MOSCOW, April 17. /TASS/. Russian adventurer Fyodor Konyukhov, who is on a solo round-the-world voyage in a rowboat, is currently down to the last stretch of his journey in an unheated cabin after a powerful storm had damaged the solar panels.
The veteran voyager has rowed 10,000 km, and has yet to cross another 1,300 km to reach Cape Horn in the Drake Passage separating South America and Antarctica, his son and expedition organizer Oscar Konyukhov has told TASS.
"Yes, it’s cold and tough, but what can he do," he said, noting that "everything is going according to schedule." "We have chartered two yachts to meet Fyodor near Cape Horn. We will stand there and wait some 50 miles away," he noted.
According to the expedition’s diary, the AKROS boat is now at the same latitude as the Western gates of the Strait of Magellan (the Pacific entrance to the Strait). If Konyukhov travels directly to the east at this latitude for another 850 km, he will reach the strait.
"This is certainly a historic achievement, which would mark the first crossing of the South Pacific Ocean in a rowboat," the expedition’s website says. However, the key objective is to enter the region of Cape Horn. For this, Fyodor still needs to travel 4 degrees (240 nautical miles) to the south.
The traveler is now saving energy and is not turning on the light, and is using a head-mounted flashlight instead.
"The wind is south-westerly and cold. The temperature outside is +5. Unfortunately, I can’t turn on the heating in the cabin. There isn’t enough power. The remaining solar panels barely keep the navigational equipment running. And it is cold here, the batteries are at the bottom of the boat and the water is cold," Konyukhov wrote in his diary.
The Russian adventurer began his solo circumnavigation on board his AKROS rowboat on December 6, departing from New Zealand’s port of Dunedin. The circumnavigator’s route is divided into three stages: Dunedin (New Zealand) - Cape Horn (Chile), Cape Horn (Chile) - Cape Leeuwin (Austalia), and Cape Leeuwin (Austalia) - Dunedin. Konyukhov will have to row 27,000 kilometers in total.
British boat designer Phil Morrison created Konyukhov’s AKROS vessel exclusively for this expedition. The nine-meter rowboat has watertight compartments capable of storing up food and three independent power generation systems, including a solar and wind turbine along with an innovative EFOY fuel cell power plant. The vessel is also equipped with two satellite phones, a satellite tracker and several communication and navigation systems.
In an unexpected turn of events, an early April storm in the Southern Ocean overturned the voyager’s rowboat, damaging it. The waves tore off solar panels from the left side along with the wind indicator.
Konyukhov, 67, has completed five globetrotting missions, crossing the Atlantic 17 times and becoming the first Russian who climbed seven highest summits in six parts of the world, and also traveled to the North and South Poles. In 2007, Konyukhov circled the Southern Hemisphere in a sailboat dubbed the ‘Scarlet Sails’ through the waters of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. The 102-day voyage did not involve any port calls.