Friday 7th January 2011
Continued on towards Cape Horn (Cabo de Hornos) overnight in much-reduced swell, even when continental shelf was reached, where it normally gets far worse, making good use of the genoa - my only good sail remaining! Slowed down a good distance from Cape so could safely catch some sleep before getting too close.
By early morning, around 6am, the grey, misty mountains of Isla Hermite, the main island of the group containing Isla Hornos, were visible in the distance, once rain had cleared away. And soon after, I realized I could see Cape Horn in the far distance ahead - at which point two lively dolphins came to greet us - "Welcome to Cape Horn" they clearly said...!!
Two hours later, I was due S of the Cape, passing it in company with a bigger group of dolphins with lots of albatross around, mainly black-browed, some white-chinned petrels and a flock of excited terns - diving on a shoal of fish! The Cape is spectacular with jagged tall 'spires' to one side and dramatic rock formations. Soon afterwards, I realized that the approach from the W that I had made was by far the best way .... looking back from the E, it looks quite different, with far gentler slopes up to the high point.
I'd decided, in view of the distance involved, that I needed to anchor for a time to rest, to be ready for a long day tomorrow to and through the Beagle Channel, which I didn't want to be going through in darkness hours.
An anchorage quite close to Cape Horn came recommended - so here I am, anchored in Calleta Martial, on Herschel Island, just ten miles due north of the Cape.
Anchoring - involved getting anchor out from locker where it has been safely stowed off the bow roller, attaching anchor to chain (making sure it was lead correctly) and then heaving anchor over pulpit.... easy to write...!! I'd also got a stern anchor out ready as a back up - although with the strong wind we've had in this anchorage, I doubt it would have been of much use.
As I approached the anchorage, I spotted a penguin in the water close by....great delight! Antartica is not far away... the air reminds one of that - it's chilly!
This is definitely a place with GPS/chart error! If I hadn't been careful, we would have hit rock twice, following a 'safe' course under autopilot... I had to keep an eye out every time our course took us close to land (which looks like hard granite) - both times we were clearly headed way too close to jagged rocks disappearing into the water ahead! And in the anchorage, I'm anchored on land almost!
Green/brown clothed mountains, mostly bare of trees, birds everywhere,....strong, cold wind, .....misty rain with a rainbow later.... no humans or houses in sight on the many islands hereabouts ( came past one named Isla Deceit!).... some snow on a mountain peak.... very dramatic, wild scenery. I suppose the upside of my mishap is that I get to see such scenery and wildlife close to - it's certainly impressive!
Once settled in, and satisfied we were holding well (50m of chain in just under 10m depth!), I got ready to settle down to sleep, but got a call first from Falmouth CG checking all was well....! I also checked in with the MMNet to update on my position - Bill,KII4MMZ had good copy and took my details. (I'd also had a call from the Armada de Chile as I approached the Cape). Then to a relaxed sleep - bliss! Followed by a lovely shower in HOT water - lots of it! After which I made an effort to tie down the unruly sail - it's not quite so loose now, so will catch the wind less, I hope. I also dug out my back up camping stove and butane cylinder - and had a lovely hot meal of my thick stew/soup (broth?) followed by tea. Since the knockdown, my solenoid gas valve has stopped working, so no gas comes through to the galley stove.... so no hot drinks or meals until now..
Soon I'll raise the anchor and head for the Beagle Channel, where Puerto Williams (Chile) and Ushuaia (Argentina) are both situated....