Friday, October 26, 2007

Sir Francis Chichester and Cape Horn

I find the story of Sir Francis Chichester inspiring and exhiarating. In his mid sixties, he successfully solo circumnavigated the globe in 1966-1967 for a 274 day voyage with 226 days in sailing in his Gipsy Moth IV. About waves, according to, he said:

"There is something nightmarish about deep breaking seas and screaming winds. I had a feeling of helplessness before the power of the waves came rolling down on top of me."

That's really from someone who knows what he's talking about. After rounding Cape Horn in huge waves, he said further:
"Wild horses could not drag me down to Cape Horn and that sinister Southern Ocean again in a small boat."
But he is already "been there, done that!" What a modern day Sir Francis Drake! As a matter of fact he was knighted by the Queen in 1967 - and she used the same sword that Queen Elizabeth I used to knight Sir Francis Drake.

I don't think I have an ambition to rounding Cape Horn even in a big boat. The Montreal Gazette yesterday reprinted a 2004 article by Ashley Ford described an experience of rounding Cape Horn on a big boat:
It's the deadliest tip of the world and, as we approach Cape Horn, it bares its fangs.
Howling, savage 40-knot winds, gusting to 50 knots out of the west- northwest kick the sea into a boiling pot of 13-metre waves that pound themselves against our ship.
And while equal to the task, Celebrity Cruise Lines' Infinity and all her 593 feet and 90,000 tonnes shudders, dips and spirals as the mighty southern sea sends out a not-so-gentle message of just who is in command down here.
The ship's master, Captain Dimitrios Kefetzis, calmly breaks in to give the latest navigational report and ends with his usual cheerful "this is the captain . . . out!"
Two hours later, he is on the blower again saying conditions have forced a course change to get into the Magellan Straits. An hour later at dinner we all get a personal message. A rogue wave smashes into us, sending food like missiles through the air -- food all over the place and some passengers literally under the table.
Here is another case of unrecorded freaque wave in 2004. May be 2003, as the reporter did not gave the size of the wave or exact date of its occurrence.

Anyway, that's enough for me just reading about it. At my age I have no desire of doing something to lay a claim on "been there, done that!" I am satisfied to bejust an admirer of other brave heroes who had "been there, done that!"

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