Marco Nannini on the GOR: Cruising Le Maire

Marco Nannini on the GOR: Cruising Le Maire

Monday February 27 2012 Author: Marco Nannini Location: none selected

If rounding the horn is the accepted "cool dude" turning point, I feel much better now that we are finally sailing in the Atlantic. After Cape Horn we headed north towards the Strait of Le Maire, between the Tierra del Fuego and the Isla De Los Estatos which marks the gate that opens into the Atlantic leaving the Southern Ocean behind. The strait has a bit of a reputation for its strong currents and overfalls so much so that most yachts racing up this way tend to pass to the outside and east of the Isla De Los Estatos. We figured we had good weather and could do with some sightseeing after so many days with just water around us.

Sighting land was quite special, these are stretches of land you only get to read about in books and that I will probably never see again unless I do another yacht race around the world! The steep cliffs of the Tierra del Fuego are snowcapped even now, in summer, and everything looks quite wild and barren.

We had absolutely no information about these tricky currents so I had to ask a friend to google some information and send it over. I cant say the extract from the pilot was very clear and we couldnt even tell how strong the currents would be, 3,5,7 knots? So we decided to call up on VHF one the two large fishing vessels we could see on the AIS screen, the one I called was heading for Ushuaia so I thought they maybe local. The captain was very helpful and after some time converting times across time zones we found out we had struck luck, the tide was just about to become favourable so we kept going towards the strait. The current increased steadily until it reached nearly 5 knots, good job we didn't arrive at the wrong time of the day, the wind was so light that there's no way we could have gone against the flow. A few hours later we had be spat out into the Atlantic and as the current faded away we drifted slowly for a while before a gentle wind started to fill the sails.

We now have some rather tricky weather for the final stretch to Punta del Este but hopefully as long as we keep moving along we should get to some proper south american steak in a week or so, 1150 miles to go!

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