Thursday, February 12, 2009

Xplore Cape Horn Report: 12 Feb 2009

One foot on the table There is an old maritime saying that once you have rounded Cape Horn you are entitled to enjoy your after dinner drink with one foot up on the table - you can be sure that tonight all of us will be doing exactly that !! This, of course, means that we passed the rock, in the middle of the night as the sun still slept behind the horizon, with what I must say were mixed emotions. Although not fully visible, apart from the low light of the moon, I could imagine the moody rock laying silent witness to the sad fate of so many mariners and their ships across the centuries before us. In addition, also signaling to me that we all had had a safe passage across the infamous Drake Passage and I could go back to sleep knowing we were making our way towards the relatively safe passages and islands to its north and eventually our home port Puerto Williams in Chile. It was also with some deep thought that I knew we had left behind us four days ago the large sleeping white beauty, the Antarctic, brooding over its -- and indeed all of our fate -- due to the ignorance and mismanagement of mankind for way too long now. The return across the Drake Passage seemed longer than the trip going but even as a kid in the back seat of my parents' car, the trip home from one of our adventures always seemed the longest. Even as a total novice to this sailing lark I could tell that there was plenty to do and more than enough to keep the crew busy and happy. From the webbing on the head of the main sail giving way 24 hours into the passage, there was plenty to be done. From installing a new trysail, fitting a larger Yankee, to rigging the Spinnaker pole (you know, the ones that you see in the pictures of the boats in the Around the World races allowing the sails to balloon at the front !? :o>) and lastly, positioning the boat to take advantage of the very last puff of wind. As always, Stephen took all of this in his stride - although I must say his mini adventure to the top of the main mast -- in what I would describe as nothing more than a roped up swing saddle -- was the closest I have seen him to wishing he had trained to be an accountant for his chosen career. You know, as we all continue to push the boundaries of travel and in my case keep pushing the envelope with regards to witnessing and experiencing more and more off the so-called 'beaten track', I am personally guilty of ignoring or underestimating the personal dangers associated with this type of travel and the risk I may be exposing myself or my partner too. In a place where, for example, exposure to being in the open sea could measure your life expectancy in minutes, Antarctica is not a place to be underestimating these dangers. I think it goes without saying that when entering into such an expedition as this that you use a skipper who has both the experience of the Antarctic region itself (measured in years) and the maturity of years at sea in pretty much all conditions which nature can throw at you. For Sonia and myself, I can honestly say that we felt our lives were in more than capable hands at all times and my hat goes off to Stephen and his crew for their hard work and pure professionalism at all times. Cheers, James and Sonia

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