“As Nelson said…”

10 Jan

“…ships and men rot in port,” wrote Tony Gooch last week. And then, “I hope you have rested well and are recuperated. But do recall, you have an appointment with Cape Horn three months hence.”

A brief note bordering on terse but well-timed and written from the experience of one who’s made, and forced himself to leave, many a beautiful foreign port. For nothing is easier to adapt to than comfort nor easier to forget than future trials, even if they are of one’s own choosing.

From her berth in Ushuaia, Mo’s interior is dry and warm and mostly motionless. The showers at the Afasyn Yacht Club are hot; their pressure, if one is not careful, can reach levels approved for hydraulic mining. When it is not blowing a gale, raining, sleeting, snowing or blowing a gale, the town is quite pleasant to explore. The bookstore even has a few titles in English. If your tastes lean toward wood-fired lamb, beef, rabbit, chicken, and chorizos of all types, the restaurants are fine (if it’s kale or asparagus you crave, best not to arrive in the first place).

Still, I have partaken of the pleasures here only after the working hours, for the punch-list is long and the route home longer still.

I write this afternoon from Ramos Generales, a cafe on the waterfront, having consumed conejo confitado, un ensalada de jardin, una copa de vino tinto y agua y cafe con leche y una postre con crema de citron, this on January 10th, my target departure day.

Mo is repaired, fueled, watered, provisioned (more cookies and red wine), even more or less clean, and ready for sea.

But Mo will not depart today. Winds are 20 gusting 40 and more. My six lines to the pier sweat and grumble. The rigging screams.

The immediate plan is open water, some 90 miles east and a straight shot down the Beagle Channel. I had contemplated returning to Bahia Cook and recommencing the voyage from where I left off, but the strong winds which made easting in the Beagle a fast run when I entered would be on the nose, and “it could take you weeks to get back to Cook,” reports Olivier of CHUGA.

On the night Olivier fed a bedraggled Randall at Caleta Olla, he recommended exiting the Beagle to the east, but sliding down for a rounding of the Horn prior to continuing on. This has been an attractive alternative, but again, even if the weather is benign (it doesn’t look to be) the cost is time, a day to check-in and out of Puerto Williams, some twenty miles on, because the Horn and environs belong to Chile, and a night to anchor on the approach…all for what will feel like a cheat, a rounding from inland waters. I haven’t invested three years so as to be helicoptered to the summit of Everest. I wish to earn this most extreme of Capes. To do that I have to go around.

Some shots of town, and for nearly all, it’s the sky that’s most striking…

Evita. The placard below reads, “I don’t ask or want anything for myself. My glory is and always will be to be the shield and flag of my people. And though I leave shreds of my life along the road, I know that you will pick up my name and will carry it to victory as a banner.” 1951.

The Argentine Armada. Granted, this is not likely the best of the fleet. But it is hard to imagine how such a fleet, even much improved, was intended to defend the annexation of the Falklands in the early 80s when the competition was the British navy.

Next to me is now moored a beautiful Boreal 47, named Sir Ernst owned by three French sailors who, with freinds, are recreating Earnest Shackleton’s voyages. For no other reason than, “it’s always been a dream,” says skipper Jiver. “I did make one mistake, though. I got the spelling of his name wrong, but by the time I figured it out, it was too late.”

I was treated to a lovely dinner aboard, which included a bottle of Shakleton whiskey. My gratitude. Visit their site at www.sir-ernst.net.

This article was syndicated from The Figure 8 Voyage

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