Rounding Cape Horn

Non stop sailing from Buenos Aires to Valparaíso.

22 november - 26 december 2020

This adventurous sailing holiday is no longer available. Are you curious about the sailing trips we currently offer? Every year a number of adventure sailing trips are organized by the Clipper Stad Amsterdam. Whether you are an experienced sailor or not, we are more than pleased to invite you to join our crew on one of these adventures. Find more information about our adventurous sailing trips on our website


Cape Horn Adventure

Every year the Clipper Stad Amsterdam offers a number of adventurous and luxury sailing trips. We sail across the Atlantic twice a year, we stay in the Caribbean for our luxury cruise program and sail in the Mediterranean for example. For the next two years, however, the Clipper Stad Amsterdam will deviate from her regular sailing schedule. In August 2020 she will start on a very exciting voyage around the world!

The Clipper Stad Amsterdam will attempt to make a traditional Cape Horn rounding for the very first time since she was built. The route will go from East to West, also known as the wrong way. The ship will sail against the prevailing westerly wind. An ideal sailing voyage for sailors who enjoy a challenge and extreme weather conditions that may have to be conquered on this trip: high waves, lots of wind, strong currents and cold circumstances. Therefore, it is not a coincidence that rounding Cape Horn for sailors is about the same thing as the Mount Everest is for mountain climbers. Come on board and experience this unique and great adventure of rounding Cape Horn. 

Practical Information

Clipper Stad Amsterdam

Buenos Aires

You will embark the Clipper Stad Amsterdam in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. This city is regarded as one of the nicest cities in South America with numerous beautiful sights. There are delightful neighbourhoods to explore for example. Among the most popular is trendy Palermo, colourful La Boca, colonial San Telmo, the local atmosphere in Mataderos and the renovated Puerto Madero. And of course not to forget Plaza de Mayo - the traditional focus of entertainment and activity - and the beautiful Colón Theater.

The following morning you will be leaving Buenos Aires to start this non-stop sailing adventure of over 3000 nautical miles to Valparaíso via Cape Horn. Time to roll up your sleeves. The unique Cape Horn voyage will begin!

Clipper Stad Amsterdam

Why is Cape Horn so special?

To sail from the Atlantic to the Pacific (or vice versa), sailing ships had to sail around the southern tip of South America before the Panama Canal was built. This route was discovered in 1616 by Schouten and Le Maire (two Dutchmen) when they were looking for a free passage to the Far East. The Cape of Good Hope in South Africa and the Strait of Magellan in Chile (discovered in 1520) were in fact reserved for the ships of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). Schouten named the famous cape after his birthplace: Hoorn, a city in the Netherlands.
The route around Cape Horn brought the ships some 300 nautical miles further south than the entrance to the Strait of Magellan. The advantage was that Le Maire Strait - the street between Tierra del Fuego (Fireland) and Staten Island - had 16 miles of manoeuvring space which was much more than the few miles in the Magellan Strait. However, the extra space to manoeuvre generally turned out not to outweigh the poor conditions.

Before Cape Horn, there is no continental shelf to weaken the currents and the winds circling around Antarctica causing a lot of wind, storms and sometimes high waves. It is therefore not surprising that Cape Horn has a notorious reputation. After all, it is the northern part of the Drake Passage, the water between South America and Antarctica that is named after its discoverer the British Sir Francis Drake. Many clippers sailed from the East Coast of the United States to the West Coast via Cape Horn in the second half of the 19th century (1850-1900). Numerous books have been written about the adventures and challenges crew had to endure to round the Cape, such as "two years before the mast" by Richard Henry Dana.

3000 nautical miles

We already mentioned it: the Clipper Stad Amsterdam will be sailing from Buenos Aires to Valparaíso and will try to round Cape Horn the traditional way. If the attempt is successful, the Shipping Company will inform the Dutch Cape Horn Foundation in order to gain recognition for crew and passengers. A certificate will be drawn up for passengers which will be handed out during the annual meeting of this foundation in Hoorn in The Netherlands.
To be eligible for this token and to become an official Cape Horn sailor, a number of rules must be met. At least 3000 miles of uninterrupted sailing (not using the motor) must be carried out from 50 degrees south on the Pacific to 50 degrees south on the Atlantic Ocean and rounding Cape Horn. It is impossible to say beforehand whether it will be possible to successfully round Cape Horn in this unique way. Captain, crew and guests will have to work as a team showing perseverance and actively participating in the watch system to be able to accomplish this big challenge. However, in the end, the weather gods will determine whether the crew and guests will succeed. If there is not enough wind for a long period of time during this long route, it may be necessary to decide to use the engine in order not to endanger the program following this trip.

Photo Cape Horn: Gerard Kleverlaan©

Photo Cape Horn: Gerard Kleverlaan©
Clipper Stad Amsterdam Kopenhagen 2014
Clipper Stad Amsterdam Kopenhagen 2014
Clipper Stad Amsterdam

sailing & participation

During the entire Cape Horn voyage, you are expected to participate in the watch system. You will be assigned to one of the three watches and together with the crew, you will be sailing the ship during this unique voyage. You will experience what it is like to sail a square-rigger like the Clipper around Cape Horn. Setting sails, manning the lookout, standing at the helm and setting the course, you will be doing it all.
There is a possibility that the captain decides that there will be a rotation system for our guests for everyone to experience all three watches during this long voyage.

The ship’s crew stands watch in three shifts. These shifts are called the Red Watch (from 12- 4 AM and PM), the White Watch (from 4-8 AM and PM) and the Blue Watch (from 8-12 AM and PM).

Don't forget to enjoy the Albatros, the world's largest seabird with a wingspan of about three meters, which is common in this area. It is not such a coincidence that this special bird has been given a leading role in the construction of the monument on Cape Horn to commemorate the many sailors who perished during the rounding of Cape Horn over the centuries.

Arrival in Valparaíso

Arrival in Chile is planned for Saturday, December 25th in the late afternoon. The arrival time may be adjusted while on the way and will depend on the actual weather situation during the trip. You will be setting foot on land again after more than 33 days at sea and after having learned a lot about sailing a square-rigged sailing ship. This unforgettable sailing adventure will come to an end. On the very last evening on board, a special and delicious Christmas dinner will be served in our longroom for all guests and crew who accomplished sailing around Cape Horn. The crew will be saying goodbye to you the next morning at 10.

In case you have some extra time it is good to know that Valparaíso is worthwhile visiting. This enormously colourful port city is located in a stunning bay. It is considered the most beautiful city in Chile and many even consider it to be the most beautiful city in all of South America. The special architecture that one encounters is most striking, as well as the many hills which are entirely used for housing purposes. A sensational colour explosion! The historic centre of Valparaíso has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2003.

Valporaíso, Chile

Participating & medical

On this special voyage, the captain and crew will ask more from our guests compared to our regular adventurous sailing trips. The weather conditions at these higher southern latitudes are far more turbulent than during a standard ocean crossing. Partly we will sail in the 'roaring forties' and 'furious fifties' and wind speeds of 30 up to 40 knots and sometimes more, are quite common.
There will be no opportunity to visit a port between Buenos Aires and Valparaíso. To round the Cape Horn (or attempt), we need to be certain that all participants are in good health and up for the task. Therefore all of our guests have to undergo an extensive medical examination that for the main part corresponds to the medical examination of the permanent crew. Only with approval, it is possible to participate in this voyage.

Valporaíso, Chile

Buenos Aires (Argentina) - Cape Horn - Valparaíso (Chile)