FROM 1-7. Near the Horn

Mar 07, 2005 - 1245hrs UTC

1245hrs 07 Mar 2005 UTC 54’16”S 082’24”W Map Ref 104

It’s a month for big birthdays. Hilary’s Dad Frank in Frome in Somerset will be 91 tomorrow. Happy Birthday, Frank, from The Washing Machine At The Other End Of The World. We’ll drink your health down here and I hope lots of other people reading this will do the same. We’re looking forward to coming to see you when we eventually get over there. Love to you both.

It’s a very dark night, overcast, no moon, no stars, just the faintest residual glow in the sky. I’ve just spent half an hour in the cockpit tweaking us around to point as closely as possible to the Horn while we have the breeze and sea state to allow.

Eerie up there. Full stormboards in so completely isolated, Pete fast asleep below. Cold wind especially around your face where the party gear doesn’t quite keep it out. You sit in a little bubble of gentle light from the masthead and the instruments and no other frame of reference, so you feel the boat’s movement but can’t see it and you hear the waves breaking around you. The sensation is very like night flying. The light reflects off the white water going past and particularly off the breaking wave crests, the more so when they are above the cockpit before the boat rises up the wave. The crests reflect brilliant masthead white from up there as they seem to roll down towards you (actually, as the boat climbs up the wave towards them) and you hear the hiss as they approach. Thankfully only relatively small – about 5 metres at a guess, over the top of the long circumpolar swells – but with no visual reference it’s hard to judge.

The big circumpolars are with us all the time now as a background presence that you only really see when it all coincides and you can see across two of their crests. Biig! Occasionally there’s a much bigger local wave which breaks over the boat or into the cockpit – I missed all of those while I was up there, but we copped a biggie just as I got the stormboard locked back in on the way down. Win some…! I think these ones come from the remains of an earlier wave pattern where there was the regular big SW circumpolar flow and superimposed on this there was a smaller tighter pattern almost at right angles from the NW so these waves were flowing along the crests and troughs of the circumpolars and making things very confused indeed. The left over big ones are caused by the confluence of two crests, one from each pattern, which amplify and make a much bigger pointy breaking wave that only lasts for a few moments but if you happen to be amongst it, you know it’s there.

Just tried to pull in the VMC wxfax and was able to find the signal but not good enough to provide a picture, so that’s another link with Oz gone. The Chilean version is very good but it only shows the pattern from 120 W across to the Falklands. A shame all youse all can’t listen with us to the Patagonian cruise net sked. Fascinating, the guy who runs it seems larger than life, full of energy and competent and there are all sorts of boats, many nationalities, logged in and it’s full of interesting stuff. Not sure but I think one of them is rowing across the Pacific.

If this last bit was a Hobart race, we’d be around about Batemans Bay -532 to the Horn.

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