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Table of Contents
The need for boats and ships to round Cape Horn was greatly reduced by the opening of the Panama Canal in August However, sailing around the Cape Horn is still widely regarded as one of the major challenges in yachting. Thus a few recreational sailors continue to sail this route, sometimes as part of a circumnavigation of the globe.
Almost all of these choose routes through the channels to the north of the Cape. Many take a detour through the islands and anchor to wait for fair weather to visit Horn Island, or sail around it to replicate a rounding of this historic point. Speed records for round-the-world sailing are recognized for following this route.
It is located in Cabo de Hornos National Park. The cape lies within Chilean territorial waters, and the Chilean Navy maintains a station on Hoorn Island, consisting of a residence, utility building, chapel, and lighthouse. Cape Horn is the southern limit of the range of the Magellanic penguin. The climate in the region is generally cool, owing to the southern latitude.
There are no weather stations in the group of islands including Cape Horn; but a study in —, found an annual rainfall of 1, millimetres Winds were reported to average 30 kilometres per hour 8. Cloud coverage is generally extensive, with averages from 5. Many stories are told of hazardous journeys "around the Horn," most describing fierce storms.
See a Problem?
Charles Darwin wrote: "One sight of such a coast is enough to make a landsman dream for a week about shipwrecks, peril and death. Being the most southernmost point of land outside of Antarctica, the region experiences barely 7 hours of daylight during the June solstice, with Cape Horn itself having 6 hours and 57 minutes.
The region during the December solstice experiences around 17 and a half hours of daylight during the December solstice, and experiences nautical twilight from civil dusk to civil dawn. White nights can be observed the week around the December solstice. Cape Horn yields a tundra climate ET , with abundant precipitation—much of which falls as snow. Many modern tankers are too wide to fit through the Panama Canal, as are a few passenger ships and several aircraft carriers. But there are no regular commercial routes around the Horn, and modern ships carrying cargo are rarely seen.
However, a number of cruise ships routinely round the Horn when traveling from one ocean to the other.
Cape of Good Hope
Some of the small passenger vessels shuttling between Ushuaia and the Antarctic Peninsula will pass the Horn too, time and weather permitting. A number of potential sailing routes may be followed around the tip of South America. The Strait of Magellan , between the mainland and Tierra del Fuego, is a major—although narrow—passage, which was in use for trade well before the Horn was discovered.
The Beagle Channel named for the ship of Charles Darwin's expedition , between Tierra del Fuego and Isla Navarino , offers a potential, though difficult route.
All of these, however, are notorious for treacherous williwaw winds, which can strike a vessel with little or no warning;  given the narrowness of these routes, vessels have a significant risk of being driven onto the rocks. The open waters of the Drake Passage, south of Cape Horn, provide by far the widest route, at about kilometres miles wide; this passage offers ample sea room for maneuvering as winds change, and is the route used by most ships and sailboats, despite the possibility of extreme wave conditions.
Visiting Cabo de Hornos can be done on a day trip by helicopter or more arduously by charter power boat or sailboat, or by cruise ship. These winds are hazardous enough that ships traveling east would tend to stay in the northern part of the forties i. The strong winds of the Southern Ocean give rise to correspondingly large waves; these waves can attain great height as they roll around the Southern Ocean, free of any interruption from land.
At the Horn, however, these waves encounter an area of shallow water to the south of the Horn, which has the effect of making the waves shorter and steeper, greatly increasing the hazard to ships. If the strong eastward current through the Drake Passage encounters an opposing east wind, this can have the effect of further building up the waves. The prevailing winds and currents create particular problems for vessels trying to round the Horn against them, i.
This was a particularly serious problem for traditional sailing ships, which could make very little headway against the wind at the best of times;  modern sailing boats are significantly more efficient to windward and can more reliably make a westward passage of the Horn, as they do in the Global Challenge race. Although the ice limit dips south around the horn, icebergs are a significant hazard for vessels in the area. Even in February, the Horn is well below the latitude of the iceberg limit.
Two lighthouses are located near or in Cape Horn. The one located in the Chilean Navy Station is the more accessible and visited, and is commonly referred to as the Cape Horn lighthouse. On Cape Horn proper is a smaller 4-metre foot fiberglass light tower, with a focal plane of 40 metres feet and a range of about 21 kilometres 13 miles. Despite the opening of the Suez and Panama Canals, the Horn remains part of the fastest sailing route around the world, and so the growth in recreational long-distance sailing has brought about a revival of sailing via the Horn.
Owing to the remoteness of the location and the hazards there, a rounding of Cape Horn is widely considered to be the yachting equivalent of climbing Mount Everest, and so many sailors seek it for its own sake. Joshua Slocum was the first single-handed yachtsman to successfully pass this way in although in the end, extreme weather forced him to use some of the inshore routes between the channels and islands and it is believed he did not actually pass outside the Horn proper. If one had to go by strict definitions, the first small boat to sail around outside Cape Horn was the foot metre yacht Saoirse , sailed by Conor O'Brien with three friends, who rounded it during a circumnavigation of the world between and On March 31, , year-old Abby Sunderland became the youngest person to single-handedly sail around Cape Horn in her attempt to circumnavigate the globe.
In The British Cape Horn Expedition, headed by Nigel H Seymour, rounded Cape Horn in the world's first ever 'sailing kayaks' called 'Kaymaran' two sea going kayaks which could link together with two sails mountable in any four of the sailing positions between the two kayaks. Today, there are several major yacht races held regularly along the old clipper route via Cape Horn. Both of these are single-handed races, and are held every four years. The Volvo Ocean Race is a crewed race with stops which sails the clipper route every four years.
Its origins lie in the Whitbread Round the World Race first competed in — The Jules Verne Trophy is a prize for the fastest circumnavigation of the world by any type of yacht, with no restrictions on the size of the crew no assistance, non-stop. Finally, the Global Challenge race goes around the world the "wrong way", from east to west, which involves rounding Cape Horn against the prevailing winds and currents. The Horn remains a major hazard for recreational sailors, however. Hit by a rogue wave when approaching the Horn, the boat pitchpoled i. Although they survived, and were able to make repairs in Talcahuano , Chile, they attempted the passage again, only to be rolled over, and dismasted for a second time, by another rogue wave, which again they miraculously survived.
In September , Sir Francis Drake , in the course of his circumnavigation of the world, passed through the Strait of Magellan into the Pacific Ocean.