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Historic Orange Bay, just 20 miles North of False Cape Horn,
is featured in theMarch, 2003 ISSUE OF THE PATAGONIAN NEWS

The VICTORY on her voyages to Cape Horn has made visits to Historical Orange Bay in Hoste Island about 20 miles North of False Cape Horn where the French Navy vessel ROMANCHE made a one year expedition in 1882.

On the last voyage there, the crew of the VICTORY found a monument and a plaque on the hill south of the landing that says: "Expédition Romanche 1882".

There is also a large glacier on the Beagle Channel named after the Romanche expedition.

A search on Google for "romanche " turned up the following :

Fireland and the Yagan by John Michel barrault, November 1995

In the middle of the last century, about three thousand Yaghan lived in the extreme confines of Fireland, between the canal Beagle and cape Horn.  The contact with the Europeans, whaling, missionaries, adventurous, navigators and sometimes shipwrecked persons, was fatal for them. Nude, living in brief huts or in their bark canoes, the Fuegiens were decimated by diseases such as tuberculosis and hunted as harmful beasts. There was not a count of more than three hundred Yagan in 1891 and, in 1994, only three or four.

Translators comment:

Now there is only one remaining pure Yagan; Cristina Calderon whose older yagan sister, Ursula died in January 2003 at age 78.

Today collections preserved by the museum of the Yagan brings a precious and moving testimony.  In 1882, a ship of the French navy, The Romanche, effectuated a multi-discipline scientific mission in the parts by cape Horn for the occasion of the first international polar Year.  After the installation of an establishment in the Orange bay, near cape Horn, The Romanche explored the islands and the canals during the course of nine voyages.  Complementing the hydro-graphical measuring work during a year, the scholars studied the Yagan for which they made friendly reports.  The doctor Hyades, doctor of the mission, noted «they did not request or tobacco or alcohol, things of which they appeared to be unaware of the existence».  Martial, the commander of the expedition, describes them thus: «It is difficult to find a sadder specimen of the human race than the one than we have under the eyes ».  Darwin had noted: «It is  a pain to believe that these are human creatures that live the same world as us. »

Nevertheless, until the arrival of the Europeans, this nomad probably always hunted more to the south, survived, in a hostile environment, with courage and intelligence.

Two of the officers of The Romanche, Payen and Doze, took during the trip, three hundred twenty-three photographs, for the essential one, to the national Museum of natural history and to the Museum de l'Homme.  This are on veneer glass, silver gelatin emulsions, of format 13x18 that, after a century, remain of good quality. One Hundred and fifty of their best photos are reproduced here.  Besides the narrative of the trip of The Romanche and a sad one to remember about a group of exposed Fuégiens, is a book by Anne Chapman that furnishes an interesting contribution which during the course of several stays on Navarino island, between 1985 and 1991, collected the memories of three very elderly women, the last surviving yagan people henceforth disappeared.

Santiago, Chile History of the samplings


In July 1882, an international scientific expedition established its base on Orange Bay of Hoste Island, the most southern island of Chilean part of Tierra del Fuego.
The main purpose of this expedition, which stayed nearly one year on the Island, was to observe a complete solar eclipse and passage of Venus, which occurred in December 1882.
Not only astronomers were present, but also anthropologists, botanists, geologists, etc. which composed a team of about fifty scientists from the United Kingdom, U.S.A., Brazil and mainly France.
Among the various activities of the team, one French naturalist, Dr Hyades, made 107 samplings of freshwater and marine sediments. Among them, only ten were well preserved regarding the biological material as they were fixed with osmic acid instead of alcohol and/or phenolic acid used for the others. These ten samples were later transmitted for study to various French specialists of botanical (algae) and zoological groups and more particularly to A. Certes, a well known protistologist. From this material, Certes (1889) described several new Protozoa, and, as said, two new nematodes. A difficult expedition by the senior author to the type locality of both Certes' species (Hoste Island, Tierra del Fuego, Chile) permitted sampling of a species of criconematid of which the females fit the original description and illustration of Criconelna giardi (Certes, 1889)

The senior author was fortunate enough to realize this in January 1983, exactly hundred years after the first expedition. Through the kind cooperation of the University of Chile, SAG Servicio Agricultura y Ganadero, and the Armada de Chile a voyage on the "Castor", a naval supply vessel, was made from Puerto Williams to Orange Bay, Hoste Island. After three nights and part of four days, arrival at Orange Bay was accomplished at 15.00 hours January 19 but high winds prevented disembarking until 09.00 hours January 20. During three hours of collecting, three sites were visited within one kilometer of each other, all with fresh water streams and moist soil. SUMMARY A critical review of the publication in which Certes (1889) successively described Dorylaimus giardi and Eubos-trichus guernei demonstrates that the latter species (now the type species of the genus Criconelna Hofmanner & Menzel, 1914) has been described on juvenile forms pertaining to two different species.


Many taxonomists working on criconematid nematodes thought and dreamed of the possibility to sample again on Hoste Island. But this Island is very remote and only accessible by warships using small landing boats for the last phase (the 1882 - 1883 expedition was under the control of the commander of the French warship "Romanche").

Redescription of Criconema giardi The annules are said to present "pointed out and pointed in angles provided with spines"; this can be interpreted as annules bearing more or less triangular shaped scales provided with one terminal spine; these spines are reported as "forming along the body six parallel rows". This point merits special attention: if we take this statement literally, we are obliged to consider this species as unique among all the Criconematinae as no other species presents such a low number of rows of scales and/or spines in adult females or juveniles.

Our regular contributor Pedro SAPUNAR P., who occupied the office of Chief Engineer of the Dredges and Machinery Department, Directorate of Port Works of Chile, has sent us a note related to the world’s first submarine rounding of Cape Horn, by the old O'BRIEN.

The story is as follows:

"On the 18th of March 1931 the Manoeuvres Squadron (then the name the Navy’s Active Squadron) set sail from Puerto Montt towards the south of the country to go through an instruction program in the Southern Channels.

The Manoeuvres Squadron, under the command of Rear Admiral Alejandro GARCIA CASTELBLANCO, was on this occasion made up of the Submarine Mothership ARAUCANO, (flagship), the destroyers VIDELA, HYATT, RIQUELME, and ALDEA, and the submarine O'BRIEN, all new units launched in English shipyards between 1929 and 1930.

On the 27th of March the Manoeuvres Squadron anchored in Punta Arenas and four days later sailed from this port towards the Beagle Channel and Cape Horn. Stops were made in: Bahía Gente Grande, (Tierra del Fuego island), where it stayed until the 2nd of April; Bahía Sholl, (now Bahía Morris); Magdalena Channel; Puerto Burnt; and later, sailing through the Beagle Channel to Bahía Romanche where the naval formation anchored on the 4th of April.

On the 6th of April at 04:00 hours the Manoeuvres Squadron sailed from Bahía Goree for Cape Horn, which was sighted at 07:45 hours. The submarine O'BRIEN, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Gustavo SILVA, submerged at 08:20 hours and at 09:00 surfaced, having rounded Cape Horn. They later continued on to anchor the same day in Bahía Orange at 17:20 hours. Thus a world record was notched up for the Chilean Submarine Branch: the first rounding of Cape Horn in the history of navigation by a submerged vessel".


Bridges, Thomas

He was born in the city of Lenton, Nottingham, (England) in the year 1842.

Died in the city of Buenos Aires July 15, 1898, to the 56 years of age.

The mission was Anglican in Land of the Fire

In 1856 G.  P.  Despard  and their adopted son Thomas Bridges (13 years) arrive at the Island Keppel (Falklands).  Begin the regular trips to the channel of Beagle.

In 1857 the missionaries carry the first yahganes to Keppel. Thomas Bridges studies its language.  The mister Despard does the first list of words yahganes.

 In 1863 in the trip of Pardon Thomas Bridges speaks the natives in its own tongue, and desire its confidence.

In 28 of May from 1871 the Reverend Bridges performs the first baptism in the Island: the son of the gentlemen Lewis, born in the Falklands, with the name of Frank Ooshooia Lewis[1].

September 30, 1871 arrive at Ushuaia in the Allen Gardiner the Rvdo.  Thomas Bridges, its wife Mary Ann Varder and its daughter Mary, of nine months.  They are the first white that are established finally in the Land of the Fire.

November 6, 1871 the first marriage in the Land of the Fire is carried out, among the Indian Cooshirijiz and Wepoilikeepa.  The religious ceremony is conducted for the Rvdo.  Bridges.

In 18 of June of 1872 is born the first white boy in the Land of the Fire, Thomas Despard Bridges.  In this epoch there was only 7 white inhabitants, and no doctor.

April 23, 1879 is born Bertha M.  Bridges (of Reynolds), first born white woman in the Land of the Fire.  Died April 13, 1968.

In 1880 the missionaries count since this year with the whaling one Leelom in Ushuaia, with the one that Thomas Bridges explores all the channels fueguinos.  First rowboat established in the zone.

In 1882 the Southern Expedition is carried out Argentina. The Lieutenant Giacomo Bove, the Good Captain Stone and the Doctors Decio Vinciguerra, Carlos Spegazzini and Sunday Lovisato, pass February and March in the Island of the States (Ovens Tip ship) doing studies.  From March to May study the channels fueguinos with Thomas Bridges in the San José, wreck in the bay Slogget, and rescues them the Allen Gardiner.

Among 1882-1883 the Scientific Mission at the end of Ovens is performed.  The captain Luis Martial (francés),a embroider of the ship Romanche and with a numerous team of scientists, passes a year in the Bay Orange, studies the natives and observes the traffic of Venus, December 6, 1882.  First climatic registrations, etc.  The Captain Martial baptizes to the islands set against Ushuaia with the names of the Flia.  Bridges.

The June of 1884 Thomas Bridges raises a census of the yahganes; 273 men, 314 women and 413 children.  Total: 1000 persons.

In 1885 is built  the first school in Land of Fire, in the Mission anglicana.

In 1886 a new census is performed by Thomas Bridges: 397 yahganes in all the archipelago (among October and December of 1884 there had been a great epidemic of measles, by which die the half of the yahganes).  New epidemics of escrópula, pneumonia and tuberculosis.

September 29, 1886 Thomas Bridges leaves the Mission and Argentine citizen is done.  The President Rock, in name of the Government and in gratitude by his multiple works with the natives and shipwrecked, presents him with lands.  Bridges chooses Harberton, and thus the first stay in the archipelago is founded fueguino.

 In 1887 Thomas Bridges and children open a path since the stay Harberton to Ushuaia, the first one by the coast.

Contributions to the region

The Rvdo.  Bridges and its family are the first stable group of residents of Land of the Fire.

Bridges learned the tongue of the natives and could relate to them peacefully, helping thus to the establishment of other white families in the archipelago.

Educated to the Indians.  Religious and secular education offered them before baptizing them.

Created schools, shops, estates, labor lands and an asylum.

Bequeathed a dictionary of Yahgán English, of some 32.000 words, that with the vocabulary Ona of the Salesian Father José Beauvoir, constitute contribute them more ponderables to the study of the linguistic regional one.

Traveled through the channels fueguinos, being then a great collaborator with the scientific expeditions that went to that zone.


- Belza, Juan “In the Island of the Fire”, buenos aires, Editorial Historic Institute of Investigations of Land of the Fire, 1974.

- Braun Menéndez, Assembling, “Mr. Thomas Bridges”, -illustrious Gallery of men of the Patagonia-, in Magazine Argentina Southern, year I SAW, N° 63, buenos aires, 1934

- Bridges, Esteban Lucas, “The last confine of the land”, buenos aires, Editorial Emecé, 1952.

- Bridges, Thomas, “The bordering south of the Republic –The Land of the Fire and its inhabitants”, in Bulletin of the Geographical Institute Argentine, I Take VII, buenos aires, 1886.

- Bridges, Thomas, “The Land of the Fire and its inhabitants”, in Bulletin of the Geographical Institute Argentine, I Take XIV, buenos aires, 1893.

- Fitte, Ernesto J., “The first protestant missionaries in the region magallánica”, in Bulletin of the National Academy of the History, buenos aires, 1964.

- Godoy Manríquez, Carlos Jorge (Director), “The Great Book of the Patagonia”, buenos aires, Editorial Planet, 1997.

- Prosser Goodall, Scrapes Natalie, “Land of the Fire”, Bs.  Ace. -Ushuaia, Editorial Shanamaiim, 1979.

- Pamphlet: “Miscellany of the End of the World”, buenos aires, Municipal Direction of Tourism of Ushuaia, 1992.

[1] Juan E.  Belza, in its work “In the Island of the Fire”, says that Frank O.  Lewis was the first boy born in the Island.

A google search turned up the following about the large Romanche glacier on the Beagle Channel named after the Romanche expedition:

Sarah headed westward into Franklins Channel, the weather became unusually sunny, save for a horrific black squall which drenched the boat. In the near distance could be seen the snow capped peaks of Isla Wollaston. We struck south to Isla Hornos, greeted almost immediately by a gusty 4-5 meter swell, which apparently means a calm day in these parts! It is not unknown here for 100 knot gusts called "williwaws" to blast out of nowhere, surprising sails and sailors alike. Before long the distinctive peak of the Cape headland could be made out, appearing as a flared exclamation mark for an incredible continent (the inhabited world even) with the full stop being a pile of rocks caught in a fury of wild surf. It seems almost inconceivable to think that until the last end of the last glacial maximum (ice-age) one could walk without interruption of water all the way to the Cape of Good Hope in Southern Africa. The inspiration behind this whole trip ! Even, considering that the vastness of the Antarctic lies several hundred km further south, there is no point further south which can be considered habitable even if one includes the bleak selection of sub-antarctic islands !

We passed a few dangerous rocks, no doubt the cause of many historical shipwrecks, almost camouflaged by the chaotic pattern of the wild surf. Being on watch, steered clear of one of these piles. Then we passed the furthest south I had yet been at Latitude South 55°59´01″ . Ceremoniously, I fed a bottle of champers off into the Drake Passage with a length of rope and we all toasted the occasion. Henks' and Jacqueline's stories of the Drake Crossing seemed almost unbelievable, with horizons of furious surf swamping the boat on bad occasions. Broken masts on inferior vessels almost sounded like queer periscope stories.

Cape Horn

A small lighthouse could be seen lower down on the impressive slope of horn, now disused. A superbly dramatic outlook. To the south lay 600 miles of the most continuously violent seas on the planet, the Drake Passage, next landfall the icy shores of the Graham Land on the Antarctic Peninsula. We moved into the lee of the horn to a small sheltered cove. A wooden staircase and funicular rail for freight lead up to the small naval station, manned by a young Chilean couple (the NCO was only 19 or so !) who had been posted there only two weeks ago. Their cosy little house was very warm, almost excessively so. Apparently a re-supply vessel passed by every eight weeks. We signed the logbook, had our passports stamped and the small group of us visited a few local attractions. The small log chapel, the southernmost place of worship outside Antarctica was very peaceful, ended abruptly as a violent squall passed by. The lighthouse was very dilapidated with the hinges of the door completely rusted off and wedged in place by the remnants of a bolt. A boardwalk led across the tussock clumps to the rusting monument. Areas nearby were sealed off by barbed wire fences, apparently enclosing land-mines to inhibit an Argentine invasion !

Sunday 31st December 2000 to SENO PIA Day 35

Last day of the millenium in a sense. Weather, pretty cool today and overcast. We followed the channel, passing several suspended turquoise glaciers rolling off the Cordillera Darwin ice-sheet, all with attractive falls of meltwater emanating from them. The glaciers had some resounding names; Ventisquero Holanda, Romanche.

Beagle Channel - Ventisquero Romanche


Victory Adventure Expeditions represents some 20 special sailboats which make the tours of Cape Horn and in addition, Antarctica.

End of March, 2003 issue of the Patagonian News