The 36 metre polar exploration yacht Seamaster left Auckland on Saturday, 11 November 2000, headed for the notorious Cape Horn. On board with skipper Sir Peter Blake were her crew of seven, plus two special guests.
As we go to print they are in Drake Passage, 110 miles south east from Cape Horn, heading towards the Antarctic Peninsula.
They left Puerto Williams on the island of Navarino in Southern Chile on 10 January and motored eastwards down the Beagle Channel.
âThe Beagle Channel is a wondrous place,â said Sir Peter. âWe spent many days exploring the waterways and bays that indent everywhere. To round a corner of a narrow seno (fiord), with tall, snow-covered mountains on either side and beech forests down to the waters edge, and suddenly sight a number of glaciers coming right into the sea was something we will never forget.
We found fiords where there were none shown on the chart – up to two miles long. We anchored in bays rarely, if ever, visited by yachts before – pristine beyond description, although often with a beaver dam or two as evidence that all is not as it was.â
âWe watched, only metres from where we were tied to the trees, as condors and falcons raided the nests of the blue-eyed cormorants on a cliff faceâeating the unattended eggs and then scratching at the nests until they were nothing but scraps of grass in the sea below.â
Sir Peter and the crew are studying up on various subjects that they will then be required to be the resident expert on. Sir Peterâs speciality will be ice navigation, Ollie has chosen leopard seals, others have decided on the orca (killer whales), krill, phyto-plankton, penguins, ice-shelves, etc.
âWe are initially heading towards Hope Bay at the very north-east end of the Peninsula, with a stop at King George Island in the South Shetland Islands on the way there.â
See www.blakexpeditions.com to view their adventures.