Expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula,
On this virtual tour you may see:
South Georgia, Cape Horn,
Falklands & Tierra Del Fuego
Majestic mountains dipped in snow...
Whales, seals, Soaring Andes condors...
Ice-blue Glaciers that shimmer like jewels...
Cape Horn looking North
The swell may be up to 40-100 feet
here during a gale!
A passenger going around Cape Horn
Wollaston Island close to the Cape Horn
By M. César Famin and M. Frederick Lacroix, Paris, 1840
T I E R R A D E L F U E G O
Around Cape Horn
Around Cape Horn we've got to go,
To me way, hay,o-hio!
Around cape Horn to Calleao
A long time ago!
Round Cape Horn where the stiff winds blow,
To me way, hay, o-hio!
Round Cape Horn where there?s sleet and snow.
A long time ago!
I wish to God I'd never been born
To me way, hay, o-hio!
To drag my carcass around Cape Horn.
A long time ago!
From an archive of Windsurfing conditions around the world
(take with a grain of salt)
Winds between 35 - 125 knots (KNOTS).
Minimum wave height 60 feet
Waves usually between 80 to 120 feet
Time between swells - about 90 seconds
Temperature - freezing
Likelihood of survival - minimal
Accomodations - hut manned by 4 Chileans
(navy) in case someone might survive.
All around old Cape Horn
Ships of the line, ships of the morn
Some who wish they'd never been born
They are the ghosts of Cape Horn
Fal deral da riddle de rum
With a rim dim diddy
And a rum dum dum
Sailing away at the break of morn
They are the ghosts of Cape Horn
See them all in sad repair
Demons dance everywhere
Southern gales, tattered sails
And none to tell the tales
Come all of you rustic old sea dogs
Who follow the great Southern Cross
You were rounding the Horn
In the eye of a storm
When ya lost 'er one day
And you read all yer letters
From oceans away
Then you took them to the bottom of the sea
All around old Cape Horn
Ships of the line, ships of the morn
Those who wish they'd never been born
They are the ghosts of Cape Horn
Long Drag Chanty
The passage that takes yachts around Cape
Horn on the southern end of the Andes
Mountains actually goes around an island
known in Spanish as Isla Hornos. The cape is
in the region at the southernmost point of
South America and is known for its strong
currents and stormy climate. The waters
around the cape have Southern Hemisphere
westerly winds and make for exhilarating
The Southern ocean and around Cape Horn. The
crews of old faced rough, cold seas and
gale-force winds of the arctic and the
roaring forties, the danger of hard-to-spot
icebergs called growlers, and an increased
risk of hypothermia and frostbite. Nowdays
all is different with 24 hour weather
forecasts and Radar. The boats allow extra
time to wait for good weather while anchored
in quiet coves before rounding the Horn.
The roaring forties where Cape Horn Lies is
an area between latitudes 40 and 50 degrees
north and south. They were given their name
by the first sailors to enter (and exit) the
areas. These latitudes are characterized by
strong, often gale force westerlies
throughout the year. The roaring forties are
more pronounced and dangerous in the Southern
Hemisphere than in the Northern because the
high winds and strong currents swirl around
the southern ice cap and are entirely
unrestricted and unbroken by continental land
masses. These unimaginable conditions turn
the southern ocean into a virtual washing
machine and will no doubt make for the most
intense sailing the racing yachts have seen
The route around Cape Horn was pioneered in
1616 by a Dutch navigator named Willem
Schouten who was looking for an alternate
trade route to the east. The ubiquitous East
India Company monopolized the Straits of
Magellan and Cape of Good Hope routes.
One of their competitors, who believed there was
another passage from the Atlantic to the
Pacific, enlisted Schouten to find it.
Although Francis Drake had sailed in the
waters south of the cape in 1578, it was
Schouten who spotted the cape and named it
Hoorn after his birthplace in the
These routes fell largely into disuse upon
completion of the Panama Canal in 1914,
however, some large tankers still use the
Southern Ocean route. A successful rounding
of Cape Horn was considered a tremendous feat
Le Maire, Schouten, and Cape Horn
Isaac Le Maire was a prominent Dutch
merchant, who had developed a competitive
dislike for the East India Company. In spite
of his agitations against the company, he was
granted the privilege to trade in the
Indo-West Pacific. Ordinarily, this legal
permission could be expected to cause the
East India Company concern about competition
with its monopoly in the region. However, the
charter of the East India Company guaranteed
no other Dutch company could use either the
Straits of Magellan or the Cape of Good Hope
routes to effect trade within the East
Indies. Le Maire had two reasons to be
optimistic that there was passage south of
the Strait of Magellan between the Atlantic
and the Pacific Oceans.
* Magellan doubted the land south of his
passage of the tip of South America was a
continent. He suspected there was open water.
* Drake had been in the area previously and
had been taken significantly south of
Magellan's Strait by a storm.
Le Maire believed there was passage from the
Atlantic into the Pacific which would not use
the disallowed Strait of Magellan, and he
hired a competent navigator, who had already
made three trips to the South Seas islands.
His name was Willem Schouten. Together, they
put together a plan for their new company.
The company was to travel in search of the
South Pacific gold riches prominently
mentioned by Quiros. Le Maire, Schouten, and
Schouten's son (Jacob) joined with the city
leaders of the town of Hoorn and raised money
for two ships, which were outfitted for the
The outfit was known as the
Goldseekers. The ships were the larger
Eendracht and the smaller Hoorn, and sailors
were hired for a journey, the details of
which they were not to know. Where these
ships were to go was not public knowledge,
but the company had come to be known as the
Goldseekers, though it was more properly
recorded as The Australian Company. The
company sailed from England in May 1615.
Crossing the Atlantic and reaching the South
America shore was not done without mishap,
but both ships survived the problems. With
relief, the sailors properly beached the
ships on the shore of Patagonia in order to
clean them before continuing on to the
It was in this process that the
Hoorn was accidentally set alight and burned
to destruction. The expedition continued with
the Eendracht alone. In January 1616
(southern summer) Le Maire and Schouten did
pass the Eendracht through a route south of
the Straits of Magellan, a route now called
the Straight of Le Maire. To his left Le
Maire noted the land mass (unexplored) as
Staten Landt, perhaps a portion of the great
southern continent. In fact, the land was an
island, but the possibility of a large Staten
Land persisted. Tasman considered New Zealand
may be part of Le Maire's Staten Land.
As Le Maire and Schouten passed the most southerly
tip and moved into the great ocean to the
west they noted the point and called it Cape
Hoorn, which has endured onto maps today. The
Eendracht entered the great southern ocean
and crossed with pauses at several island
groups along the way. Then Le Maire wished to
pursue a more southerly course into Java,
Schouten was leery of the southern side of
New Guinea and believed it not possible to
pass on that side.
The Duyfken had reportedly come to a westward
opening bay in the region now know to be
Torres Strait between New Guinea and Cape
York of Australia. Torres had passed through
these waters in the same year as the Duyfken
cruise, but his report was buried in Spanish
archives and unseen by the remainder of the
contemporary sailing world.
Schouten insisted and prevailed on a northern
route around New Guinea. The cruise came to
an end in October 1616 in Batavia. The
expedition failed in its attempt to discover
gold riches, but it was highly successful as
a well managed voyage into ocean regions
unknown, and plotted the absence of a great
southern continent through its track across
the Pacific. Only three sailors died on the
more-than-sixteen-month voyage, and none from
Three days following their arrival in
Batavia, Le Maire and Schouten were
imprisoned on charge of violating the
monopoly of the Company. The Company
directors on Java did not believe a new
passage had been found around the tip of
South America and sent the two men back to
Holland. On that trip, the 31-year-old Le
Maire died. For the next two years, Le
Maire's father worked to sue the Company and
was finally successful. The new path around
Cape Hoorn was recognized and the East India
Company was ordered to return the vessel and
its cargo to the Australia Company, paying
all expenses and interest since its taking.
Comments of Syms Covington, assistant of Darwin, about Cape Horn:
We Anchored off the Bay of San Blas, December 3rd. Sailed
the next morning, and also parted with the two small
schooners that were engaged at Bahía Blanca to survey about
the coast of Patagonia until our return at the same place.
Moored ship December 1st in deep water at Good
Success Bay, Tierra Del Fuego. The island, or Islands,
and Staten Land form the Strait le Miare. HHere it is
daylight until 10 o'clock at night, remaining twilight until
daybreak at 2.30 o'clock. These Islands are completely
forested mountains, their tops capt with snow which remains
the whole year round. Near the summit of the mountains,
there are very thick, low bushes, and patches of moss where
you sink ankle deep -- which makes walking very laborious.
On the tops of the mountains at places where the snow has
melted, you find rocks of a slaty and crumbling nature.
Here, sometimes the wind blows with fierceness, which
obliged us to return down to the woods, for without
exaggeration we could scarcely breathe. On the mountain
heights one finds plenty of guanacos, which are very shy.
Their flesh is very good eating but dry. Both on the high
and low woods there are great many birds of different
species and by the sea, there are plenty of geese, ducks,
and seals. Here, two of Captain Cook's men died of the cold.
Here, Captain Cook sent the naturalists Joseph Banks and
Charles Solander inland with their Black servants in charge
of the spirits. While the scientists picked plants, mindless of
the cold and impending dark, the servants "stupefied
themselves to the degree that they ... laid themselves down
in a place where there was not the least shelter for the
inclemency of the night.... Bad traveling made it impossible
for any one to carry them, so that they were obliged to leave
them, and the next morning they were both found dead."
[ Cook 1893: (1)38; Barlow 1933: 118,12]
We went up to the same mountains the same day in the
month as they. Here you find the savage in plenty.
Picture to yourself a canoe along side of a
ship; with two or three men with as many women and a child,
perhaps two, all absolutely naked. Sometimes a woman or a
man may have a sealskin or a part of one over his shoulders,
and the woman, with a bit of skin tied around the waist.
All squatted down on their hams, with a handful of fire
in the bottom of the canoe with a few small fishes, with
their faces and bodies painted or marked with red and white
chalk in various ways, with necklaces made of trade party
shells worn round the necks and wrists of the women, with
their stiff black hair standing on end, and most likely
shivering with the cold. They have several spears made from
the bones of the seal, with a staff from twelve to fifteen
feet long well made, the whole cut with sharp stones,
two or three fishing lines made from the gut of the seal
with a knot to the end for the fish to swallow, and small
buckets made from the rush (or plaited), one of which
contains a fire stone and a sort of dry moss to kindle a
fire when wanted. One or two stand up occasionally, making
signs and continually using the word, "Yammarschooner,"
which is supposed to be " give me," as they hold their
hands out at the same time [Darwin 1906: 208,216-7].
These poor wretches are equally miserable ashore, as they have
only a wigwam or small hut made with the branches of trees
about four feet high rounded upon top and a hole just large
enough to creep in, with a fire inside where they sit down
and broil their fish, seals and limpets. This miserable hut
forms but a poor barrier against the inclemency of the
weather, but as they are wandering tribes and used to no
comfort, those temporary huts, serve them equally as well as
our houses do us. Those Indians like all others are
often at war with each other; their defensive weapons are
the spear, the bow and arrow, club, and stones.
A tribe called the Bowans use the bow and arrow more than the
others. Buttons or a bit of looking glass or any thing
that shines pleases them plenty; Red and yellow cloth or
flannel likewise. Left Good Success Bay December 21st,
weathered Cape Horn the 22nd with a pleasant breeze, and
with studding sails set, a thing but rarely done. We had
A very fine view of the Cape and adjacent islands. Hermit
Islands or the Cape is a small bare island, its top having
the appearance of a saddle. By our having a gentle breeze,
we sailed very close to the Rock and from thence stood away;
but this breeze, in the first watch, turned to one of a very
different nature viz. that of blowing a heavy gale, which
obliged us to take in the studding sails etc., and close
reefed our main topsail.
It is well known that the weather here is very precarious,
which obliges every one to be on the alert.
December 24th, moored ship in Wigwam Cove,
from whence we had a beautiful view of the cape which is
within ten miles of the Cove. There were frequent squalls,
and heavy puffs of the wind to appearance like a fog
coming down from the mountains, called by sailors,
williwaws. Here we passed our Christmas and I may say a
merry one considering where we were and in a ship.
The Captain indulged the ships company in every thing he
possibly could, our ship being housed over, we could dance,
sing, joke or in a word do anything to make one another
happy, and on deck, although it blew and rained
occasionally. We found wild fowl on the Cape and on other
small islands in its vicinity, and likewise found a sort of
grouse. Here are plenty of celery, black currants and
berries, the latter in immense numbers, and good eating.
Lighthouse at Cape Horn
The Cape Horn trips start and finish in Puerto Williams or from Ushuaia, Argentina.
The boat goes on to the glaciers after Cape Horn for another 8 days for
the 15 day voyages.
See Map showing locations of Puerto Williams, Puerto Navarino, Button Island,
Wulaia and Douglas harbor at http://www.victory-cruises.com/wulaia_douglas.html
Many airlines fly to Chile from all over the world and it's easy to get
Puerto Williams from Punta Arenas, Chile with DAP airlines.
We can help you with Dap Bookings.
They have flights Tuesdays through Saturdays to Puerto Williams form Punta
You may take LAN Chile or several other airlines from Santiago with a short
1 hour stopover in Punta Arenas, the world's most southern city and then
hour flight to Puerto Williams, the world's most southern town.
See http://www.lanchile.cl/ for
flight schedule and bookings. We are LAN Chile reprsentatives and can help with your booking.
For the 15 night route see map at http://www.victory-cruises.com/beagle.html
You may combine either of the above with a four
day trip to beautiful Torres del Paine if you have time.
The cost for 3 days camping in Torres Del Paine
is about US$250 including car rental and and camping
site with water, shower and barbeque pit.
There is more on Torres Del Paine at http://www.victory-cruises.com/maps.html
You may access these voyages by way of Puerto Williams,
the world's most Southern town with an overnight stay in
Punta Arenas, the world's most Southern City. Punta Arenas
is a five hour flight from Santiago, Chile,
This itinerary is from Ushuaia or also it can be from Puerto Williams, Chile:
You will board the sailboat at the Ushuaia Yacht Club (Club Afasyn), to
start the trip. We will sail towards the east through the Beagle
Channel, see its magellanic cormorants, imperial cormorants, giant
petrels and sea wolves. The Light House Les Eclaireurs will indicate
the changing of our course towards Port Williams, Chile, the world's
most Southern town.
Docked at the Micalvi Yacht Club, we will spend our first night in the sailboat.
Life on board will allow us to learn the diverse tasks from the
kitchen, the order, taking on water and knowing some marine knots. The
spirit of collaboration always always present will help us to release
the anxiety of not knowing what will happen the next day.
After this first night in Port Williams, where we will be able to make
a long walk to visit Beavers and see the woods, then we will prepare
ourselves to depart towards the Glaciers area, with West course through
the Beagle Channel. We will be sailing this area for six days, which
offers safe bays or creeks for the anchoring at night and allows
landings, beautiful landscapes and long walks to enjoy.
"Setting sail." We will sail the length of the Beagle Channel,
heading sailing towards the east, alongside Navarino Island coast to
the fishing village of Puerto Toro where we will stay overnight,.
Then after waiting for good weather, we will enter the sometimes stormy
Nassau Bay, in the direction of the Wollaston islands and Port Martial,
the marine fauna is extraordinary. We may experience Williwaw winds.
And this is the moment, under good weather conditions to reach the
mythical Cape Horn, passing by Picton and Lennox Islands, whose eastern
flank holds hidden coves. The coves are an essential shield of
earth that shelters us from the almost always strong winds from the
west. By the 1900s, many expeditions found protection here, which
let them complete their anthropological and geographic missions.
We will stay overnight in Maxwell cove.
We will wait in Maxwell Cove for ideal conditions in which to round
Cape Horn. Just 15 miles separate us from the southernmost point
in South America.
The first opportunity will be taken - we will round Cape Horn. If
weather conditions permit, we will visit the personnel stationed at the
Chilean Naval Station, who take care of the lighthouse in this solitary
place. In the small wind-beaten Chapel Stella Maris, we will
remember the people of the sea, who in this desolate Cape, lost their
lives fighting the hostile elements of nature. At sunset, we will
anchor ten miles north, in Martial Cove.
After visiting the Cape Horn we will head back for Puerto
Williams and Ushuaia by the same route. Today's destination: Puerto
Toro. One hundred years ago, Puerto Toro was considered the
administrative center of the southernmost part of the Tierra del Fuego
archipelago. With gold fever over, Puerto Toro became the
tranquil hamlet it is today. Today, the local fishing fleet uses
the port as a base in the archipelago. With some luck, we will
enjoy "centolla," the prized southern king crab.
We will pass by a shipwrecked transport vessel, and along the length of
the coast, isolated estates. At sunset, Puerto Williams
will receive us again. In the Yacht Club Micalvi's bar, the new
"Cape Horners" will toast with the traditional pisco sour for their
Time to relax and re-pack luggage. One last stroll through the town,
empanadas for lunch. Our flight to Punta Arenas usually leaves
after lunchtime. Once again, we can admire an aerial view.