I am just curious, how realistic is it for normal non steel hulled boats to be thinking about heading down around the southern tip of South America? I have been reading some of the yachting porn cough I mean magazines and it seems a popular destination. That said, from what I have seen so far it has been steel hulled monohulls. There doesn't seem to be iceberg issues so is there something preventing 'typical' fiberglass/epoxy mono/cats from going this route (physically being able to do it I mean, not 'you will get mushrooms growing' or 'its too scary' or 'thats the southern ocean and you will die' type arguments).
No matter what boat you go in, it has to be very well equipped. Anchoring in tight spots, with lines run ashore and heavy ground tackle is the norm, and you need to anticipate being buffeted routinely by hurricane force williwaws. It's a very different level of sailing/cruising than what most of us are used to.
One of the reason metal boats are preferred is the abundance of uncharted rocks/boulders in the near coastal areas. But plenty of folks have made the trip in fiberglass. Joshua Slocum did it in wood.
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Steel is preferred for high-latitude work because it is more forgiving if you become the first boat to chart a rock the hard way...Also, steel is perceived as buying one a bit more time if you hit something, and is more easily repaired (welders are places glassers are not) in the very few shipyards or harbours in that part of the world.
Steel boats also tend to have the size and reserve capacity to carry the sort of gear (many large anchors, warps, drogues, spools of line to "spiderweb" yourself into a tight fjord) that seems advisable, as well as the larger fuel tanks, when compared to most production fibreglass boats, that seem prudent.
I have read a number of books on cruising the area, including the affecting "My Old Man and the Sea", and while it can and is done in production f/g boats, I think you need a level of seamanship not easily obtained through coastal cruising in temperate waters.
Well it looks awesome. I would think you could work your way up to it fairly readily over time. Charting unchartered rocks I think would be generally unadviseable no matter what kind of boat hehe. I would think I would prefer two hulls to one in that case though but that is just me thinking (uh typing) out loud there.
...I have read a number of books on cruising the area, including the affecting "My Old Man and the Sea", and while it can and is done in production f/g boats, I think you need a level of seamanship not easily obtained through coastal cruising in temperate waters.
I read and enjoyed that book too (well, I think you enjoyed it?)
Here it's worth mentioning that they did not so much "cruise the area" in their Vertue 25, as sail past in open water while rounding The Horn. I read the book so long ago that I can no longer remember distinctly whether they ducked in somewhere down there, but my vague recollection is they gave those cruising grounds a wide berth and proceeded north to more hospitable regions. They were on a timeline to complete the voyage, so made long legs between landfall. I hope my memory serves...
I think this is an important distinction. For instance, I would not hesitate to round The Horn in a properly designed fiberglass hull. But I would much prefer to go in steel or aluminum if I planned to explore and cruise Tierra del Fuego and adjacent coastal waters.
But Yellowducky was a bit vague on this distinction. Are we talking about rounding the Horn, or cruising Tierra del Fuego?
These guys went to Antarctica and the Northwest Passage too. Notice the boat.
The book "Berserk" by David Mercy, is about the trip South. The skipper single-handed from the North Atlantic to Tierra del Fuego and picked up crew there for an exploration of Antarctica. Hilarious, a great read and available through (Shameless promotion here) the American Vega Association's online bookstore. Search for "Berserk"