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Eye of the Wind - Newsletter No. 11

March 1991

"Grim, grey, cold, whipped bare by that unceasing savage westerly
wind hammered by sleet. Shrouded in scud. Echoing to Pacific
surges. Screams of penguins, albatross and seals - CAPE HORN.

There it is - a 1500 foot marker between two great oceans
coccyx of the continent's Andean spine".

Extract from "Fifty South to Fifty South" bv Warwick Tompkins in the schooner "Wanderbird".

His description is in the fore-front of our minds as we round the South West Cape. Tasmania's South Western wilderness lies in our wake - a favourable nor'westerly drives us forth, as the sheerwaters and albatross soar overhead whilst sunlight streams through the broken clouds and warms the rugged features of this rocky monolith.

Two niqhts previously, Denny King, of Melaleuca, commented that the physical outline of Cape Horn looked very similar to the South West Cape. and in fact, if anything, he said, Cape Horn had more foliage than its' Tasmanian counterpart. Denny flew around the Horn a few years back.

Whilst on one of her Australia-wide lecture tours, Kay Cottee, came aboard in Hobart and gave us her impressions of the conditions we were likely to experience. It is hard to realise that before the end of this vear, we too will follow the traditional route of the old sailing shins, when "Søren Larsen" and "Eye of the Wind" participate in "Homeward Round the Horn".

Since this project was launched in November 1990, considerable interest has been shown by the world's press and scientific organisations. Numerous scientific projects have been proposed and these will be undertaken by the trainees who sail aboard the two vessels.

The limited amount of berths on both vessels are being accepted by people of all nationalities who see this as a unique opportunity to fulfill the challenge of rounding the Horn beneath square sail. As we are combining "Homeward round the Horn" with the Columbus Quincentenary of 1992, "Eye of the Wind" will be absent from Pacific waters until January 1993. It is our intention to depart the UK in October 1992 and commence a vovage similar to those which we made in 1976 and 1981, via the Atlantic islands, Caribbean, Panama Canal and our old favourites Galapagos, Pitcairn (perhaps Easter Island) and other South Sea islands.

We must apologise to all of you who receive our newsletters for the long delay in getting this newsletter to print. As you can imagine, "Homeward Round the Horn" is a mammoth undertaking, so it has not been until these last few weeks that the project has become definitely viable. A search for a major sponsor is still under way, as well as for voyagers to participate in all legs of "Homeward Round the Horn" and the Columbus commemorative voyages.


Retracing last year's Pacific route, following our voyages to Pitcairn Island, the first port of call after leaving Rarotonga was Palmerston Atoll, Cook Islands. A unique series of islands with a population similar in number to Pitcairn. 'Masters' is the dominant surname here, as a Scottish trader came to the islands with three Polynesian wives late last century. Today, everyone is related in one wav or another. Unlike many of the Pacific islands, the coral-eating parrot fish here do not store any toxins which cause poisoning, so the islanders earn their living by netting these fish in the shallows and filletting them for the hotels in Rarotonga. The entire ship's complement was entertained by the head man, who arranged for us to have a marvellous feast cooked in the island custom way.

Eye of the Wind on a Niue stampThe trades carried us forth to Niue (Savage Island). As we rounded the northern perimeter of this uplifted coral atoll, we could see the extensive damage caused by a cyclone. The eye of the cyclone had passed directly over Niue the week prior to the one which we experienced at Rarotonga. In the Niue International Hotel swimming pool we saw lumps of coral the size of a small car. These had been deposited by the enormous waves which gradually built up and swept over the limestone cliffs that rise 100 feet from sea level.

We cruised the Vau Vau Group of the Tongan "Friendly Islands". The ship was Photographed in the azure waters from through the rugged entrance of the limestone "Swallows Cave". Divers descended into the mystical Mariner's Cave. Here one sits in a limestone cavern, in an eerie blue light, as the swells cause vapourised water to drift around, creating a ghostly effect.

Ready for dive - click to enlarge!

With an ample supply of kava we headed for the northern dive sites around Taveuni, Fiji. En route, we dived the passages at Wakaia Island, and anchored in the bay where "Savage Islands" was filmed. Our group of divers, led bv marine biologist Anne Fielding from Hawaii, dived the white wall, rainbow wall and other world-renowned dive sites.

At Lautoka, we met up with the topsail schooner "Tradewinds", which was in Fijian waters filming "Blue Lagoon 2". You may recall that "Eye of the Wind" featured in the earlier 'Blue Lagoon' filmed in 1979.

After the customary clearance into Vila, we sailed southward to Tanna island in the Vanuatu Group, where everyone took the opportunity to stand at the rim of the most accessible volcano in the world, and experience the might of nature. On to Dillon Bay on the island of Erromanga. Here we had a hair-raising four wheel drive expedition into the interior to seek the giant Kauri trees, which proved to be elusive, yet again! The following day, our crew members joined the locals with their hunting dogs, and were successful in running down five wild pigs, which were later cooked on hot stones and eaten at a feast that night.

As always, we enjoyed the cosmopolitan delights of Vila and cruised northward to Santo with a group of Adelaide skin divers. As in past years, Alan Power led groups down into the "President Coolidge" to visit and photograph the "lady".

Whilst on passage to Misima, PNG, we heard over the radio that Santo had experienced a major earth tremor and that several of the 49 toilets that line one of the corridors in the "Coolidge" had been dislodged.

At Misima, Rob Gomersall, an expedition leader and marine biologist, brought his group aboard for the passage to Rabaul. Old favourites like Egum, Kwiawata and the Trobriands were visited and dived on this leg. Unfortunately, we were a week late for the largest gathering of canoes in 10 years, participating in the kula ring celebrations, so did not get to see this spectacle. We understand that there was an Australian and a German film crew present. It could be shown on television before too long. Our arrival in Cairns saw the departure of a number of our crew. who had sailed aboard the ship since New Zealand.

Ian Riseley returned to Hawaii to work in a new hotel, Nikki went to Sydney to the TAFE college at Brookvale to sit for her Master V ticket which she successfully passed before Christmas, Carol Wilby went overland to the tip of Cape York and Dan Stinson went to do a white water rafting guide's course near Coffs Harbour.

Eye and inflatables from below - click to enlarge!

The next month found us diving and exploring the waters north of Cairns. We dived old favourites like the Cod Hole and Ribbon Reefs and were fortunate to have perfect conditions for a number of dives at Osprey Reef, 120 miles off Lizard Island. Later we saw the aboriginal paintings on Flinders Island and managed to get across the bar and tie up alongside the wharf at Cocktown.

Continuing south, we were lucky enough to get permission from the Queensland Government to dive on the historical wreck "Yongala". We then savoured the delights of the Whitsundays and sailed south to Middle Percy Island. The Hicklings - Lys, Jono and Jacob - were there to greet us on the beach. They have spent the last year assisting Andy Martin in running and maintaining the island. Next day, Jono was to lead several members of the crew on a goat hunt, and our NZ Dive Master, Neil, prepared a New Zealand hungi for us as well as the 12 yachts which had gathered in the anchorage. A good night was had by all, and evervone was in fine form, with the help of Percy Island home made mead.

Prior to our first Christmas in Sydney in five years, we did a series of weekend charters. Boxing Day found us outside the Heads, at the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Fair conditions and a favourable breeze gave us a fast passage down the East Coast and across Bass Strait to Tasmania.

As in past years, Tasmanians supported the ship for our cruises in these southern waters. A series of day and evening sails proved successful, with the weather being kind to us. Whilst on the west coast, we managed to meet many of our old fisherman friends from past years.

It is now time to depart and head north to make yet another crossing of Bass Strait. After a two week stay in Sydney, we will sail northward along the eastern seaboard of Australia for a limited season in Papua New Guinea.



SYDNEY - MAROOCHYDORE 21 - 30 APRIL 1991 $999-00
MAROOCHYDORE - HAMILTON      30 APRIL - 11 MAY 1991      $800-00
HAMILTON -CAIRNS 12-23 MAY 1991 $1215-00



from Linda & Tim Nossiter

A wonderful ending to the ship's stay in Hobart was the marriage of Tiger to Debbie. With just a small group of friends, including Jean and Miff, we motored out into the Derwent. then set a few squares and gently sailed back towards Hobart. After the wedding ceremony, seven month old Emma Jane Timbs was christened. A great meal followed at a restaurant on the docks. The next day we all said a very emotional farewell to the ship. It will be a long time until we see them again. We wish them well.

© all pictures Eric Matson

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