The Horn Approacheth

Christmas Eve, 2020
56 21′ S ; 80 W

Perhaps this makes it all worthwhile?

400 miles to the Horn, so I will pass by on the 26th. Weather looks decent, at the moment anyway.

It’s been a rough few days as a couple of low pressure cells went by, haven’t really been up to posting. Mostly breeze has been the garden variety gale for – 35-40 knots, but early morning on the 23rd we saw over 50 knots and suffered a mild knockdown. Nothing broken, cabin just a mess. Not sure how the 9 pound laptop missed my head, but I’m glad it sailed over my temple. I don’t really keep track of these things, but isn’t 959MB a pretty low pressure? The barograph curve was pretty dramatic. I’m getting what I came down here for.

Anyway, so yesterday started off with a bang and the system, while brief and fast moving left large 20-30 foot seas. Worse, they were quite chaotic making doing anything aboard dangerously burdensome. Even reading was a chore. The sky gets so dark the instrument night lighting comes on in the middle of the day sometimes. I should get to cleaning up the cabin this afternoon as things have calmed down.

I know I keep talking about it, but the cold is biting down here. In the 30’s at times, though mostly in the low 40’s along with the seawater temp. Sleet and hail is a daily occurrence. The condensation in the cabin drives a dampness that cannot be escaped, though is better in the mostly dry sleeping bag. It’s only kept sort of dry with a gore-tex shell around it, but it still sticks to your clammy skin. Coffee and tea help but only a little. Hot food helps a lot more.

Rod, I dug into your chocolate yesterday! Thank you! Funny it’s so hard due to the temperature, but it’s a welcome small respite from the cold.

More things failing, some significant but I’m tired of talking about them so I’ll just say there are no show-stoppers as I approach Cape Horn. The weather looks good for the rounding so I am not stressed about it. Hoping for a little more warmth and calmer seas at least for a few days in the lee of South America.

My thoughts today and tomorrow are focused on friends, family, and co-workers. Very hard to be away for so long, especially this time of year. Daily I think about people and just start crying because I miss them so. Tonight and tomorrow will be sad hours aboard. Hopefully softened by finally getting around this bit of land in front of me.

Really enjoying the books I’m going through as they are rounding out my education. Schroedinger’s Cat being one small part; now you can go look it up.

Much love and Merry Christmas to all from the Southern Ocean.

9 thoughts on “The Horn Approacheth

  1. Merry Christmas Whitall! Reading your posts is so much scary fun! I might start calling you MacGyver!! I hope you get some nice weather coming up so you can relax a bit!! That Schroedinger’s cat business is a riot! He is in fact one or the other, I am sure of it! But it will give you something to think about for sure 😉


  2. Well i just went around the Horn going the other way in Patrick O’Brian’s ” the far side of the world” with the Surprise and Captain Jack Aubrey. Tough slog: hope the following sea and wind easier for you! Wish the albatros merry xmas, Terry


  3. Know that we’ll be thinking of you on Christmas, up here in Westerly. Chris and I, and Sue too, are following you with great interest.


  4. We have been watching your progress and learning about sailing in the process. The “We” is Cassie (a barn rat at Julies, you have met many times), my husband Mike (whom you have never met) and me (Laura, an artist you met years ago at the Cowboy Poetry Festival years ago showing my paintings and Cassie’s Mom). Cassie first told of us your adventure of a lifetime when Julie went to S. F. to see you off. Everyday we check on you and have never before figured out to leave a reply from your website. Tonight reading your email musings, I just clicked on reply and it worked!

    We are all amazed at your discipline, determination and sheer bravery attempting this voyage. You need to know that many people are cheering you on from our warm cozy homes, as you deal with constant trials and a lack of creature comforts. When you return it would be an honor to hear all about the trip.

    This Christmas Eve, I would like you to know you are in our prayers and thoughts. We are cheering for you, constantly. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and brighter skies and calm seas!


  5. I hope the albatross keeps you company around the Horn. You may also be getting some company from the Vendee participants.

    Will raise a glass on Christmas day to celebrate the rounding.


Leave a Reply to ROGER ILSLEY Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s