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  • A Call to AntarcticaOn March 10, 2009 at 13:43:19 French time, Skipper Rich Wilson and Great American III crossed the finish line at Les Sables d'Olonne. Race time: 121 days, 41 minutes and 19 seconds
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Day 78 - A Big Day!

  • Jan
    26

    A big day. Great American III passed the longitude of Cape Horn at 1350 utc today. Thus "rounding" Cape Horn at 56/19S  67/15W. I didn't think that we would see the island or the Cape becuase the weather was gray, gray, gray, foggy, misty rainy, overcast, but after rolling out a reef (#3 to #2, 165 grinds on the middle gear on the pedestal winch), I looked up and there it was, the mist and fog had cleared, and about 15 miles away was Horn Island, very dramatic, stark, no-nonsense for the end of terra firma.

    I'm so tired from being up all last night again that when the Iridium phone rang this morning, after I had collapsed in sleep after gybing near the islands to get away from them, I awoke and I didn't know where I was. Very disconcerting!

    Without wind instruments (a major malfunction aboard Great American III), I must look at the masthead windex wind indicator, which is very wearisome. So if I'm in the cabin, I have to get up, go out, and look up.

    Last night as we approached the Cape Horn plateau, I went into the cockpit to look around, when, for the first time since Brazil, I saw a light--dead ahead and about 3 miles away. It turned out to be a stationary fishing patrol vessel that was well lit, and after I saw it the radar alarm went off having just detected the ship. So it did its job. I left the radar on the rest of the night--I guess we're back in civilization now.

    I took a short video at the Horn, and mused about the history here. It's overhwelming: Darwin, Magellan, Drake, Bligh. All were here and a thousand captains more. In a prior race Dee Caffari, another skipper in this Vendee Globe, went around here the other way, amazing lady. She sent an email to me this afternoon saying well done on the rounding, how thoughtful and kind, and prompt!

    This afternoon, after the excitement had worn off a bit, I was at the chart table studying the next weather, and suddenly    VROOOOOOOOOM! We were buzzed by an airplane. Went on deck, saw it come back, low, and bank around the stern, with the word "Naval" on the side. I went and listened on VHF radio, and the plane, which was part of the Chilean Naval Patrol, called. We chatted a bit, they came back overhead several times, and then departed. My first contact with land.

    So now we'll try to get past Staten Island, and head north. We're going dead downwind toward the corner, had to gybe again to stay away from the lee of the land, and finding today a great relief from the strain of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and from sailing the Pacific alone after Jonny had to abandon the race, and finding it difficult to muster the energy to put up more sail. But that will come.