Landing on Cape Horn

I woke up at about 5:00 am this morning and showered and went up to the “Yamana” lounge for coffee and watch the scenery as we arrived toward Horn Island.  Yamana is the name of the aboriginal people here (also sometimes known as Yagán, Yahgan, or Yámana).

We were now officially in Chile.

I must admit that the coffee on the boat was somewhat disappointing, especially after spending so much time in Italy, just regular coffee from an urn.   They don’t seem to be into espresso and various other alternatives here in Patagonia which was actually a challenge for the barman due to all the Italians that were on the boat (that’s another story, though!)

I went up top and found the temperature to be warmer than I expected.  I had on a pair of thermal lined pants, my double-layer on micro-weight wool long-sleeve Ts, my wooly scarf and hat, and my fleece jacket and felt fine.  No gloves.  You can’t stay like this for all that long though, you do start to feel the chill sooner or later but the weather is definitely warmer than I expected.

There are about 140 passengers on the trip.   The largest contingent being from Italy (26), then the Swiss (about 14 or so), then the balance are from all sorts of places like Spain, Germany, Russia, Lichtenstein, Scotland, USA, France.  Leslie and I are both traveling on our Irish passports so we were the Irish contingent (Irlanda!).

At 6:55 (they run things like a ship!!!) we had to be in the respective lounges for our disembarkation instructions.  We were divided by lounge depending on what languages we spoke.

Of course, we have to wear lifejackets as we arrive / depart from shore using Zodiac boats, so we were instructed on how to use them properly and leave the identification badge on the boat and collect it when we returned so they knew if we were on or off the boat.

I don’t like the Zodiacs much as they are too close to the water which always worries me and makes me nervous!  But off we went, 14 per Zodiac.

When we landed on the shore there were two crew members in the water in wetsuits making sure the boats pulled up to the docking area correctly and I assume also to protect and aid anyone who might possibly fall overboard.

We were given very specific instructions about how to board and disembark the boat so that it doesn’t teeter. For example, we are supposed to slide along the side of the Zodiac as we get on as opposed to walking across the floor of the boat, but it was amazing to see how many people don’t recall / do what they were told!

The Zodiacs pulled up to a wooden staircase of 160 steps that we climbed immediately.  Once up top, we can meander over to the lighthouse and the Albatross Memorial to the lost sailors.

The terrain reminded me a lot of Iceland, no trees, but a lot of spongy-type vegetation, i.e. mosses, low bushes, grasses, etc.

The Albatross Memorial was really beautiful and the legend goes that sailors lost at sea come back as Albatross.  There were two stones commemorating the memorial, one of which had a lovely poem that I will attach (in English) in the next post.

We then walked over to the lighthouse which is manned year round by a member of the Navy. Currently, on the island is the Naval officer, his wife, a child of about 6 years, and a big German Shephard who is declared to be “the southernmost dog in the world”!!!   The dog was nice and friendly but likes gloves and was tugging at everyone’s hands who went to give him a pet!

There is also a tiny little chapel on the island and an itsy-bitsy shop within the lighthouse.

Horn Island is also the point were the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet.

It was a very enjoyable outing!

The sea was really very calm which was fortunate as landing on Horn Island can be tricky as we are officially in the Drake Passage which is known for being rough.  One of the voyages last week was unable to land.

The weather on Horn Island was a little bit misty, not very windy, and I’d say about 46º F. I wore my thermal pants with a pair of micro weight wool tights underneath, my double-layer of long sleeve micro-weight long sleeve Ts, a wool hat, a fleece balaclava type hood/hat, Roeckl® gloves with WindStopper® and instead of my fleece or down jacket I had on a Northface® summit series jacket (Hyvent Alpha) that is wind and rain resistant.  The jacket also has a hood, which was up.  I did have my gloves off quite a bit, though, to take pictures, so again, cold but not frigid.  Keeping in mind that November in South America is the equivalent of May in the Northern Hemisphere.

We arrived back at the Via Australis at about 9:00 am (after what felt like a full days outing!), and had breakfast.  Afterwards, we watched an amazing film about Ernest Shackleton who was an Irish born Englishmen who headed an expedition to be the first man to walk across Antarctica but things went terribly wrong and he and his crew suffered some terrible ordeals to stay alive and make it back to civilization.   It is an amazing story for anyone interesting in learning more about expeditions in this region.

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About Sophia la Vespa

Seattle by Vespa!
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