Day 6 Rounding Cape Horn

To reach Cape Horn and its attendant National Park declared a World Biosphere Reserve in 2005, it is necessary for Via Australis to navigate through the Murray Channel and then Nassau Bay.

Known to sailors of old as the very “End of the Earth”, this impressively sheer 425-metre (1,394-foot) high rocky promontory has become famous as the ocean demarcation point since it was first discovered in 1616 by two Dutch Captain explorers.  It is the continents most southerly point of land and is situated on Isla Cabo Horno (Cape Horn Island).

Dutch traders Willem Schouten and Isaac Lemaire named the cape after the city of Hoorn in Holland.  The ships Hoorn and Eendracht had set sail from Texel in Holland during 1615. On passage Hoorn was lost in a fire and the second carried on with the voyage.  When discovering what they found to be the most southern point of land they named it after their lost ship and the city she sailed from.
Weather permitting it is possible to land ashore at the cape.  Once ashore visitors can visit the lighthouse, Stella Maris Chapel and the impressive monument on top of the mountain that commemorates those who lost their lives rounding the promontory.  Landing is not always possible and can be quite hair raising.

On this occasion we could not land.  But if we had, we would have found 162 steps lead up from the landing site. 

It is a steep and windblown climb to the site of the monument erected in 1992 in memory of the 10,000+ souls whose lives were lost in over 800 recorded shipwrecks.  While many fine ships were lost others enjoyed great trading success using the route.

The clipper Flying Cloud for example voyaged around it safely many times typically averaging 89 days between New York and San Francisco.  Some ships made record breaking time under sail around the cape with the 5 days taken by Priwallin 1938 being the shortest recorded and the unfortunate Suzanna logging her voyage in 1905 as having taken 94 days to cover the same distance.

One comment

  1. The trip sounds fantastic,would love to have seen the glaciers , they are magnificent, along with the little penguins
    I live in hope !!

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