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Arrival to the Beagle Channel

With the wind veering and now blowing strong straight from the West, we leave behind the mythical Cape Horn far out of sight on our portside and we are heading Northwards towards the Beagle Channel. On this occasion the stream of powerful and variable winds blowing from the West has not allowed us to pass close by the Cape, although we have been steering close to the wind for almost the entire Drake Passage. Foul weather and treacherous seas pay good tribute to the fierce reputation of this area that has been growing since the discovery of Cape Horn on January 29th 1616. On that date the Dutch Captains Schouten and LeMaire discovered the open 
sea route South of the Island of Terra del Fuego, opening a future new trading route between Europe and the Pacific coast of the Americas. They decided to give the most southern point of South America the name of their hometown “Hoorn”, in the Netherlands. Hoorn was also the name of their lost ship, that together with the “Eendracht“ formed their expedition around the world. At the time they sailed around it the Horn was believed to be the southernmost point of Tierra del Fuego; the unpredictable violence of weather and sea conditions in the Drake Passage made exploration difficult, and it was only in 1624 that the Horn was discovered to be an island.
Since the morning engines have been turned off and the Europa sails the now slightly smoother seas under courses, topsails, lower staysails, fore topmast staysail, inner jib and spanker. She glides elegantly to finish our adventures of the last 38 days. With a minimum of 30kn of wind, gusting up to 40kn sometimes, we reach good speeds between 7.5 and 10kn on what ended up being a great sailing day. The swell had been slightly decreasing, but still the seas are quite high, making for a fast, rolling and rocky ride, healing to starboard and pitching over the waves. As we get closer to land, we pass by Patagonian remote islands like Barnevelt, Terhalten and Evout. With the good speed we could do, by dinner time we planned to be approaching Picton, Nueva and Lennox islands located at the Atlantic mouth of the Beagle Channel. Keeping the same sail configuration along the sunny afternoon, with some wind picking up, while the seas flatten, soon we are in sight of land. The mouth of the Beagle opens in front of us, welcoming the Europa with clear skies and its calmer waters. We could sail all the way inside the channel, but as we get in, sailhandling was required. The land effects and the shelter from Nueva Island, made for changing tack a couple of times before deciding to drop all canvas and furl it after dinner, with 
many of us giving a hand to the permanent crew. Everybody showed up again on deck in high spirits, happy to reach the sheltered waters of the Beagle Channel. Loud chatting and talking can be heard over the ship. Many are even seen having their evening meal on deck. On our way to the appointed anchorage in several occasions small groups of Peale’s dolphins accompany us, playful as they seem to be bow-riding the ship. We reached the anchor spot past midnight. Here we wait for the mandatory Argentinean Pilot to make our way tomorrow night to Ushuaia, the final destination of our voyage.

Geschreven door:
Jordi Plana Morales | Guide

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