A message for Mark from Henk de Velde

Golden Globe Race

‘Mark, I' follow you and the other entrants in the Golden Globe Race. You can’t receive my message, but sometimes I feel that I am on board with you at the sea that we both love. Because that is in the first instance what we are doing. As Bernard Moitessier once said;’ I live in the most beautiful country in the world; the sea.’. Mark you are now on your way to Cape Horn. As you also know, we are not in control. Fortunately, but sometimes we would like to. Cape Horn is located between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. Sometimes calm, often rough ... fair sailing, man ... once around that Cape , you're on your way home.
Greetings and see you soon. Henk’
from Henk de Velde’s book ‘De Zee Mijn Leven’  (The Sea My Life)

Cape Horn is between the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean. People claim that a number of miles from the coast awaits the devil with open mouth, a mouth of ferocious water and heavy chains, roaring wildly, pulling many a ship to himself. That is the suction power of the Horn. The front portal of hell. The opened mouth. These are strange things that mankind makes up.

I've already studied everything on the map. The long Chilean coast, the many inlets and fjords. An island, Diego Ramirez, lies at the extreme south of the bank. When the weather is good I’ll cross the bank between Cape Horn and Diego Ramirez. That’s sixty miles shorter and gives me the chance to see Cape Horn. I’m now at almost 57 degrees south, which is more southerly than the Cape, but I haven’t made my choice yet.

Then the gusts come through, first briefly, but then increasingly longer. Here the world is nothing but blazing foam. The whole sea turns white. We continue. The next front passes. We are flooded, the sea thunders us. I can’t believe it, just in front of Cape Horn, but must accept it. The boat works and drifts again and again with its bows from the waves. A green wave comes over the boat and the water flows inwards. Am I in charge of the situation? The port side is lifted. I look out of my dome and see a wall of water coming and ... "please” is all I can think.

The next morning the wind has dropped to 5. The sea is still breaking, but the power is gone. Then the birds and lots of species of seagulls come in all kinds of colors. It slowly gets dark and the sea is almost completely gone. A long swell rolls under the boat. There is a lighthouse on Ramirez and also on Cape Horn. Nobody lives on the islands, but there are lighthouse keepers who stay there for a while and then another lighthouse keeper will come.

 In the dark I see the lighthouse flashing. On the VHF I call on the guards, I do not expect an answer. But I get an answer and in my ‘broken’ Spanish I tell them about my journey and my beautiful ship and the dream of the Horn, Cabo de Hornos. They are more interested in me and want to know everything. Cape Horn is magic, after storms, after terrible seas.