Day 541 [March 27/10] -- Feeling "great!"

Today's Report
37°29'S, 74°24'W (Pacific Ocean, 147 nm from Valdivia)

If you want a definition of utter and complete happiness, think "Minoru Saito."

Back on the water since yesterday at 1700 local, on flat seas with following winds in balmy spring-like temperatures, Saito-san this morning declared himself (and his vessel)  "Feeling great!"

The contrasts between now and one year ago could not be more pronounced.

On March 27, 2009, he was approaching Cape Horn near the close of the late-fall weather window, in a well-functioning vessel, but with the knowledge of four previous Horn passages well understanding how unpredictable and unforgiving the weather can be.

As followers of his trip know, at just after pitch-black midnight April 12 with his rudder and propeller fouled by a washed-overboard line, he was within hours of being swept by a three-day gale back onto the rocks of the man-killing cape he had already passed a few days before.

Nearly a full year later, he has survived an excruciatingly frustrating, frigid Chilean winter in a crowded fishing harbor, an emergency abdominal operation, two additional Cape Horn passages, two destroyed genoas, a highly risky voyage up the desolate southern Chile coast, two engine breakdowns, three furling equipment failures, a damaged main, an injured arm, and history's seventh-worst earthquake with tsunami waves that destroyed coastal villages less than 70 miles away.

That was after sailing 16,400 nm and 192 days to get to fabled Cape Horn, the most feared and respected sailing waters of the world, fighting headwinds and bashing through prevailing seas much of the way.

And now on Day 541, Saito-san -- a year older at age 76 -- finally appears to be on his way home.

Saito-san expressed his thanks again to the people of Valdivia for their hospitality and friendship during his stay there, as well as the sanity-preserving help he received from several kind individuals in Punta Arenas, under the extreme physical and personal conditions he faced there for more than 10 months. He also thanked his Tokyo shore crew for their constant support.


Distance in last 24 hours: 147 nm
Distance completed: 17,648 nm
To Yokohama: 10,622 nm (distance remaining: 37.6%)
Heading: 335
Reported boat speed: 5.0 kt (day's average: 6.1 kt)
Weather: Clear 
Temperature: 16.5° C
Barometer: 1020 hPa (rising)
Wind (from): Favorable 18-20 kt S -- expected to remain next 19 hrs
Waves: 1.0 - 1.5 m
Current (from): 1.5 kt S
Engine rpms: 4 hrs 1500, 20 hrs 2000
Generator: 2.0 hrs
Sails: Genoa, 90% open, mainsail 2-pt reef sailing/motor off since 2 hrs prior to call after wind changed to southerly (from south)

Position Map (click to enlarge)

Day 540 [March 26/10] -- Saito-san departs Valdivia

39°48'S, 73°27'W (Back in the Pacific)

Saito-san called and said he left Valdivia at 1700 local time today and at the time of his 2000 (0800 JST) call had just entered the Pacific Ocean.

He reports the winds out of the NW at 10 knots.

Boat heading 325 at 5 kts motoring at 1500 rpm, waiting for good visibility before sailing.

Weather is foggy, with visibility about half a mile to one mile. He says the radar is working.

All systems are working well.

We want to especially thank Sr. Edgardo Ojeda Bucarey, Administrador of Club de Yates Valdivia, for his many, many kindnesses shown to Saito-san during his time there.

He will continue to call in his position twice a day. We will receive beacon reports 4 times a day.

No earthquakes on the Chilean central coast have been reported in the past 10 hours.
We will supply more details in a subsequent post, but for now we're all just glad he's back on his way again!

Day 539 [March 25/10] -- Almost ready

Today's Report
March 25/10 0800 JST
39°49'S, 73°15'W (Valdivia Marina)

The replacement furler swivel arrived and was installed yesterday along with a halyard wrap preventer, Saito-san reported today. Both were supplied by the manufacturer under warranty, though local delivery from Santiago and customs handling and duty added on another 191,000 pesos ($350) and a frustrating 14-day delay. At least it finally could reach him!

He said repairs and sail rigging are finished and everything "looks good." His arm, injured from a falling hatch, is now completely recovered. 

Other than clearing customs and getting a stamp on his exit papers he appears set to go. He expects to leave within the next two days. 

The timing appears good, with the weather and winds favorable. Plus his extended visa runs out on March 31.