Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Sam bounds for the Horn

Lovely post over on Sam's blog today. As you might expect the thought of Jean Le Cam trapped underneath his boat in the chilly depths of the southern ocean had a huge impact on her, and she admitted being unable to sleep until she knew that Vincent had successfully rescued him.

Now Roxy is heading toward the Horn, bounding across the waves "like a kangaroo". Neat imagery - uncomfortable but fast.

Go Sam Go!

There was an interesting post on the Vendee Globe web site about the mythology around the Horn. But it starts with the line "If we're going to talk about Cape Horn, we must begin with "The Long Way" by Bernard Moitessier."

I don't think that's right at all. If we're to talk about Cape Horn lets start with those that first battled around it, explorers like Magellaan and Drake, and of course the buccaneers that came after them hungry for gold.

And let's talk about the big difference between them and the Vendee fleet today - they went the wrong way. All the old sailors tended to go round Cape Horn from East to West, and wasn't that making life hard. Watch "Master and Commander" again (ok its fiction but its jolly good) and get an idea of the struggle that was.

By the time of the First Fleet that went to Australia 1788 they knew better. The ships came out to Australia across the Indian Ocean but came back all the way across the wide Pacific. It might have been longer but the winds were with them.

So the "standard" way round Cape Horn became the other direction, from West to East.

One of the main reference books that described the prevailing winds was called a "Discourse on Trade Winds" written by another of those old sailors, William Dampier.

He went round the world three times, always heading West, always against the prevailing winds. Maybe that's why it took him so much longer - twelve years in one case!

Even though the Vendee Globe fleet is suffering a battering down there at least it can be comforted by two thoughts: they will be heading round Cape Horn the right way, and they will be back home much, much quicker than the early circumnavigators!


Greg and Kris said...

What a fantastic race. So many stories coming out of it, too.

I talked to Ken Barnes ( a couple of weeks ago. He tried a circumnav solo and was death-rolled at the Horn and eventually rescued by the Chilean Navy.

Amazing what these folks go through for this race

JP said...

Looks like a person with some interesting stories!

I'll have to keep an eye on his web page to see what else he gets up to.