Vintage Cape Horn 2013

An epic 6,000 kilometre adventure drive from Buenos Aires to Cape Horn through Argentina and Chile.

Day 19 - Punta Arenas to Rio Grande

The Ruta del Fin del Mundo -  Ruta 9 in plain speak was yesterday's travelling companion but today's route complete with sea voyage felt like much more of a final act. Our final day in Chile and our last border crossing.

So it was an early start after a restless and windy night for many of us, (dockside hotels can be restless and windy places). We had a boat to catch at 7.00am sharp. Breakfast was at 5.30am following which we headed straight to the ferry port some 8km away under the most spectacular full rainbow.

We were about to cross the straits of Magellan. A stretch of water linking the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. Ours was to be a two and a half hour voyage across a small but turbulent part of the inky black wastes of the southern ocean. An albatross wheeled overhead, a pod of dolphins provided us with an escort and although lookouts were posted at all four corners the whales which we knew were lurking somewhere below never actually surfaced.

Our vessel was the roll on roll off ferry Crux Australis with Captain Eduardo Leal at the helm. A mariner with 25 years under his lifebelt. We were in safe hands for the passage to Porvenir, a tiny windswept outpost of Chilean Tierra del Fuego.

We were the lucky ones, our boat sailed on time but all subsequent sailings were all cancelled due to the weather and despite the 'slight' movement of the boat upon the swell many of the crews used the times wisely catching up on sleep, playing cards or trying to keep down their breakfast.

Philippa Spilller probably didn't think she was so lucky to sail. She managed the latter but only just and looked very sick indeed and it took fully two more hours on land before her equilibrium returned.

Even on the short drive to the port however there were minor dramas played out. The Menteth Vauxhall was towed onto the ship because persons unnamed had left the fuel pump on whilst they were having breakfast and had flattened the battery. Nicholas Philips had changed the fuel filter last night but didn't change the seal meaning the Alvis didn't sound at all well as it chugged aboard but Rob Kitchen and Andy Inskip quickly had it sorted despite the pitching and rolling of the boat.

Upon disembarkation we enjoyed a stunning coastal road under clearing blue skies with just a hint of warmth in the sun. We swept up and down past signs warning us not to eat the shellfish, a number of tiny fishing settlements and vast empty estancias.

We crossed out last Rally border today, out of Chile and into Argentina and, as usual the pre planning and pre filling of the necessary forms by Alex the agent whisked us through in pretty quick order.

Once in Rio Grande there was a track session to finish the day off and give the podium hopefuls another chance to claw something back.

Tomorrow, the last day will come all too quickly for some but tonight there was some serious party time to be enjoyed. The hotel even laid on a disco for us with glitter balls, purple neon lights, a dance floor and complimentary white jumpsuits for those who hadn't packed their own ........

Fred Fangio


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