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Ocean Planet Vendée Globe Update:
Thursday January 20, 2005
Position 52 20S, 63 47W, @ 19:11 UT

A cup of wine and scenery

After rounding Cape Horn, there is the tough tactical call of going east or west of Isla de Estados. The mountainous island is just off the tip of Tierra del Fuego, separated by the notorious Straits of Le Maire. The Straits are noted for ferocious currents causing water overfalls and rough conditions.

Given the northwesterly winds that were predicted afterwards (the wind I am in now), the Straits were the way to go. Fortunately the currents were not too strong, but the wind was light and it took us a while to get through.

What a place! The precipitous cliffs and jagged mountains of Tierra del Fuego are breathtaking. In view of such immensity it is very humbling indeed to consider our place on this fantastic planet. This picture does not do the scene justice, but….


Flash back to before the start in Les Sables…. several members of the shore crew of the late Italian solo sailor Simone Bianchetti had joined with our Ocean Planet gang to help us out. Just before the start, they presented me with a BIG bottle of red wine on behalf of them in memory of Simone. I did not know Simone well, but during the 02/03 Around Alone I learned what a larger than life character he was, with a great flair for the dramatic. He is missed by many, so I opened up the big bottle at Cape Horn and had a cup (no glass on board!) in his honor! I doubt if I can finish the whole thing by the finish, so if any of Simone’s old team are there they can help me finish it off!

Last night and today we are smashing upwind in conditions that are more unpleasant than my last few days in the southern ocean! Yuck. I have been having a terrible time trying get the boat going at a reasonable pace without smashing down so hard that the autopilot gets confused when steering to apparent wind. So I am using the compass heading more often which requires punching the buttons a lot. Conrad has demonstrated his boat’s awesome close reaching power by cracking off just a little and blasting away at 11 knots. This isn’t really an option for us so I’m trying to gain some gauge to windward. Ack! We just fell off a wave with a sickening smash…. I hate going to windward in this stuff! Hopefully it will be over in a day or so…

Thanks for all the emails after Cape Horn! It is going to take me several days to get back on them… but I will do my best!

Bruce Schwab, Skipper
USA 05/Ocean Planet


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