ANTARCTICA – CAPE HORN – SOUTH GEORGIA – FALKLANDS – TIERRA DEL FUEGO – PATAGONIA
with the 54 ft steel yacht S/Y Sarah W. Vorwerk: Sea miles, Bunk charter, Chartering, Sailing expeditions, Film Crews, Kayaking, Hiking, Climbing,
Expeditions & Itineraries: Antarctica Cape Horn Glaciers South-Georgia Falklands
It concerns a Skorpion IV, a 53 ft. steel yacht with ample space to accommodate a crew of 10. For eight guests there are four equal two bunk cabins, with ample storage space and a bedside lamp .
The boat was built in 1988 at the Feltz shipyard in Hamburg, a boat builder with a known reputation for building sturdy and reliable ships. Apart from numerous certificates with which it was issued, the well planned technical installation is clear evidence of the quality of the ship.
For communication a SSB radio is available, not only covering marine bands, but amateur (ham) frequencies as well. A telex, combined with an inmarsatC system ensures permanent contact with family at home.
Practicality and coziness of the interior layout have been given preference over the use of expensive materials. Since the crew will be organized in watches during the longer trips, the social life on board will largely take place in the saloon at the back of the ship. Separated from the saloon are the sleeping quarters, where part of the crew can retire to enjoy their well earned rest. Two toilets, a shower and hot water are essential to ensure the necessary comfort for all, and a good spirit on board. The ship’s central heating system is designed to work day and night in order to avoid condensation, and ensure ample possibility to dry slickers, clothing and boots.
Offshore suits, scuba and other watersport equipment is available on board.
The yacht meets all specifications proposed by the Antarctic Treaty of 1991.
The Drake Passage is the only interruption between the southern mountain ranges of the Andes, and its natural adversary, the Antarctic Peninsula, were steep mountains rise out of the icy waters like a giant dinosaur.
Although at the Cape Horn the average wind speed is not higher than at for instance Plymouth, it is still clear to everyone what made this cape so infamous. The winds and weather systems reaching the areas from the west can do so unhindered. None of the other continents extends farther south than 40 degrees South, while Cape Horn is located at 56_degrees South. thus, unobstructed by landmasses, lows can chase each other around the world. When they hurl themselves on the Andes mountain range, and find they can’t pass this 2.5 mile high obstacle, they will press south and squeeze through the Drake Passage.
Because of this geological situation, a curious weather exists: 3 days of gales are often followed by 45 days of windless weather. Likewise it is possible that it is a bit windy with 60 knots at Cape Horn, while at Puerto Toro at 25 miles distance there is no wind at all (or vice versa).
Around the Beagle Channel a mild maritime climate prevails. In summer average temperature during the day is 11 degrees C. Yearly precipitation is on average 75 mm. The channel never freezes in winter, and there are no icebergs (except in the immediate vicinity of glaciers).
The Antarctic Peninsula is situated south of where the depressions rage through the Drake Passage and remains largely unaffected by their high winds. The winds are therefore gentle, often from the east. During summer one can expect to enjoy long periods of calm with lots of sunshine. The annual average precipitation is around 50 mm, whilst temperatures vary around 5 degrees C.
In the old days of sail, the windjammers had no choice but to round the cape,
irrespective of the season or weather conditions. Due to the primitive navigation instruments, lack of precise charts and limited maneuverability of the vessels, it was impossible to safely seek the protection of the land against the high winds. It was therefore necessary to give the dangerous coast a wide berth, which meant the ships often had to spend extended periods of time out at sea. This of course increased again the chance of running into bad weather and encountering problems.
All this is different nowadays. Modern satellite navigation and weather forecasts, daily radio contact with other ships and the Chilean Navy have greatly enhanced safety while navigating these waters.
THE SAILING COMPANIONS
In 1787 Captain William Bligh with the “Bounty” tried for 29 days in vain to round the cape. Finally he had no choice but to take the much longer route via Cape of Good Hope to eventually reach Polynesia.
It was in 1616 that the Dutch seafarers Jaques Le Maire and Willem Schouten on board the Eendracht and Hoorn had left their home port of Hoorn to explore for King and Country new passages and unknown lands. At Puerto Deseado one ship was lost to fire, while the crew was scraping the old tar from its hull, so they had to continue their voyage on one ship. They endeavored to sail south of the passage by that time already known as Strait of Magellan, and thus discovered the narrow passage to the west, and that mysterious cape, which they named after the lost ship..
Scott left for the South Pole on December 24th, 1911. The motor sledges soon broke down, and the ponies which many experts had advised against using, soon perished in this inhospitable climate. Under unspeakable conditions Scott, Evans, Bowers, Oates, and Wilson clawed their way up the Beardmore glacier towards the Antarctic plateau. What utter disappointment it must have been for the group to see on January 17th the tent of Amundsen already standing at the South Pole. We know they did not make it back.
December 5th 1914 Ernest Shackelton left South Georgia to sail south, where his Endurance got frozen into the packice on January 18th 1915, only 80 miles from their goal Vahsel Bay. The Endurance sinks November 21st 1915. Shakelton and his Crew move onto an iceflow and drift north with it.
After having held up the spirit of his crew for more than one year, on April 24 th 1916 he set out with five of his men, to get help. In an open 22 foot whaleboat the James Caird, he navigated the 800 miles of the roughest seas on this planet. After 15 days they sighted South Georgia, where they found help. Shackeltons grave can be visited in Grytviken on South Georgia.
This region, heavy with the spirit and the heroism of exploration and adventure, still has not lost any of it’s attraction. The physical conditions of the region have remained unchanged. For this reason it is exciting to compare one’s own experiences and determination with the stories of bygone days. You will feel like actually taking part in a sailing adventure in these historic waters.
Logbook entry, December 10, 05:00. Without waking the sleepers, three members of the crew prepare to go and view beavers at first light. Outside it’s still dark, but those who want to see beavers at work have to get up early. While the three early birds pack the freshly baked bread, I fill the thermos with hot coffee. Spending hours on the lookout for beavers, that is what you need.
A sleepy head peaks around the corner, hesitates, but then decides to join the party after all. I am outside, and give some advice as to the best route to take. Down here in Southern Patagonia you won’t find any marked hiking trails, let alone National Trust direction signs. After walking a few hundred yards I turn and watch our boat, peacefully and safe at anchor. It is a windless night, absolutely still, and the moon casts a final glow over Beagle Channel. In my thoughts I see the faces of the ones who stay behind. I can hardly suppress a giggle when I think of last night. They surely deserve their rest.
Taking into account the inhospitable nature of these areas, all activities will be undertaken with two or more people.
These may include:
* Visit to scientific research stations on Antarctica
* Trekking and hiking
* Mountaineering and ice climbing on glaciers under qualified guidance
* Ice diving (Scuba)
* Photography & Filming
* Observation of rare plants and animals
* Kayaking & Dinghy tours
* Visit to Cape Horn memorial & coast guard station
Logbook entry, 03:15. Susan gently taps the barometer and notes, that the atmospheric pressure is slowly dropping. After recording pressure, positions and bearing in the logbook, she checks the sea temperature. 2°Celsius or less indicate the possible presence of icebergs. She sticks her head out of the hatch to chat with Kevin, who is outside on icewatch. Like a giant pen drawing a graciously flowing line, the ship leaves a phosphorescent trail of thousands of sparks on the black sea. Kevin describes how 45 minutes ago a group of dolphins had made the bow of the ship the centre of their playground.
The main object is of course to experience and enjoy nature, to know how to deal with it and above all to respect it, not just in order to preserve it, but also because at times the elements can still be our masters. We are convinced that our guests will experience this in a more intense way, namely when they actually take an active part in it. No previous nautical experience is required, and for those who would like to learn something new, we are happy to explain and share our knowlegde . Tactical and weather related decisions are discussed by the entire crew, and all have their say. However, the final responsibility for ship and crew remains with the skipper, and thus he will have the final word of course.
Whenever we are close to land, we will undertake half or full day excursions. During sailing, the crew will be organized into watches of about 2 hours duration. Tasks will be divided according to the varying interests and skills. Those who know something about charts and navigation, can plot a course . However, everybody is invited to share the work as best as they can and are willing to. Leopard seals think a rubber dinghy is a wonderful toy and love to nibble on it. To keep the dinghy whole, it will have to be hoisted on deck every time after use. And…no one will have to restrain their culinary urges; Have you ever baked bread at a 20 degree list?