Thoughts and comments from Southern Cross’s designer John Welsford  


CHILE, and preparations.

Its been years in the making, this journey.  So much more than just a few days sailing. It’s a dream, now close to becoming a reality, one which few would dare. This has the potential to be one of the epic small boat adventures of our time.

Howard of course has “been there” before,  28 years ago he took a Klepper Aerius folding kayak south and around Cape Horn.  While on that voyage he met many people, and he tells me that the people were a large part of what made that adventure memorable.

The scenery, the remoteness, the cold, the sea and birdlife, the ice and the mountains, all call him back.

This time, he’s put years into preparation, researching the conditions, the boat, the build and the equipment.  As the departure date comes nigh the two of us went to Chile to recconoitre, to find out about the facilities, to meet and consult with the authorities, and to ensure that he is prepared.

It was a great trip, and as before, it has been the people we met who have made the biggest impression.

We’ve storage for the shipping crate organised, space in which to work.  We know where we’ll get supplies, have a good handle on where to keep the boat once launched, and in this place where there are almost no recreational small boats we’ve even found a launching ramp!

Our new friends are keen to help, and that includes Captain Herrera of the Armada de Chile, Zone Commander for the southern area.  We met in his office, the officers in charge of Environment and Enforcement there with us, and after a very pleasant hours meeting we came away with a short list of equipment suggested and some guidelines as to what would be required of the good ship Southern Cross and her Skipper when being inspected prior to the issue of the “Zarpe” or cruising permit.

The Navy, through the office in Valparaiso are also looking for the three lighthouse keeping officers who Howard met on his previous expedition, that will be a great reunion!

We made many friends on this trip, Mauricio, Karla and Tony from El Bodegon, the restaurant in Punta Arenas where we will be based (thanks guys), The Navy, Estefani and Victor from the Ministry of Tourism, the entire Ortiz family in Santiago, Jaime from the boatbuilding school south of Puerto Montt, Javier, the  landlord at Los Gaviotines (Translation, “the little terns” {seagulls}) where we stayed for a couple of nights and with whom Howard shared another kind of adventure.

It’s been an interesting trip, we completed all of the tasks we set out to do, but not really on the to do list was the most important thing that we achieved which has been the making of some very good friends.

For me, it was a great look at the conditions, the resources available, and the environment both social and physical in which we will be working, and also an opportunity to take a number of video clips, some of which will be incorporated as background material in the video production of the voyage which is to be produced.

Apart from the warmth of the people, the extraordinarily colourful cities andthe beyond amazing scenery , the picture that comes to mind when I think of the month Howard and I spent in Chile, is the view west from the ferry across the Straights of Magellan.  Although it was not yet midday the sun was low, the sky grey and chill, the sea dark with brilliant whitecaps as far as the eye could see.  Off in the distance were two headlands and behind them, miles behind, were mountains hidden in the mist but the glaciers and snow caps on their peaks were suggestive of glistening fangs in the dark, open maw formed by those headlands.

Forbidding indeed. Its going to be hard to stand on the wharf and watch as Howard and Southern Cross gets smaller and smaller as they sail away.

Its been a long road for both Howard and I to get to the point where we are today, for me it began with the production of the SCAMP design to the brief provided by Josh Colvin of Small Craft Advisor Magazine, then the several years of SCAMP Camp, the Red Lantern Rally, the use of SCAMP #1 as a teaching aid in SCAMP Skills and Small Craft Skills Academy classes ( thanks Josh).  Howards selection very early on of SCAMP as his chosen boat , the research into fiberglass and kevlar layups, righting and self rescue, cold weather equipment, communications, provisioning, clothing, navigation. It’s a long list for both of us.  One which is close to being tested in real time.

We’ve a lot more to do between now and when the little ship is slid into her crate and sent south, but its under control and there are moves afoot to ensure that the video is made, produced and distributed so all can share in what should be an extraordinary adventure.

John Welsford


Second Camera.

Gofor and general helper.