“Devil’s Mouth”, “Ship Cemetery”, “Old Eater” – that is how Cape Horn was called for centuries by sailors and travelers. It is the southernmost point of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. This is not just a point on the map, but a very unusual and legendary place.
Inscribed in the history of shipping and covered in legends
This place has the most terrible climate. The temperature ranges from -2 to +14, there is no warmer here. The main feature is the almost unchanging weather. Z00 days a year it rains and a strong wind blows. It is in this wind that lies all the insidiousness and inhospinity of Cape Horn. The fact is that this wind constantly makes “round-the-world travels”, flying around the planet, without encountering any obstacles. And then a narrow strait arises in his way. Here the wind rages, passing a limited space.
The inhospitable Cape Horn
As a result, storms constantly rage near Cape Horn, fogs descend and the sun very rarely appears. Thousands of ships found their last refuge at its gloomy cliffs, and the souls of the crews (according to the beliefs of the sailors) turned into albatrosses.
Even this place was discovered in stages by different travelers and explorers. Magellan did not swim to this place a little. But Drake may not have planned to open the strait, but then the wind intervened to pick up the armada and drag it through the waters. Only the ship of Francis Drake himself reached the open sea.
Cape Horn Conquest
Finally, luck smiled at the Dutch merchants Jacob Lehmer and Willem Schauten. Having landed on January 29, 1616 to an unknown land, they discovered a new island and a cape. Discoverers circled the island and named it in honor of their hometown and the burned ship Horn (in Russian, Horn).
Discovery of Cape Horn
The discovery of Cape Horn and the Drake Strait began a new milestone in the history of navigation. Thousands of ships loaded with goods rushed along a new path, fighting the elements, winning or losing the battle. The flow of ships intensified during the reign of tea clippers. They say that a sailboat could take up to three weeks to conquer Cape Horn.
Passing Cape Horn
Successfully passing Cape Horn for sailors meant recognition of skill and respect of colleagues. Even a special tradition has developed. After the first passage past Cape Horn, sailors had the right to wear a copper earring, after the second – silver, the third was a gold earring. This tradition has survived to the present day.
Some teams successfully crossed Cape Horn, others rested forever in its troubled waters, but one ship, according to legend, is doomed to eternal wandering. Skipper Van der Decken could not go around Cape Horn and vowed to repeat attempts until the second coming. His careless desire was fulfilled, the ship became the legendary “Flying Dutchman.”
The difficult life of Cape Horn
Despite the inhospitable climate and remoteness from the mainland, this area has long been inhabited. The island and the vicinity of the cape were still chosen by primitive people, although perhaps in their times this area was more favorable for living.
Journey to Cape Horn
Charles Darwin, traveling on a Beagle ship, discovered in this area tribes of Yagan Indians – real sea nomads. They built canoes, swam along the bays and mined seafood and fish in ice water, caught animals and birds. Unfortunately, these amazing people became extinct after the intervention of European missionaries and other good people in their lives. The last woman from this tribe (her name was Abuel Rosa) died in the eighties of the last century.
Life at Cape Horn
At the cape, the Europeans did not risk settling, but they created several settlements on the islands of the archipelago. Now at Cape Horn live a few people serving the famous Chilean lighthouse. And nearby is the inhabited naval base belonging to the Republic of Chile.
Monument to the Fallen Sailors at Cape Horn
In memory of the captains and sailors who died at the inhospitable cliffs, a huge monument in the form of a flying albatross (1992) was erected on the top of the cape. The initiators were the Brotherhood of Captains of Cape Horn, created in 1987. By the way, the first such community appeared in 1937 and was called “The Brotherhood of Long-Range Captains Passing Cape Horn.” In 2010, the traveler Fedor Konyukhov installed an Orthodox cross on the cape.