National Geographic : 1989 Jan
CY GRUEL (above) surrounds Sea Tomato on day twelve when we are in sight of land-the South Shetland Islands, just off the Antarctic Peninsula. Fred cautiously works his way through the brash ice. But the Drake Passage isn't going to let us off so easily. Soon 30-knot offshore winds hit us dead on, and despite desperate efforts at the oars we start losing ground. That night brings a driving snow storm that cuts our visibility to zero. We are terrified of being blown headlong into an iceberg, something that even Sea Tomato could not survive. But luck-that ingredient you can never count on and only hope for-is with us. By next morning the wind drops, the snow storm ends, and we double up on the oars, each man rowing 12 out of the next 24 hours. The last mile, against the current in Nelson Strait off Nelson Island, is a grueling, four-hour ordeal. We finally reach land at Harmony Cove (above right), where Fred makes his wobbly way over JAYMORRISON(ABOVE) the rocks to shore just 13 days and five hours after we had left Chile's Paso Pratt. After an over night we hoist Sea Tomato's sails and arrive the next day at the Chilean base on King George Island, 25 miles away. What did we accomplish? Nothing of great benefit to man kind perhaps, other than a daring challenge met and con quered. To my knowledge we are the first to row such a great distance in polar regions. But to the four of us the greater achievement was the inner voyage, reaching beyond our normal limits to attain the goal. None of us, I think, will ever forget that experience. [ NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC(ISSN 0027-9358) IS PUBLISHEDMONTHLYBYTHE NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY,17THANDM STS. N.W., WASHINGTON,D. C. 20036. $18.00 A YEAR,$2.25 A COPY. SECOND-CLASS POSTAGEPAID AT WASHINGTON,D.C., AND ELSEWHERE.POSTMASTER:SEND ADDRESSCHANGESTO NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC,P.O. BOX2174, WASHINGTON,D. C. 20013.