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Day 68 New Year's Day! Cape Horn - here we come!

Saturday 1st January 2011 - Happy New Year!

I'm so far south now that the nights are getting really short - in fact, there was a remnant of light in the sky to the S all night long, with pink clouds and the early pre-dawn light in the East by around 2am local time! I stood in the cockpit for a long time, absorbing the scene ....and just had to sing out loud for joy, it was just so exhilarating! Sailing gently in the Southern Oean, en route to not-so-far-distant-now Cape Horn, with a beautiful, dramatic skyscape - and the seas, despite a big swell, relatively calm ....! What a start to the New Year!!

In fact, conditions were so good that I decided to celebrate the New Year by changing course and gybing the mains'l there and then, in the pink pre-dawn light, to make for Cape Horn directly (by great circle route) -no need to keep going East to avoid what were clearly not such bad swells as had been feared. I was also hoping to keep better wind for longer with the course change, the wind being expected to die down a lot more over the day, but possibly a touch stronger to the S.

8am: The lovely start to the year continued, with two Grey-headed Albatross swooping around the boat in the weak sunshine as I shook out two reefs - the wind, as expected, was dying ... and with it, our speed!

After more sleep, I came up on deck mid-morning to overcast skies and drizzle - and it's been like that, on & off, for the rest of the day - very murky and hazy in the distance with lots of moisture in the air, - foggy, later this afternoon.... I was clearly very lucky with weather conditions last night and first thing this moning!

Contacted the Patagonia Cruisers' Net on 8164 kHz soon after making my position report early this morning to wish them 'Happy New Year!' - not many boats checking in just now. Also finally made radio contact with an Australian boat that friends had told me was to my north, headed to Chile - we had a good long chat - they'd not spoken to anyone for over a month! And tonight, after my usual sociable check-in with Pacific Seafarers Net, another chat with Andy at the S. Pole station in Antarctica, followed by one with Mike at McMurdo Sound base... Andy is kindly trying to get up-to-date info for me on the ice situation in the waters near to Cape Horn from a skipper who does regular runs across those waters to the Peninsula US Base - that would be really useful.

Decided that the more urgent of my two important jobs for today was to deal with the generator oil - badly needed changing....well overdue..... Can't afford
anything to happen to the generator, so while seas fairly calm (only the occasional big swell), I got that job done - took a time, but I feel far more relaxed now it's over.

Still thinking about my options for the spinning propshaft problem - have vice-grips but possibly not big enough... or have bits of wood - will have a look and another think tomorrow....

Tonight changed course slightly for Cape Horn LH - with weather expected being from NW and not too strong, looks as though I can safely take the 'shortcut' and go much closer to the Cape than I was planning previously - I may yet see the lighthouse itself... That would be quite nice - we'll see if that works out or not!

24hr DMG to noon UTC: 118 n.ml. (See maps showing track & position via links on my website 'Travels' page)

At 1200 (Saturday) UTC: 52:50S, 085:40W. Cape Horn WP 672 ml 120T; Chile 387 ml 083T; N.Z. (C.Saunders, Dunedin, S.Island) 3705 ml 230T; Mexico (Cabo S. Lucas) 4710ml 337T.

Written by : Mike

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