Cape Horn has made generations of mariners tremble. It is the ultimate test for all sailing vessels. In 1985, Cousteau decided that Alcyone would prove her solidity by rounding this tip of South America, and the test was a total success. The ship crisscrossed the end of the Andes mountain range where it plunges into the sea 46 times during her first day at land's end. Nevertheless the southern Pacific lived up to its reputation.
Alcyone began her adventure in a deceptive calm. Horn Island was clearly visible. The weather was exceptionally good and the crew revealed in it for the moment. Rounding Cape Horn is no longer the exploit it used to be in the days of wooden ships. Maps and radar can help avoid pitfalls, but the passage
remains a symbol because of the thousands of sailors who have perished in these waters.
In the evening, the weather changed. The wind rose and clouds closed ranks. The following morning, the weather was changeable, punctuated by showers and rays of sunlight. Sometimes the rain became hail, then everything stopped, just before the storm broke and 60-knot winds tossed Alcyone about.
Horn Island and the little islets around it never ceased to amaze Alcyone's crew. They dove time and again to observe lampshells, hagfish and Southern king crab, among the ancient, primitive creatures there. The cape with the sinister reputation possessed jewels to be revealed. In 1986, the film Cape Horn: Waters of the Wind told the story of this Cousteau team epic to the world.