Friday, January 16, 2015

Corbin Foss Completes Epic Voyage: All in a Days Work!

This morning, the Corbin Foss is completing her epic voyage delivering the USS Constellation for scrapping in Brownsville.

The voyage of 16,000 miles began at Bremerton Washington on August 8, 2014.

Her final destination is International Shipbreakers, Ltd.

Here the famous combat veteran will be converted to a pile of scrap metal.

While the entire enterprise covered hundreds of miles of interesting waters, as an armchair traveler, the passage through the Strait of Magellan would certainly been of interest to me.

Finding no support in Portugal, King Charles V of Spain provides Ferdinand Magellan with five old ships to accomplish his journey.

In September 1519 the expedition departed Seville with five ships and 265 men.

Magellan assigned Concepcion and San Antonio to explore the strait, but the latter, commanded by Estêvão Gomes, deserted and returned to Spain on 20 November.

Sadly, Magellan never made it home. He was killed in a clash at Mactan, in the Philippine Islands. On April 27, 1521. After 14,460 miles, the expedition ends back in Seville on September 8, 1522, with only one boat, the Victoria, and a handful of the original 265 personnel.

The tug Rachael (Tradewinds Towing) connected with the tow in Panama. As required by the Chilean government, Rachael acted as a safety backup.

The Capt. Latham switched out the Rachael at Callao, Peru, joining the Corbin Foss on October 19, and stayed with her through November 6th.

Having an additional tug was a safety measure to cope with significant weather and seas, and transit through the Strait of Magellan.

Most worrisome feature in the Strait; Paso Tortuoso (torturous.)

Here the channel narrows down to 1,500 yards (1,371 meters).

In his Blog, Tainui's Travels, John Valentines writes this about his passage through Paso Tortuoso:

"At Paso Tortuoso, 3 big bodies of water meet with interesting and unpredictable races and currents.
We hug the shore in what seems like a 1-knot favorable eddy. Out to starboard there are all sorts of whirlpools and overfalls.

"So impressive that there seem to be high steps in water level between them. "Faraway", 4 miles ahead and in the middle of the channel, is barely making ground in a 4 kt adverse current."

So three additional tugs joined the venture; Beagle, Otway, and Pelican II. Two on either side of the Constellation, and the third attached to the stern.

The passage through Paso Tortuoso was uneventful, and the fleet hove to at Punta Arenas on November 4th. Punta Arenas is a thriving city; with cruise ships calling on a regular basis.

On November 6th, the Capt Latham disconnected from the tow at the eastern entrance to the Strait, returning to Punta Arenas.

Corbin Foss as seen from Capt Latham off the coast of Chile

This was certainly an epic voyage. The Foss Maritime "Constellation Blog," recorded daily position reports through out the entire campaign. But for a highly detailed account, including pilot reports, dozens of photographs and, especial enlightening, a series of five video tapes, showing the vessels advance toward the Strait of Magellan, follow this link.

In the bottom right corner, click on Quadrant Maps. The videos are found in the 5th Quadrant Map.

In researching this article, I discovered a virtual beehive of activity taking place at the end of the earth.

Everything from hustling fishing lodges, helicopter rides to see Cape Horn, weather permitting of course.

Transportation between the main land and island of Tierra del Fuego is interesting, to say the least! In this video, look at the overshoot required to land the ferry against prevailing wind and current!

This RoRo system could be the answer to the Washington State Ferries dilemma. No more expensive infrastructure - docks and relatively inexpensive ferries!

Further Reading:
 ►  Straits in Latin America: The Case of the Strait of Magellan. The boundary treaty of 1881 between Chile and Argentina.

►  Operation Soberanía. The 1978 Argentine military invasion of Chile, left thousands of unexploded mines - to this day - buried along the Argentine - Chilean border.
►  Highly recommend this Princeton University web page, which details the succession of charts of the Strait of Magellan, filling in details by explorers we know little of.

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