TIERRA DEL FUEGO
Tierra del Fuego is an archipelago at the southernmost tip of South America
The main island is Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego
Other islands include:
Hornos Island – where Cape Horn is located
Hoste Island – where False Cape Horn is located
The Diego Ramirez Islands – the southernmost point in South America
Tierra del Fuego is divided between
Chile on the West and Argentina on the East
IN THE 1800’S THERE WERE THREE ROUTES BETWEEN
THE ATLANTIC AND PACIFIC OCEANS
THE STRAITS OF MAGELLAN – traversed by Ferdinand Magellan in 1520
THE BEAGLE CHANNEL – named for the HMS Beagle that explored here 1826-1830
THE DRAKE PASSAGE (around Cape Horn)- was discovered – but not explored – by Sir Francis Drake in 1578
WHO WERE THE FIRST EXPLORERS TO USE THE DRAKE PASSAGE AROUND CAPE HORN?
In 1616, the Dutch East India company had a monopoly on all Dutch trade via the Straits of Magellan.
A wealthy Amsterdam merchant Isaac Le Maire and ship captain Willem Schouten set out to find a new route.
On this voyage they discovered the Le Maire Strait –
a sea passage between the east coast of Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego and Isla de los Estados (Staten Island).
This led them to Cape Horn,
They then went through the Drake Passage
and entered the Pacific Ocean!
CAPE HORN IS…
A steep rocky headland on Hornos Island
Located at the southernmost tip of Tierra del Fuego archipelago of Southern Chile
It marks the spot where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet
It is the northern boundary of the Drake Passage
CAPE HORN IS NOT…
The most southerly point of South America
THE WATERS OF CAPE HORN
ARE NOTORIOUSLY ROUGH
Cape Horn is at 56 degrees latitude.
Below 40 degrees latitude, the world is almost uninterrupted by land.
This allows winds to pick up great strength as they blow from west to east around the world.
These latitudes are known as
the “roaring forties” …the “furious fifties” …and the “screaming sixties”!
At 56 degrees the winds are even more extreme
because the Andes and the Antarctic peninsula channel the winds
into the relatively narrow Drake Passage.
Williwaw Winds are common here.
The strong winds create large waves.
At the Horn the shallow water makes the waves shorter and steeper and a danger to ships.
Rogue waves have been known to be 30 meters high or 98 feet!
THE DRAKE PASSAGE AROUND CAPE HORN
WAS THE PREFERRED ROUTE BETWEEN THE ATLANTIC & PACIFIC OCEANS
UNTIL THE PANAMA CANAL OPENED IN 1914
It was longer and rougher,
but much simpler than the Straits of Magellan
and provided unlimited maneuvering.
Clipper Ships used this route to carry world trade:
United States from the east coast to California and then the Far East
Wool, grain and gold from Australia back to Europe
Trade between Europe and the Far East