Change of Plan - Pelagic Australis Sails to the South Paci fic
Date: 28 February 2011
Position: 58:04S 65:44W
The wind remained moderate but also remained stubbornly from the north which meant that we had to sail northwest. By 2100 yesterday evening we were well to the west of Cape Horn ready to take advantage of the anticipated change of wind direction. “Well” said someone “technically we are now in the Pacific Ocean – and the South Pacific at that”. It was true. The technical division between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean is a line that falls due south of Cape Horn and we were well west of that line. Try though we might, we couldn’t spot one coral-fringed atoll; no palm-fringed beaches and not one hula-hula girl wearing nothing more than a grass skirt and a couple of coconuts. What we saw were endless lines of magnificent Southern Ocean rollers and the occasional Wandering Albatross criss-crossing the waves. So I have now sailed in the Arctic, Atlantic, Southern and now the Pacific Oceans. All I have to do is persuade Miles to carry on a bit further and into the Indian Ocean and I’ll have the full set.
As we sail north the nights are very noticeably longer but having crossed the Convergence, where the effect of the icy Antarctic water stops like a physical barrier, the temperature of air and water has soared from a searingly cold 2 – 3 ºC to 6 - 7ºC. We are almost down to shorts and T-shirts. But we are still on ice watch as some big bergs were reported to have moved well north.
Yesterday I was complaining about the lack of birds compared to our trip south. Well, they got the message and we are now at 0600 surrounded by positive flocks of albatrosses, petrels and shags.
At 1030 local time we sighted the feared and fabled Cape Horn to our nor’northeast and at 1200 we rounded the Horn under sail. This is the ambition of all salt-blooded sailors and something that I have dreamed about for decades. For me it was, quietly, an intensely emotional experience and it will take a little while before I will be able to express my feelings fully. I called Maria, Selina and Peter on my satphone to tell them – the three people who realise what this occasion really means for me.
But better was to come. On very rare occasions the swell – or lack of it – enables one to make a beach landing by Zodiac at the bottom of path that leads up to the lighthouse on Cape Horn and the famous monument (photos WILL follow). Today was one of those occasions. We were greeted by the lighthouse keeper and his wife who, together with their son have a two-year stint living in one of the most dramatically desolate spots on the planet. They were charming; got us to sign their visitors’ book and even stamped our passports with an official Chilean Cape Horn stamp – that’ll be one to frame!
We are currently in the most beautiful anchorage in the channels to the north of Cape Horn to stay the night here and wind down after our return passage across the Southern Ocean. Tomorrow we will sail the last 80 miles to our final destination, Puerto Williams.
Too emotional to write more. What a day!!