Cape Horn 7 days
Puerto Williams 🠖 Cape Horn 🠖 Puerto Williams
Season 2021/22 – 2022/23
Yacht: SY AL FIN
Skipper: Osvaldo E. Escobar Torres
This unique sailing trip starts and ends in Puerto Williams, Chile’s southernmost town, located on the island of Navarino. SY AL FIN has its berth here at the Micalvi Yacht Club, which also happens to be the world’s southernmost yacht club. Osvaldo E. Escobar Torres is the ship’s owner, and the skipper on all tours. He is Chilean, and besides Spanish speaks fluent German as well as English and Portuguese. The fact that Osvaldo is Chilean and has spent more than 15 years living in this region means he will offer his crew a truly unique sailing experience. Apart from his sailing skills and knowledge of the region, Osvaldo is committed to acquainting his guests with the flora and fauna, as well as the history and the people of Tierra del Fuego.
By 10.00 am on the first day, all crew members (the maximum is five) should be aboard SY Al Fin. The skipper, Osvaldo, will greet the crew and take them on a thorough introduction to the boat. There will be plenty of time for the crew to unpack and settle in. Once all are settled in, Osvaldo will go through the safety instructions which of course are particularly important for this sailing region.
The group will study the maps and the skipper will explain the route. The forecast for the following days will also be taken into account since more than anything it is the weather that dictates the routing.
In the afternoon there will be time for a walk through Puerto Williams. The town has about 3000 inhabitants, most of which are members of the Chilean navy with their families. The small settlement of Ukika nearby is inhabited by descendants of the Yamana Indians, the indigenous people of Tierra del Fuego. One can learn more about the Yamana in Puerto Williams’ Martin-Gusinde-Museum. Puerto Williams provides the last possibility to provision before leaving for Cape Horn. This is also where the skipper must obtain the permission for the trip from the Chilean maritime authorities. Without this permission, the primary objective of which is to ensure safety, no ship is allowed to approach Cape Horn.
The first night on board is spent in Micalvi. The little bar there is the traditional meeting spot for Cape Horn sailors, where those who wish can try the typical Pisco Sour.
The first leg of the journey leads 22 miles eastward through the Beagle Channel to Puerto Toro, a small fishing village with about 20 houses and only reachable by boat. The SY AL FIN will moor for the night on the fishing wharf. If the season is right and with a bit of luck it may be possible to enjoy the regional delicacy of king crab – or in Spanish “centolla” -- for dinner. A walk around the village will allow the crew the opportunity to meet the “Alcamar”, the local representative of the Chilean navy, stationed in the village with his family and who manages the outpost. He is responsible for the local maritime weather report, and will be in a position to determine, whether it will be possible to proceed via Nassau Bay towards Cape Horn the next day, or if it will be necessary to stay put in Puerto Toro until weather conditions improve.
Weather permitting, SY AL FIN will set sail southwards over Nassau Bay. 47 nautical miles lie between Puerto Toro and the Wollaston archipelago. Leaving Puerto Toro, the SY AL FIN first passes through the “Goree-Channel” and then over to Nassau Bay. Now it is not far to Cape Horn, only 13 miles! The night will be spent anchored in a protected bay, in “Caleta Martial” by “Herschell Island”, or in “Caleta Maxwell”. Now the crew must wait for the right opportunity to safely round the legendary Cape. With luck it could be the next day, but with severe weather there will be no choice but to wait it out. The naval station Islas Wollaston is responsible for us here, i.e. we have to notify them of our location and receive the local weather report from them.
Course: Cape Horn! The rounding of this famous Cape is one of the highlights of the trip. Normally, the cape will be rounded from West to East. If the weather cooperates and we obtain the permission of the Maritime authority, the crew will visit the station on Cape Horn. Along with the lighthouse there is also a small chapel, Stella Maris, and the famous Cape Horn monument, both certainly worth a visit. The Chilean navy operates the station and the family stationed here are happy to have visitors. Osvaldo also spent time manning the lighthouse and can share some interesting stories with the crew.
After leaving Cape Horn we will sail another 15 miles to Martial Bay where we will anchor for the night, and celebrate our day’s success with a good dinner on board.
SY AL FIN sets sail northwards, back over Nassau Bay and into the Beagle Channel. Course is set for Lennox Island (30 sea miles) or, depending on wind and weather conditions, the “Picton Island” (55 sea miles). A dispute over these two islands almost led to war between Chile and Argentina in 1978. It is possible to hike on both and learn about the local flora and fauna. If we are lucky with the weather it may also be possible to have a real “Asado” on the beach, i.e. the typical barbeque for the region.
The next leg of the trip brings us back to Puerto Williams. Along the way we will pass the wreck of the LOGOS, which in 1982 ran aground on a sand bank five miles off “Picton Island”. SY AL FIN will sail carefully into the narrow passage of the Holger archipelago, where at one time the Yamana Indians lived and travelled the waters by canoe. On many of the rocks one can observe seal colonies, as well as water birds on and around the cliffs. Excellent knowledge of the area is a must in order to travel safely through this archipelago, so, though one may come across a local fisher or two, it is seldom to encounter other sailboats in the area. The voyage then continues further westwards through the Beagle Channel and back to Puerto Williams.
SY AL FIN will dock at Micalvi, and after a good dinner on board, the crew can retreat to the local bar and celebrate their last evening together over a Pisco Sour or a beer.
After breakfast, it’s time to pack and say goodbye at 10:00 hrs.
End of services
Due to the particular weather conditions in the Cape Horn region or due to force majeure, which especially affect the safety of the navigation or the crew - the route described above may be subject to change. In order to ensure the safety of each member of the crew and the ship at all times, the routing will be decided by the skipper at his sole discretion.