Cape Horn, and onward…

4 Dec

November 30, 2018

Day 57

Noon Position: 54 36S 63 15W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): NExN 6

Wind(t/tws): SWxS 17 – 23

Sea(t/ft): SW 8 – 10, very steep; wind-over-current seas. Nearly pooped.

Sky: Alternating between squall and clear.

10ths Cloud Cover: 9

Bar(mb): 1008, rising

Cabin Temp(f): 52

Water Temp(f): 40, back down from yesterday’s 45

Relative Humidity(%): 69

Sail: Twins poled out.

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 174 (Favoring current.)

Miles since departure: 7645

Avg. Miles/Day: 134

What can one say about Cape Horn, except that he is happy to have rounded it safely and in such fine weather. Apart from the chilling rain, I could not have asked for it half as good.

Wind overnight and the morning of our approach was light, such that I thought we might be so delayed as to not see the Horn during daylight. But by mid-morning, we picked up a moderate westerly, into which I poled out the headsails, and I haven’t touched them since. The wind has bent around the continent with us. It’s evening of the next day; Mo and I are headed NE, are nearly in the Atlantic’s Scotia Sea, and are wearing the same set of sail.

Such happenings change one’s perspective on luck. I tend to be of the same mind as Amundsen, that luck is manufactured, or, as he would say, “Adventure (by which he meant bad luck) is just bad planning.”

But I could not have manufactured the beautiful four days of Force 8; the strong westerlies that followed, nor the fine day we had at the Horn. I could not have put myself in the way of such blessed timing. That was nothing but chance in the raw.

In fact, I might feel a tinge of remorse for our easy time if it weren’t for the difficulties of last year and the mischievous pleasure of sliding in close to ogle the beast and then getting away clean.

My god, not just to round the damned thing, satisfaction plenty, nor even to have it hove into view from afar, but to run up to within a mile such that I could see the great slabs of black rock, the olive green mosses on its flanks, the light house. To hear the waves crash after their run around the globe. To shudder at the thought of it hulking out of the mirk, lee and frothing, on a dirty night.

All past now. In the night we ran fast toward Isla de los Estatos while I slept six hours and was only up twice. In the morning I could see the island in silhouette and still we ran. Mo made ten knots easy on a strong westerly current. Then, on the back side of the island, it reversed. For four hours we sloshed through eight and ten-foot wind-over-current seas at five knots. We were nearly pooped. I actually worried about pitchpoling.

Now that’s past too. We press on into deep water, into easier latitudes, and towards our next gate.

One can see the certain challenges of the south as gates that must be got through. Mo and I sailed over 7,000 miles to get to the first gate, the Horn. But there are two others before we approach the Horn again some four months from now. One is … well … the whole of the Indian Ocean. If I were guessing, I’d say the toughest time be around the Crozets where the water shallows and the wind seems always to be super-sonic. Another is at the bottom of New Zealand where Mo and I must skinny below rocks called The Traps but above islands called The Snares. Then it’s back to the Horn, again.

Mo and I are fifty-seven days at sea now, but really, this is where it starts.

This article was syndicated from The Figure 8 Voyage


  1. Charles McDougall

    This post , “rounding, and onward ” while I find these posts written eloquently, this was best!!! congrats to you and all your support team. Your journey has become an epic adventure for me to follow. Thank you all.

  2. Ivo Lekich

    Randell, you may not realize how many of us sailors are rooting for you to do well and complete your objectives safely. Impressive so far, and as for good luck take it where ever you find it and wherever you create it.

    Safe journey and happy holidays.


  3. Clark Dewing

    Wow, Randell, that was an awesome post; you clearly have the “right” attitude for this voyage. Safe travels.

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