Day 497 [Feb. 11/10] -- End of the 'Everest' Leg

Today's Report
39°49'S, 73°15'W (Valdivia Marina)

NBSDIII arrived at Marina de Valdivia 10 nm up the Valdivia River from the Pacific at about 1:30 pm local time, to allow Saito to pick up six new fuel filters and refuel. The marina has about 30 inside berths, plus a few additional external berths for larger vessels, and offers professional services for local yachties and cruisers. Cost: 8,000 pesos a day ($15).

We were assisted in the filter handover by Ásbjörn Ólafur Ásbjörn, an expat from Iceland who lives in Valdivia, and is a friend of Hanaoka-san. Hanaoka had sent the replacement filters up from Punta Arenas and they arrived just after Saito-san reached the marina.

Although it seemed the fuel contamination problem has lessened, with no repeat of the reduced rpms that signaled potential engine failure, the filters are absolutely critical to the voyage. While Saito-san could proceed -- for a short while -- under sail, the engine is required to recharge the batteries, run the nav and comms equipment, and (especially) power the hydraulic steering system. The vessel is too large and heavy to be equipped with a wind vane steering system.

End of the 'Everest' Leg
This leg, which includes 1) the run-up to Cape Horn (1,000 nm), 2) the actual transit of The Horn (300 nm), and 3) the rugged Chilean coast up to the 39th parallel (1,000 nm), is finished.  

Due to the unpredictable weather and fierce gale-force winds that blow 30% of the time in winter and even 5% in summer, in the world of single-handed sailing the 2,300-mile rounding of Cape Horn is the equivalent of a solo climb up Mount Everest. Only a small number of single-handed navigators have ever tried it, and fewer still have succeeded. Not one has been even close to Saito's 76 years of age.

The all-steel, 56-foot Nicole BMW Shuten-dohji III was selected, outfitted, re-powered, and rigged for the "wrong way" circumnavigation specifically for this leg of the voyage, which constitutes the most treacherous and unforgiving stretch of sailing waters anywhere in the world.

To understand the hazards and history of The Horn, see this Wikipedia description, which says in part:

The strong winds of the Southern Ocean give rise to correspondingly large waves; these waves can attain enormous size as they roll around the Southern Ocean, free of any interruption from land. In addition to these "normal" waves, the area west of the Horn is particularly notorious for rogue waves, which can attain heights of up to 30 metres (100 ft). 

Although Saito's one-day stopover in Valdivia was not originally planned, it has turned out to be an ideal restocking point, which this evening included a quick run to the Chilean equivalent of a Safeway supermarket, where Saito bought food, drinks, and, to his great delight, a new toothbrush!

He plans to leave tomorrow. Under a large settled-in high, the weather looks ideal for the next week at least, with sunny skies and warmer temperatures to the north, and favorable winds in 2 days out of the south at 25-30 kt.

Despite Nicole BMW Shuten-dohji III's own advanced age, built as she was for the much calmer seas and the steady trade winds of Hawaii nearly a quarter of a century ago, Saito-san's selection of her to carry him around The Horn proved to be right. It just took him an additional 10 months, give or take a lifetime.


Distance in last 24 hours: 62 nm (+ 10 nm up river)
Distance completed: 17,501 nm
To Yokohama: 10,769 nm (distance remaining: 38.1%)
Heading: 030
Reported boat speed: 4.0 kt (day's average: 5.2 kt)
Weather: Overcast with occasional rain
Temperature: 14.5° C
Barometer: 1010 hPa (stable)
Wind (from): Favorable 10-14 kt SSW
Waves: 2.0 - 3.0 m
Current (from): varies
Engine rpms: 3 hrs
Generator: 8.0 hrs
Sails: Staysail 100% open

Below, a view of the marina in Valdivia