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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related) > Cape Horn
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Thread: Cape Horn Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
02-09-2012 03:46 PM
casey1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by killarney_sailor View Post
I think we can over-romanticize sailors like that. Life was brutish and short - a lot of them died, either singly or when a vessel went down. You did not mention the lack of EPIRBs, radios, and rescue service. I read a book about Mallory, the guy who may or may not have climbed Everest (since we are using that metaphor here) in 1922. The equipment they had then compared to now is equally incredible.

As for the things you mentioned. We tend to rely a bit too much on lights. The problem back then were the times when there was heavy overcast and no moon to speak of - that is when it gets very dark. They did not keep dry and warm, that is where the toughness comes in. They would have had coal or wood stoves in their cabins so at least there would be heat, but outside, very nasty. I would imagine they would tie themselves on if they needed to. The rigs were very sturdy unless badly neglected. Again we are willing victims of our technology. Hi-tech lines are nice, but not a necessity for sure. Before stainless they had galvanized rigging, before that heavy line with quite a bit of redundancy.
I was at the NY seaport a few years back and they showed a film of a sailor falling from the rigging into the water while rounding cape horn. Even if they had wanted to, they could not turn around to pick him up- it was a square rigger.
02-09-2012 03:32 PM
killarney_sailor I think we can over-romanticize sailors like that. Life was brutish and short - a lot of them died, either singly or when a vessel went down. You did not mention the lack of EPIRBs, radios, and rescue service. I read a book about Mallory, the guy who may or may not have climbed Everest (since we are using that metaphor here) in 1922. The equipment they had then compared to now is equally incredible.

As for the things you mentioned. We tend to rely a bit too much on lights. The problem back then were the times when there was heavy overcast and no moon to speak of - that is when it gets very dark. They did not keep dry and warm, that is where the toughness comes in. They would have had coal or wood stoves in their cabins so at least there would be heat, but outside, very nasty. I would imagine they would tie themselves on if they needed to. The rigs were very sturdy unless badly neglected. Again we are willing victims of our technology. Hi-tech lines are nice, but not a necessity for sure. Before stainless they had galvanized rigging, before that heavy line with quite a bit of redundancy.
02-09-2012 03:22 PM
casey1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by killarney_sailor View Post
They were hard times and hard men back then. I think trips like that were very common back in the day. You just kept bashing (and I mean bashing) away at it until the right combination of wind shifts got you far enough to be out of the worst of the westerlies.

Don't think the Cape is on any commerical routes since it is not the shortest distance between any two places that have much traffic. As to when sailing ships went there, I checked a bit and the fastest time around the world from Europe to Oz and back was something like 160 days. I imagine most such trips were more like 250 days so perhaps it was a once a year trip, although to be at CH in summer probably meant Cape of Good Hope in winter so not much of an improvement. In my research I read about one boat that was trying to go south of Australia from Melborne to Perth (ie upwind) - could not manage it so went the other way instead (76 days), no explanation for why it did not go north of Australia, probably it was cyclone season.
The more you think about what they did the more you realize how difficult it was- What would they use to light up the deck at night- no flash lights, spreader lights, led lights. How do you keep dry and warm: no $1,000 high tech offshore foul weather gear or high tech sailing boots. No high tech fast drying clothes. How do you stay on the boat- no harnesses. How do you keep the rig up- no high tech lines or stainless rigging. Obviously they did it, but very impressive.
02-09-2012 01:59 PM
killarney_sailor They were hard times and hard men back then. I think trips like that were very common back in the day. You just kept bashing (and I mean bashing) away at it until the right combination of wind shifts got you far enough to be out of the worst of the westerlies.

Don't think the Cape is on any commerical routes since it is not the shortest distance between any two places that have much traffic. As to when sailing ships went there, I checked a bit and the fastest time around the world from Europe to Oz and back was something like 160 days. I imagine most such trips were more like 250 days so perhaps it was a once a year trip, although to be at CH in summer probably meant Cape of Good Hope in winter so not much of an improvement. In my research I read about one boat that was trying to go south of Australia from Melborne to Perth (ie upwind) - could not manage it so went the other way instead (76 days), no explanation for why it did not go north of Australia, probably it was cyclone season.
02-09-2012 12:40 PM
casey1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by Faster View Post
Indeed.... see that from day 20 they were blown essentially all the way back to the Horn by day 36 or so... after making all that westing. Must have been incredibly frustrating. One has to wonder if they actually provisioned for that much time...
Yea, seems they were going around in circles and at one point almost made it to the Antarctic. Chart shows trip was March through May which is leading up to the "winter" season in southern hemisphere. Seems this time of year would be suicide by todays standards. Do you know if the clippers and square riggers sailed the horn all times of the year or did they try to do that only in the southern hemisphere summer? Today do commercial ships pass the area on a regular basis at all times of the year?
02-08-2012 09:29 PM
Faster
Quote:
Originally Posted by casey1999 View Post
That chart is amazing, cannot imagine.
Indeed.... see that from day 20 they were blown essentially all the way back to the Horn by day 36 or so... after making all that westing. Must have been incredibly frustrating. One has to wonder if they actually provisioned for that much time...
02-08-2012 08:37 PM
casey1999 That chart is amazing, cannot imagine.
02-08-2012 08:13 PM
Faster
Quote:
Originally Posted by casey1999 View Post
Seems amazing in the square rigger era those ships could sail from east to west around the horn. Would anyone know how the typical trip would go around the horn? Could they always make the passage or would they need to turn back east and go that way to their destinatioin like the Bounty. With the very stong prevailing westerly winds seems a square rig would be nearly impossible to get around.
here's one example:2 1/2 months!!

02-08-2012 08:07 PM
casey1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnyandjebus View Post
Or die happy trying

John
Another reason to get my finances in order before I go....
02-08-2012 07:59 PM
johnnyandjebus
Quote:
Originally Posted by JonEisberg View Post
.
.
.
Perhaps the best description I’ve ever read of the Drake Passage comes from Derek Lundy’s THE WAY OF A SHIP… A marvelous read, and a riveting account of how it must have been like to round the Horn in the old days…. Highly recommended…

Just want to put in a plug for Derek Lundy’s book THE WAY OF A SHIP.
If you enjoy reading books about sailing/cruising/voyaging the above is a must read!!.


Nothing to add in regards to the OP's question other than to say, if I do round the horn some day I will die a happy man.
Or die happy trying


John
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