Cape Horn bound

Another day at sea, headed past the Falklands towards Cape Horn. Cape Horn was navigated by a Portuguese Mariner under Spanish employ, Ferdinand Magellan. He went through the Cape by navigating a passage through a complicated series of channels that was then thought to be the most southerly point of the continent. Drake and others followed through the Pacific Ocean, but it was Le Maire and the Schouten brothers of the Netherlands/Dutch East India Company who organized an expedition consisting of two small ships and first sailed around the Cape. The Cape has frequent storms, strong currents, and icebergs (which we have yet to see!) that make passage hazardous at times. It is expected that we will navigate around the Cape at around 8:30 pm ship’s time -- I’m writing this at 2 pm. I’m excited!

Cape Horn was originally given the Dutch name "Kaap Hoorn", in honor of the Dutch city of Hoorn; in a typical example of false friends, the Hoorn became known in English as "Cape Horn", and in Spanish as "Cabo de Hornos" (which literally means "Cape of Ovens"). It is commonly known to English-speaking sailors as The Horn. The cape lies within Chilean territorial waters, and the Chilean Navy maintains a station on Hoorn Island, consisting of a residence, utility building, chapel, and lighthouse. A short distance from the main station is a memorial, including a large sculpture featuring the silhouette of an albatross, in honor of the sailors who died while attempting to "round the Horn".

When Magellan reached South America in 1520, he named Patagonia for the local tradition of wearing bulky protective shoes (patagones = big feet). Further south, believing smoke from native campfires to be evidence of smoldering volcanoes (of which there are none!), he named the countryside Tierra del Huma (land of smoke), which eventually became Tierra del Fuego (land of fire).

Darwin took off on the HMS Beagle as the official naturalist in 1831, after which he would publish Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle (1840). The crew attempted several times, unsuccessfully, to round Cape Horn, but the Beagle continued to be pushed backwards. They finally rounded South America by navigating through that which is now known as The Beagle Canal, passing through Argentinian waters, near Ushuaia (which is our port tomorrow), up into Chilean waters. In fact, the mountains to the east of the Beagle Canal are now known as the Darwin Mountains, which run almost all the way down to the Tierra Del Fuego National Park.

Many people look at the Hardy Peninsula, on the southernmost portion of Tierra Del Fuego, as the “true” Cape Horn, but it is actually the False Cape Horn. The true Cape Horn is on Horn Island, further south.

Tomorrow is Ushuaia, and preparation for our trip to Antarctica, which requires the decontamination of all items of clothing and personal belongings which will touch the continent. We are hoping that the pilots will be able to land at King George Island Friday, for that is our limiting factor. If they cannot, there is an alternative plan for the day. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Rounding the Cape