Wed 28/12-2011 Day 121

My poor brandnew Hilleberg Staika tent, deformed a bit by the rocks on the flaps, having not enough flat surface to put it up properly, and the double strapping

Pos: here
Loc: Isla Deceit
Acc: tent
Dist: 0 km

It is really now “Cape Horn” weather – I’ve never experienced such storm and water in my life. The wind is up to 50 knots. But I must admit I’d rather have seen it from the safe cliff top of the Cape Horn Navy station than from this marginal beach…

At least I’m not worried that the water is reaching my tent. I’m rather worried that a rock or two would be rolling from the cliffs above and hit my tent or boat…no, this won’t happen to me. I forgot to write I saw yesterday my two lucky dolphins during the day on the calm water. I mistook the sign I’d be able to reach Isla Hornos yesterday. But it was just a sign I simply survived my bad decision making with moderate damage.

Yes, it was the worst decision making mistake on my kayaking life. I stepped into the “Cape Horn” trap out of the picture album.I must have been lulled by the dead calm weather all day, and the continuous shelter of the islands.

I probably played it a bit down on this morning’s update, not to worry any one. But I rather be honest to myself and to advise other paddlers who may like to try the same.

Yes, I can keep my nerves in such situations for a long while. Yes, I know I can paddle hard and long and in huge seas. But the wind is something which shows you your limits at some point. I should have turned around much earlier. I knew how fast the wind comes up here, and how strong it would be soon. But this is Freya, going head first and fight it hard. But I almost lost the fight. I learned my lesson.

I assume I was eventually paddling yesterday in 30-40 knots, with the accordingly constantly rising sea state. No more calm shelter of the islands. *This* eventually became BIG, and did grow today to a sea I have never seen in my life, I think…this is Cape Horn weather out of the picture album!

My landing spot yesterday, really a marginal way to land through a thick slippery kelp bed with big boulders behind it, is trashed now every 5 sec with a breaker high as a house. There was quite some surf on it already yesterday as well, though that was the only corner with a marginal shelter behind a 20 m single rock. I probably didn’t hurt myself because of the slippery kelp sliding me and my kayak on the next bigger wave further up. And although I got a bit wet inside my dry suit, I think there is no major hole in it, rather the old worn out spot not sealed yet. I couldn’t dry and check it yet. I managed somehow to put on my helmet and PFD in time. Good.

Glad the kelp and huge boulders are breaking the surf well now and the water really doesn’t come up to my tent, besides lots of spray. There isn’t a choice of a tent sites here.

But I will have to drag or carry my kayak for launching one day to the tiny gravel beach in the far corner of this whole marginal beach stretch. Launching from there through the rocks on reasonable conditions will be all right, rather than landing there in that massive surf yesterday, not seeing the rocks. In hindsight, I picked the right spot for my expected crash landing. And I was glad I didn’t hurt myself besides a few bruise on my legs…I’m just a lucky girl.

I do not want to imagine what I’d have done, if I’d not dared to land and spurned this marginal landing spot…
If I really would have made it through the breakers of the line of huge rocks at the end of this island, if I then wouldn’t have been able to get or to stay in the lee of the island and would simply have gotten blown out to the open sea…see you, Antarctica!

My landing spot on an incoming wave...I landed just right there!

My tent held up so far, but I’ve been awake since 3 am, and had stepped out probably 10 times already to check the tent and to change rock combinations to hold the guy lines. One line ripped already on a sharp rock, but I could easily fix it with a knot.

My landing spot was just besides my tent in the tiny lee of the big boulder

Eventually, after I was lying probably all day like a beetle on the back, stretching out all four to support the tent walls, I got the idea to take half of my broken paddle, which had a perfect length, to support the tent in the middle.

Then I remembered I had a set of solid spare kevlar steering lines in my repair kit, and knotted them to each existing guy line. I spread out the line in a different angle, and slung it around a solid rock somehow. So double guy lines on each corner – this is holding now and won’t rip for a while! And I can stretch out in the tent again and may even get some sleep…

I tried to secure the tent flaps with heavy rocks, but the fabric is too slippery to be held down, and it only ripped holes in the bottom of the flaps. But although the tent is making still a lot of noise, I’m certain this will hold now.

Not sure how to cook tonight inside my tent, as it is probably still blowing 20 knots inside here 🙂

No way of thinking of starting the repair on my kayak yet. The air is full of sea spray from the breakers, I may have to wait until tomorrow after noon where it is not blowing 40-50 knots like today, with lots of rain, but “only” 20-30 knots or even less. I hope to get the repair done rather with my very fast (4 min) and hot hardening two components epoxy steel resin than with the real liquid resin which will take a day to get hard. I fortunately could buy two sets of medium size tubes in Rio Grande.

This may hold up the 11 km to Isla Hornos one day, where I hope to get shelter for my kayak to cover the whole repair with one or two layers of fiber glass mat and liquid resin. The damage could have been much worse, like the boat may have crashed on a rock fully , but this will still be a floating kayak I can use further. No evacuation necessary…

I have enough food and water for two weeks. But I hope to get out here to Isla Hornos latest Sunday, maybe Friday night. Maybe not. Happy New Year! 🙂

19 comments on “Wed 28/12-2011 Day 121

Doug Lloyd

Horns of a dilemma, eh? Well, you are the princess of pause when you have to be and the queen of quickness when it’s a go…I imagine Cape Horn blurs that characterization. My family’s thoughts are with you; I update my teen girls all the time on how you are doing.


Happy new year Freya. Be prudent. Be patient. This cabo de Hornos is unique. Is’t where two oceans met! So try to go until the god wheater is on or go back if not.


Ich habe gestern von Kreuzfahrschiffen gehört, die sich nicht darum reißen, sich am Kap Hoorn länger als nötig aufzuhalten.
Abenteuer pur. Bleib vorsichtig.
Drücke Dir die Daumen.


Freya, I just saw this comment about Alejandro and it’s how I got the news too. Disbelief here. I’ve been checking your blog the last couple of days, I can imagine that storm you’re seeing … it was the millpond I couldn’t imagine. You’re not in the right space to hear this sad news, I’m thinking of you plenty with love. And I want to see your ass safe and sound in a bar with me at some point. Biff


Freya please don’t become complacent about the challenges ahead.
“I manged somehow to put my helmet & PFD on in time”


Me alegra que hayas tomado las decesiones correctas. No se puede retar las fuerzas de la naturaleza en esas latitudes. Toda la suerte y Feliz Año Nuevo!!


Quite some hairy times, can only imagine.I know I am only one of many that are following your progress day by day and praying for your success and safety. May all go well and that you find the best time to move on. Take care.

Edda Post author

Bloody hell!!! Just as well Mother is not online, I think we’ll spare her the details…
Good Luck and I’m glad you’ve got the chance to learn from it. Don’t think you need many more lessons, eh 😉


What an adventure. One you could do without I’d reckon. Good decision making as usual Freya. Well done. Good luck for the rest of the rounding of ‘The Horn’, hope you get the weather where you can enjoy it!!

Meike Michalik

Freya, du wirst es schon managen. Hoffe, dass das Wetter sich bessert damit du die notwendigen Reparaturen durchführen kannst. Du machst alles super, bedenke nur, du bist am Ende der Welt und im schwierigsten Fahrwasser der Welt. Habe gerade ein Buch von Klaus Bednarz ” Am Ende der Welt ” gelesen. Er beschreibt Feuerland, die Kultur, Landschaft und Leute. Passt super zu deinen Berichten. Da ich Chile kenne und auch in Patagonien war, weiss ich wie faszinierend es ist. Aber Freya so mutig wie du bin ich nicht. Pass bitte nur gut auf dich auf, aber ich weiss, dass tust du.
Also Freya, wünsche dir einen guten Aufenthalt auf der Insel, dass das Wetter besser wird und du die besten Voraussetzung hast um nach Cabo de Hornos zu kommen.
Hier in Dk. ist es dunkel aber mild. Wir würden morgen gerne paddeln aber mal sehen wie das Wetter wird. 🙂
Also Freya möge das Kochen, die Reparatur und die Kreuzung gelingen .Liebe Grüsse von hier, wir denken an dich
mucha suerte (viel Glück)


You are half way there! May the winds work in your favor from now on. Happy New Year and a have a safe paddling back to Puerto Williams.


Frances Price

So thankful you made the decision to turn back when you did, at least, so you live to fight another day. No need for heroism when you are already quite a hero, Freya! Stay safe, and plan. The Horn is still waiting to be conquered. Happy New Year to you, too.

Pete Hohmann

I can’t imagine that wind speed and those waves. I’m glad you are a “lucky girl” as you put it. I’m happy to hear that the Hillenburg Una is hold up. I use the same tent. We all admire your perseverance and you are in our thoughts during this challenging section of the journey.

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