My poco casa (little house) Southern Cross is located just north of Punta Arenas at the Nao Victoria Museum. Here aboard Southern Cross I am practicing my voyaging strategy, which is patience.
I could leave at any time but actually won't, to do so would be a fools errand. The normal here is happening for a few days, big winds! I have been tracking weather far to the west in the Southern Ocean and predicted a wild and wooly system would pass through, it's here with a vengeance. Last night the temperature dropped to 41F and the wind kicked in. During the night it blew up to over 40 knots and is sticking in for the next three days. It's a big low out of the Roaring Forties and I plan to ride the back side of it out of here. There is a significant window of opportunity coming. As much as I'd like to report that I have set out I haven't and won't until I know it's right.
There has been pressure all along through this project from some folks who want derring-do, thats not me. As strange as it sounds from someone who purposely and knowingly returned to voyage in the roughest place in the world I have no interest in war stories. War stories from the water may be entertaining but they typically mean someone was unprepared, not skilled enough or there was gear failure. I know my boat, I know my skill limitations and I know a little of this place. So I practice patience and I haven't even set sail yet. Its coming and when the day arrives I will march to only my drummer and no other. I long for a great experience and that does not include too much drama. I know know the formula, no conflict equals no drama and no drama means boring. There will be ample left hooks coming my way given the place.
A few photos of note:
Where I am currently living..........yes in the tiny boat in the estuary, staged and waiting. Last night it blew up big and I had a lovely warm night aboard sorting gear, reading and falling to sleep with the 40 knot blow whistling through the rigging of the Nao Victoria, HMS Beagle, James Card and the Ancud. Rain added to the mix, not a bad symphony to fall asleep to. Today is bright, cold and even windier.
John camera in hand making his film Below 40 South
It was from here that Robert Falcon Scott mailed 400 letters from his team before heading south to Antarctica. This spot is adjacent to the Hotel Cabo de Hornos (Cape Horn Hotel), which has been my office for several weeks
Right around the corner from the Hotel Cabo de Hornos is the upstairs room where in 1916 polar explorer and leader of men Ernest Shackleton planned the rescue of his men from Elephant Island.
The Imperial Transantarctic Expedition of 1914 included tow ships the Endurance and the Aurora. Shackleton was to enter the Weddell Sea leading Endurance. The Aurora entered McCurdo Sound to await Shackletons 2,900km trek. The Endurance became ice bound and after 9 months was crushed leading to perhaps the greatest feat of leadership to date by any man. Shackleton realizing all was lost set out on a desperate voyage with five of his men making S Georgia where they then crossed the island to a Norwegian whaling statin and communication ability.
I consider this voyage aboard the James Caird to be the greatest sea voyage in history only rivaled by Captain Bligh's open boat voyage after the mutiny on the bounty.
The small cargo ship Yelcho set out from Punta Arenas and crossed the treacherous Drake Passage to make the rescue thanks to Capitan Luis Alberto Pardo Villain and Shackleton.
This humble building above the History Coffee Shop was also used by Shackleton and his men to organize the rescue.
Patience! This is the key to sailing successfully in this part of the world for any vessel including my little one. So what does one do during long periods of waiting? Good question and a lesson I learned from my last voyage far south of here in a single Klepper sailing canoe. Have things to do to pass the time. Last round I had so little room and brought only two books. On the tenth day of that voyage I set a cache at Bahia Scourfield in order to lighten my boat and make a run for Cape Horn. I fully intended to return to get the cache. I cached food, three cassette tapes (Mozart, Beethoven and a mix of Hendrix, the Birds and others) and my two books buried in a backpack wrapped in heavy plastic. I never made it back due to weather and had nothing to read or occupy my mind with for the months ahead. Tent bound for twenty of my first twenty one days made for some serious wonder based on boredom all exacerbated by howling winds, snow squalls and rain.
Bahia Scourfield (65 knots)
Printed books (the best)
Great Works of Conrad
True Tales of Hawaii
The Collected Works of John Cheever
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Rounding The Horn
The Miniature Forests of Cape Horn
Sailing Alone Around The World- Slocum
The Yiddish Policemans Union
Crime and Punishment
The Best Travel Writing of 2012
The Maltese Falcon
The Blue of Capricorn
True Tales of the South Seas
Spanish Language Course
Japanese Language Course
The Worst Journey In the World
Tales of the New World
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Open Boat Across the Pacific
Wind, Sand and Stars
The Billionaire and the Mechanic
Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil
Born to Run
Failure Is Not An Option
The Rise and Fall of the Third reich
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Enchanted Collection
The Invasion of the Body Snatchers
The Boys in the Boat
Command and Control
The Things They Carried
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
The Three Musketeers
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Boys of Everest
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
Heart of Darkness
A Man on the Moon
The Caine Mutiny
In Cold Blood
The Wind in the Willows
The Wright Brothers
Seven Years in Tibet
Back To Strategy
In a nutshell- Patience and the wisdom to never set out in unknown or marginal conditions. This said I know my boat and skill set and will inevitably sail in high winds, thats the world here. What I will try to avoid are building conditions. I have a high quality barometer with me and am logging changes in my ships log. I also know it is best to sail on the slack tides here and early mornings/nights when winds are a little lighter. With this in mind I have packed in 14 different headlamps and flashlights and batteries to last for months.
The next piece of my strategy is routine and personal hygiene. I know a little about solo sailing and the most important element is attitude. I am using my days as I wait for a weather window to get into a routine. I try to sleep a set number of hours, get up put my bed roll away. Heat water for morning coffee, grind beans, make a cup as I prepare breakfast. After cleaning dishes and cockpit I will practice good personal hygiene. This might sound odd but it is so important for morale.
Sailing solo means it is easy to spin up a dwindling positive attitude. Before one knows it daily living routine slips, lethargy can set in and lethargy can spell trouble. Trouble can manifest itself as poor decision making, impatience, lack of maintenance on the boat etc. Best to have a routine of sorts and to keep the mind fresh.
The next piece of my strategy is science. I am not a scientist in the trained or classic sense but have consulted with friends who are (Melissa, Skip and Mara) and am going to use my time when at anchor to not only explore but to learn from observation. This is why I am carrying the book, 'The Miniature Forests of Cape Horn."
I am also cataloguing the places I visit with the Yaghan in mind. The last time I voyaged here I inevitably ended up in the very places the Yaghan made camp. I would find shelter remnants, shell middens and this time I am going to film these fascinating places. I am also hoping to visit some of the anchorages used by the HMS Beagle and record what I see there.
I am carrying a sat phone and in the run up to my voyage have been working with two schools and a home school group delivering classroom lessons covering aspects of my voyage. I am really excited about this aspect of what I am doing as I am a former college professor and now the impact I might have on the lives of 4th, 5th and 6th grade students. I was influenced by my 5th grade teacher long ago. Mrs. Craigen. I can hardly remember the names of the many teachers I had but I vividly remember her and how she excited my mind and taught me that to reach for the sky is a good thing, to think in new ways is a good thing, to not listen to all those who would come into my life telling me I couldn't or shouldn't. She taught me to put fear of failure aside and fail like crazy as in failure the best lessons are had! I am thrileld to be teaching live stream with the three school groups.
The Voyage of a Little Ship and Her Best Friend
A larger vision for my voyage has come to me and with a group of talented friends we are working to bring the Voyage of Southern Cross to thousands of school kids around the world. This is something I will be occupying my days with as I wait out conditions and look forward to my return and the next voyage. Stay tuned as we develop the concept and implement it. Glad to have a slid development team working on this vision while I am out of touch.
Below 40 South
I am also filming for the film "Below 40 South" an independent film endeavor by my fiends Dave Nichols and John Welsford. This will also take time and effort and I am doing my part to help them with their vision of producing a credible small boat voyaging documentary. The film is theirs in spite of my being offered a stake in ownership. I couldn't as I am not sailing for profit, I have no profit motive and to this end have stayed away from sponsorship offers.
However I have accepted gifts from friends and am so grateful for the help. At first I found this difficult until my pal Bob Miller cuffed me about a bit;-) and told me to wake up, friends want to help friends. Funny as I have always fancied myself the friend you want as I always try to help others.
I am sure I have missed some names here and will compile and publish a full list of friends who have had a hand in my voyage preparations. It's an amazing list of friends who have helped launch a true friend ship, Southern Cross!
Bob Pattison- Gave me a set of excellent sails made by Neal Pryde. An amazing gift even though I tried to pay him for them. I sent him my drawings and he and I collaborated with input from John Welsford and the Pryde work is perfect. I have along history with Neal Pryde from my years working in the boardsailing industry as the Mistral race team manager and North American Sports Promotions Director. Great gear!
Chuck Leinweber- Beach rollers and fittings I purchased that he would not accept payment for. Thank you Chuck and Thank you Duckworks!!
Josh Colvin- A fantastic Ocean Rodeo dry suit. Thank you again Josh!
Bob Miller- In Reach Delorme tracking device. Thanks Bob!
Dale Simonson, Keith Nasman and Derek Gries- A fine tiller blank from which I made my tiller!
Will Hazel- Who carved the tiller grip and made another device for my boat.
Marty Worline and Dave Chase- A great shipping crate/workshop.
Terry Carolan- Gave me shop space to to part of my build. Thanks Terry.
John Welsford- Friendship and hard work.
Dave and Chris Mergener- A fine place to work and so much more!
The Ortiz Family- The best part of their involvement is friendship.
Sofia Ortiz- She has been such an integral part of getting my boat through Chilean customs and so much more.
Ximena Soto- Thanks!
The Hostal Willitu crew-Thanks
and most importantly of all- My lovely wife Keiko!!