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Day at sea

First day on our crossing from the Beagle Channel to Seno Almirantazgo in the Straits of Magellan. 

The areas we the Europa sails, the oceans, seas, and fjords, the remote lands that are her home during the year, and of course the ship itself, never leave anybody aloof. 

Southern Patagonia is not either an emotionless area. Beautiful fjords and bays, famous waterways framed by high alpine mountains, glaciers, and forests. Its waters and weather unpredictable and its changing moods legendary. 

The wind blows strong just to die down before picking up again. Sheltered fjords offer good anchorages away from the main channels.  

Squalls and showers keep passing all day long, leaving sunny spells in between. Up the mountains the snow falls, then it glitters under the sun before being veiled by thick clouds again. 

Today, not an exception. Europa heaves anchor from Fiordo Pia by sunrise under grey skies and rain, and she resumes her way westwards along the Beagle, heading to its entrance where it meets with the Pacific waters. An area where the oceanic swell can be felt and often the wind blows stronger. 

It’s a region peppered with islands, small islets, and narrow channels. Cook, O’Brien, London, and Steward Islands to our Portside and the fjords and inlets from Tierra del Fuego to the North. Including the so-called “Seno Ladrones” or the Thieves Sound… it is not just for its rough beauty that this area stands out. Here something happened while the Beagle, during Fitz Roy's first trip was at London Island. An incident that led to changing the history of the world we live in: a whaleboat was launched to check for a good anchorage. Its crew went ashore in what today is called Basket Island. But they didn’t return to the ship when they were supposed to. Instead, they appeared on February 5th, 1830 in a large hand-made leaking boat, reporting that the whaleboat had been stolen. Fitzroy would spend the next two months searching unsuccessfully the shores in search of it. He ran into trouble with the natives and the story developed on him kidnapping three youths. A girl whom he called “Fuegia Basket” and three boys “York Minster” “Boat Memory” and “Jemmy Button” intending to ransom them back in exchange for his boat. A sort of deal that never happened. However, he brought them back with him to England with the goal to “civilize” them.  

“Boat Memory” died there but the rest were brought back during his second voyage, the trip when Charles Darwin joined the expedition. A chain of events that led him to develop his world-changing thesis of natural selection and the descent of man. 

Finding ourselves in this area, a fair South-westerly wind starts blowing above the 20kn just about the afternoon coffee time. A situation that makes for setting canvas. At least for the next couple of hours the Europa can switch off her engines and spread her Head rig, Lower Staysails, Spanker, and Top Sails, sailing now at 5.5kn in a good course towards the Brecknock Channel. All while squalls are seen sweeping over these waters, loaded with rain, snow, sleet, and hale. 

By nightfall, we enter Brecknock which leads again to a more exposed area to the open seas before turning eastwards into the Cockburn Channel. A wide and deep waterway, about 40 miles long, running WSW from Canal Magdalena to the Pacific Ocean. Captain Parker King named the channel in 1825 after George Cockburn, a British Admiral famous for having escorted Napoleon Bonaparte to his exile in St. Helena. 

With no stops or slowing down during the night, by tomorrow morning we ought to be getting into the Straits of Magellan Western Region, through sounds and channels. 

Geschreven door:
Jordi Plana Morales | Expedition Leader

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