In the morning of the 24th Cape Horn was on our weather bow. We now saw this notorious point in its proper form, veiled in a mist & its dim outline surrounded by a storm of wind & water. Great black clouds were rolling across the sky & squalls of rain & hail swept by us with very great violence: so that the Captain determined to run into Wigwam cove. This harbour is a quiet little basin behind Cape Spencer & not far from Cape Horn. And here we are in quite smooth water; & the only thing which reminds us of the gale which is blowing outside, is the heavy puffs or Whyllywaws, which every 5 minutes come over the mountains, as if they would blow us out of the water.
On the morning of the 24th, being off Cape Spencer, with threatening weather, a high sea, the barometer low, and great heavy-looking white clouds rising in the south-west, indicative of a gale from that quarter, I determined to seek for an anchorage, and stood into (the so-called) St. Francis Bay. In passing Cape Spencer we were assailed by such a furious hail-squall, that for many minutes it was quite impossible to look to windward, or even to see what was a-head of us. We could not venture to wear round, or even heave to, for fear of getting so far to leeward as to lose our chance of obtaining an anchorage; however, we stood on at hazard, and the squall passed away soon enough to admit of our anchoring in seventeen-fathoms water, quite close to a steep promontory at the south side of St. Martin Cove.
After being for some time accustomed to the low barren shores and shallow harbours of the Pampa and Patagonian coasts, our position almost under this black precipice was singularly striking. The decided contrast of abrupt, high, and woody mountains, rising from deep water, had been much remarked in Good Success Bay; but here it was so great that I could hardly persuade myself that the ship was in security—sufficiently far from the cliff.
Syms Covington’s Journal: