CAPE HORN & THE BEAGLE CHANNEL


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February 17th 2016
Published: February 17th 2016
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CAPE HORN & THE BEAGLE CHANNEL
1st & 2nd February We had taken on board two Chilean pilots in Uruguay to guide us through the next few days around Horn and through the various channels. They would not disembark until Valparaiso. Both of these areas were cruising only, not really much to see but how desolate it must have been to navigate this area in the past. It puts into perspective the number of wrecks we saw in the Falklands as to how devastating the weather was in these parts.
Cape Horn named after the city of Hoorn in the Netherlands, is the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile, and is located on the small Hornos Island. Cape Horn marks the northern boundary of the Drake Passage. For decades it was a major milestone on the clipper route, by which sailing shipscarried trade around the world. The waters around Cape Horn are particularly hazardous, owing to strong winds, large waves, strong currents and icebergs; these dangers have made it notorious as a sailors' graveyard.

The need for ships to round Cape Horn was greatly reduced by the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914. Sailing around the Horn is widely regarded as one of the major challenges in yachting. A few recreational sailors continue to sail this route, sometimes as part of a circumnavigation of the globe, and almost all of these choosing routes through the channels to the north of the Cape. (Many take a detour through the islands and anchor to wait for fair weather to visit Horn Island, or sail around it to replicate a rounding of this historic point).

We did a few circles around the Horn during the day before heading off to the Beagle Channel arriving early on the 2nd February.

Beagle Channel is a strait in the Tierra del Fuego Archipelago on the extreme southern tip of South America partly in Chile and partly in Argentina.The channel separates the larger main island of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego from various smaller islands including the islands of Picton, Lennox and Nueva; Navarino; Hoste; Londonderry; and Stewart. The channel's eastern area forms part of the border between Chile and Argentina and the western area is entirely within Chile.

The Beagle Channel, the Straits of Magellan to the north, and the open-ocean Drake Passage to the south are the three navigable passages around South America between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Since the Beagle Channel and the Straits of Magellan are both very narrow passages which severely limit the size and types of ships that can safely use them, most commercial shipping uses the Drake Passage.

The Beagle Channel 150 miles long and is about 3 miles wide at its narrowest point. The biggest settlement on the channel is Ushuaia in Argentina, followed by Puerto Williams in Chile, two of the southernmost settlements of the world.

As we entered the Channel there is the wreck of the library ship LOGOS before we enter Mackinlay Pass. From here until Ushuaia is the only area where the Chilean and Argentine border goes between North & South. Before heading on we stopped at the Port Williams Clearance Stop before being allowed to travel further. As we sailed on we passed Ushuaia on our starboard side and viewed the airport where the Argentine Air Force launched attacks to the Falklands. From about midday we passed four glaciers in various forms of retreat. Named after a French ship (Romanche) and the nationality of her crew they were in order Holland, Italy, Romanche (marked by a huge waterfall) and Spain. Sailing on you can start to feel the swell of the Pacific before heading into the Cockburn channel and heading into the Magdelana Channel and the Magellan Strait.


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