Day 459 [Jan. 4/10] -- Getting closer

Position (1200 JST)
53°10'S, 70°55'W -- Punta Arenas

Today's Report

As could be predicted, everything shut down for the holiday season in Punta Arenas, and so Saito-san's departure had to be put on hold for the duration. Things are now going back into motion, though.

One issue that is being worked out at the moment is to arrange a second vessel to accompany Saito-san as he goes the 175 nm from Punta Arenas back out to the Pacific Ocean along the Strait of Magellan. (See images below.)

"Strait" is a bit of a misnomer (though it did not actually even mean "straight" in its original usage); it's more like a tidal river between oceans, curving at points and narrowing. The tides on it can be strong, running in currents of 4 knots or more.

With crew, this would be difficult, with no crew highly dangerous, and completely impossible alone at night. It is expected to take three days or more to make the passage.

So the plan at the moment is to arrange an accompanying vessel to be ready with a tow if and when it becomes necessary. Saito-san was willing to try without it but more cautious heads in Tokyo were able to talk him out of it (with some difficulty!)

Good thing, as a moderate low is just now passing where he would have been, bringing with it 39 knot sustained winds on the open ocean.

Getting such assistance will not affect the "singlehanded" aspect of the circumnavigation, as this would occur only up to where he previously had progressed. At that point, the second vessel will leave him and he will continue from there.

This shows his return route on the strait. Below that is a chart from Wikipedia of the strait itself, the "Estrecho de Magallanes."

We should learn more about the arrangements in the next few days. Also, he expects to be able to clear Coast Guard inspection as early as tomorrow.

In this morning's call, Saito-san wished everyone a happy and safe 2010! And to thank you for your continuing interest and support.