Received a couple of slightly cryptic texts from Howard’s inReach two-way satellite communicator. They seem to suggest Howard has recovered Southern Cross and is trying to move quickly along to avoid incoming weather. More as we hear from him. Here are the messages:
“SC rescued epic to all who helped i am grateful at georgiana 150Miles to go to pt williams weather. coming race to safety”
“SC on board racing for safety against all odds sc survived against all odds we rescued joy gratitude to sailing friends.”
See track or map here: https://share.garmin.com/HowardRice
*Please note we did not get the following information directly from Howard, it was relayed to us through a third-party. As is always the case with these kinds of situations, new information may shed light on details we don’t yet know and some of what is reported might not be completely accurate. Naturally we will add an update as soon as we hear from Howard.
Apparently Howard lost Southern Cross on the rocks Sunday night after a 10-hour sailing stretch where he was, at some point, battling 9-foot seas and winds in excess of 40 knots. Howard tried desperately to save the boat but eventually had to ditch and spent an hour struggling to swim to shore.
As we understand it, his drysuit was damaged during the melee so after huddling for some time on the remote shore he started to feel hypothermia coming on, at which point he made the decision to alert the Chilean Armada of his situation.
The Armada dispatched a boat to effect a rescue and they were able to find Howard, who fired a flare to confirm his location, but the rough weather conditions and rocky bay forced them to stand-off several hours until daylight when they were able to bring him aboard.
We’re told Howard is roughed-up but not seriously injured. He is presently negotiating a way to return to retrieve Southern Cross. As I say, we’ll post and update as soon as we have it—hopefully we will hear directly from Howard. —Josh Colvin
Just received another sat-phone call from Howard. The first part was clear, but eventually we lost the signal and I didn’t get the last past of his message. What I gathered is that he’d had another challenging day, but he’s anchored finally in a nice, mostly windless cove now. As he was talking to me he was finishing dinner in his cockpit tent, with the back flap open watching penguins splashing around near shore.
Howard said the trickiest part so far has been the changeable winds, which he says will be blowing steadily at 10 knots then rapidly begin gusting to forty knots or more. He’s had to scramble to quickly reduce sail. Another significant obstacle, though he says he’s learning how to deal with it, is heavy kelp. The other night he arrived in a less than ideal 100-yard wide anchorage and was forced to move locations 8 or 9 times throughout the night—part of which he spent sleeping in his drysuit after dragging anchor close near the lee shore. Sitting awake in the cockpit in the middle of the morning he had to don his headlamp and winch the anchor to break it free while cutting away at kelp with his Spyderco knife. When we spoke he said he’d only slept a single hour of the last 39.
He continues to rave about the boat and her performance. The photo above was sent to me by John Welsford. I believe it was taken from the deck of the S/V Novarra, a research vessel. I’m sure they were more than a little surprised to come across Howard and his SCAMP at the mouth of the Magdalena Channel and Strait of Magellan. Howard says they checked on him asking if he needed anything. He told them he did not. When he responded by asking the crew of the big steel-hulled boat whether they needed anything, everyone had a laugh. —Josh
Just had a series of broken up sat phone calls from Howard. He had just finished a hot meal under his cockpit tent and is, apparently, anchored in the Isla Jane group. Howard said he ended up rowing some 7 hours straight the previous night as the wind quit entirely and he was in the middle of the Straits of Magellan. After hours of rowing a light breeze came up astern and he decided to raise sail, only to be struck by a williwaw that heeled the boat so far he shipped some water. After that he doused sail and went back to rowing, having to pick his way carefully in the dark. He said the trip has been a real test so far, including a wild ride in 25 knot winds.
We both talked about how amazing it was that a SCAMP has now sailed the Strait of Magellan—who would have thought?
Tomorrow he plans to take what the weather will give him. —Josh