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Old 28-03-2012, 13:39   #1
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Cape Horn - Best Time to Sail

In the end of April our crew (4 persons) is going to make world-round trip starting from Germany, and we'd like to sail around Cape Horn.
If we head for South America, we'll be there approximately in June-July. And if we destine for Africa, we'll be near Cape Horn in November-December.

What is the best time to sail? Does anybody round Cape Horn during these two periods? What difficulties will we face?

Any information would be so greatly apreciated...
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Old 28-03-2012, 18:54   #2
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Re: Cape Horn - best time to sail

Simon:
Usually sailboats going to Ushuaia will arrive here in Buenos Aires in mid-October, to make here the final adjustment before going south. Here are in few kilometers all services, sails, motor, electronics, etc.
The ideal is arrive Ushuaia in mid-December, at the time there are many hours of sunlight, better temperature and more likely to north wind.
In June-July there is little sunshine, wind against, wind and water ice. Only for Superman.
If you are interested I can send information of the alternative ports to the south, where to get the weather forecast, alerts about Malvinas, or where to moor your boat here. Also I made one nautic guide of Brasil, may be useful for you.

Wetdoc, from Buenos Aires
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Old 28-03-2012, 19:21   #3
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Re: Cape Horn - best time to sail

Common sense calls for rounding Cape Horn should be during the southern hemisphere's summer. The almost-summer (December) I was there the seas were calm, although somewhat foggy.
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Old 29-03-2012, 11:39   #4
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Re: Cape Horn - best time to sail

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wetdoc View Post
Simon:
Usually sailboats going to Ushuaia will arrive here in Buenos Aires in mid-October, to make here the final adjustment before going south. Here are in few kilometers all services, sails, motor, electronics, etc.
The ideal is arrive Ushuaia in mid-December, at the time there are many hours of sunlight, better temperature and more likely to north wind.
In June-July there is little sunshine, wind against, wind and water ice. Only for Superman.
If you are interested I can send information of the alternative ports to the south, where to get the weather forecast, alerts about Malvinas, or where to moor your boat here. Also I made one nautic guide of Brasil, may be useful for you.

Wetdoc, from Buenos Aires
It would be very helpful if you provide some information of some ports to the south.
We made a decision to sail around Cape Horn in June, so any information about where to get weather forecast and alerts is needed.

What are the chances of running into an iceberg during this period?
Does anybody sail around Cape Horn starboard during this period?
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Old 29-03-2012, 11:43   #5
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Re: Cape Horn - Best Time to Sail

you can get a book on Amazon that covers the info you need.
Amazon.com: Cape Horn: The Logical Route ; 14,216 Miles Without Port of Call (9781574091540): Bernard Moitessier: Books
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Old 29-03-2012, 12:25   #6
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Re: Cape Horn - best time to sail

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We made a decision to sail around Cape Horn in June, so any information about where to get weather forecast and alerts is needed.

Honestly, not a great idea. You do realize that is mid-winter?

We have spent two winters in the beagle, near the horn. There are not many people sailing down there during the winter for good reason.

The days will be relatively short (9 hours of sunlight) and it will be cold - the surface 2cm of so of many anchorages that have fresh water running into them will freeze over night. The gale frequency is about 4 times higher in June vs January.

In terms of weather - you have three options and should have at least two of them - gribs, sat C, and weather fax (chile puts out adqueate weather fax charts). During the summer there is usually an SSB cruiser net with weather info but it is often shut down in the winter.

What are the chances of running into an iceberg during this period?

Not very high. But #1 as I said above, the surface of many anchorages will freeze over night, and #2 there will be iceburgs in the channels near the glaciers - they might occasionally close some of the channels and you will probably not be able to get anywhere near the glaciers.

Does anybody sail around Cape Horn starboard during this period?

A very few of us have been crazy enough to do it, but it is not common or typical.

Some people have is a theory that it is easier going North up the channels to Puerto Montt during the winter, and the winds have a somewhat more favorable direction - but that is traded-off with the shorter days and frozen anchorages.
By the way Patagonia and Tierra Del Fuego Nautical Gde 2nd ed is the bible for cruising down there. You should get a copy - it will answer all your questions about anchorages and weather and seasons.
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Old 29-03-2012, 14:35   #7
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Re: Cape Horn - best time to sail

Thanks a lot for the information.
We do realize the difficulty of sailing during the winter, and we want to make all the preparations that is necessary to make our trip more safe and comfortable.
I'll try to get these books before the beginning of our journey.
I think we'll sail from Ushuaia to Valparaiso by the ocean (not channels), and then move to Isla de Pascua.
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Old 29-03-2012, 17:35   #8
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Re: Cape Horn - Best Time to Sail

You want to be at Cape Horn in the (austral=Southern) summer. This is when the weather in the Southern hemisphere is mildest.

Austral winter is a bad time to sail in the Southern Ocean - the weather is more violent, it is colder and in effect you may be forced to sail further N - closer to the Equator - which makes passing any of the three capes a far more difficult, and likely a dangerous, task.

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Old 29-03-2012, 18:57   #9
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Re: Cape Horn - best time to sail

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Originally Posted by Simon_Ivanov View Post
Thanks a lot for the information.
We do realize the difficulty of sailing during the winter, and we want to make all the preparations that is necessary to make our trip more safe and comfortable.
I'll try to get these books before the beginning of our journey.
I think we'll sail from Ushuaia to Valparaiso by the ocean (not channels), and then move to Isla de Pascua.
Cape Horn -- Safe and comfortable. I don't think you will have those especially in the winter.
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Old 29-03-2012, 21:16   #10
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Re: Cape Horn - Best Time to Sail

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What difficulties will we face?
Just think what it is like to sail in the North Atlantic at 57N in mid-winter - and it will be a bit worse because there is no gulf stream to warm things up.

It will be cold and you will need a good heating system and enough fuel to be able to run it most of the time.

One thing to be aware of is condensation:

I don't know the Hanse 545 very well. It appears to have cored decks but solid fiberglass hull - is that correct? If so, you will have a lot of condensation on the hull insides - and should see what you can do about insulating them in some way - people use carpet or bubble wrap.

The frames of aluminum ports and hatches also drip condensation. It is common to either screw very thin Plexiglas covers over the inside (I am not talking about storm covers on the outside) to create a 'heat trap' which eliminates the condensation. You can also use cling film and double sided tape - works well but does not look as nice.

The Hanse has a big rig - make sure you have deep reefs and some good storm sails.


Going west around the horn is going upwind. So, your sails need to be in excellent shape, including when reefed.

Your cockpit is going to be brutal without a good size dodger, but a cloth/stainless tube one might well get crushed by waves. Most of the regular boats down there have hard dodgers or pilot houses.

You need warm clothing. Real seaboots (not yachting boots). The regulars down own there wear Dunlop Purofort Thermo+. Drysuits are excellent and better than the normal yachting foulwether gear (note all the volvo guys are wearing drysuits in the tough conditions). Gloves are hard - there is not really any perfect solution, so you just need a couple different kinds. Everyone has a different favorite hat - just make it warm and mostly water resistant.

I suspect when you get to Ushuaia and talk to folks about the options, you will decide to go up the channels rather than going outside. If you do the channels you need a big anchor and 4 100m floating shore lines and a kelp cutting knife (serrated stainless knife mounted on a long [pole to cut kelp off the anchor chain). It you do the channels in the winter, a small stainless plate mounted at the bow waterline would help prevent ice damage to the hull.

It would be very helpful to have someone on boat who spoke a little Spanish.

It is certaintly possible, but I hope you and your crew are tough, as it will be an adventure.
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Old 30-03-2012, 08:27   #11
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Re: Cape Horn - Best Time to Sail

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It is certaintly possible, but I hope you and your crew are tough, as it will be an adventure.
Thanks a lot for your advices, I appreciate your concern very much.
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