Pete Goss's family crew are heading into the Southern Ocean as is a crew of Australian and Canadian cruisers


As the tailenders of the Vendée Globe reach their last week or so in the Southern Ocean two other crews are about to enter it.

One is Pete Goss with his family crew – brother, brother-in-law and teenage son. They are a few days out of Cape Town in the 37ft lugger Spirit of Mystery, bound for Melbourne.

The Southern Ocean will be tough for them, or so Pete expects, because while the boat is rugged, her relatively slow speed will mean they are overtaken by many more low pressure systems than the faster solo boats, and they will be much less able to dodge into a favourable pressure gradient or quadrant.

That’s something Pete considered when he built the boat. He had the midships frame made from the ultra-tough tropical hardwood ekki so that he can secure a series drogue from it if necessary. He also beefed up deck beams to be confident the boat could withstand being rolled, and he fitted watertight bulkheads.

Having been down in the Southern Ocean twice (once in either direction) Pete has no illusions about its might. Oddly enough I think his experiences in this very sturdy wooden boat could also put in sharper perspective how extraordinarily tough (as well as fast) are the solo IMOCA 60s, and remind us what a great boat his lost and lamented Open 50 Aqua Quorum – ‘the yellow boat’ – was.

On a parallel course to Pete is the crew of Falcon GT (pictured above), a self-built 42ft aluminium pilothouse cruiser. The skipper is Australian mechanical engineer John Gayford, who has been living in Canada. He has sailed from New York and is also bound for Melbourne.

Gayford and his four crew recently crossed paths with Goss in Simon’s Town and they are also a few days out, bumping over the Agulhas Currrent. Falcon GT should be quicker than Goss and she sounds very well prepared. The crew are raising money for the Canadian Cancer Society, and I think of all the Southern Ocean voyages I’ve read about this one sounds the most fun.

You can read Falcon GT’s interesting blog here