Around the Horn

22 Sep

September 20, 1935

Los Angeles Times

I Cover Hollywood

By Lloyd Pantages

There is a very exclusive club on the Warner Brothers’ lot called “The Cape Horner” and to become a member you must have rounded the Cape at some time or another. So far the roster includes Errol Flynn, Lionel Atwill and Warren William. That IS exclusive.

Back in the days when wooden ships sailed the old trade routes, rounding Cape Horn was an infamous part of many sailors’ lives.

In 1933 a group of sea captains that had all sailed Cape Horn established the Amicale des Capitaines au Long Cours Cap Horniers (AICH). Their aims remain the same today:

“To promote and strengthen the ties of comradeship which bind together in a unique body of men and women who embody the distinction of having sailed round Cape Horn in a commercial sailing vessel, and to keep alive in various ways memories of the stout ships that regularly sailed on voyages of exceptional difficulty and peril, and of the endurance, courage and skill of the sailors who manned them.”

For those who want to join the club!

The AICH welcomes new Cape Horn sailors and honours them with a token certificate of achievement. To be eligible for this certificate one must show perseverance and actively participate in the ship’s watch system for an extended period of time on a sailing ship rounding Cape Horn by sail from 50° South in the Pacific Ocean to 50° South in the Atlantic Ocean (or vice versa). The length of the voyage should be at least 3000 miles under sail alone.

A sailor that rounds the Horn is entitled to wear a gold loop earring. Tradition has it that this should be worn in the ear that faced the Horn as it was rounded.

There are immense privileges to sailors who have rounded the horn. They include being allowed to dine with one foot on the table. If one has rounded the Cape of Good Hope as well then such a sailor would be permitted to put both feet on the table.

In terms of tattoos, one may obtain a tattoo of a fully rigged ship once a true rounding of Cape Horn has been achieved.

And finally, in order to be able to “spit into the wind” one would need to have made three true Cape Horn roundings.

One of the true Cape Horners was Captain James Cook, master of the Endeavour 1766-71 who sailed around the Horn in both directions.

A question remains, however: i.e. when exactly did Errol ’round the horn?

— Tim


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  1. Claudia

    September 22, 2020 at 6:37 am

    That‘s exactly the question I asked myself, Tim.

    Maybe one of his Tall Tales, or another Warners publicity stunt?

    • Gentleman Tim

      September 22, 2020 at 11:01 am

      A Tall Tale indeed, Claudia! Unless, of course, Errol sailed from Sydney around the horn on his way to box in the Olympics!…

      After the Panama Canal opened in 1914, when Errol was 5 years old, sailing around Cape Horn became very undesirable and unnecessary for most ships and sailors. Not worth the right to “spit into the wind” (which doesn’t seem very appealing to me!)

      Errol did sail around the Cape of Good Hope in 1922, though. That’s pretty impressive, too! Especially for a kid!

      Plus, Errol did play Sir Francis Drake (alias Geoffrey Thorpe) in The Sea Hawk. Drake actually discovered and sailed around Cape Horn when he circumnavigated the globe! Hence the name Drake Passage between Cape Horn and Antartica. So……


      • Claudia

        September 22, 2020 at 1:45 pm

        Not to forget Fletcher Christian on the HMS Bounty, Tim. They didn‘t quite make it around Cape Horn but sure did their best. That should at least have earned them the right to spit into the wind (which to me sounds a lot more appealing).

        • Gentleman Tim

          September 23, 2020 at 6:18 am

          I completely forgot about Bounty’s valiant but unsuccessful and rather maniacal efforts to ’round the horn, Claudia! Thank you. It makes an amazing story even more so. Per Midshipman Peter Heywood:

          “During the 29 days we were beating off the Cape, we had to encounter the most violent storms that I suppose were ever experienced. Is suppose there never were seas, in any part of the known world, to compare with those we met for height, and length of swell; the oldest seamen on board never saw anything equal to them, yet Mr. Peckover (our gunner) was all three voyages with Captain Cook.”

          I do have a couple of questions!

          1) Was breadfruit really that desirable and worth it all?
          2) Is spitting into the wind really that appealing?

          More desirable and appealing for a bunch of sailors than a bevy of a fun-loving topless Tahitian women? Maybe so for that blimey Captain Bligh, but certainly not for many ten-months-at-sea young men!



          • Claudia

            September 23, 2020 at 6:59 am

            To answer at least one of your questions, Tim: maybe it was a typo and should really read „appalling“. ;-)