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CAPTAINS LOG Tall Ships Fleet Sail Around Cape Horn


Barque Europa by Roland Gockel

Barque Europa - Captains log

24th March 2010

Yesterday, we left Ushuaia again, but this time not for the White Continent. This time we are sailing with a group of Tall Ships up the Coast of Chile to the North where we hope to find warmer temperatures.

But on this first day, we are making a short voyage to the South, to sail around Cape Horn.

Together with 8 other Tallships we will honour this legendary rock with a Parade of Sail.

For many centuries this place was a junction of sailing routes, and often on a clear day dozens of big sailing ships could be seen, struggling from one ocean to the other.

In 1914, after the opening of the Panama Canal, it became more quiet around this most Southern cornerstone of the Americas.

But today, it was the day, that for the first time in many decades, 9 square-riggers pulled their white clouds of sails from West to East over the horizon, just South of the Horn.

Impressive...and a homage to all the ships and their sailors that in the past fought for days and even weeks in the cold and wet against wind and head currents. Many ships along with their crew perished in these hostile waters.

The 9 participating Tallships:

Esmeralda, Chile
Libertad, Argentina
Cisne Branco, Brazil
Gloria, Colombia
Simon Bolivar, Venezuela
Guayas, Ecuador
Cuauhtemoc, Mexico
Sagres, Portugal
Europa, the Netherlands

Alles Wel
Capt Klaas Gaastra

Photo: Gloria going around Cape Horn, photo via internet from Adam on Europa 24th March 2010

Cape Horn Tall Ship Armada on board Barque Europa.

Rounding the Horn - A crew members perspective

"Good mornings, it's 7 o'clock, dawn has just broken, you casn see Cape Horn, wind force 6, it's dry with good visibility and there are nine other tall ships in sight."

That's not the sort of wake up call you get every day!

Considering that I fell under the spell of Tall Ships when I saw my first Tall Ships Race (1966) in Falmouth when I was 17 and probably knew about Cape Horn from CS Foresters books on Hornblower this had to be the most exciting wake up call of my life!

Early morning gap in the storms

Quickly on deck and there is a pink glow in a small section of the sky just to the East of Cape Horn, In this pink glow is the famous outline of the Cape and the siloutte of a tall ship under full sail. Absolutely amazing sight, historic for today and historic of yesterday. Awesome, joy of joys, a life times dreams come true far beyond my expectations. In my wildest dreams I could not have imagined how fantastic it was to be finely here rounding Cape Horn under full sail looking at a fleet of other tall ships with all there sails set. It's often difficult to imagine what you look like when you are sailing on board but with nine other vessels to look at you can eaily appreciate what you must look like to them. The sea was not particularily rough but a good swell was running and the gradual lighting of the sky added more detail as we passed due South of Cape Horn on Barque Europa with all sails set.

The forecast for the day was F6-7 increasing quickly to F9-10 with gusts of up to 80 knots. Hence our early arrival and once past Cape Horn all the Tall Ships made haste to enter the more sheltered waters of the Beagle Channel. Being one of the smallest vessels in the fleet we were able to head due north through some narrow passages into the Beagle Channel. To acheive this with an increasing wind from the North West we had to go aloft and tightly stow the square sails and set the iron topsail. (Use the engine to motor into the wind.) This meant that I got the chance to go aloft and work on the sails in sight of Cape Horn. I love working aloft and so to do this in such a famous place was the icing on the cake for me. Sailing on Europa is brilliant where  ever you are, going into the rigging and working the sails is the essence of tall ship sailing and to do this round Cape Horn was one of the most memorable dyas of my life.

If you are now fired up to be more than an armchair sailor we have lots of opportunities for you to be crew on barque Europa.

See  for 5 to 53 day voyages on Europa from tall ships races in the Great Lakes to Northern Hemisphere to South Hemisphere Ocean epics. Follow the link for voyage details:

Barque Europa Voyages 2010 and 2011

Our full schedule - UK and Worldwide - All Vessels - in one printable pdf document 

In the Chilean Channels

Captains log 25th of March 2010

After our Sail Parade of Cape Horn all the tall ships try to sail as quickly as possible into the protection of the Islands again. The forecast posts warnings for gusty squalls up to 80 knots per hour and a little bit of protection from this weather through the archipelago is most welcome.

In the afternoon the winds are increasing to 9 Beaufort and the sea appears to be smoking as the seawater is lifted from the waves by the wind in a whirling way; Tough times for the lookouts on the forecastle. The islands are protecting us from the high seas and rolling swell, and that keeps the cooks happy down below. An upright and stable EUROPA makes their work a lot easier.

Late in the evening the many lights of Ushuaia pass on our starboard side and it seems our EUROPA feels difficulty in not turning to the quayside where we have stayed so many times the last 10 years.

But now for the first time, we carry on to the West in the narrowing Beagle Channel where the mountains are getting higher and higher. The wind dies down to a breeze and above our heads big holes in the clouds show us the bright southern cross and many other stars.

At 4 o' clock in the morning we let go our port anchor in a small bay close to a glacier with the name Holanda. Being a Dutch ship we think we should check this out. In Holland glaciers are rare these days.

As dawn breaks through the surrounding sights assure us that we hit a good spot for a morning walk.
Dead calm waters reflect a pebble beach and green Lenga forest. Above that spread the many intense blue colours of the glacier, topped with the mountains covered in fresh white snow. It looks like paint pattern card of what nature can produce on colours around here.

Soon you can see small brightly coloured people walking through this painting, which seems to give the right proportions between man and nature.

Ships Dog Sails Around Cape Horn for 'Walkies'

For me it is also a good opportunity to have a stroll on the beach; the excuse is that I must walk our new ship's dog, Sirius. On his first day at sea he rounded the Horn-there is not many that can say that-but he was now ready for a good walk.

From time to time we saw square-riggers passing behind the anchored EUROPA and it looked if we where in a time-machine and lost our way in time. Everything looked as if it had always been like this.

Before lunch we heave anchor and steam through the mirrored waters of the NW-ly arm of the Beagle Canal, our destination is the Garibaldi Fjord. The landscape reminds me of the Norwegian West Coast. The only thing missing in this picture are the little houses and villages. It looks like a landscape without human influence. Beautiful.

In the dead end of the fjord there are 3 glaciers creeping down like big snakes in between the mountains. The loud thundering noises try to tell us that they are really alive and moving.

Our ship drifts slowly through the glacier-ice infested waters to a big mountainside cave. Jordi, our Chilean guide, ferries the whole voyage crew in zodiacs to the cave where they make a toast on good weather and a healthy future for man and nature. The first is already a fact for this day.

Especially when after dusk the waxing face of the moon shows it self in-between the 8,000-ft. high peaks of the Darwin range. If you could see this view on a picture, you would certainly think of kitsch or Photoshop.

But it is our reality, although I admit that it is wonderfully surreal.

Alles Wel



Ice Choked Fjords, 2 Chilean Pilots and a Myriad of Channels

Bark Europa Mates Log - 31st March 2010

We continue our journey. When you look at the chart, it's just a muddle of channels and lakes; dead ends of water and many small islands. To get to our next destination, we have to go around the Darwin Mountains and after that, we will stick our noses into the Pacific Ocean. We do this after we have left the Brecknock Channel (Charted by Fitzroy in 1830 and named after Count Brecknock). Only a very small piece of open ocean on our journey, but according to our Pilots, a treacherous piece due to the especially steep and high waves that can occur here. Luckily we did not experience it as such, only the rains did not hide.

We roll our way up the Chanel Magdalena. All of these lakes and channels are surrounded by mountains, glaciers and hills saturated with forest. Here and there, you can see very clearly, how the glaciers have receded and have left behind deep valleys with polished rock surfaces. Also in the lakes and rivers you can see these gorges as it may, but only on the surface echo.

On the 26th in the evening we are passing the narrowest part of Canal Gabriel. A narrow of about 1 cable (+/- 180 meter) in width. We fit just perfectly through. The channel is also called the Canal Cascada, because there are so many waterfalls originating from the glaciers. We are underway to Seno Sucio. Sucio translated freely means dirty, not by garbage, but from the sediment coming out underneath the glaciers. The water there was really a bit murky. We spent the night here with 3 shackles in the water. During the night, the wind came around and is now from the west.

On the morning of the 27th we are heaving anchor and making sail to steer towards the east. Today we are proceeding about 40 miles along the Fjord Amirantazgo. We are underway to Ainsworth Bay, where we are searching for sea elephants. Ainsworth Bay is a beautiful place, not alone for the invitation of fresh fish and Jacobs mussels, but also because the low mountains and the low islands make for peaceful scenery. In previous times there was a big glacier. This one is so far receded that the dam of the glacier, the only proof that Ventisquero Marinelli was a huge ice-tongue is far from the water. After all our explorers have returned, the boats are hoisted and are safely secured on deck. We then heave anchor and sail peacefully under full spread of canvas into the night.

Our plan is to go to Parry Bay the following day, the 28th of March. This bay is not very well charted and therefore a challenge for the pilots. Two arms run into the bay, an east and west arm. Where these two come together we have to take extra care because here the water depth changes from 200 in a strait line up to 20 meters or possiblely even less. The guide, Jordi, recommends the west arm but this one is full of ice from the glacier. But this is not a new experience for Europa. By the time we reach the end of the west arm Mount Darwin rises in front of us. Here we also suffer from the catabatic winds and Europa is pushed hard to the side. However the direction of the wind is perfect to leave the west arm under sail. But first, before setting the lower topsails, we make an imprint in our memory of the beautiful scene. After we passed the shallow of the two arms we continue to fill the mast with sails as we make way for our next stop, the albatross colony. Jordi worked with this colony and explains to us very enthusiastically many of its marvels. At 17:30 everybody sits in the Zodiacs again and we are underway for new little adventure. Although is late in the season there are still five almost fully grown chicks on the nests. This colony was only discovered in 2003 to give you an idea how remote this nesting site is. The charts on which we are sailing show fjords where the glaciers have recently receded so far that the area at their feet is not charted. Therefore we don't know the depth. It is seldom that we will encounter any other vessels.

We sail through the night. For today, the 29th of March, it is done with the peacefull silence of sailing, no engines. We are heading for Punta Arenas.

Magellan Strait & Tall Ship Parade of Sail

 In 1848 it was a military settlement. But with the introduction of the "White Gold", the sheep that can withstand the harsh climate, imported from the Falklands it all changed. Rich Europeans came down and bought large pieces of land, built big villas and kept large herds of cattle. In the 1960 the Chilean government re-regulated the land and some of the Estancias were broken up and the lands better divided. Nowadays Punta Arenas also has large fish market, oil and gas.

The morning treats us with a beautiful beginning. Lovely fresh breeze through Paso Whiteside. The moon sets on port and the sun is announcing its coming on starboard. We turn to port after the North Cape of Isla Dawson and enter the Strait of Magalhanes. This stretch is called Paso Ancho. 30 more miles and then we will see Punta Arenas. The coastline is filled with little shipyards.

At 15:00 we moor and at 18:00 everything is shipshape. We are together with the Libertad (Argentina) and the Gloria (Colombia) on one quae. The Chilean navy has taken good care of us. We have telephones and an internet sticky, shuttles to town.

On the 30th everybody leaves for town. We do a bit of harbor jobs and have open ship so the Punta Arenians can have a look onboard. Some of our crewmembers are considered very handsome and Sirius is having lots of fun running on the beach!

31st of March, back to work. Today we will do a parade of sail along the coast line. At 07:00 we cast off and have to wait on a specific spot till 11:00. From there we go one by one, in line, south with a nice north-westerly wind. We wave goodbye to passing vessels and then blow the horn.

From Europa we greet you and till the next log.

Marteyn Blok

Tall Ships Race Armada Sud America - Adam's Blog

The final part of a fantstic voyage from Ushuaia to Valpariaso was to take part in a Tall Ships Race form Talcauhuna to Valparaiso. However due to the recent earth quake in Chile on February it was not possible to go into the port itself as it had been severly damaged by the quake. To overcome this the Race was due to start at sea on Tuesday 8th of April at 3pm. Europa was spot on and arrived at 1-45pm as requested by the Race Committee.

Slow Start - Manyana Race !

All eleven tall ships were present and all hands fully organised to set full sail and start the Race; the only thing missing was the wind.

Firstly the Race was delayed for 1 hour, then another hour, another hour and by 6pm all the Captains were called aboard Libertad for a confeence to decide what to do. Klass and Chrisistana, as translator, were picked up by a high speed rib and whisked off to the Captains Conference and speculation filled the scuttlebut with ideas of what decision should be made. By 8pm we got the answer that the Race was postpooned until 9am the following morning but the start line had  been moved 60 miles further north towards Valparaiso. Overnight we slowly motored the 60 miles north and were ready for the 9am start. Guess what? No wind. So we waited and the start time got put back, to 10, 11,12, 1pm 2pm 3pm 4pm and then what. We then got a new decision the Race was postponed until 9am the following morning but the start line had been moved 50 miles further north towards Valparaiso. Some wag amongst the crew suggested we rename the race the Armada Manyana Race

Stunsails & Skysails

Overnight we started to slowly motor north but by 5am there was sufficient wind to sail the last miles to the 9am start line in position 34 degrees 30 minutes South of the Equator and thirty three nautical miles due west of the coast of Chile. It was a beautiful moring with the sun coming up in the in the east below the trailing edge of the weather system that had killed the wind for the last 2 days. The Tall ships were setting sails and manouvering for the start line. As we were so far from the shore there were no sightseer boats getting in the way or spoiling the view. Europa Crossed the line at 0905hrs in the middle of the fleet. We had all our square sails set on the fore and main mast, from the top down, skysails, royals, topgallants, upper topsails, lower topsails and course. All four head sails were set, flying jib, inner and outer jibs plus the staysail.All the between mast staysails except the mizzen staysail which was replaced by the `Desmond``. The mizzen gaff and gaff topsail were also set. To starboard on the foremast we had stunsails set aloft and alow, namely the lower stunsail, the upper stunsail and the topgallant stunsail though it is hung from the royal yard.

The wind was from the SSE force 2, still light but enough to sail with a long swell coming from the SW and about ten seconds between peaks raising to a  height of 4 meters on a big swell. The light airs at the start of the Race helped Europa stay in contact with the fleet all of which were larger vessels with longer waterline length that makes for faster ships. But as the wind picked up we saw the fastest vessels drawing well ahead of us until the Cisne Branco was hull down over the horizon. As the wind picked up it also veered from the SE to the South and to maintain the same starboard tack we graduallly came onto a course of about 050 that headed us towards the land.

The wind rose to a steady Force 5 with gusts to F7 and at one point the Upper Stunsail boom shot inboard as it's outhaul had worked loose. Luckily no damage occured at it was quickly reset. By nightfall we at the back of the fleet but still in touch with two or three of the other ships. Getting the stunsails down in the dark on a rising wind was quite an adventure and just in time for us to wear ship (gybe) as we appraoched the shore line off San Antonio. At 2200hrs we set the new course to 350 degrees with the wind now from SSW Force 6. By 0100hrs on the 10th we were far enough off shore to wear ship again and set a new course of 050 degrees heading for the finish line.

As the race was such a short period I had stayed up all day from the previous 4am so it was considerable tiredness but great excitement that we crossed the finish line in the dark at 0306, at total of 16 hours and 1 minute. The Race support vessel, a Chilean frigate, light the finsh line with a strong search light and Klaas set of Europa's loud and deep sounding horn, that got the some of the crew up fast. It took us just 40 minutes with one watch and a few volunteers to put all the square sails in there gear, ie hauled up to the yards by the clues and buntlines but not tired up with sail gaskets. The head sails were handed, brought down and tied securley to the bowsprit. The tween sails and mizzen gaff and gaff topsail were also put away and secured.  Whilst we were stowing the sails we had started the engine and were heading into Bahia Laguna Verde were we dropped anchor in relatively calm waters at 0350hrs. A short but exhilarating race in excellent weather and the worst we can do is come third as there were only three ships in our class. But we all won a wonderful sail to end a great voyage.

Blog from Adam Purser of Classic Sailing on Barque Europa 8-4-2010


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