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Many questions arrived in the dozens of e-mails we received after the Star ran the final column of our Cape To Cape odyssey last month. Hopefully they will be answered in this wrap up.Our boat has been great. Sailing friends were doubtful of our choice of a fibreglass catamaran when headed to latitudes where glaciers and pack ice are navigational hazards. But whether dodging icebergs in dense fog off the coast of Labrador, or sheltering from gale force winds and stinging ice pellets near Cape Horn, Carpe Diem felt safe.

Our community is the other cruising boat crews of every nationality, with whom we share information, anchorages and candlelit dinners. When exchanging scary stories of our experiences, our fellow sailors do not judge us harshly. And we only think, "yikes, it could have been us." And try to learn.

Jean François Eeman's boat Juan sa Bulon was blown ashore by a strong wind in the middle of the night in a coastal cove in Argentina. He grabbed a rope and dove into near-freezing water to swim a line to the other side of the small bay to pull the boat off. He said he nearly drowned.

Ernst and Anna-Marie of Galatea lost their mast 300 kilometres off Uruguay. They spent several dramatic hours cutting it loose or they could have lost the boat as well. Keri Pashuk was sailing on a boat that capsized when caught in a severe storm crossing the Drake Passage from the Antarctic Peninsula. The boat remained upside down for 45 heart-stopping minutes. Shirley Carter gathered her passport, money and cat Sinbad in readiness to abandon China Moon when a big wave swept off the main companionway hatch and half-filled the boat in storm conditions near Staten Island.

They are all still sailing.

We have been touched by people's interest and kindness in many countries.

In isolated Hornvik Bay, Iceland, the magnificent Hansen family traded newly caught trout for fresh baked cookies and laughed as we tried the Icelandic delicacy "rotten shark" (hakarl). In the wonderful restored museum town of Battle Harbour, Labrador, curator Michael Earl invited the crews of five boats to dinner and brought tears to everyone's eyes with his rendition of "Labrador, My Labrador." Earl is a Newfoundlander.

Bran, a Faeroe Island teenager, proudly showed us an old Faeroese Viking-style longboat that was being restored and a modern-day copy. Ali Nasserdine and his Canadian fiancée Jennifer Foote invited us to Ali's home in Casablanca, Morocco, to share the "after-the-fast feast" during Ramadan with his mother and sisters.

To my horror, Fiona thought it would be fun to hang-glide over Rio de Janeiro and Paulo Celano of Just Fly was only too eager to help her.

Then there was Lauro Barcello, the energetic director of the Oceanographic Museum in Rio Grande, Brazil, who insisted we do a slide show for his oceanographic students to encourage them to learn to sail. And we spent a fascinating day with Uruguayan David Jorajuria, inoculating his herd of cows, and appreciating his mother's fresh-made lavender oils.

We watched killer whales stalk sea lion pups with Susana and Roberto Pereiro who drove us around Peninsula Valdez and entertained us in their home in Puerto Madryn. Chantal Torlaschi and Claudio Temporelli took us up the Rio Deseado to enjoy the diminutive black-and-white Commerson's Dolphins.

We faced a major setback when Fiona was diagnosed with breast cancer during a visit to Toronto in 2002. Our feelings were akin to facing the worst gale at sea. We were lucky the diagnosis was made early and Fiona never wavered in her belief that this was a storm we could weather. Our daughter Penny and I were there for her surgery, but Fiona insisted on remaining on her own in Toronto to deal with the post-surgery radiation therapy, supported by many good friends. She learned from the recent e-mails that many Star readers prayed for her.

Meanwhile, I looked after the boat in a downtown marina in Buenos Aires where I took Spanish lessons five days a week, worrying about Fiona's health and that our cruising days might be over.

It was nearly a year later that we continued voyaging farther south after Fiona's first post-surgery examination indicated there was no evidence of any remaining cancer.

And it was then that we met and wrote about young marine biologist and teacher Chantal Torlaschi, who needed a digital camera to continue her personal research into an unusual resident pod of Commerson's Dolphins in the Rio Deseado, Argentina (Two Days in Wild Patagonia, Feb. 23, 2004)

Thanks to Jan Percival of Barrie and her 84-year-old mother Dorothy, John Monin of Toronto, Rev. Gary Jones of Stratford, and Argentine ex-patriot Horacio Weisglas of Mississauga, Chantal has a new camera, a Nikon Coolpix 3200.

We have made good our passages from Horn to Cape Horn, only 150 kilometres from where we are moored.

So what next? We think we'll take a break from sailing and writing for the next few months and travel overland in Peru. And, sometime, we have to help organize our daughter Penny's wedding in September — Toronto, New York, Baltimore or Ushuaia?

In the fall, we are going to head for that great destination we missed on the way down, the isolated and wild Falkland Islands. We look forward to sharing some of our future travel experiences with Star readers.

The Cape To Cape odyssey of Fiona McCall and Paul Howard is over, but their travels are not. The Star will publish periodic stories about their experiences over the coming months. Fiona and Paul can be contacted at Esta dirección de correo electrónico está siendo protegida contra los robots de spam. Necesita tener JavaScript habilitado para poder verlo.

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