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Rounding the horn, what’s the big deal?

Heck, Captain Joseph Holmes rounded it 84 times, how bad could it be? Between 1850 and 1900 at least 100 ships were lost with all hands.  That’s a lotta ships.

Until the Panama Canal was built (1914), ships moving from Atlantic to Pacific had to go around the tip of South America…..passing through the most intense part of the Southern Ocean.  If you look at a globe from the bottom, you’ll see that the southern parts of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans converge around Antarctica.  There, the winds whip around the earth unimpeded by any land mass.  They create massive waves and ridiculously treacherous conditions.

Between 1850 and 1900 at least 100 ships were lost with all hands.  That’s a lotta ships.

AND…it’s freezing cold, often fraught with intense storms, riddled with icebergs and not accessible to any civilization or sheltered ports of significance.  PLUS they get things called “rogue waves” (yes, they are a thing), that can come from nowhere and be 100 feet tall.  Other cool factoids about rounding the horn:

  • Consistently the strongest winds of any area on earth
  • Southern Ocean latitudes are known as the “roaring 40s”
  • Drake passage is even more dangerous because wind funnels between Antarctica and South America, the closest point of any continent to Antarctica
  • Sailors that Round the Horn west to east can pierce the left ear with gold ring
  • Select elite yacht races still include a horn rounding even to this day

For a unique walking tour, food tour, historic tour or guided tour of Mystic, Stonington or Noank, please contact [email protected] the founder of Mystic Revealed.