Joe Harris: Cape Horn, With Gratitude
Published on March 10th, 2016
Aboard his Class40 GryphonSolo2, American Joe Harris departed Newport (RI) on November 15 in a bid to break the 40 Foot Monohull Solo Non-Stop Round the World Record. That plan, however, got derailed when a pitstop in Cape Town was needed for repairs to his energy systems. But Joe has carried on – here he provides an update on March 10…
At 7:03 AM local time (8:03 AM EST, 1303 UTC), GryphonSolo2 and I have today crossed the longitude of Cape Horn – 67′ 15 West. Even though we are 30 miles offshore, we have by definition just rounded the Horn. Amazing!
I have been dreaming and planning for this for 30 years so this is a very satisfying moment indeed. In planning the approach to the Horn, it became apparent that my passage was going to coincide with the arrival of yet another cold front, so getting right in close to the rocky shore in a Northwesterly gale was not going to be possible.
I decided to approach from the SouthWest – leave Islas Diego Ramirez just to port – then proceed past the longitude of the lighthouse on Islas Cabo de Hornos about 30 miles offshore and then make a gradual left turn from the Southern Ocean into the Atlantic, heading Northeast up towards Staten Island.
As you might anticipate, the wind is howling at 40 knots from the West and the seas are 20-feet…and it is cold as hell. However, I would not expect anything less, as the Southern Ocean gives me one last kick in the ass on the way out. No time to celebrate.
These last two weeks have been a real test. The cold fronts rolled over us with greater frequency and intensity as we went further and further south towards Antarctica and finally into the funnel of the Drake Passage. I have my bumps and bruises to show for the effort, as we have pounded along under reduced sail and increasingly cold and hostile conditions.
Some say that sailing around Cape Horn is the sailor’s equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest. Others say that summiting Mt. Everest is the climber’s equivalent of sailing around Cape Horn! Regardless of your perspective, the achievement represents a pinnacle of the respective sports.
For me as a solo sailor, I have taken another significant step towards joining the few solo sailors (not sure of the exact number, but it is less than 100) who have circumnavigated the Globe by way of the three great Capes, including the Grandaddy of them all – Cape Horn.
I want to thank the small group of solo circumnavigators that I have been in touch with who have provided advice and insights gained from their passages around the Horn: Brad Van Liew, Tim Kent, Bruce Schwab, Alan Paris, Rich Wilson, and Josh Hall…with extra help from Dave Rearick. Thank you guys.
Additionally, I certainly want to thank all the friends out there who have jumped on the “GS2 totally excellent 2015/16 Kharma Bus RTW Tour” – your constant positive vibes have made a huge difference for me. There is an old custom that sailors that pass around Cape Horn wear one small gold hoop earring in their left ear out of respect, since they left Cape Horn to port. Maybe we can get some extras and Team Kharma Bus will be known by their gold earrings!
But most importantly, I want to thank my wife Kim and kids – Griffin, Emmett and Sophie – for supporting me in this quest. You guys are the best and I love you.
Now all I have to do is hang a left into the Atlantic and click my heels three times and I will be crossing the finish line in Newport. I wish it were so simple.
Many miles to go yet but this is a huge milestone that is part of, but also independent of, the circumnavigation. I will savor this moment for the rest of my life and tell my grandchildren about…and I’m sure the stories will get better as the years go by.
Background: As a result of Joe’s 11-day detour to Cape Town (Dec 28-Jan 8), Joe is no longer able to officially break the existing non-stop record of 137 days, 20 hours, 01 minute, 57 seconds – set by Chinese sailor Guo Chuan in 2013. However, he remains hopeful to unofficially better the mark. Website: www.gryphonsolo2.com