Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cape Horn

On February 28th we checked out of our hotel, had lunch at the Irish Pub, walked around downtown one last time, then retrieved our luggage at the hotel and walked to the port to board Le Boréal. Soon after we were on board we had the mandatory life boat drill which was followed by a welcome from the captain and a introduction to the ship and the cruise by the cruise director. The big news of the night was the announcement from Captain Marchesseau that not only would we be sailing around Cape Horn, we would be making a landing with the Zodiacs on the Horn!! This landing is not always possible due to the unpredictable weather around the Horn. It was an unexpected "extra" that excited all of the passengers.

As we were leaving the auditorium we met an Australian couple, Laurie and Mattie Jackson, with whom we had dinner most evenings throughout the cruise. At dinner that first night we soon discovered that we had a mutual friend, Brian Vanden Hogen. Brian grew up just a few houses down the street from our home in De Pere and met Laurie and Mattie in Sydney, Australia, where he lives today. The world is indeed a small place these days!

Soon after leaving Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city on the planet, we stopped at Puerto Williams, Chile, the southernmost settlement, to clear customs and immigration. The paperwork was taken care of by the ship's staff while we enjoyed the dining room and lounge on board.

The next morning we were up early as our group (yellow) was the first scheduled for the Zodiac landing on Cape Horn. A short ride took us to the landing point and the steep wooden steps to the headland above. The Cape is the southernmost island of the Tierra del Fuego Archipelago and is the northern boundary of the Drake Passage.

Once on top we made our way along the boardwalk to visit the small lighthouse and wooden chapel before walking out to the Cape Horn Memorial. The monument depicts an albatross in flight and honors those who have lost their lives trying to round the Horn. The weather was blustery and overcast with an occasional shaft of sunlight finding its way through the clouds. As we turned to return to the ship the sun peeked through and........a condor made a low pass along the shoreline giving us a very special sight on this very special piece of real estate.

Zodiac transfer to Cape Horn
Steep steps to the top
Momentos left by previous visitors to the lighthouse
Cape Horn banner in the lighthouse
Boardwalk to the memorial
Cape Horn Memorial
View from the memorial
Gathering at the memorial
Heading back to the ship
Unloading the Zodiac
View of the headland
Not too rough

As we waved good-bye to Cape Horn, the ship retraced its course to the Beagle Channel; we watched the lights of Ushuaia pass by as we sailed westward toward the Magellan Strait and the Chilean fjords.


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