Ocean Passages

Around Cape Horn – memories from Three Tall Ships

The Quests We Set Ourselves – All for a gold earing ?

SHIPS LOG – 30th November 2013

21.22hrs Crossed Cape Horn Longitude 62 degrees 15′.5 West in 727 hours, 4997 miles Sail only!

A hugely significant log entry to the three ships crews that  sailed across the Pacific and around Cape Horn on Europa, Tecla and Oosterschelde in 2013, but can any of the rest of us understand why they did it ?

The Last Grain Race it is not. These ships were not racing in a round the world race. All three are commercial ships, but their cargo was not grain. The ships crews were not racing home to make profits ….but each person on that ship will have come back richer in some way.

There is a crazy claim that more people have stood on Mount Everest than sailed around the Horn on a tall ship, but I am not sure that is entirely true now….but the Cape Horners Association has strict membership rules, so it is still a pretty elite club.

As life gets softer, and the wild frontiers get more accessible, we sometimes feel the need to set a quest that takes us back into history. This was such a quest and I am sad to have missed it….but there is always the next one

Tecla is about to sail around the Horn again in 2019. This time she is coming from Alaska via the Galapagos and Easter Island., This means you can start in warm waters and make use of the SE trades and westerlies to angle across the South Pacific  around Cape Horn and up to the Falklands.

the next Classic Sailing tall ship to offer ordinary people the chance to 

The Cape Horn Challenge

What counts as a successful Rounding of Cape Horn ? Many cruise ships take a diversion to see the famous rock and ‘sail past’ it but it is hardly the stuff of Villers in the Last of the Wind Ships.’ Both Europa and Oosterschelde had sailed around Cape Horn before so they were looking for a more historically significant quest.To be a member of the Cape Horners Society you have to Round the Horn by sailing a commercial ship from 50 degrees South in the Pacific to 50 degrees South in the Atlantic, under sail without the use of engines.

Read a collection of log entries sent by satellite from each ship to understand why the working guest and professional crew chose to sail 6000 miles of Southern Ocean to achieve this mission.


Following in the Wake
08-12-2013 10:00

One of the key reasons for doing this journey was to follow in the footsteps, or more appropriately, wake of my grandfather Arthur William Bromley. One of my middle names is Arthur, after him. I grew up listening to his seafaring tales. He used to take me to his Honourable Company of Master Mariner meetings on board the ‘Carrick’, (recently re-christened ‘City of Adelaide’) then moored on the Clyde, where I also had the privilege of meeting his contemporaries and being enthralled by their tales. This fired a young boys imagination of life on the high seas in a sailing ship. When out for evening walks he would explain the stars to me and their significance when navigating. Of  course life on board ship in his day was far removed from the comparative luxury of life on board Europa but nonetheless the act of sailing round Cape Horn is no less challenging. Experiencing something like this is indeed a once in a lifetime activity. Made all the more special in a square rigger.

When living in San Francisco I recalled my mother telling me my grandfather had sailed into San Francisco Bay shortly before the great earthquake of 1906. Using the internet I searched for the name of his ship ‘Barfillan’ and was amazed to find photographs of the ship held in an archive at Berkeley University. These photographs, taken in 1905, show the ship, slightly the worse for wear having sailed from Europe and rounding Cape Horn, sailing past Alcatraz Island and clearly show crew members on deck and in the rigging. I can’t help but believe among those images there is my grandfather. Seeing those pictures set me on the path I am now following. Prints of these photographs now hang, along with his Masters Certificate, in our home in Scotland.

Thanks to the patience, support and encouragement of a very understanding wife, I am now making that dream a reality. I am indeed very fortunate.

Clive A. L. Lucas

decks awash on Europa. Photo by Roland GockelInto the Maelstrom
26-11-2013 10:00

Well here we are, within spitting distance of the infamous Cape Horn – at least that is the way it feels.  Speeds  of the ship up to 10 knots and more all under sail power, wave height estimated at six and one half meters by Klaas (I vote for 8 meters – those waves are BIG), winds gusting to 50 miles an hour.

The waves look like mountains out there – the tops grabbed by the wind just as they are about to break, creating streaks of foam across their backs (a criteria for the Beaufort scale score of 9).  And, the water is not polite – staying in the ocean.  It breaks across the ship with raging foam, on either side, sliding across the main deck. 
All the waterproof doors are firmly shut.  A couple of the deck house windows are shuttered with heavy metal covers to protect the not so fragile windows.   Permanent crew are allowed on the main and fore decks.  Helm duties are also reserved for the permanent, experienced crew.  Lookout sailors must serve on the poop deck, instead on the bow, accessed through the wheel house.  Permanent crew, out setting and furling sails, getting doused on occasion. 
We have storm sails for such times, down sized to work without tearing.  What a ride!  The ship rolls, pitches, and yaws, the next movement unpredictable.  It is advisable to hang on when moving about, and even when sitting down!

I am a member of a rather select group, requested to remain inside at all times during stormy  weather.  I hear tell that the paperwork for injury or death is a bitch.  Actually, great efforts are made to keep each one of us safe, and I do feel safe.

I was invited to view the storm from the wheel house, and was so touched I cried.  Sixty years of wanting to go around the Horn, and it is happening!  In a sailing ship!  And, the Horn is giving us a great show!   If I die today, I die happy.  Live your dreams!!!

Linda Wenning – Voyage crew
Red watch

Oosterschelde Crew Logbook
The three Dutch ships, Europa, Oosterschelde and Tecla left New Zealand nearly four weeks ago after successfully competing in Sail Training International’s Sydney to Auckland Tall Ships Regatta. During their passage, the Southern Ocean has lived up to its awe-inspiring reputation and the ships have experienced severe gales, high seas and snow.

Europa is leading the way and is expecting to round Cape Horn tomorrow morning (Saturday 30 November). Tecla and Oosterchelde are some several hundred miles astern but have been fairly evenly matched with each other over the 3,500 miles that they have sailed since leaving Auckland. 

A few days ago they were actually in sight of each other, the only sign of mankind their crews had seen outside of their own vessels for weeks. Tecla has since sailed ahead of Oosterschelde but there is still a long way to go to their destination – the Falkland Islands – and plenty of opportunity for change.

The moment on ‘Yellow Brick’ (tracking system for those at home)
Europa reaches the 50 degrees latitude first: Without using the engine during the voyage, we have sailed from 50 degrees South in the Pacific, to 50 degrees South in the South Atlantic, around Cape Horn. 

03 December 2013 1506hrs

Average speed 9.05 knotsWe did it, we crossed the 50 degrees South in the South Atlantic! 

Without using the engine during the voyage, we have sailed from 50 degrees South in the Pacific, to 50 degrees South in the South Atlantic, around Cape Horn. 

03 December 2013 1506hrs

Average speed 9.05 knots

Captain on the wheel is a rare sight. Europa logbook
We did it, we crossed the 50 degrees South in the South Atlantic! 
Rounding the Horn

16-12-2013 10:00

We’ve made our way around the Horn. With fair winds and following seas. “More canvas” the call from the bridge as soon we slow down. 6000M in 39 day’s, no other ships or other manmade objects to be seen, Easter Island the nearest settlement over 2000M north. 3 Dutch Tall ships plotting the vast Southern Pacific Ocean traveling under sail only. Roaming the sea with the spirit of the albatross that accompany us all the way. Greetings from bark EUROPA – Ocean Wanderer, now cruising the Falkland Islands coastal waters.

Ruud Blokzijl
Chief Mate

So What’s Next ?
A good place to look for your own salty challenge for 2014 or 2015 is our Ocean sailing pages. Keep an eye on the tall ships race pages too as we have already spotted the 2017 Trans Atlantic Tall Ships Race to Canada and back.

10 Best Ocean Challenges and Rites of Passage.

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