“Below 40, there is no Law. Below 50, there is no God.” They saying comes from Southern Ocean voyagers. The 40 is the Roaring Forties, the 50 the Furious Fifties. It’s a bo-ho line to use down at Ye Olde Yachte Clube when it’s raining outside and you want to lay some salty lingo on a dirt digger.
But damn, here I was in hurricane force winds and snow. At Latitude 54 South. Standing on Windora as she threatened to pound herself to splinters on a Southern Ocean rock….
If you ever had a wood boat die beneath your sea boots you’ll know the sickening the sound. The rise of the timber body. Up the face of the wave. And then your guts fly up as your body goes down with the wave and “Bammmm!” down on to the rock you go. The jolt up through your feet and the sound of wood fibers ripped apart and the whole things is going down with you inside.
That’s what I felt on Windora but it was never supposed to be this way.
Okay, maybe I need to catch you up to speed.
Last time I wrote you, I was sailing from the Falkland Islands to South Georgia with my friends Phil and Lynda aboard their 40 year old kauri wood ketch Windora. The plan was to sail the 800 miles to the Antarctic island. Spend a few months there. Then sail 2,800 miles across the Southern Ocean to Cape Town, South Africa.
This was just going to be a personal trip. A time of reflection. A chance to get back in to the wider world after taking care of my parents and, more recently, my aunt who was diagnosed with dementia. My brother and I wrapped up her affairs, sold her home and moved her back to native Switzerland.
There would be no book about this trip. No articles. No blog posts. Just a cold ocean ramble to South Georgia, a glacier covered island off Antarctic.
And for the first month and a half, things went according to Plan. Think South Georgia, and we’re talking glaciers, ice bergs, penguins and elephant seals. Here’s a sample of what we saw.
Then we had the encounter with The Rock.
For the impatient, here’s the video.
Up next, the blow-by-blow.
Where this story happened: