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Around Cape Horn

Posted by Tall Ships America on March 26, 2010

Around Cape Horn - Dominique Verhasselt

If you haven’t heard, something is afoot in South America. Tall ships from around the world are gathering to help the southern nations celebrate their bicententennial in the Velas Sudamerica 2010. The kick off event was in February in Rio de Janeiro (oh, to have been a fly on the wall) and the ships are rounding Cape Horn as they make thier way up the western coast of the continent.  More information about the event and the ports is available at www.velasudamerica2010.com.

The above photo shows Libertad (ARG), Esmeralda (CHIL), Europa (NETH) and Guayas (ECU) as they transit Cape Horn in remarkably calm weather.  For those of you who didn’t notice, the title of this blog is borrowed from a famous movie from 1929 that depicts one of the more harrowing crossings of Cape Horn by Captain Irving Johnson aboard the Peking (which is now berthed at the South Street Seaport Museum in New York City).  The movie, Around Cape Horn, was shot by Captain Johnson and the footage is unbelievable. During some of the worst of the weather, he climbs to the top of main mast (170′ in the air) and points the camera down as the ship heaves and rolls in massive seas and the waves crash across the deck. It is not to be missed and will make you appreciate your land legs. For a sense of what it was like and some photos, read this article Rounding Cape Horn in a Windjammer from a 1931 issue of National Geographic.

If you want to see the movie, Mystic Seaport sells DVD’s of this classic tall ship movie. I watched this movie while underway on the Bounty this summer on our way across the North Atlantic to Belfast. The weather we encountered, while a bit rough (but not bad for the North Atlantic), certainly paled in comparison to what the Peking experienced. I also was incredibly thankful for the advent of harnesses and gratefully clipped in when aloft.

Irving and his wife Exy were huge advocates of sail training and sailed around the world seven times aboard their ship Yankee. Los Angeles Maritime Institute honored their memory and commitment to education under sail by naming thier twin brigantines after them.

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