze the psyche of those who
gravitate towards what Chatwin called "the final capes of exile."

Today, Cape Horn has become a media spectacle and a tourist
attraction. Indeed you can land on the Island, compliments of
the Chilean Navy, sign the visitors book (thousands per year) and
receive you Cape Horn certificate. Years ago it used to be rare for
yachts to round the Horn, sailors from Motissier to Blyth, to Knox
Johnson and Taberly changed all that and the publicity generated
planted the seed of ocean racing and girdling the globe under sail
has become almost commonplace.  During the last 20 months
the Globe Challenge, The Whitbread, the British Steel
Fleet, the BOC Fleet and the sole survivor of the Jules
Verne Trophy, Commodore Explorer all passed by on their way
around the world. Kayaks, rowboats, Hobie Cats and wind surfers have
done it too.

During our charters to the Cape Horn area I like to draw a
distinction for the visitors I take down there. I bring them to "see"
the Horn, not to round it. My advice to them is that if they want to
"round" the Horn, they had better start from somewhere like
New Zealand.

Or better not try to demystify it all. As Hilaire Belloc said, "When
the unknown becomes known, it loses that mysterious power of
attraction; the unknown always possesses."




Cape Horn

CAPE HORN (Span. Cabo de Hornos), promontory,
South Chile, in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, on Horn Island.

It marks the southernmost point of South America and extends into Drake Passage,
the antarctic strait connecting the South Atlantic and South Pacific oceans.

The rocky terrain of the cape rises to a height of 424 m (1391 ft). Storms,
strong currents, and icebergs make passage around the cape extremely hazardous.

During the time of sailing ships, hundreds of vessels were wrecked while "rounding the horn."

The Dutch navigator Willem Cornelis Schouten, the first to sail around the cape (1616),
named it for his birthplace, Hoorn, Netherlands.

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.

http://www.victory-cruises.com/cape_horn.html


More Patagonian News featuring Cape Horn:

CAPE HORN THE TERRIBLE

Historic Orange Bay, just 20 miles North of False Cape Horn

The Wollastan Islands, just 10 miles North of  Cape Horn


Puerto Williams, Cape Horn Commune,  Chile

Some History of Cape Horn

The third and final voyage of Allen Gardiner, near Cape Horn

The Beagle Channel, 60 miles from Cape Horn

Caphorniers and Tales of the Cape

VICTORY ADVENTURE EXPEDITIONS LTD.

Since 1991 Exploring The "Uttermost Parts Of The Earth": The Arctic, Antarctica and Cape Horn
Your Cruise Specialists at the "ends of the earth"


Phone/Fax (56)61-621092, Phone (56)61-621010,Box 70, Teniente Munoz 118, Puerto Williams,
Tierra Del Fuego, Chile 'The Gateway To Antarctica'


http://cape-horn.net email: sailing@victory-cruises.com


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