Today was a very exciting day that I will never forget. The sun came out as we approached Cape Horn from Diego Ramirez. We have been at sea for 29 days without sight of any land or any other boats.
We sighted Cape Horn from 27 miles away. From here the excitement and happiness set in on board! With two very happy crew we crossed the Felipe Cubillos Line to win the navigation award. 1000 miles before arriving at Cape Horn the GOR Race Committee asked us for our ETA at the Horn. We guessed and used the Adrena to help us give a date and time…
18h00 GMT 27 February. We never thought we would make it when we were becalmed the last few days but we pushed hard in the last 24 hours between the hail storms, snow and icy winds. Nick realised that we were going to make it and he could get us there within the minute. Nick did a great job as we were only a minute and 54 seconds late! This meant that we have won the Navigation award presented by Alan Green.
After we had crossed the Felipe Cubillos Line for the navigation prize we gybed straight to Cape Horn for a better look.
It is a very jagged coastline with sheer cliffs and no trees. The birds had increased in numbers and the dolphins had come out to ride our bow. As we approached the Horn things got a bit crazy on board. The phone rang, the VHF started to make a noise and the AIS started to flash. On the AIS there was a big cruise liner that was coming round the Horn. Nick said to me “Look there are another 1000 people who will fly home tomorrow and say they have been around the Horn too!” Cabo de Hornos called us on the VHF. This is the light house on the Horn itself. They asked us to alter course as we were in Chilean waters and wanted to know were we were going. So we bore away and headed for the Straits of Le Maire. We took lots of photos of the Horn as we were only 3 miles off. It was very strange to be sailing so close to dangerous things like rocks so we had to do some careful navigation. As we left Cape Horn behind us we cracked open a bottle of bubbles that was given to us for Christmas. As it was blowing a gale on Christmas day we delayed opening the bottle to New Years eve. On New years eve another gale came though on leg 2. So we thought as the sun was out and this was a milestone not to be forgotten we unwrapped the Christmas wrapping and popped the bottle open. We first made a toast to the boat for getting us this far, then poured a bit in the ocean for Neptune, then I made a toast to Nick for if it wasn’t for him I would still be sitting at home. We sliced open some salami to go with it and we sat on deck for the first time since leaving New Zealand soaking up the sun while the Dusky Dolphins swam in our wake and we sailed into the Atlantic Ocean!
Leaving the Pacific behind us is a big relief. Having crossed the Pacific to Cape Horn is a major achievement and I can’t believe that I have made it. There have been some really hard times, difficult moments, and generally it has been rather tough. There were a couple of times that I thought we were going to have to bail out but were would we go, we had to come this way. We have made it across the Pacific as a team!
I have learnt a lot in the last 29 days about the sea, the boat, the wind, and most of all myself! It has been a big eye opener but I am very glad we have done it. But it is not over, we have to get to Punta del Este safely now. We still have 1400 miles to go.
Tonight we are sailing along under A4 and full main towards to Straits of Le Maire. The clouds are lining the horizon and the stars are covering the sky. We can see the lights from Ushuaia over the mountain. We have to stand very careful watches now as the traffic on the ocean will increase. On the AIS now there is a fishing boat heading into Beagle Channel to Ushuaia and I am sure that as we get more into the Atlantic the fishing boats will become more abundant.