Sea History 070 - Summer 1994

Page 14

road, noticed this and culties. A clear dawn and serene morning can made much of it as a hallgive way to calamitous mark of a real sailor. He said that this topmost yard conditions by midday . drew the sailor's eye and And to put a final twist lifted his heart. And tough in the situation, early t:: navigators noted that oldArchieHorka,thefirst ~ they weren ' t getting to actual sailor I talked with ~ windward even as well who had shipped out of ..J SouthStreettowardCape ~ as their poor, ill -found C5 ships would normally Hom, remembered vivi;; take them. The reason idly how as a homesick ~ for this is that there is a youth wandering on an ~ steady eastward drift of Australian waterfront, he :;: spied the skysail yard on o.. the whole body of wathe barkentine Forest Bound for Cape Horn, Francis Drake's Pelican stands southward off Patagonia, ter between Cape Hom Dream. On the spot he following her consort Elizabeth. The Pelican, re-named Golden Hind, was the and Antarctica 500 chose that ship and no first ship to round the Horn , in 1578. miles to the south . A sailing ship fi ghting for each mile of windward progress finds other to ship aboard and come home. And why not? It was a dog's life anyway, life before the the rug continuously pulled from under her at a rate of about mast in these compellingly beautiful ships . Why not go in a knot and a half, or nearly 40 sea miles in the 24-hourday. (A style? Join me in my journey to search out what happened on sea mile is longer than a landsman 's mile, measuring 6020 the Cape Hom road, reader, and where, if anywhere, it led rather that 5280 feet.) And , of course, Cape Hom is miles from anywhere, with no besides the horrors of sailortown San Francisco and other harbor at hand for shelter or seaport destinations- though none were quite like Frisco- The loss of ships and people on this road succor. Even today, with a Chilean weather station atop or the living death of guanowas heavy, beginning with Drake's its headland and with the readigg ing on the Cincha Isles sonably frequent passage of off Peru. You ' ll have to lay Marigold in 1578 ships of different nations to aside Marxian determinism, logical positivism, Jamesian pragmati sm and similar bang- nearby Antarctica, it is a lonely , treacherous and dangerous thump mechanica l ex planation s of human aspirations and comer of the ocean world. But it was a comer that had to be behavior to begin to understand what moved these men. turned. Until the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 (and You ' ll simply have to throw away thi s kind of unsailorly the opening of the Arctic passage by the steel-armored tanker baggage if you hope to share in what thi s awe-inspiring Manhattan in 1969), it was the only way to get past the long continental barrier of the Americas into the Pacific world. passage under sail was about. And the passage was accomplished by tall ships leaning on For with these ships and these people, we come close to the childhood of mankind , a childhood lived under wider ski es the wind , a long procession of them beginning with Drake ' s and in a more untamed environment than what we know today . Golden Hind and petering out only in recent times. The And mankind has grow n old enough and wise enough, or so conditions they met at Cape Hom became the stuff of overone can hope, to know how important those childhood years ni ght legend. The loss of ships and people on thi s road was heavy, beginning with Drake's Marigold in 1578, which went are to all that comes after. down with all her people within hailing distance of Drake's The Corner that Had to Be Turned own ship, and ending with Conditions off Cape Hom the loss of the well-found are awful, in the ancient " steel-hulled, radio-equipmeaning of the word- inspiring awe and fear beped Admiral Karpfanger ,eQRT STANCE' yond the bodily kind . in 1938-also lost with all -"¡¡ fALKLAND Is . Howling gales , "Cape hands , but without traceHom snorters," spring up and a countless hostofvesu sels and people of many at short notice from the \ \ nations in between. Sevwestward, the direction the \ eral high-tech multi-hulled Atlantic sailor has to go to r~/7I sailing yachts (fortunately get around the Hom. This "' I )'-, , j//,,r; I \ /,,..__ ,......_ equipped with the latest in makes the going extremely " ,(___ / I' ... _.!,-1-J-.,. ' v / lifesav ing devices) have tough for sailing ships, ~7: /~;-been lost on this passage which have to sail in zig- " r.==========;i ROUNDING CAPE HORN ( ' j' / in recent years, simply The PRIWALL's record in 1938 f T / I'- /~-A- - -I 7 zag tacks against a head 1 ,..1 7 _/__/ / \ 5 days 14 hours ----0-----. ' overwhelmed by the as1 M (I 1' / ,.. ..i. / wind, like a skier go ing up Compared with the SUSANNA \ / .J I I I t I !__ ,,, -' / sault of mountainous, una steep mounta in. The sud94 days in 1905 - - - - + \ I '--1 ,,....,...,,. \/ ;_,..., relenting seas. Choosing denness of change in the their weather to make the weather adds to the diffi"

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