So we started our crossing towards Cape Verde. But the squally weather, with its frequent calms that require motoring, we soon realized that we had an engine problem. With each squall the engine lost more power, and this time it wasn't because of clogged filters. So we have had to go to shore to seek an engineer to fix it. We are now in Recife in northern Brazil. A small comfort in all this is that we caught a nice 4 kg Dorade just outside Recife. So we got a tasty lunch!
Fourteen years ago I first started to think about this place. I have to say that actually going around Cape Horn was much less dramatic than the many events on the voyage down here. Partly this is due to all the modern aids to navigation. We have engines and radios and weather forecasts that makes sailing much less dangerous than it was when this place first got its reputation. And today the Chilean Armada will not allow you to go around if the weather is not suitable. So even if you want to make it dangerous you're not allowed to... We got down to just north of Cape Horn on a wonderful calm sunny afternoon, but decided this was not the right setting for a Cape Horn rounding, so we stayed the night at anchor and went the next morning instead, when the weather was windy and the skies more dramatic. This way we got a fully day of really nice sailing, doing 11-12 knots in 25-30 knots of wind around the horn and all the way back up to Puerto Williams.
The Falklands - Tierra del Fuego passage is supposed to be really difficult. And yes, we did have problems on the first attempt. But as always, with difficult passages you try to prepare better, and the weather forecasts down here have been surprisingly accurate during the 5 weeks that I have been monitoring them, so after all it was maybe not too surprising that we had a very enjoyable passage. We did wait 3 days extra in Stanley for the correct weather window before starting the second attempt. So in the end we had two very enjoyable days of sailing in sunshine, and then a full day of boring motoring in calms and adverse currents once we got down to Isla de Los Estados. But the spectacular view while entering the Beagle channel did compensate for the motoring...
The leg started with a most annoying thing: We discovered our cooker did'nt work. It has not been used for a long time, and now it was dead. Well the oven worked, but not the stove. So the first dinner was cooked in the oven, and the next day I took it apart. Actually, it needed a good cleaning anyway! It turned out the fuel pump was dead. I thought it was maybe just stuck, so I tried banging it around a bit, which made it start to tick again. I happily thought that was it, and put the stove back together. But no joy, it still didn't run, even though the pump was now ticking. Take apart again, and this time I also found a small piece of rubber stuck in a connection. It was blocking the flow. Now I tested it before putting it in again, but it STILL wasn't working. Turns out the non-return valve was leaking too. I tried for hours to fix the valve, which has really really tiny parts, but all I got was a half working valve with a small leak. Desperate for hot drinks and food I ended up building a seal inside the valve (from diesel resistant sealant, using a sewing needle). That got it working sort of. The stove is not as good as before, but we can cook, while we wait for spare parts to arrive... The winds have been quite nice to us on this leg. I think over 80% has been on a broad reach. The prevailing winds are westerly, so no big surprise. But still nice. We did have to motor on two occasions for about 5 hours each, when the wind came from behind and was too feeble to be useful. I was also very happy that the two new unexperienced crew members had very moderate amounts of seasickness, not even enough to be problematic. The abundance of sealife in the shallow waters off Mar del Plata was spectacular. Dolphins, whales, seals and many many different birds. The seals had an interesting habit of sleeping together in small groups, upside down in the water. I think this leg has offered one of the most rapid climate changes I have ever experienced. From shorts and T-shirt while sailing to full winter gear and heater running in basically just 1 day of heading south. This is what it looked like: