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Chapter 3 - Blues Harmonica, the Stella Australis, and Cape

By Neil

overcast 7 °C
View Cape to Cape on capetocape2017's travel map.

Augustin took a breath and started playing a blues riff on his harmonica. A few heads turned in the Darwin Lounge of the Stella Australis, a 100 cabin cruise ship, that we’d boarded in Ushuaia at the bottom of Argentina 2 days before.
"Where are you from ?", I asked Augustin during a break in the music.
"Paris. I just finished my anthropology degree. Then I was travelling through Patagonia before I got a job two months ago as a guide on the Stella Australis".
We continued jamming to while away the time to our next destination.


Nikki and I had bade a tearful good bye to our friends and Nikki's family at Adelaide airport on Boxing day. The Adelaide – Auckland – Buenos Aires flight was painless and we were soon in our hotel called 248 Finisterra in the College area of Beunos Aires. Argentina and Brazil have amazing reputations for the quality of their meat, and it wasn’t long before we’d found a restaurant specialising in Parilla, the “cooking over coals” method for meat. The quality of the Malbec red wine was good and the mixed meat dish was enough to feed a small rugby team for a week !

It was September 2009 when Nikki and I gave birth to the idea of travelling from Cape Horn (at the bottom of South America) to the Cape of Good Hope (at the bottom of South Africa), By Land, Mostly… It was 3 years later that we’d looked at a map and realised that Cape Horn is, er, an island.


We’d decided that, if we were going to go Cape to Cape, that we needed to get to Cape Horn. Nikki eventually found a ship that does a trip from Ushuaia, down to Cape Horn, and finished at Punta Arenas, at the bottom of Chile.
The Stella Australis was built in 2010 and is specially designed with a shallow draft to allow it to sail through many of the channels that run through Tierra del Fuego. It is a handsome and very comfortable ship with, in comparison to the Antarctic ship we went on, enormous windows.



It was said that Ferdinand Magellan discovered the route from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean in 1520 (the Strait of Magellan), the channel that runs between Tierra del Fuego and the South American mainland.
In 1525, however, Francisco de Hoces was sailing towards the Strait of Magellan when he got blown south and discovered there was another route from the Atlantic to the Pacific and he discovered Cape Horn (although maps exist, however, from 1412 showing the Cape).
Cape Horn, where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet, produces fearsome seas where the waves could reach to a height of 30 metres due to the meeting of the two oceans currents, and the shallow water around Cape Horn.
It was Sir Francis Drake who gave his name to the Passage between Tierra del Fuego and Antarctica in 1578, although this was, once again, because he was blown south of the Strait of Magellan.

Cape Horn was hugely significant as a route to the Spice Islands around Indonesia from the 1600's, and subsequently by the "Clipper" class of vessels during the 18th to 20th centuries.
Charles Darwin’s ship, the HMS Beagle, gave its name to the channel at the south of Tierra del Fuego when he sailed through on his journey of discovery in 1830 that eventually led to him publishing The Origin of Species in 1859.
When the Panama Canal opened in 1914, almost all of the shipping that had passed around the Cape, stopped, and took the quicker, cheaper, and more reliable new route. (it was easy to get delayed by a week or more by the weather at the Cape).


It took 10 hours for us to travel down to the Cape and it was emotional to, after 7 years of thought, dreaming, planning, hoping, and research, finally be on the cusp of “starting” our journey. For some time, we also knew that it was not certain that the weather would be kind enough to allow us to actually get off the boat and set foot on Cape Horn. The last three trips that the Stella Australis had taken to the Cape, they'd not actually been able to get anyone onto Cape Horn due to the weather.
However, the weather at 6 am on Thursday 29th December 2016 was very good, although still cold (7 C), very windy, overcast with rain squalls. We got on our lifejackets and boarded the Zodiacs (small inflatable rubber dinghy's) to take us to the Cape.


Once on the Cape, we had to keep our life jackets on due to the changeability of the weather. It was possible that at any time we could be required to get back the Ship as soon as possible.
162 steps led us up to the Cape and then onto the Cape Memorial, an Albatross. Finally we were there !


This was, by far, the southernmost point of our journey; 56 degrees south. (the Cape of Good Hope is at 34 degrees and 24 minutes south). Before us stretches about 20,000 km’s of travel before we get to Anchorage Alaska, and then start to head west.

Next stop, exploring mainland Chile......

Log of information since Adelaide:
Number of time zones - 4
Number of countries - 4
Distance travelled:
- by air - 16,075 km's
- by land and sea - 430 km

Posted by capetocape2017 12:57 Archived in Chile Tagged cape_horn

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I feel like you guys are bringing to life all those Jack Aubrey novels by Patrick O'Brian. Avast!

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remember not to touch your genitals after touching chile's

by Hi dad


by Hi dad

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