May 13, 2010
I don’t know about you, but when I think of sailing, I think of sunshine, turquoise waters, bare feet on warm teak, laid back island vibes, and rum drinks. I spent a good part of my youth in upstate New York, in houses so cold that on the worst days of winter, you could write HELP ME! in frost on the inside of the window. Consequently, I abhor the cold. Loathe it. In fact, I have spent much of my adult life seeking out warm places and refusing to acknowledge studies on sunshine and melanoma.
These are just a few of the things I should have considered when I was dreaming about rounding Cape Horn. But nooooo, not me. I was lost in some kind of romantic reverie about the “sailor’s Everest.” I was all worked up about the challenge, the saltiness of it, already imagining the time when my tattoo of a full rigged sailing ship (an honor in olden days only accorded to those who had “rounded the Horn”) would peak out from beneath a rolled up sleeve and I’d have to say, Oh? That old thing? I forgot all about it. Got it after I rounded Cape Horn. (Somehow this particular fantasy often spirals out of control and I wind up with an eye patch, a parrot on my shoulder, a large gold tooth, a peg leg, a mild case of scurvy, and the inability to start a sentence that’s not proceeded by Argggggggh! Not so pretty. I’m almost positive now that I won’t get the tattoo.)
But I will be sailing around Cape Horn. This Saturday, May 15, I fly to Buenos Aires, then on to Ushuaia, taking a puddle jumper to Puerto Williams in Chile and boarding the 74-foot aluminum sailboat Pelagic Australis for a five week trip up the Beagle Channel, around Cape Horn, to the Falklands, and on to Buenos Aires.
In the last few weeks, as I’ve prepared for my trip with purchases of sexy things like long underwear and transdermal scopolamine, I’ve had time to reconsider what my brother calls “my thrill seeking” nature. Five weeks is a long time. 74-feet is not so big. 60 miles an hour winds don’t sound that fun. One evening I made the mistake of searching Cape Horn at youtube.com. Check out the BT Global Challenge video and the one of Sir Robin Knox Johnston’s last visit there. I swear, I sat at my desk, in my cubicle that looks onto an airshaft in downtown Manhattan, and felt a mixture of dread and seasickness.
But because I was at my desk in a cubicle that looks onto an airshaft in downtown Manhattan, I also thought Bring it—I can’t wait.
And guess what? You’re coming with me. It’s the least you can do. Look for my daily blog at www.yachtingmagazine.com/passages with photographs, and videos, all beamed back by the Iridium 9555 satellite telephone to whatever warm, safe place you may be. And remember: I suffer for you.
For a gallery of images from Mary South’s trip around Cape Horn click here.