Sailing is from Puerto Navarino or PuertoWilliams, the world's most
Southern town on the Beagle Channel.
HISTORY OF THE AREA
WHERE THE MISSIONS AND ALSO WHERE USHUAIA, ARGENTINA BEGAN IN TIERRA DEL FUEGO
In 1830 Captain Fitzroy, at the command of
the first expedition of the famous "Beagle",
landed in Wulaia and decided to take four
young Fuegian hostages in return for a stolen
boat. They ended up sailing all the way back
to England "to become useful as interpreters,
and be the means of establishing a friendly
disposition towards Englishmen on the part of
The names given to them by the crew were:
York Minster, Jemmy Button, Fuegia Basket and
Boat Memory. Their original names were,
respectively: el'leparu, o'run-del'lico and
yok'cushly. boat memory died of smallpox
shortly after his arrival to England, and so
his name is lost in the history to come. In
London, Fuegia Basket got a bonnet from Queen
Adelaide herself. Two years later the
"Beagle" returned the three Fuegians to their
home in Wulaia, along with a young
naturalist, Charles Darwin.
Wulaia is where the founding of Tierra Del
Fuego, Ushuaia and Puerto Williams really
began with the first missionary house.
When he returned to England, Darwin wrote of
the Fuegians: "The perfect equality among the
individuals composing the Fuegian tribes must
for a long time retard their civilization.
...In Tierra Del Fuego, until some chief
shall arise with power sufficient to secure
any acquired advantage, such as the
domesticated animals, it seems scarcely
possible that the political state of the
country can be improved. At present, even a
piece of cloth given to one is torn into
shreds and distributed; and no one individual
becomes richer than another. On the other
hand, it is difficult to understand how a
chief can arise till there is property of
some sort by which he might manifest his
superiority and increase his power."
On December 27, 1831, H.M.S. BEAGLE, a 240
ton, ten-gun brig left Plymouth, England, on
a survey voyage to chart the coastline of
South America. It was a journey that would
last almost five years, and would carry the
ship around the world. It was also a voyage
that would change the history of human
thought. The BEAGLE was under the command of
Captain Robert Fitzroy, of the Royal Navy,
and carried seventy-four people, including
its unpaid naturalist, Charles Darwin,
recently graduated from Cambridge.
Missionary work in Wulaia started after
Captain Fitzroy brought Jimmy Button back
there to live again among the Yagan Indians
again in Wulaia and to help a Rev. Richard
he HMS BEAGLE Captain Robert FitzRoy,
an aristocratic career officer, son of Lord
Charles FitzRoy and a strong Christian believer.
Robert was something of a martinet on the quarter- deck,
intolerant of speculation and devoutly religious. He went on
to gain the rank of Vice-Admiral and to become an authority on
weather . (the barometer that bears
name was of his
invention) He also introduced the system of storm warnings
from which our system of daily weather forecasting evolved.
The purpose of this
cruise of the BEAGLE was to
chart the coasts of South
America and to
fixing of longitude by chronological measurements around the
world. For this purpose FitzRoy's cabin, to be shared with the
unpaid resident naturalist, contained no fewer than 24
chronometers. Captain FitzRoy made no secret of the fact that
he held another purpose for the cruise - to substantiate the
Bible, particularly the Book of Genesis and the story of the
n the 1830 voyage, Captain
Fitzroy at the command of
expedition of the famous "Beagle", landed in Wulaia.
Click on Murray Channel photo
for beautiful painting of the
HMS BEAGLE by Conrad Martens
Captain Robert FitzRoy was young to be a captain, yet
seasoned and very able. When he was only 23, he had assumed
the command of the Beagle. FitzRoy was devoutly religious,
and he planned some missionary activities for this voyage
along with setting up a mission in Tierra Del Fuego.
Drawing of Wulaia by Conrad Martens
Just before his return to England on his first voyage,
he decided to take four young Fuegians (Yagan
Indians) from Wulaia
as hostages in return for a stolen boat.
(see story about Jimmy Button)
They ended up sailing all the way back to England "to
become useful as interpreters, and be the means of
establishing a friendly disposition towards Englishmen on
the part of their countrymen."
he names given to them by the
crew were: York Minster,
Jemmy Button, Fuegia Basket and Boat Memory. Their original
names were, respectively: el'leparu, o'run-del'lico and
yok'cushly. boat memory died of smallpox shortly after his
arrival to England, and so his name is lost in the history
to come. In London, Fuegia Basket got a bonnet from Queen
n December 27, 1831, H.M.S.
BEAGLE, a 240 ton, ten-gun
brig left Plymouth, England, on a survey voyage to chart the
coastline of South America. It was a journey that would last
almost five years, and would carry the ship around the
world. It was also a voyage that would change the history of
human thought. The BEAGLE was under the command again of
Captain Robert Fitzroy, and carried seventy-four people,
including its unpaid naturalist, Charles Darwin, recently
graduated from Cambridge.
Two years after the first voyage, the "Beagle" returned the
three Fuegians to their home in Wulaia, along with Charles
Darwin. Here, on Navarino island at the tip of the South
American continent, Captain Fitzroy wanted to set up a mission.
Darwin was therefore able to spend considerable time ashore
and discovered things which would intrigue him.
It is debateble whether
later became a Christian.
When he returned to England, Darwin wrote of the
Fuegians: "The perfect equality among the individuals
composing the Fuegian tribes must for a long time retard
their civilization. ...In Tierra Del Fuego, until some chief
shall arise with power sufficient to secure any acquired
advantage, such as the domesticated animals, it seems
scarcely possible that the political state of the country
can be improved.
At present, even a piece of cloth given to one is torn into shreds
and distributed; and no one individual becomes richer than
another. On the other hand, it is difficult to understand
how a chief can arise till there is property of some sort
by which he might manifest his superiority and increase
Bay of Good Success, Tierra del Fuego
what Darwin wrote
about the Indians he found in Wulaia:
...painted devils... ...a measure of happiness...
Dec 17, 1832 - "It was without exception the most curious and
interesting spectacle I ever beheld: I could not have believed
how wide was the difference between savage and civilized man: it
is greater than between a wild and domesticated animal, inasmuch
as in man there is a greater power of improvement."
"heir only garment consists of a mantle thrown
shoulders, leaving their persons as often exposed as covered.
[They were painted like] devils which come on stage in plays.
They are excellent mimics ...they could repeat with perfect
correctness each word in any sentence we addressed them...
Yet we Europeans all know how difficult it is to distinguish apart the
sounds in a foreign language. Is it a consequence of the more
practised habits of perception and keener senses, common to all
men in a savage state?"
"During the former voyage, [1826-30] Captain Fitz Roy seized on a
party of natives as hostages for the loss of a boat which had
been stolen ...; some of these natives, as well as a child whom
he bought for a pearl-button, he took with him to England ...
to educate and instruct them in religion at his own expense.
To settle these natives in their own country, was one chief
inducement to Captain Fitz Roy to undertake our present voyage."
" lthough all three could both speak and
good deal of English, it was singularly difficult to obtain much
information from them ... partly owing to their apparent
difficulty in understanding the simplest alternative. It is
certainly true that when pressed in winter by hunger, they kill
and devour their own women before they kill their dogs:
'Doggies catch otters, old women, no'." Not so. Fuegians were not
cannibals. (Bridges suggests, in The Uttermost Part of the Earth,
that reports of Fuegian cannibalism were "no more than agreement
with suggestions made by their questioners." )
"hey sometimes bury their
dead... Jeremy Button
would not eat
land-birds because ' [they] eat dead men': they are unwilling to
mention their dead friends. [It is unclear if] they perform any
sort of religious worship. Each family or tribe has a wizard or
conjuring doctor. Jeremy believed in dreams, though not in the
devil: I do not think that our Feugians were much more
superstitious than some of the sailors."
"Whence have they come ...to one of the most inhospitable
countries within the limits of the globe? There is no reason to
believe that the Fuegians decrease in number; therefore we must
suppose that they enjoy a sufficient share of happiness, of
whatever kind it may be, to render life worth having. Nature, by
making habit omnipotent, and its effects hereditary, has fitted
the Fuegian to the climate and the productions of his miserable
Missionary work in Wulaia started after Captain Fitzroy brought
Jimmy Button back from his 1830 voyage to live here again among
the Yagan Indians and to help Rev. Richard Mathews.
ALLEN GARDINER WAS THE KEY TO THE BEGINNING OF SETTLEMENT OF THE AREA.
However, it was the English Anglican missionary,
sailing vessel captain, Allen Gardiner, a successor to Mathews
who continued this work:
Allen had arrived on Picton island not far from Puerto Williams in
the summer of 1850 with six other Anglican missionaries.
His sole mission was to bring the word of God to the Yagan Indians
of Tierra Del Fuego. He had known about the Yagans from the four
of them which were brought to England by Captain Fitzroy of the
ardiner wanted to go to Wulaia
to find the Yagan, Jemmy
Button who spoke English, for a translater.
He had not raised enough money to buy a Schooner, so they bought
two small steel sailboats named the "Speedwell" and "Pioneer".
With these two small sailboats Gardiner took off again for an
evangelizing trip along with a surgeon by the name of Richard
Williams, a young Bible teacher named John Maidmant, carpenter
Joseph Erwin and three strong fishermen from Cornwall: Badcok,
Pearce y Bryant.
The 5th of December, 1850, after 3 months of voyage aboard
the "Ocean Queen", the boats and Gardiner arrived in Tierra
Del Fuego at the island Picton where the goats were still at
pasture which he had left a year before.
As the OCEAN QUEEN sailed away from them, they were left
only to depend on their two small boats.
Serious problems began to overcome these Anglican missionaries
and they had accidentally left their gun powder aboard the ship
on which they had arrived.
Then they could not locate the Yagan Indian, Jimmy Button who had been
brought back to Tierra Del Fuego from England.
hey needed him to be their
interpreter of the Gospel
to the other Yagans. They did find some Yagan Indians who only
wanted to take everything they saw and were very threatening.
As they couldn't detain them or combat them ( their mission
was to evangelize), so they re-loaded their boats, saved what they
could and sailed away from Picton Island.
The Yagans chased Gardiner constantly with their canoes which
were lighter than the heavy missionary boats. Finally they found
protection in Spanish Harbor (Bahía Aguirre) on the island of
Tierra Del Fuego some 50 miles distant.
t was not a favorable coast and
was destroyed on
landing, and the men started to have problems with their health.
The sea invaded the cave where they were living taking everything
with it including their Bibles.
So they decided to go back to Picton with the "Speedwell",
where they painted a large message on the rocks of Banner Cove
for a passing rescue boat to see: "Dig here below- Go to Spanish
Harbor -March 1851" and there they buried a bottle containing
a message. ate
playing it's role in their lives. A very
hard Patagonian winter (which can reach 20 degrees below
zero Celsius) set in and they started dying one by one of
sickness, starvation and cold.
The last notation in the diary of Williams is on 22 of
June. His last words: "The will of the Lord be done".
Bradcock is the first to die. In July, Gardiner writes that
they have been on reduced rations for 7 weeks. In August
Edwin and Bryant died.
n the 29th
of August, 1851
at age 57, with winter
coming to an end, he said good-bye to his wife and children
and included these words: "If a wish was given to me for the
good of my neighbor it would be that the Mission in Tierra
Del Fuego be pursued with vigor. But the Lord will direct
and do everything because time and reason are His, our
hearts are in His hands...". His last lines written in his
diary on the 6th of September were: "By God's Grace this
blessed group was able to sing praises for eternity. I am
not hungry or thirsty in spite of 5 days without eating;
Wonderful Grace and Love to me, a sinner..."
Gardiner in agony in Spanish
Harbor, Tierra Del Fuego
Upon learning of Allen Gardiner's death the still
existing South American Missionary Society which Allen had
founded, constructed a 65 foot missionary schooner
(almost a twin of the VICTORY) , the ALLEN GARDINER,
and launched her in 1855.
A party of 9 missionaries aboard the schooner arrived at Wulaia on
Navarino Island (close to Puerto Williams on the Murray
Channel) in 1856.
There they finally found Jimmy Button to help them to translate.
5 days later, while attending a Sunday service onshore all
except the ship's cook who had stayed aboard the ALLEN
GARDINER were viciously attacked and killed with sticks
and rocks without motive or warning. Jimmy
said to have been one of the rabble rousers.
y this time a total of fifteen
missionaries had been
martyred with the intention of saving some of the Yagan's
souls, but there still were no results! This last attack put
a halt to all missions in the area for 6 years until a young
English missionary, Thomas Bridges built a house in Wulaia.
He had previously mastered the Yagan Language in the
Falkland islands where some of the Yagans had been taken and
was able to make friends with them. (A Chilean Navy house
and other original constructions are still standing at
Wulaia which is now serving as a cattle ranch.)
Bridges returned to Wulaia a year later and found the
house burned and everything destroyed. The missionaries then
moved farther North to Leuaia on the Beagle channel and then
directly across the Beagle Channel to where is the now bustling
tourist city of Ushuaia. The islands in the Channel in front of
Ushuaia are named after Bridges and his family.
e later founded what is now
another Tierra Del Fuego
tourist attraction, the "Harborton Ranch" and wrote a complete
dictionary of the Yagan language.
He came to be so enmeshed in the people that he quickly
learned to speak their language perfectly. With his
knowledge of their tongue, not only the words but also the
construction of it's grammar and sense structure he, over
the course of many years, compiled a Yagan dictionary
containing some 30,000 words, along with explanations and
examples so that "a good student could", without ever coming
into contact with the Yagans, learn to speak as one of
he dictionary itself is the
basis of a story that most
would consider too bizarre to be truth. By the way, the word
Yagan (invented by Bridges himself) is an abbreviation of
the word Yahgashagalumoala meaning, People of the Mountain
In 1869 the missionary Waite Sterling founded the first
Anglican mission in the area in Ushuaia. Ushuaia is now a
tourist town of 45,000 in Argentine territory.
It was some 50 miles North across the Beagle Channel from the
unfriendly Wulaia village and gave them protection from
further attacks. Thomas Bridges was soon afterwards put in
charge of this new Tierra Del Fuego mission which was then
abandoned in 1916 some 66 years after the arrival of Allen
Gardiner in Patagonia.
Wulaia is where the founding of Tierra Del Fuego,
Ushuaia and Puerto Williams really became a reality
with the first mission house and the Anglican mission church
being built later in Ushuaia. Later the South American Mission
(SAM) was expanded to all South America. Allen Gardiner's
life and death remain to encourage missionaries around the world.
Source: "Captain Allen Gardiner, Sailor and Saint"
By Jesse Page. Ed. Patridge & Co. (Translated from Spanish)
The route the tall ship VICTORY follows is in the wake of the
"Beagle" and the ALLEN GARDINER in Tierra Del
Fuego and we will trace the footsteps of Darwin, the
missionaries, Williams, Bridges, Sterling, Fitzroy and Mathews.
More on Wulaia
Click PDF Icon below to download an interactive, clickable, printable
about Wulaia, Cape Horn and the old missions routes in pdf format
If you need an Acrobat PDF Reader, click Reader Icon below
n November 2000, by
Presidential decree and in order
develop tourism in Tierra Del Fuego and Patagonia, the
historic route that Fitzroy and Darwin followed around
Navarino Island in the 1830 was opened up to Chilean flag
The route takes historic Murray Channel from
Puerto Williams, the world's most Southern town .
President, Ricardo Lagos, has also asked that the very
spectacular and largely unexplored area of the Southwest
branch of the Beagle channel be opened up. This extensive
area of the many beautiful glaciers and fjords along the
Southwest branch on Hoste
island. Neither route has been
previously open to the public.
Tour of Tierra Del Fuego
Darwin's book on the area
Darwin's private servant, Mr. Covinton, their stay in Wulaia
This voyage may be done using
the protected waters that this new course offers.
The vessel "Victory" makes
- *Wulaia where Darwin, Fitzroy and the Anglican
landed in mid-19th century
- *Old Missionary settlement for the Yagan Indians at
- *Button Island.
- *The newly opened
CHANNEL which has not been open to the public before
- * The new route in the Southwest branch of the Beagle
- *Combination tour of Wulaia and the glaciers &
Tierra Del Fuego.
- All new routes that have just been opened up to public tours
Please see map:
Also available a combination voyage to Cape Horn.
fter waiting for good weather,
the sailing route to Cape Horn from Puerto Williams is by
way of the Murray Channel to the historic site where Darwin
and Fitzroy sailed at Wulaia. This is at the West side of
Navaino island. From there we go south, stopping in Douglas
Bay if, time permits, past the island of Milne Edwards taking
advantage of the protection from the strong West winds.
We hug the coast of the peninsula Pasteur, and the
Peninsula Hardy on Hoste island where False Cape Horn lies.
Cape Horn" at the tip of Peninsula Hardy,
as always, when conditions are favorable, the crossing is East
across a short section of Nassau Bay to Port Maxwell.
Whoever arrived from the Pacific Ocean had to overcome
the danger represented by the "false Cabo de Hornos", as the
Chileans who own the area, call it.
This cape is sighted twenty miles ahead and, when surrounded
by big breakers and foamy waves that sometimes carry powered
snow along their crests, it may confuse the helmsman, some of
whom have tragically choosen the wrong route.
In Port Maxwell, as everywhere in Tierra Del Fuego good
anchoring is assured by tying off to some stout trees or
rocks to anticipate a possible Williwaw!
This is a natural phenomenon which exists in here and is
a strong wind up to 100 knots that comes from a sudden
difference in atmospheric pressure and can be a spectacle
difficult to forget.
(Don't worry, there has never been any accident involving
tourists as, our native crew members are very well prepared)
From Port Maxwell anchor is weighed for a sail around the Horn
from either the West or East depending on the wind at the
time. On a calmer day, it is possible to go onshore and
explore the "Cabo De Hornos" island, visit the Navy base and
see the Cape Horn Monument.
A certificate of "Rounding The Horn" available for a small
fee from the Navy in Puerto Williams.
Cape Horn is the steep headland on Horn Island, part of
TIERRA DEL FUEGO, in southern Chile.
It is the last point of South America extending into the DRAKE
PASSAGE, gateway to Antarctica which lies 600 miles farther
On your combination tour you may sail with the VICTORY
to the glaciers and Fjords of Tierra Del Fuego before or after your
Cape Horn or Wulaia Expedition:
fter arriving to the Northern entrance of the Murray Channel, we then sail
West. (We may make a short stop at Puerto Navarino) we
cruise within about 10 miles of the City of Ushuaia,
Argentina which you will see across the bay.
Looking West towards the Northeastern coast of
the large and practically uninhabited
Hoste Island from Puerto Navarino.
Entrance to Murray Channel & Wulaia lies
just past the first point on the left (South)
n this navigation of the Beagle
you will find it possible to appreciate the beauty
of the northern coast of Hoste island and the
southern extreme of the island of Tierra Del Fuego.
A great many small bays unite here with landscapes
of unique beauty and we cruise within about 10 miles
from the City of Ushuaia, Argentina which you will
see across the bay.
During sailing, different expressions of
fauna are seen such as: the world's largest
birds, condors and albatross, giant petrels,
penguins, wild geese and ducks, large
flightless "steamer ducks," seals, dolphins
and occasionally whales and Orcas (killer
whales). We have not seen too many
he navigation is continued
West to where the Beagle Channel divides in
two branches and then on to the picturesque
South Seas type Pot harbor (Caleta Holla).
This is located at the foot of the Holland
glacier on the Island of Tierra Del Fuego.
There is an interesting 3 hour hike up along
the river and woods filled with Beaver dams
to the base of this beautiful glacier named
after a 19th century Dutch expedition to the area.
e sail early again, continuing
West, to the
Marvelous Pia fjord and Glaciers. This is a
fjord with various branches and glaciers
planted among the peaks of the Darwin
Mountain Range and is one of the most
spectacular of our voyage. Hiking, exploring
ice caves, taking photos of the breathtaking
snowcapped peaks and glaciers.
nchor is weighed very early
again to navigate along
Northwest arm of the Beagle Channel to Garibaldi fjord.
During this trajectory Mount Darwin, the highest Peak in
Tierra Del Fuego, is passed and one may appreciate a
succession of glaciers located along the Beagle Channel at
close range. These glaciers are named France, Italy,
Germany, and Romanche for expeditions of the 19th century.
Sailing is then North, abandoning the Beagle Channel, in
order to reach the Garibaldi glacier at the end of the
fjord. A large quantity of blue and green floating ice is
characteristic of this place. During this trajectory you
will see some of the most marvelous scenery on earth - some
say, even better than Norway or Switzerland. Paddling should
be done with caution because of huge chunks of ice which
sometimes fall from the glaciers cause very
The tour then extends into the unexplored Southwest Branch.
his is a newly opened area of
the glaciers and fjords
of Hoste Island along
the Southwest branch of the Baegle Channel has not been previously
exploration by the public. You will find it a virgin area which is now
of your Beagle Channel tour.
After 1-2 days of adventure in the Southwest Branch, we sail very early
for the Puerto
Williams Yacht Club. You may visit the Puerto Williams Yagan Indian
see a nice collection of Indian artifacts, etc. and to visit other
ost of the islands in this
southern tip of South
America are still as forested as the day Columbus waded
ashore the new world. At about 900 meters, the snow line is
a strangely uniform and defined division separating the
islands into two very distinctive worlds. Above, the slopes
abruptly steepen and sharpen to hundreds of jagged peaks
with knife blade ridges and pinnacles all left from the
recently and still retreating from the last glacial period
10,000 years ago. Below the tree line is another world;
beneath a thick canopy of forest, there is moss, fungus,
along with peace and shelter
The itinerary above is contingent on the
weather and may change according to
the discretion of the captain.
Costs are with all included; private cabins,
four meals, soft drinks coffee and tea.
The VICTORY is fully crewed with a cook.
You may help with sailing, docking and anchoring
A Unique way to travel.... The S/V ICTORY
The above dates are for sailing from and returning to
Puerto Williams,Chile, the world's most southern town..
Puerto Williams is reached with DAP airlines
by about an hour flight from Punta Arenas.
Many airlines fly to Chile from all over the world and it's
easy to get to Puerto Williams from Punta Arenas, Chile
with DAP .
For DAP bookings, Contact us by email
DAP has flights Tuesdays through Saturdays to Puerto Williams
from Punta Arenas during the Summer high season. Book through Victory Adventure Expeditions Ltd.
LAN Chile flies from the
US and from
Santiago, Chile to
Punta Arenas, the world's most southern city.
It's cheaper to do your own bookings.
Look at http://www.lanchile.cl/ for flight schedule and
from anywhere in the world.
Many airlines fly to Chile from all over the world.
osts in US dollars for the S/V VICTORY
Charter to the glaciers and fjords of Tierra Del Fuego (3 days minimum, 6 days maximum):
Not available on Wednesdays.
Daily Charter rate US$ 3.600/day with crew. 12 passengers overnight, 24 passengers for day trips. Meals on board US$ 80 per person, minimum US$ 240 or 3 persons.
Bunks : 4 singles + 4 doubles
Bathroom : 2 WC, lavatory and shower
Kitchen : Electric oven + microwave + 2 electric burners + electric tea kettle+ gas barbecue on deck
fifteen day tour
combination of the glaciers and fjords of
Tierra Del Fuegoand of rounding Cape Horn is suggested,
if you have time, in order to maximize your visit here.
SAILING DAWINS ROUTE ABOARD THE
19TH CENTURY SCHOONER S/V VICTORY
The glaciers and fjords of Tierra Del Fuego
are extremely beautiful.
For photos, sail plan and deck plans of VICTORY, please see
You may see some of our references, from
many very satisfied adventurers,