Conrad Colman looking north
Postion: 52 Degrees 45 South 63 Degrees 17 West
What a difference a day makes. We have escaped the heaping crashing swells of the Pacific Ocean, slipped silently passed the Cape Horn and are now blast reaching to the North under a crystal night sky. Maybe its the euphoria from having made it through the toughest part of our race course in one piece, but the sky is so clear I feel the Milky Way is at arm’s length and I could take Orion’s belt for myself. Its incredibly beautiful.
After missing out on seeing the Isla Hornos despite passing only three miles away, I was particularly keen to head north via the Straights of Le Maire that offer a short cut between the end of the patagonian mainland and Isla de De Los Estados. The straights are known for strong unwieldy currents and strange wind shifts and so it proved to be today. We reached in on an easterly and underneath a small band of cloud the wind did a U turn in 20 seconds and we ended up punching out on a strong north westerly wind that has carried us rapidly up to the Falkland Islands.
It was really special to be able to shave the island on the way as we haven’t seen land since New Zealand (there aren’t any islands that far south in the Pacific) and it was a joy to set our eyes on something that wasn’t moving for a while. The ragged grey cliffs and stunted tussock grass speak volumes about the weather here as any plant with delusions of grandeur would be chewed off by the constant gnawing teeth of the constant gales. There is a rugged timeless beauty in these inhospitable cliffs and valleys and I like passing by the end of the earth knowing that at least this corner of the world will remain untrammelled and might still look how it did centuries ago.
The straights were first discovered by Europeans in 1615 by Isaac Le Maire, son of wealthy Dutch merchant who was sent to discover alternate trade routes after the northern route through the peninsula was monopolized by the Dutch East India Company. Isaac got to name the straights after his father but named his more important discovery, a new way into the Pacific, after the expedition’s financial sponsors in the small town of Hoorn. While we might not be busting monopolies and redrawing the map, we too are here with the support of sponsors who benefit from our exploits, only in the form of hospitality and exposure instead of names on headlands.