The Story of Cape Horn

Our story begins on Monday afternoon (just after
lunch) with a bearded man dressed only in socks, leggings and a tshirt and a
large squall and a lot of icy rain. This heralded the beginning of ‘The Wind’
and as we struggled to get the main sail down in time between squally showers
(the first one saw us whipping along at 12 knots) little did we know this was
only the beginning. With the main fully tied up we continued onwards towards
Cape Horn, the bearded man disappeared back into his aft cave and god knows
whether those socks ever dried out.

We woke for our midnight watch on
Monday night/Tuesday morning with only 20 miles to go to the Horn. It was a
pretty cloudy night and with Oosterschelde and Europa having gone past the
legendary rock already, and Europa without seeing anything our hopes were not
high. However, as we came closest to the land (approx 10 miles) we suddenly saw
one of the lights that shine on the edge of Cape Horn and then the other!
Although incredibly faint and only visible when we rode on top of the swell – we
thought this was definitely better than nothing. At this point, with the wind
still at a steady Force 7 more squalls appeared on the horizon and what had been
a rather normal night watch turned into a bit of an active one! We dropped the
mizzen as one squall came through, forcing the wind into Beaufort force 8
territory and then ran to the bow to drop the staysail, leaving just the brave
storm jib carrying us still at 8knots! At this point the sky was light (when I
say light I really mean the sky had changed from dark grey to a lighter grey)
and we could really see what was upon us…which was some serious serious wind
and a large angry grey following swell! Clinging to the staysail boom whilst
trying to furl up the sail we heard a cry from the aft deck and turning around
were presented with the sight of a streak of black seal flinging himself through
the waves! Clearly enjoying himself he sprang around the boat for nearly 10
minutes distracting us from the weather at hand (‘can’t you see we’re busy
rounding Cape Horn here!?’)

Returning to the aft deck the weather really
had turned from grey to GREY and a large cloud of sleety rain just dumped on top
of us…just at the point that all the other voyage crew started coming on deck!
In our busy-ness we didn’t realise that we had ROUNDED THE HORN! (the time now
being about 3.30am on Tuesday morning) The rum was quickly obtained from the aft
cabin (well appreciated in such horrendous weather!) as well as chocolate and
despite the fact that no-one could really look each other in the eye without
suffering horrible icy rain face burn there were huge smiles and laughter. The
Tecla crew also had a piece of the ship to place at the horn…with Jan totally
sacrificing his fleecy leggings to a huge wave in the process of getting it from
the fore deck! And just, just when we thought that this was the peak of our
squally, grey, windy and wet Cape Horn rounding the clouds broke over the
horizon and the most beautiful orange and pink sunrise began bringing blue skies
in the break of the clouds and to our eyes, the most desired view of all – Cape
Horn itself, faint on the horizon! What an awe-inspiring view!

happened next is really enough for a logbook entry of its own…the wind
continued to blow over 40 knots as we travelled through the Estrechos de la
Maire and as we reached the Southern Atlantic (hurrah back to the Atlantic side
of the world!) the wind only increased! The decision was made and Tuesday night
we dropped the staysail and jib, pointed the nose of Tecla into the wind and set
the mizzen and some heavy mooring lines to keep her there and Hove-To! Watches
were suspended for the voyage crew and for the first time in nearly a month we
enjoyed a full nights sleep! We will tell more maybe later, but in short the
wind escalated to Force 12 and we have all seen such sights of a raging Southern
Ocean that most of us will probably never see again in our lifetime!

here we are after setting off again Thursday morning…It’s Friday 6th December
and we are only 90 miles from 50degrees South and 90 miles from finishing our
‘Cape Horn’ rounding…As for Cape Horn itself – it was a totally brilliant,
mindblowing and inspiring experience. Few people can say that they’ve rounded
the Cape and even fewer can say that they’ve done it in a force 8 Southern Ocean
gale with a large glass of rum in hand (and the giggles!) With one cheer for our
fantastic crew who kept us feeling safe all the way through, one cheer for this
wonderful ship who took a complete battering with surprising grace and one cheer
for everyone watching our progress at home and wishing us safely round, here’s
three cheers to us who made it, did it, conquered it!

With love, the
Red Cape Horners.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.