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Since 1991 Exploring The "Uttermost Parts Of The Earth":The Arctic, Antarctica, Cape Horn & Tierra Del Fuego


Expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula,
South Georgia, Cape Horn, Falklands & Tierra Del Fuego

On this virtual tour you may see: Majestic mountains dipped in snow...
Crystalline waterways... Whales, seals, Soaring Andes condors...
Ice-blue Glaciers that shimmer like jewels...

Some of the Journal of Syms Covington, Servant of Charles Darwin:

Syms Covington

Sailed from Wigwam Cove December 31. Saw the Island of Diego
Ramirez January 2nd, also saw the Islands of Ildefonso and Yorkminster
January 10th. On the passage we experienced a very heavy gale, AND on the
13th, lost the Captain's gig, which was occasioned by the sea breaking over
our quarter and poop, and likewise sprung our bowsprit etc. Anchored in
Wind Hound Bay (see original 1834 copy of map of Navarino Island) in
the evening January 13th. Sailed the next morning forGoree Road where
we anchored the same day (the 14th) in Beagle Channel.

Here the three Indians and missionary left the ship for their native
island, or Buttons Land, called after the name of the boy. [Near
] Three boats with the greater part of the ships company went with
them, built large wigwams and set seed of different sorts for their
use, which took all of them several days; and after landing their utensils
which were A numerous and various bounty, left for another part of the
island. On the return of the boats, which had been absent about a week,
We found the missionary and THE three Indians stripped of nearly all they
had by the Indians, with the exception of a few things they had put under
ground, and even the place that had been cultivated, had their plants
torn up, and likewise ill treated the missionary to make him discover where
where the remainder of the utensils. By the hostile appearance of the
Indians, it was thought proper our countryman COME back to the ship, which
was done, and the three Indians WERE left with their own countrymen.

But on our arrival some months afterwards, we found they had been stripped
of everything; here we found the boy only, the man and the girl WHO had
agreed to live together as man and wife previous to our leaving the first
time, had left for another island. Sailed February 10th and brought
too in Puck Saddle Bay the same evening. Having moved ship to Puck Saddle
Bay on the Hardy Peninsula, the Captain returned to visit the Fuegians in a
whaleboat the next day, returning the 12th. On the 18th and 19th, the
Beagle surveyed the northern part of Wollaston Island, returning to the
quieter waters of Goree Roads on the 20th. There they stayed, waiting out
the weather. On Monday the 25th, Darwin walked up Bank's Hill; "the wind
was so strong and cold that we were glad to retreat".
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. HERE ( During December/January) 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 verythick, 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. 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. 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 anything 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.

You may see the original account at:

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