Day 498 [Feb. 12/10] -- Waiting on repairs

Today's Report
Feb. 12/10 0800 JST
39°49'S, 73°15'W (Valdivia Marina)

A rigger has been scheduled for Saturday to see about the main, and to attend to a problem with the genoa furler. Saito-san has noticed it now turns only with difficulty, which may have been the reason the furling line broke a few nights ago. 
The mainsail has lost the No. 2 batten and one of the cars used when running the main up the mast. These parts may need to be fabricated locally, although neither one is considered essential, especially if the main is not fully opened.
In the interim, Saito-san will attend to boat chores and rest. It is likely he will leave Sunday, depending on how the repairs go.

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

Day 496 [Feb. 10/10] -- Rude awakening

Today's Report
40°30'S, 74°40'W (Pacific Ocean, 735 nm from Strait of Magellan)

A line used to furl the genoa head sail snapped during the wee hours of the morning, giving Saito-san a bit of excitement as the sail completely opened in 25 kts of wind and 4 meter seas in the 3 am pitch black dark. He was able to get it furled, and proceeded under the staysail.

He made 105 nm under sail in favorable but weakening winds during the 24-hour period, bringing him to within 70 nm of Valdivia, where he will stop to refuel and obtain additional fuel filters, the Rx for the dirty fuel that has plagued him since Punta Arenas.

Distance in last 24 hours: 105 nm
Distance completed: 17,439 nm
To Yokohama: 10,831 nm (distance remaining: 38.3%)
Heading: 015
Reported boat speed: 4.0 kt (day's average: 4.4 kt)
Weather: Overcast with occasional rain
Temperature: 14.5° C
Barometer: 1013 hPa (rising)
Wind (from): Favorable 12-14 kt SSW -- expected to change to 10 kt from SE in 13 hrs
Waves: 2.0 - 3.0 m
Current (from): varies
Engine rpms: 0 hrs
Generator: 8.5 hrs
Sails: Genoa, 80 - 90% open, then staysail

Position Map (click to enlarge)

Day 495 [Feb. 9/10] -- Diversion to Valdivia

Today's Report
41°56'S, 75°53'W (Pacific Ocean, 650 nm from Strait of Magellan)

A day of mixed winds, sometimes W, sometimes WNW, sometimes WSW, as a large low sweeps under him. He was able to make another good day of progress, however, climbing 129 nm north and distancing himself from the severe sea conditions to the south.

Saito is reluctantly taking the advice of his support crews in Tokyo and Punta Arenas and will make a short stop-over in Valdivia, a city of 160,000 pop. 149 nm from this morning's position. There he will refuel and be supplied with additional fuel filters, after he went through all his spares on the way from Punta Arenas. 

A few days ago Hanaoka-san sent an email from Punta Arenas commenting on the reputation of the Golfo De Penas, "The Gulf of Sorrows," feared by local fishermen for its severe and changeable weather. When Saito-san slipped past three days ago, the weather was not bad, and he even got a bit of a lift on fair winds from the WSW.

Today, as he climbs out of the "Roaring Forties" and into easier sailing conditions, 300 nm back at Golfo De Penas, winds are roaring in at 50 kts, bringing seas of 8.8 meters.  

Here's what that looks like on ClearPoint [his position marked with arrow]:

Red indicates waves over 8 meters. 

Distance in last 24 hours: 129 nm
Distance completed: 17,334 nm
To Yokohama: 10,936 nm (distance remaining: 38.7%)
Heading: 020
Reported boat speed: 5.0 kt (day's average: 5.4 kt)
Weather: Overcast with occasional rain; slightly reduced seas
Temperature: 15.0° C
Barometer: 1006 hPa (rising)
Wind (from): Unfavorable 16-18 kt NW -- expected to change to 25 kt from SW in 13 hrs
Waves: 2.0 - 2.5 m
Current (from): varies
Engine rpms: 2,000 (20 hrs)
Generator: 4 hrs
Sails: Genoa, 80 - 90% open (4 hours)

Day 494 [Feb. 8/10] -- Under the new genoa

Today's Report
44°01'S, 76°40'W (Pacific Ocean, 531 nm from Strait of Magellan)

Thanks to favorable winds until about 3 pm today, local time, the new genoa did excellent service for most of the past 24 hours, presenting NBSDIII another 100+ nm day, and bringing boat and crew tantalizingly close to balmier climes. 

Just 300 nm to the south, a nasty low is nearing, bringing heavy winds in the mid-40s on large seas. (Saito-san was relieved to hear that did not have to deal with that as he was passing the Gulf of Sorrows (Golfo de Penas) two days ago, an area feared by local fishermen for its fierce and unpredictable weather.)

He is trying to ease off engine use, though had to resort to it as the winds became opposing later in the 24-hour period. During the night, while under sail, he switched on the aux. generator after the hydraulic auto pilot went to standby when the charge level fell. This was the first test of the use of a bank of new batteries that were brought on in Punta Arenas.

Distance in last 24 hours: 107 nm
Distance completed: 17,205 nm
To Yokohama: 11,065 nm (distance remaining: 39.5%)
Heading: 352
Reported boat speed: 6.0 kt (day's average: 4.5 kt)
Weather: Overcast with rain; strong opposing winds, slightly reduced seas
Temperature: 15.0° C
Barometer: 1006 hPa (rising)
Wind (from): Unfavorable 26-28 kt WSW -- expected to change to 19 kt from W in 7 hrs
Waves: 3.0 - 3.5 m
Current (from): varies
Engine rpms: 2,000 (5 hrs) + 2,500 (1 hr)
Generator: 4 hrs
Sails: Genoa, 80 - 90% open

Day 493 [Feb. 7/10] -- Back to good progress

Today's Report
45°48'S, 76°59'W (Pacific Ocean, 427 nm from Strait of Magellan)

Great relief was felt on both ends of the world as Saito-san reported that the engine rpm slowdown was no longer evident, clearing up apparently on its own. "The sludge [in the fuel element] is not bad, and the tank-side filters look fine," if just a little dirty, he reported.

Favorable winds in the mid-20s allowed him to crank out his new genoa this morning for the first time and turn the engine off. NBSDIII was sailing along nicely at 5 kt at the time of his call. He said the obliquely opposing waves are "rough" at 3.5 to 4.0 meters, "but not too bad." He sounded upbeat and rested after an uneventful night.

Winds under rainy skies are expected to be favorable for another 19 hours and then will begin to change to out of the WNW. Rains will continue for the next three days and then he will sail into clearer weather as he reaches the calmer 39º latitude or slightly before. Temps will rise into the high teens (19ºC/66ºF) -- something he has seen rarely, if at all, below the 35th parallel.

Hanaoka-san, as he monitors things in Punta Arenas, sent a message last night that noted his own relief that Saito-san had passed Golfo de Penas, the "Gulf of Sorrows," which has been the last resting place of hundreds of ships since the days of Magellan.

I received your last report informing that Saito's engine returned to its normal RPM. In the maps you see big gulf in the east of Saito's position named “Golfo de Penas” which is feared by local navigators or by fishermen for the bad climate it has. West side of Magellan Strait and of course Cape Horn are also dangerous position where many people have died from ship wrecks. Saito had big trouble in these 3 places. He is dramatic!!

Hitoshi Hanaoka

Distance in last 24 hours: 138 nm
Distance completed: 17,098 nm
To Yokohama: 11,172 nm (distance remaining: 39.5%)
Heading: 345
Reported boat speed: 5.0 kt (day's average: 5.8 kt)
Weather: Overcast with rain; stiff winds, bigger seas
Temperature: 15.0° C
Barometer: 993 hPa (rising)
Wind (from): Favorable 20-24 kt WSW -- expected to change to 14 kt from W in 13 hours
Waves: 3.5 - 4.0 m
Current (from): varies
Engine rpms: 2,000 (19 hrs)