Saturday, January 02, 2016

Perfect Conditions at Cape Horn - The Southernmost Tip of the Americas

The crossing of the Drake Passage was again quite mild. Pea-soup fog for much of it but no worries on this big ship. On the morning of December 31, the last day of 2015, we raised a piece of land in the far south Southern Hemisphere. Cape Horn was in sight!

Sailing north toward Cape Horn about 15 miles out.

Where South America ends in the Southern Ocean.

This headland is the southernmost part of the continent.

Isla Cabo de Hornos in the Wollaston Group of islands with an Antarctic vessel (right).

View to the west toward Cape Horn. With conditions like these, we just had to make a landing! But that required calling for a Chilean pilot who could meet the ship, since our our last official port of call was in Argentina. So the ship ponied up $20,000 to have pilot sent out from the naval base at Puerto Williams, some 6 hours away.

I've made this landing about 2 dozen times but this was by far one of the best and easiest attempts.

The beach is full of small boulders and makes for difficult walking. But then a set of steps (114 to be exact) takes visitors to the boardwalks on top.

View at the landing. Note the large cobbles and small boulders of intrusive tonalite. There darker ones near the waters edge are extremely slippery.

This is the Navy weatherman who will spend 12 months at this post with his wife and two children (ages 11 and 5). Chile occupies and mans this post as a sign of sovereignty over Cape Horn. In 1978, the country nearly went to war with Argentina over three nearby islands - only an intervention by the Pope relieved hostilities.

The Cape Horn lighthouse was built in 1902 and received a new addition in the early 2000's - a home and Visitor Center.

The small chapel has stood here for as long as I have been coming here (1993). It is made from the bark of the Nothofagus tree.

The altar inside the chapel with a colorful arrangement of artificial flowers. On January 29, 2016, Cape Horn will celebrate the 400th anniversary of its discovery with a list from the President of Chile and the Queen of Holland. Twenty Navy workers will arrive on January 4 to begin a month long spruce-up of the boardwalks and visitation sites. It will be a great day at the Horn!

The Albatross Memorial at Cape Horn honors the sailors who lost their lives while rounding the Horn.

This monument was erected in 1992 and is mad elf steel. However, when I visited it in March, 2015, the left portion had been blown down by strong winds. It is now repaired.

A crew member near the monument.

Close-up.

Scenic view to the southwest.

A guest of The World enjoys the view at Cape Horn.

This is my last posting for the first of two voyages to Antarctica. We have just left Ushuaia Argentina for the last time this season and will now head south into the Drake Passage once again. This second trip has a slightly different itinerary - after five days in the Peninsula, we will also visit Elephant Island, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands. Be sure to follow this blog between now and January 22 when we put in to port at Puerto Madryn Argentina.

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