Donna Lange “Rounding the Horn” recap

Posted By on January 10, 2007

Here a ‘raw’ post from Donna Lange (solo sailing around the world); she has updated shortly after completing her rounding of Cape Horn at the tip of South America.

Monday Good Morning HUGS!!!!!
Oh my Goodness.!!! how do I begin. iam safe and
sound in Puerto Williams, met by Jonathan Selby
and his family and ushered through customs and
immigration. Oh the tale to be told. the last
24 hours, rounding the horn, the early morning
dolphons and seals. through the morning yesterday,
there were very light winds. the engine was running
but acting very dtrange, revving iself. It is
always very hard for me to feel secrue if i am
relying on the engine. i have had too much trouble
with it to feel safe with it. yet it has safely
gotten me in. I laways motor with the mainsail
flying either as a backup and to help move along.
even the wind generated by the motoring along
can add a bit of speed with the main. The wind
is shifting port andstarbosard. NNE to N bt light.
I am making headway at 4kn. the islands arround
me are tundra covered with a green plushness. round.
but in the distance I can see mountains like the
Rockies and glaciers. I am in awe hoping I wil
be able to get closer to them. It is the Coast
of Tierra Del Fuego I see, ARgintina. My computer
is out. The only charts I hve for the trip up
the channel are computer files which is a bit nervewracking.
with limited power i won;t be able to leave it
on. I stepped below at one point, adn glanced
at the electrical panel. Oh mY God! 14V. The alternator
is putting out power.!! Alright! I can run the
computer. with the Sky Eye as a GPS, I have a chartplotter
to use. Not only is there a chart, but my position
adn dirction is live on the screen. live vessel
tracking. With this i can really relax about the
navigating. i know exactly where i am at al times
and i can leave it on, seeing it from my stance
in the cockpit. It is amazing how ong it takes
to move at 4kn. it it the pace of a fast walk
so think about walking 120miles in 24hours. As
long as the iwind is light, the steering vane will
not work so i must steer. On my boat there is
no where you can sit, see in front and have room
for the tiller to move around the cockpit so I
mostly stand on the cockpit seats lookinf over
my dodger forward. It was late morn when i finally
cleared between isla Nueva and Isla Lennox and
started heading more NW. i had been tacking ad
the wind had picked up enough that the steering
vane is steering. yet whenever i am close to land,
i have to be on deck. At this point, to sail with
the winds so on the nose, meant taking too wide
and so i motor sailed, pinching the wind all the
way. the steering vane could steer it. i wasn’t
getting much help from the sail, but a little.
The winds continued to pick up until i was becdoming
discouraged. my speed 2-3kn and i am just pushing
through 4’waves, absolutely stalled at times.
It would take me another 24 hours at this pace.
I was ina bigger area though and felt that i could
dare to go below and try to rest a 1/2 hour. Exhausted,
soaked to the skin with dampness. hat,gloves.
But I strip off my outer coat and climb under
my blankets, setting my timer for 30minutes. there
are no other boats to be seen and i have plenty
of room around me. Minutes later, i am aroused
by the whizzing of the wind generator. Suddenly
the boat is thrown sideways. i pull myself up
out of my bunk and get up the stairs. The wind
tossed the boat aside, water is flooding the deck
, pouring into the cockpit. oh my god, i could
go under here. I am grabbing at lines. letting
out sail, adjsting the stterring. then on deck
and to get the sail down. The sails are flailing
as i let them out. my poor genny is whipping around
like a flag in a torrent. I can’t get her in but
the boat setles in off the wind. full reef main
and i trim in the genny, about 1/4 size. we are
flyin 6kn right on course. It was then that i began
to take in all around me. the clouds above were
black, shearing, long whisps as you could see the
wind speed tearing them apart. But it is going
over. the thickest swirls moving on, but the gusts
keep coming. i’m standing in awe once more. inwardly
i hve perfect peace. I hav done it. I think it
was at this moment that the accomplishment of what
ihave done actually was realized in my spirit.
I felt confident, strong. I felt pride. I have
done it. Day and night, i have sailed my boat,
fixed her, worked hard and we have done it. We
have become true sailors. To some one else, that
squall would have potentially done great damage
and left them terrorized, but we are fine. It
is just fantastic. the intensity whirling, sea
crashing, landscape looming. It was a moment i
will not forget. When I truly ’rounded Cape Horn’.
I am so exhilerated. But the winds are icy and
i am soaked. soon my hands can’t bear the cold.
Anam Cara is steering, i have room. i go below,
once again set on closing my eyes for just few
minutes and geting warm. Polar fleece and wool
are amazing. wet through, they stil insulate.
And this time there is no emergency and i fall
asleep. But i didn’t wake with the alarm, though
only 45min later. A scare as i awoke. Shoot .
i couldn’t trust the alarm to wake me. i am too
tired now. no sleeping. Themountains on the ARgentina
side are steep and jagged. the hills on the cnilean
side, rolling a plush green. snow settled nto some
of the slopes still s it is early summer. Time
melts away. i love that about meditative peace.
exhaustion does it. Some 10hours past and I was
mesmerized by the scenes around. I came upon some
little rocks sticking up in the channel and they
were covered with Commerants(sp?), large cuck like
birds that swim like penguins. they look like
penguins on the rocks. a half dozen of these pillow
out there, covered with these flouffing birds.
squawking. amazing. ONe corner after another.
and with eac turn the wind shifts with me. it
had blown from every corner of the universe over
this day. fromNNE to SSE to NW and SW. The trial
was over. The wind dying down. I would have to
steer now. The channel is 2-3miles wide mostly.
The ‘Argentina Rockies’ to north. chilean hills
to south. At some moment I realize that i had not
seeen one habitation of humanity since i had seen
land. I imagine it was upon seeing the first box
of a building. yes, it was as i was going by PUerto
Toro, which was a potential stop off if i needed.
but now i was making good time. ONly a few barn
like buildings tucked into a raveen tight harbor.
all along the channel there were less than a dozen
buildings for 100’s of miles. True Wilderness.
JOhn Denvers songs of the wilds come back to me.
Wilderness untouched by humanity still exists.
glorious. Finally the last bouy markers are approaching
and i have my VHF out. batteries are low though.
i doubt i will be heard as i come into the harbor.
but jonathan is there. he may have been uncertain
as to whether i would make it tonight. Instead
i was way ahead of schedule. It was amazing to
feel impatient at the time waiting out those last
slow miles into the harbor. i have beendriving
for 24 hours and now i sudenly am feeling cold,
exhausted and impatient to be there. time slows
down. i creep along the shore. then take down
the sails, untilnow only down for a gale. furl
them and tie them. I try the VHF again, I hear
“Inspired Insanity. come back”. yes someone heard
me. only a few hundred feet on the shore i see
a hand waveing. it is jonathan running along the
shore. “Relax Jonathan,” i hollar out. “don’t run,
I can slow down.”. So i put the throttle to idol
and coast for a bit while jonathan settles int
a fast walk. Roxane comes on the vhf, ‘ donna,
come around the corner, Anahera is tied along the
sunken ship.”. Sure enough as i motor on past
the first boats tied onto the imfamous ship, there
is jonathan and Roxanne, fenders out taking my
lines. I step off to big hugs and tears. but excitement.
there are sailors standing by n the other boats.
They had heard of me on the chilean news related
to Ken. Congratualtions went out. Roxanne called
immigrantion and customs and did all the talking.
A glass of beer, toasts went up. It is always a
peaceful moent when i climb back on board after
tying up at the dock. The boat a shambles of use
and toss while i have to be steering. every piece
of equipment lying about. computer still on. GPS
saying sp. 0.0. We have stopped. a hush. it is
quiet, silent. no wind. my head still buzzing
like after a rock concert from the engines drone
of 24ours. There is a soft rain falling. i look
up the river farther and the most majestic scene
of peaked snow capped mountains in the distance.
a wooden out building across the way. plush green
meadows and the trees, gangly and tall. not pines.
Within an hour i am devouring a perfectly cooked
steak, local beer and amazing chat with my hosts.
and then afterwards the yacht club. Where there
is a charter group just returning from Antarctica.
there is so much knowing n our hears. so few words
necessary. so much love and connectedness drawing
us close. hugs come so natural. no pretenses.
no commerce, no things. just appreciation and
admiration we all share for the earth,the beauty
of nature and the teneacity of the human spirit.
These folks came and can not go back now. How
will I leave? it is so amalgamating the energy.
So there is my tale for today. we leave tomorrow
hopefully to get jonathan and roxane home to work
that awaits them. i will go on with my repairs
and hope to have 2 weeks to enjoy the territory.
I will try to get photos now that there are cameras
about and regular internet. Neil is making it possible
for folks to get involved with my heart passions
to try to help. I have it all. Now all I have is
ours. my experience, the strength,
how deep is my sense of gratitude for allthose
who have energized this victory. truly you have
calmed the storms and held back raging seas for
me. turned the winds and held me in the palm of
love for all these days. Biggest of Hugs and loves
to all my family, I got an amazing letter from
Cooper, as my son so trusts and believes in our
love and our untiy as he skiies the tallest mountains
and i forge the southern seas. Oh how overwelming
the glory of life. xoxoxxo d


Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.
My Desultory Blog