The day after rounding the horn the wind died and left me becalmed. At this point in the trip (due to a general lack of diesel) if there’s no wind then I have no choice but to drift aimlessly. I sat there becalmed for a couple hours, and then I remembered that Don Backe gave me a bottle of champagne for the horn. I was too busy to drink it the day I rounded the horn but since I was going to be becalmed for 12 hours I thought it would be a good time to have a drink. As I sat there thinking about how long it’s been since I had a carbonated beverage an Albatross swam up to the boat and circled St Brendan just a few feet distant for a good 45 minutes. Albatross are too curious to be afraid. After my friend left two dolphins showed up and stayed for a half hour. I never would have guessed that dolphins traveled this far south but there they were. So I spent the evening no more the 60 miles east of the horn drifting around drinking champion and hanging out with the local wildlife. The next morning the wind picked back up slowly out of the west and I was able to sail through the day until I was 10 miles east of staton island, then again the wind died. I got a little sleep and woke up to an incredible site. At this time of year the sun only sets for a couple of hours but even when it has set you can still see some reds and oranges in the sky as the sunset never goes away. So I awoke at 1:30am again drifting aimlessly and stepped out into my cockpit as the sun began to rise. The water was near flat calm and I was surrounded by hundreds of birds of all varieties. I even had a few Magellanic penguins swimming circles around my boat and to top it off a whale appeared less the fifty feet away. It was as if all the local wildlife had come to visit all at once. It was even unusually warm and dry with a distinct fresh smell in the air. I sat in the cockpit and watched one of the most beautiful sunrises ever, surrounded by birds not far from a dramatic desolate island feeling a sense of absolute peace and tranquility. It was one of the most incredible mornings of my entire life. I assure you my words give such beauty no justice. Being that I was in such dangerous waters made it seem that much more unreal. The beauty you will find at the extreme ends of the earth is far greater than any tropical island near the equator. The danger is greater but so is the reward.
There’s a lot to be said about being at the right place at the right time of year. Four years ago before my first single-handed Trans-Atlantic, I spent a great deal of time studying pilot charts for the north Atlantic. I realized that the first two weeks of July had the calmest weather of the year (least amount of gales). So while planning for this trip I thought that the first two weeks of January would be similar in the southern hemisphere. So my good weather was part strategy and part luck. Don’t get me wrong you can get nasty weather by Cape Horn any time of the year. The incredible light winds lasted 5 days which is rather unbelievable. I had mixed feeling about the situation. On one hand I had beautiful blue skies, warm weather and calm gentle seas. On the other hand I was very anxious to head north and get out of the fifties. The bottom line is if there is no wind, theres no wind and St. Brendan gets reduced to a 27 foot piece of flotsam.
So here I sit becalmed and drifting for the fifth day. I just can’t believe these light winds and have begun to find them most irritating. I’m starting to feel like I’m back in the doldrums. This too shall pass and it looks like a gale is around the corner. Better a gale then to be becalmed for a sixth and seventh day. It looks like my trip north is going to be a bit more complicated then I originally hoped. At any rate I will head east northeast now while I still have the westerly winds to 45 south 30 west. The coast of Brazil continues east all the way to 35 west. As I get north the winds will be east and north east, so I need to make my easting now while I can. I’ll just be happy when the wind returns to normal and I can start making good time again. Back in the Atlantic!! again.