After 154 days, 13 hours, and 13 minutes at sea, Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov has reached the finish line in his attempt to row across the Southern Ocean. Yesterday, he reached the islands of Diego Ramirez Longitude at 68.68ºW longitude, where he was greeted by well-wishers who had been anticipating his arrival. But there was little time to celebrate as an impending storm threatened to bring hurricane force winds to Cape Horn, a place that is known for its legendarily bad weather that has plagued oceangoing travelers for centuries.
When Fedor reached the waters off of Diego Ramirez the was greeted by a sailing yacht called the Australis. Aboard was his son Oscar and the support team that has monitored his journey so closely for the five months. Because of the quickly deteriorating conditions, it was decided that the ship should tow Konyukhov’s rowboat –– the Arkos –– into shore. At that point, the winds had risen to 45 knots (83 km/h/51 mph) and the ocean waves were rolling with 6-7 meter (20-22 ft.) swells. In other words, thins were rough and quickly getting worse.
Those conditions prompted the team to be extra cautious as they approached the rocky shoals and dangerous channels that surround Cape Horn. Fedor had battled plenty of high winds and dangerous seas before, but no close to rocks that could smash his boat in an instant. If he does continue with Phase 2 and 3 of this planned expedition to row around the world, he’ll need the Arkos in one piece. Not to mention what it would have done to him had he been aboard the rowboat in a crash.
Konyukhov set out from New Zealand back in December on what he thought would be a much faster journey across the Southern Ocean. But incredibly bad conditions didn’t allow him to make as quick of progress as he had originally hoped and often found himself being tossed around by the winds and surf. In the end however, he managed to keeping going, completing a journey that no one has ever done in a rowboat before.
Fedor’s original plans have him continuing the voyage later this year, rowing from Cape Horn to Australia. If he completes that leg of the journey, in 2020 he would return to the Southern Ocean one more time, returning from Australia to New Zealand. Considering the challenges he faced on stage 1, it wouldn’t be too surprising if he abandoned those plans, but I’m sure he’ll take some time to consider all of his options before making any decisions.
We’ve followed Fedor very closely over the past several months, posting regular updates on his progress. We’re extremely happy that he has completed the journey at long last and want to send him a hearty congratulations. At the age of 67 he continues to inspire us all.
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