Tue 27/12-2011 Day 120

Just a screenshot from the weather monitor at Isla Hornos on Tuesday - 106,7 knots at 10 pm, increasing to 120-130 knots during the night

Pos: here
Loc: Isla Deceit
Acc: tent
Dist: 86,7 km
Start: 4:30 End: 20:30

The day started as forecasted – dead calm. It stayed dead calm quite a long time, and the crossing was as easy as it can be.

At about 6 am, half way into the crossing, I heard an engine behind me – a big Navy boat came up to me at 6.30 am for an escort! Thanks! They waved at me nicely, and saw I obviously didn’t have any problems as expected in these conditions.

My watch dog on crossing to Isla Wollaston on dead calm water

It was actually quite motivating to have them along, and after the tide changed I made good speed with 8-9 km/h. At 9.30 am, they left me, and I kept on heading directly without hugging the coast toward Isla Hornos, where I was hoping to land tonight.

At the end of the gap between Isla Wollaston and Islay Freycinet, a few islands gave even more shelter and I saw a few huts and nice beaches to camp on. I was even thinking I could make it around Isla Hornos tonight – checked again the hourly weather forecast by calling my boyfriend Peter, but realized the west strong wind was coming in latest at 6 pm. Too late – I rather make it to the Isla Hornos, and wait out the weather there in the Navy station!

So far it was still dead calm, no wind at all, and the water was a millpond everywhere. I was heading out of the gap between Isla Herschel and Isla Deceit around 2.30 pm, with 9 km left to cross to Isla Hornos. This should be more than time enough to cross in less than two hours, and arriving latest at 4.30 pm, before the wind would come up! I really made good speed and distance today and was quite content with myself! Reaching Isla Hornos seemed to be a walk in the park in the right conditions.

Basically it is a walk in the park, if the conditions are staying easy long enough… but I stepped right into the “Cape Horn” trap! About 2 km into the crossing, around 3 pm, I noticed the wind was breezing up a little, and thought this is not too bad, and I easily will make it across.

But it was breezing up from the west even more, way too early according to my forecast! I had to head about 20 degrees further to the right, to stay on course. This was all possible so far, according to my GPS track. Well, I thought reaching Isla Hornons should not be soooo easy to be, like it was an every day’s job! I realized I had to work a little on my last 7 km for my success today. But I had no doubt I’d be reaching the shelter of the cliffs soon! I came constantly nearer, and I still made 4-5 km/h.

meteo 010.jpg
The view off Isla Hornons on Tuesday night, picture taken by Ivan and Paula

But about only 3,5 km left, the west wind became that strong, that I had a hard time to stay on course, and I saw my bearing degrees increasing, means I got a strong side drift. But I still made forward progress, about 3 km/h now. I thought I’d be reaching the shelter of the cliffs and the landing in front of my nose soon!

cabo de hornos 055.jpg
...and that is me fighting in 60 knots winds, shot from 1,1 km distance on top of the landing bay

But I could really not make it the about 1,1 km to the landing!!! My speed on my GPS was eventually going only sidewys, as the leftover distance *increased* instead of decreasing…and I’d soon be blown away from the island at all, out into the open sea…I had to turn around…no chance with the wind coming strongest from the cliffs now! The sea was eventually a bit whipped up as well, but paddling in big seas in no problem for me and I relaxed a little heading back into the gap of Isla Freycinet and Isla Wollaston.

Well, if I didn’t reach Isla Hornos tonight, then I’ll do it another time…though I was quite annoyed with myself to first time in my life to have to turn around…but this is Cape Horn! A trophy not that easy to get, as it seemed this morning and all day…

But the way back was eventually the same problem, I couldn’t stay on course with the strong west wind, and had to let go and to look for a landing at Isla Deceit, or even to head around it’s south easterly corner into the wind sheltered bay there.

I soon realized that the gap at the end of the island between a chain of rocks was “closed out” with breakers in the west wind, and I couldn’t round this point. So I had to find a landing on the southern side, which was a marginal rocky beach through quite some breakers…

I hesitated a long time which corner to take for landing in those conditions – a tiny gravel beach, but decorated with a few rocks in the farthest end and heavy surf washing on it, or a place with more shelter and lots of thick kelp, but with some bigger boulders behind.

The landing spot in a back surge wave, note the thick kelp plants who padded my crash landing a little bit

The kelp place seemed to be better and softer for my expected crash landing, and at some point a smaller wave took me over the first kelp covered rocks, and I quickly jumped out, trying to drag my boat out of the danger zone as soon as possible.

I was landing just THERE...

I was not quick enough, slipping on the kelp a lot…a huge surf wave lifted my boat, and threw it on the next line of rocks where it got stuck. Shit…this sounded like a crack…

..yes, just THERE...

I eventually managed to drag the boat up from there, and to check the damage – my loved paddle which I used all around Australia was broken!!! A clean break on the shaft, it must have gotten between the boat and a rock… :-((( – but my spare paddle was all right. Plus the fin of the stern rudder was broken off again…but I have two more spare.

The boat had another new seam split on the same side as the old long one, but further to the stern, plus a medium size crack on the other side. Fortunately nothing I couldn’t repair, and I just got a new pot of epoxy and fibreglass mat in the parcel I received in Ushuia. Thank goodness…

I found a spot for my tent with a bit of gravel, and am just hoping there will be no more rocks and gravel coming from the top of the cliffs besides me…

The night was a bit windy, as it it is still all morning…I carefully secured my tent, and had to check a couple of times again, but it seems to hold up in the lee of a huge rock, with some occasional support from inside on the strongest gusts…

My boyfriend told me the long term forecast, there may be a gap on Friday night to get away from here to paddle across to Isla Hornos – but be sure I carefully watch out and check on the weather! And – if I managed to repair my boat in those windy and wet conditions until then, maybe tomorrow night when it is a bit less as well…

I have enough food and water, and here is even a small tiny stream to get even more. So one day, sooner or later, I’ll be at least in the civilization of the Isla Hornos Navy station!

15 comments on “Tue 27/12-2011 Day 120

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Thanks, Freya, for this amazing,incredible kayaker adventure that will accompany you all to be able to read your notes and see the photos.

I will like then you can save your paddle. Only one , in these conditions, it is little. Is possible then the spare paddle, have cracks produced in a landing accident??.

Let the good time with you. Hope to see you at the next symposium Pagaia.

Ron Wagner

Just be careful. Safety first. You can do it. Just use all your precautions. Make sure you have all the best channels to contact support around Cape Horn. I will be praying for you!

Jörg Hofferbert

I hope the canoe has not to much damage. And latest in Ushuaia you should buy a new paddle, if the old is not repairable. 86,7 Km a great performance again.

Pete Hohmann

WOW! That expedition layup Epic 18X Sport and the Epic wing paddle are really tough! It would take a huge impact to crack them. I’m glad you’re OK. You are in our thoughts daily.

Freya dear good to know that you could find shelter
Yesterday you were so close to us we were very worried .. the wind is still very fuerte.90 nds. with gusts of 100. we hope that conditions will improve and you can get here a station out of ovens and you can accomplish your goal
good luck!


Daily you give me another reason to keep on paddling. Still an in awe of the distance and challenge… Why? some may ask… As a OCKI (Outback Coast Kayak Inc; West Oz)) member it must “because you can” 🙂 Always fair weather and great water.

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