Below 40° South

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A Solo Voyage To The Dark Side of The Moon
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Howard’s Statement

Thanks to those folks here who have expressed good wishes and opinions whether positive or negative. Here are a few facts and then I don't have much else to say really as respectfully I do not feel I owe anyone an explanation about anything I am doing or have done in boats.

No one need be in support of my voyage as I did not ever ask for support.

But for the record:

I did not voyage in an irresponsible manner. Respectfully I don't care if people shoot at what I am doing or armchair with opinions, we are all entitled to them. There may be folks out there who might feel justified and fulfilled in their view of "I told you so, I knew this would be a disaster", too bad for them and fine with me. My voyage is not and has not been a disaster. A voyage cannot be judged by one day, it in my mind has to be seen as a whole. Is the climber on Everest who cannot summit a disaster? I don't think so. I set no lofty objective or stated goal other than to explore into the southwest islands of Tierra del Fuego and this I have accomplished and am planning to continue.

I set out to accomplish nothing more than this. Most importantly I set out to live more fully, explore a little and to challenge my skills and in the process grow and learn. Through this learning I hoped to become a better sailor and I am now a better sailor. The day of days is now in my personal experience file and I find it to be highly valuable. Few people have experienced what I experienced and I can perhaps help others by what I have learned. For example I know I can help In Reach Delorme make a better device and plan to write to them.

  1. My voyage, my responsibility and in the end my joy and I mean I had and am having an astounding, wonderful and challenging experience. It is not by any means finished.
  2. Four days ago I was officially told a Chilean hydrographic study of the region has shown between a 40% and 60% increase in kelp in the past 20 years. I have sailed safely and without incidence through the region and rounded Cape Horn in a far more fragile boat and in the process understood the kelp. I have sailed in kelp in many places but here, this time I realized I had my hands full once I exited the Strait of Magellan. I made my plans based on what I knew of the region and I just didn't know there was such an increase in kelp beds, never occurred to me that there would be. Is this an oversight? Of course but I figured my way through it as best I could. The Armada and the local fishing fleet have serious challenges with the kelp outgrowth. It is speculated that the out growth may be due to ocean warming, who knows.
  3. Small does not necessarily equate with being unseaworthy. I was able to access areas and anchorages no larger boat could have ever seen. The feeling of sailing a small wooden boat of my hand down the Strait of Magellan and through Tierra del Fuego was and is astoundingly satisfying. I loved every minute of it (well almost;-)
  4. Cyclonic wins events are very very rare here but they occur. The fisherman who I will be departing with today to retrieve my boat owns a small sailboat in Pt Williams and he has also experienced the cyclonic winds once. His boat barely made it and it is a small keel boat. I equate what happened to me as being similar to a well prepared, fit mountain climber who gets hit by an avalanche. It happens.
  5. I was well equipped, lived large aboard my small boat, ate well, read good books as I patiently waited for weather windows, which was the strategy I employed.
  6. No one here is angry at me, there have been two newspaper stories, both positive.
  7. Calling for help is a first for me but I had no choice after being blown off of my boat by a cyclone during the righting process. I was well prepared to survive and I did. I was in the water for a long time and my Ocean Rodeo dry suit was the right tool. When it was time to call for help I did not hesitate.
  8. No one was put in danger coming to get me. The patrol boat was by chance an hour away heading my way and for Punta Arenas and had ended up hiding out (actually circle motoring) from the same cyclonic winds. The captain informed me they clocked sustained 72 knot winds and they witnessed the cyclones I witnessed. If I had been anchored in a larger boat I wonder if I would have made it at all. Juan my friend at Nao Victoria who grew up on the shore of the Strait of Magellan told me these cyclonic winds have actually crushed big fishing boats. Large sail and power boats are lost here all the time, there were two in December and another at the same time as my situation.
  9. I met and exceeded every Armada safety requirement and was told I was better equipped than many of the yachts they inspect in the zarpe process. They turn down many, I was not turned down.
  10. Why would I sail in such a place in a small boat? Because I wanted to. I knew the risks going in and I prepared for them but admittedly did not know of the kelp out growth.
  11. I do not have to answer to anyone but myself as I did not engage in pre voyage sponsorship. As I stated my idea, my voyage, my responsibility.
  12. I try to live my life fully and hope to never face the day when I am old looking back and regretting I did not live or take a few chances in life. I am simply living out my vision.
  13. I am happy now, whether I have my boat or not. I was happy beyond words during the voyage in spite of the challenges. I was prepared to lose my boat, any sailor should be regardless of the size or type of boat. Boats are just things and things don't matter.

In closing

I am fulfilling a personal vision. There are people in this precious life we are given who dream but never do. I hope they are happy. I see the world this way. There are millions of people where 1+1 simply has to equal 2 and we need them to keep everything running.

There are far fewer people for whom 1+1=3 or more (innovators, adventurers, artists, thinkers, innovators, folks with crazy ideas (crazy until they work). I linger on the edges of 1+1=3, in fact I aspire to be in this group in much that I do. I admire those in both groups but for sure those who try, who innovate, who take chances, who define their lives and go after their dreams, who fulfill their personal visions and personal inner life legends.

I had a dream, I built a 12 foot boat, I shipped it to Patagonia, I sailed the Strait of Magellan, I explored a big chunk of the islands of Tierra del Fuego, I faced down a day of days and I am so glad to have the opportunity to do this. I have seen things that are so beautiful they almost brought tears to my eyes.

I am alive because I saved my life. The Armada did not save my life, I did by persevering in the hour and a half I was in the water. I could have survived alone on Georgiana with my ditch bag and capsized boat nearby but thought given my condition I should call for help while I could because to have waited until I was perhaps in worse condition would have complicated everything and perhaps put others in danger. The Armada personnel who came to shore to pick me up were never in danger. It was a non event of sorts. I walked to their small boat with a little assistance.

I thought I may have been able to wait out the weather and somehow get to my boat, the food, beach and right her and and and but in the end I made the right decision. I was obligated as all yachts are who sail Chilean waters to report in each day and give detail of my situation. I believe if I had persevered on and informed the Armada of my situation and wish so solider on they would have come any way. They are admirable as a navy and take no chances with life.

I am far from done and now that I am feeling better am eagerly looking forward to todays departure south again and what the next weeks bring.

I write these words with the greatest respect for all reading here.

Howard Rice