31st January 1833

Beagle Channel
The channel now ran between islands; & this part was entirely unknown; it rained continually & the weather well became its bad character.

30th January 1833

[This image, from Google earth, shows clearly the glaciers on the northern shore, and the fresh water melt being carried east in the current]

Beagle Channel/Darwin Sound
The scenery was very grand, we were sailing parallel, as it were to the backbone of Tierra del; the central granitic ridge which has determined the form of all the lesser ones. It was a great comfort finding all the natives absent; the outer coast during the summer is on account of the seals, their chief resort. At night we had miserable quarters, we slept on boulders, the intervals being filled up with putrefying seaweed; & the water flowed to the very edge of the tent.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
We passed into a large expanse of water, which I named Darwin Sound — after my messmate, who so willingly encountered the discomfort and risk of a long cruise in a small loaded boat. Desirous of finding an opening northwards, I traced the northern shore of this sound, mile by mile, leaving all islands to the southward until we entered Whale-boat Sound, and I recognized Cape Desolation in the distance, as well as a number of minor points which had become familiar to me during the search after our lost boat in the former voyage (1830).

29th January 1833

Beagle Channel
In the morning we arrived at the point, where the channel divides & we entered the Northern arm. The scenery becomes very grand, the mountains on the right are very lofty & covered with a white mantle of perpetual snow: from the melting of this numbers of cascades poured their waters through the woods into the channel. In many places magnificent glaciers extended from the mountains to the waters edge. I cannot imagine anything more beautiful than the beryl blue of these glaciers, especially when contrasted by the snow: the occurrence of glaciers reaching to the waters edge & in summer, in Lat: 56° is a most curious phenomenon: the same thing does not occur in Norway under Lat. 70°. From the number of small ice-bergs the channel represented in miniature the Arctic Ocean. One of these glaciers placed us for a minute in most imminent peril; whilst dining in a little bay about 1/2 a mile from one & admiring the beautiful colour of its vertical & overhanging face, a large mass fell roaring into the water; our boats were on the beach; we saw a great wave rushing onwards & instantly it was evident how great was the chance of their being dashed into pieces. One of the seamen just got hold of the boat as the curling breaker reached it: he was knocked over & over but not hurt & most fortunately our boat received no damage. If they had been washed away; how dangerous would our lot have been, surrounded on all sides by hostile Savages & deprived of all provisions.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
On the 29th we reached Devil Island, and found the large wigwam still standing, which in 1830 my boat's crew called the 'Parliament House.' Never, in any part of Tierra del Fuego, have I noticed the remains of a wigwam which seemed to have been burned or pulled down; probably there is some feeling on the subject, and in consequence the natives allow them to decay naturally, but never willfully destroy them. We enjoyed a grand view of the lofty mountain, now called Darwin, with its immense glaciers extending far and wide. Whether this mountain is equal to Sarmiento in height, I am not certain, as the measurements obtained did not rest upon satisfactory data; but the result of those measures gave 6,800 feet for its elevation above the sea. This, as an abstract height, is small, but taking into consideration that it rises abruptly from the sea, which washes its base, and that only a short space intervenes between the salt water and the lofty frozen summit, the effect upon an observer's eye is extremely grand, and equal, probably, to that of far higher mountains which are situated at a distance inland, and generally rise from an elevated district.

We stopped to cook and eat our hasty meal upon a low point of land, immediately in front of a noble precipice of solid ice; the cliffy face of a huge glacier, which seemed to cover the side of a mountain, and completely filled a valley several leagues in extent.

Wherever these enormous glaciers were seen, we remarked the most beautiful light blue or sea green tints in portions of the solid ice, caused by varied transmission, or reflection of light. Blue was the prevailing colour, and the contrast which its extremely delicate hue, with the dazzling white of other ice, afforded to the dark green foliage, the almost black precipices, and the deep, indigo blue water, was very remarkable.

Miniature icebergs surrounded us; fragments of the cliff, which from time to time fall into a deep and gloomy basin beneath the precipice, and are floated out into the channel by a slow tidal stream. In the first volume the frequent falling of these masses of ice is noticed by Captain King in the Strait of Magallens, and in the narrative of my first exploring visit to this arm of the Beagle Channel; therefore I will add no further remark upon the subject.

Our boats were hauled up out of the water upon the sandy point, and we were sitting round a fire about two hundred yards from them, when a thundering crash shook us — down came the whole front of the icy cliff — and the sea surged up in a vast heap of foam. Reverberating echoes sounded in every direction, from the lofty mountains which hemmed us in; but our whole attention was immediately called to great rolling waves which came so rapidly that there was scarcely time for the most active of our party to run and seize the boats before they were tossed along the beach like empty calabashes. By the exertions of those who grappled them or seized their ropes, they were hauled up again out of reach of a second and third roller; and indeed we had good reason to rejoice that they were just saved in time; for had not Mr. Darwin, and two or three of the men, run to them instantly, they would have been swept away from us irrecoverably. Wind and tide would soon have drifted them beyond the distance a man could swim; and then, what prizes they would have been for the Fuegians, even if we had escaped by possessing ourselves of canoes. At the extremity of the sandy point on which we stood, there were many large blocks of stone, which seemed to have been transported from the adjacent mountains, either upon masses of ice, or by the force of waves such as those which we witnessed. Had our boats struck those blocks, instead of soft sand, our dilemma would not have been much less than if they had been at once swept away.

Embarking, we proceeded along a narrow passage, more like a river than an arm of the sea, till the setting sun warned us to seek a resting-place for the night; when, selecting a beach very far from any glacier, we again hauled our boats on shore. Long after the sun had disappeared from our view, his setting rays shone so brightly upon the gilded icy sides of the summits above us, that twilight lasted an unusual time, and a fine clear evening enabled us to watch every varying tint till even the highest peak became like a dark shadow, whose outline only could be distinguished. No doubt such scenes are familiar to many, but to us, surrounded even as we so often were by their materials, they were rare; because clouds continually hang over the heights, or obscure the little sunshine which falls to the lot of Tierra del Fuego.

28th January 1833

Beagle Channel
We found everything quiet; the canoes were employed in spearing fish & most of the people had returned. We were very glad of this & now hoped everything would go on smoothly. The Captain sent the Yawl & one Whale boat back to the ship; & we in the other two re-entered the Beagle channel in order to examine the islands around its Western entrance. To every ones surprise the day was overpoweringly hot, so much so that our skin was burnt; this is quite a novelty in Tierra del F. The Beagle channel is here very striking, the view both ways is not intercepted, & to the West extends to the Pacific. So narrow & straight a channel & in length nearly 120 miles, must be a rare phenomenon. We were reminded, that it was an arm of the sea, by the number of whales, which were spouting in different directions: the water is so deep that one morning two monstrous whales were swimming within stone throw of the shore.

In the evening having pitched our tents, unfortunately a party of Fuegians appeared. If these barbarians were a little less barbarous, it would have been easy, as we were superior in numbers, to have pushed them away & obliged them to keep beyond a certain line. But their courage is like that of a wild beast, they would not think of their inferiority in number, but each individual would endeavour to dash your brains out with a stone, as a tiger would be certain under similar circumstances to tear you. We sailed on till it was dark & then found a quiet nook; the great object is to find a beach with pebbles, for they are both dry & yield to the body, & really in our blanket bags we passed very comfortable nights. It was my watch till one o’clock; there is something very solemn in such scenes; the consciousness rushes on the mind in how remote a corner of the globe you are then in; all tends to this end, the quiet of the night is only interrupted by the heavy breathing of the men & the cry of the night birds. The occasional distant bark of a dog reminds one that the Fuegians may be prowling, close to the tents, ready for a fatal rush.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
During the four days in which we had so many natives about us, of course some thefts were committed, but nothing of consequence was stolen. I saw one man talking to Jemmy Button, while another picked his pocket of a knife, and even the wary York lost something, but from Fuegia they did not take a single article; on the contrary, their kindness to her was remarkable, and among the women she was quite a pet.

Our people lost a few trifles, in consequence of their own carelessness. Had they themselves been left among gold and diamonds, would they all have refrained from indulging their acquisitive inclinations?

Notwithstanding the decision into which I had reasoned myself respecting the natives, I could not help being exceedingly anxious about Matthews, and early next morning our boats were again steered towards Woollӯa. My own anxiety was increased by hearing the remarks made from time to time by the rest of the party, some of whom thought we should not again see him alive; and it was with no slight joy that I caught sight of him, as my boat rounded a point of land, carrying a kettle to the fire near his wigwam. We landed and ascertained that nothing had occurred to damp his spirits, or in any way check his inclination to make a fair trial. Some natives had returned to the place, among them one of Jemmy's brothers; but so far were they from showing the slightest ill-will, that nothing could be more friendly than their behaviour.
Jemmy told us that these people, who arrived at daylight that morning were his friends, that his own family would come in the course of the day, and that the 'bad men,' the strangers, were all gone away to their own country.

A further trial was now determined upon. The yawl, with one whale-boat, was sent back to the Beagle, and I set out on a westward excursion, accompanied by Messrs. Darwin and Hamond, in the other two boats: my intention being to complete the exploration of Whale-boat Sound, and the north-west arm of the Beagle Channel; then revisit Woollӯa, either leave or remove Matthews, as might appear advisable, and repair to our ship in Goree Road.

With a fair and fresh wind my boat and Mr. Hamond's passed the Murray Narrow, and sailed far along the channel towards the west, favoured, unusually, by an easterly breeze. Just as we had landed, and set up our tent for the night, some canoes were seen approaching; so rather than be obliged to watch their movements all night, we at once embarked our tent and half-cooked supper, and pulled along the shore some miles further, knowing that they would not willingly follow us in the dark. About midnight we landed and slept undisturbed. Next day we made little progress, the wind having changed, and landed, earlier than usual, on the north side of the channel, at Shingle Point. Some natives soon appeared, and though few in number, were inclined to give trouble. It was evident they did not know the effect of fire-arms; for if a musket were pointed at them, and threatening gestures used, they only made faces at us, and mocked whatever we did. Finding them more and more insolent and troublesome, I preferred leaving them to risking a struggle, in which it might become necessary to fire, at the hazard of destroying life. Twelve armed men, therefore, gave way to six unarmed, naked savages, and went on to another cove, where these annoying, because ignorant natives could not see us.

27th January 1833

Woollya Cove
On the 27th however suddenly every woman & child & nearly all the men removed themselves & we were watched from a neighbouring hill. We were all very uneasy at this, as neither Jemmy or York understood what it meant; & it did not promise peace for the establishment. We were quite at a loss to account for it. Some thought that they had been frightened by our cleaning & firing off our fire-arms the evening before. Perhaps it had some connection with a quarrel between an old man & one of our sentries; the old man being told not to come so close, spat in the seaman’s face & then retreating behind the trench, made motions, which it was said, could mean nothing but skinning & cutting up a man. He acted it over a Fuegian, who was asleep, & eyed at the same time our man, as much as to say, this is the way I should like to serve you. Whatever might have been the cause of the retreat of the Fuegians, the Captain thought it advisable not to sleep another night there. All the goods were therefore moved to the houses, & Matthews & his companions prepared to pass rather an awful night. Matthews behaved with his usual quiet resolution: he is of an eccentric character & does not appear (which is strange) to possess much energy & I think it very doubtful how far he is qualified for so arduous an undertaking. In the evening we removed to a cove a few miles distant & in the morning returned to the settlement.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
While a few of our party were completing the thatch of the last wigwam, and others were digging in the garden which was made, I was much surprised to see that all the natives were preparing to depart; and very soon afterwards every canoe was set in motion, not half a dozen natives remaining. Even Jemmy's own family, his mother and brothers, left us; and as he could give no explanation of this sudden departure, I was in much doubt as to the cause. Whether an attack was meditated, and they were removing the women and children, previous to a general assembly of the men, or whether they had been frightened by our display on the preceding evening, and feared that we intended to attack them, I could not ascertain; but deeming the latter by far the most probable, I decided to take the opportunity of their departure to give Matthews his first trial of passing a night at the new wigwams.

Some among us thought that the natives intended to make a secret attack, on account of the great temptation our property offered; and in consequence of serious offence which had been taken by two or three old men, who tried to force themselves into our encampment, while I was at a little distance; one of whom, when resisted by the sentry, spit in his face; and went off in a violent passion, muttering to himself, and every now and then turning round to make faces and angry gestures at the man who had very quietly, though firmly, prevented his encroachment.
In consequence of this incident, and other symptoms of a disposition to try their strength, having more than three hundred men, while we were but thirty, I had thought it advisable, as I mentioned, to give them some idea of the weapons we had at command, if obliged to use them, by firing at a mark. Probably two-thirds of the natives around us at that time had never seen a gun fired, being strangers, coming from the Beagle Channel and its neighbourhood, where no vessel had been; and although our exercise might have frightened them more than I wished, so much, indeed, as to have induced them to leave the place, it is not improbable that, without some such demonstration, they might have obliged us to fire at them instead of the target. So many strangers had arrived during the few days we remained, I mean strangers to Jemmy's family — men of the eastern tribe, which he called Yapoo — that his brothers and mother had no longer any influence over the majority, who cared for them as little as they did for us, and were intent only upon plunder. Finding this the case, I conclude that Jemmy's friends thought it wise to retreat to a neighbouring island before any attack commenced; but why they did not tell Jemmy their reasons for going, I know not, neither could he tell me more than that they said they were going to fish, and would return at night. This, however, they did not do.

In the evening, Matthews and his party — Jemmy, York, and Fuegia — went to their abode in the three new wigwams. In that made for Matthews, Jemmy also took up his quarters at first: it was high and roomy for such a construction; the space overhead was divided by a floor of boards, brought from the ship, and there most of Matthews' stores were placed; but the most valuable articles were deposited in a box, which was hid in the ground underneath the wigwam, where fire could not reach.

Matthews was steady, and as willing as ever; neither York nor Jemmy had the slightest doubt of their being all well-treated; so trusting that Matthews, in his honest intention to do good, would obtain that assistance in which he confided, I decided to leave him for a few days. The absence of the natives, every one of whom had decamped at this time, gave a good opportunity for landing the larger tools belonging to Matthews and our Fuegians, and placing them within or beneath his wigwam, unseen by any one except ourselves; and at dusk, all that we could do for them being completed, we left the place and sailed some miles to the southward.

26th January 1833

Woollya Cove
Stripping for washing & our white skins seemed most to excite their attention. They asked for every thing they saw & stole what they could. Dancing & singing absolutely delighted them. Things thus remained so quiet, that others & myself took long walks in the surrounding hills & woods.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
While some of my party were washing in a stream, stripped to the waist, several natives collected round, and were much amused at the white skins, as well as at the act of washing, so new probably to them. One of them ran to the nearest wigwams, and a troop of curious gazers collected, whose hands, however, were soon so actively employed in abstracting the handkerchiefs, shoes, &c., which had been laid on the bank, that a stop was put to the ablutions.

We discovered that Jemmy's eldest brother was a 'doctor,' and though young for his occupation of conjuring and pretending to cure illness, he was held in high estimation among his own tribe. I never could distinctly ascertain whether the eldest man, or the doctor of a tribe had the most influence; but from what little I could learn, it appeared to me that the elder of a family or tribe had a sort of executive authority, while the doctor gave advice, not only in domestic affairs, but with respect to most transactions. In all savage nations, I believe there is a person of this description—a pretended prophet—conjuror—and, to a certain degree,—doctor.

This evening our party were employed for a short time in firing at a mark, with the three-fold object of keeping our arms in order — exercising the men — and aweing, without frightening, the natives. While this was going on, the Fuegians sat about on their hams, watching our proceedings, and often eagerly talking to each other, as successful shots were made at the target, which was intentionally placed so that they could see the effect of the balls. At sunset they went away as usual, but looking very grave, and talking earnestly. About an hour after dark, the sentry saw something moving along the ground near our tents, within the boundary line, which he thought was a wild animal, and had just levelled his musket to fire at it, when he discovered it was a man, who instantly darted off, and was lost in the darkness. Some native had doubtless stolen to the tents, to see what we were doing; perhaps with a view to surprise us, if asleep, perhaps only to steal.

25th January 1833

Woollya Cove
Everything went on very peacibly for some days. Three houses were built, & two gardens dug & planted & what was of most consequence the Fuegians were very quiet & peaceable; at one time there were about 120 of them, the men sat all day long watching our proceedings & the poor women working like slaves for their subsistence. The men did not manifest much surprise at anything & never even appeared to look at the boats.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
So quietly did affairs proceed, that a few of our people went on the hills in search of guanacoes: many were seen, but they were too wild to approach. An old man arrived, who was said to be Jemmy's uncle, his father's brother; and many strangers came, who seemed to belong to the Yapoo Tekeenica tribe. Jemmy did not like their visit; he said they were bad people, 'no friends.'

24th January 1833

Woollya Cove
On the 24th the Fuegians began to pour in; Jemmys mother, brother, & uncle came; the meeting was not so interesting as that of two horses in a field. The most curious part was the astonishing distance at which Jemmy recognized his brother’s voice. To be sure, their voices are wonderfully powerful. I really believe they could make themselves heard at treble the distance of an Englishmen. All the organs of sense are highly perfected; sailors are well known for their good eyesight, & yet the Fuegians were as superior as another almost would be with a glass. When Jemmy quarrelled with any of the officers, he would say "me see ship, me no tell". Both he & York have invariably been in the right; even when objects have been examined with a glass.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
York, also, and Fuegia were going about among the natives at their wigwams, and the good effect of their intercourse and explanations, such as they were, was visible next day (24th) in the confident, familiar manner of the throng which surrounded us while we began to dig ground for gardens, as well as cut wood for large wigwams, in which Matthews and his party were to be established. Canoes still arrived, but their owners seemed as well-disposed as the rest of the natives, many of whom assisted us in carrying wood, and bringing bundles of grass or rushes to thatch the wigwams which they saw we were making, in a pleasant sheltered spot, near a brook of excellent water. One wigwam was for Matthews, another for Jemmy, and a third for York and Fuegia. York told me that Jemmy's brother was "very much friend," that the country was "very good land," and that he wished to stay with Jemmy and Matthews.

A small plot of ground was selected near the wigwams, and, during our stay, dug, planted and sowed with potatoes, carrots, turnips, beans, peas, lettuce, onions, leeks, and cabbages. Jemmy soon clothed his mother and brothers, by the assistance of his friends. For a garment which I sent the old woman she returned me a large quantity of fish, all she had to offer; and when she was dressed, Jemmy brought her to see me. His brothers speedily became rich in old clothes, nails and tools, and the eldest were soon known among the seamen as Tommy Button and Harry Button, but the younger ones usually staid at their wigwams, which were about a quarter of a mile distant.

23rd January 1833

Woollya Cove
Many of them had run so fast that their noses were bleeding, & they talked with such rapidity that their mouths frothed, & as they were all painted white red & black they looked like so many demoniacs who had been fighting. We started, accompanied by 12 canoes, each holding 4 or 5 people, & turning down Ponsonby, soon left them far behind. — Jemmy Button now perfectly knew the way & he guided us to a quiet cove where his family used formerly to reside. We were sorry to find that Jemmy had quite forgotten his language, that is as far as talking, he could however understand a little of what was said. It was pitiable, but laughable, to hear him talk to his brother in English & ask him in Spanish whether he understood it.

I do not suppose, any person exists with such a small stock of language as poor Jemmy, his own language forgotten, & his English ornamented with a few Spanish words, almost unintelligible. Jemmy heard that his father was dead; but as he had had a "dream in his head" to that effect, he seemed to expect it & not much care about it. He comforted himself with the natural reflection "me no help it". Jemmy could never find out any particulars about his father, as it is their constant habit, never to mention the dead. We believe they are buried high up in the woods, anyhow, Jemmy will not eat land-birds, because they live on dead men. This is one out of many instances where his prejudices are recollected, although language forgotten.

When we arrived at Woolliah (Jemmy’s Cove) we found it far better suited for our purposes, than any place we had hitherto seen. There was a considerable space of cleared & rich ground, & doubtless European vegetables, would flourish well.

We found a strange family living there, & having made them friends, they, in the evening, sent a canoe to Jemmy’s relations. We remained in this place till the 27th, during which the labours of our little colony commenced.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
While embarking our tents and cooking utensils, several natives came running over the hills towards us, breathless with haste, perspiring violently, and bleeding at the nose. Startled at their appearance, we thought they had been fighting; but it appeared in a few moments, that having heard of our arrival, they lost not a moment in hurrying across the hills from a place near Woollӯa, and that the bloody noses which had surprised us were caused by the exertion of running. This effect has been noticed among the New Hollanders, I believe the islanders of the Pacific Ocean, as well as the Esquimaux, and probably others; but to our party it was then a novelty, and rather alarming.

Scarcely had we stowed the boats and embarked, before canoes began to appear in every direction, in each of which was a stentor hailing us at the top of his voice. Faint sounds of deep voices were heard in the distance, and around us echoes to the shouts of our nearer friends began to reverberate, and warned me to hasten away before our movements should be-come impeded by the number of canoes which I knew would soon throng around us. Although now among natives who seemed to be friendly, and to whom Jemmy and York contrived to explain the motives of our visit, it was still highly necessary to be on our guard. Of those men and boys who ran over the hills to us, all were of Jemmy's tribe excepting one man, whom he called an Oens-man; but it was evident, from his own description, that the man belonged to the Yapoo, or eastern Tekeenica tribe, and was living in safety among his usual enemies, as a hostage for the security of a man belonging to Jemmy's tribe who was staying among the eastern people.

As we steered out of the cove in which our boats had been sheltered, a striking scene opened: beyond a lake-like expanse of deep blue water, mountains rose abruptly to a great height, and on their icy summits the sun's early rays glittered as if on a mirror. Immediately round us were mountainous eminences, and dark cliffy precipices which cast a very deep shadow over the still water beneath them. In the distant west, an opening appeared where no land could be seen; and to the south was a cheerful sunny woodland, sloping gradually down to the Murray Narrow, at that moment almost undistinguishable. As our boats became visible to the natives, who were eagerly paddling towards the cove from every direction, hoarse shouts arose, and, echoed about by the cliffs, seemed to be a continual cheer. In a very short time there were thirty or forty canoes in our train, each full of natives, each with a column of blue smoke rising from the fire amidships, and almost all the men in them shouting at the full power of their deep sonorous voices. As we pursued a winding course around the bases of high rocks or between islets covered with wood, continual additions were made to our attendants; and the day being very fine, without a breeze to ruffle the water, it was a scene which carried one's thoughts to the South Sea Islands, but in Tierra del Fuego almost appeared like a dream. After a few hours (pulling hard to keep a-head of our train) we reached Woollӯa, and selected a clear space favourably situated for our encampment, landed, marked a boundary-line, placed sentries, and made the various arrangements necessary for receiving the anticipated visits of some hundred natives. We had time to do all this quietly, as our boats had distanced their pursuers several miles, while running from the Murray Narrow before a favourable breeze which sprung up, and, to our joy, filled every sail.

We were much pleased by the situation of Woollӯa, and Jemmy was very proud of the praises bestowed upon his land. Rising gently from the water-side, there are considerable spaces of clear pasture land, well watered by brooks, and backed by hills of moderate height, where we afterwards found woods of the finest timber trees in the country. Rich grass and some beautiful flowers, which none of us had ever seen, pleased us when we landed, and augured well for the growth of our garden seeds.

At our first approach, only a few natives appeared, who were not of Jemmy's family. The women ran away and hid themselves, but Jemmy and York contrived (with difficulty) to make the men comprehend the reason of our visit; and their awkward explanation, helped by a few presents, gradually put them at ease. They soon understood our meaning when we pointed to the boundary-line which they were not to pass. This line was on the shore between our tents and the grassland; immediately behind the tents was a good landing-place, always sheltered, where our boats were kept in readiness in case of any sudden necessity.

Soon after our arrangements were made, the canoes which had been following us began to arrive; but, much to my satisfaction, the natives landed in coves at some distance from us, where the women remained with the canoes while the men and boys came overland to our little camp. This was very favourable for us, because it divided their numbers and left our boats undisturbed. We had only to guard our front, instead of being obliged to look out all round, as I had expected; and really it would have been no trifling affair to watch the pilfering hands and feet of some hundred natives, while many of our own party (altogether only thirty in number) were occupied at a distance, cutting wood, digging ground for a garden, or making wigwams for Matthews, York, and Jemmy.

As the natives thronged to our boundary-line (a mere mark made with a spade on the ground), it was at first difficult to keep them back without using force; but by good temper on the part of our men, by distributing several presents, and by the broken Fuegian explanations of our dark-coloured shipmates, we succeeded in getting the natives squatted on their hams around the line, and obtaining influence enough over them to prevent their encroaching.

Canoes continued to arrive; their owners hauled them ashore on the beach, sent the women and children to old wigwams at a little distance, and hastened themselves to see the strangers. While I was engaged in watching the proceedings at our encampment, and poor Jemmy was getting out of temper at the quizzing he had to endure on account of his countrymen, whom he had extolled so highly until in sight, a deep voice was heard shouting from a canoe more than a mile distant: up started Jemmy from a bag full of nails and tools which he was distributing, leaving them to be scrambled for by those nearest, and, upon a repetition of the shout, exclaimed "My brother!" He then told me that it was his eldest brother's voice, and perched himself on a large stone to watch the canoe, which approached slowly, being small and loaded with several people. When it arrived, instead of an eager meeting, there was a cautious circumspection which astonished us. Jemmy walked slowly to meet the party, consisting of his mother, two sisters, and four brothers. The old woman hardly looked at him before she hastened away to secure her canoe and hide her property, all she possessed—a basket containing tinder, fire-stone, paint, &c., and a bundle of fish. The girls ran off with her without even looking at Jemmy; and the brothers (a man and three boys) stood still, stared, walked up to Jemmy, and all round him, without uttering a word. Animals when they meet show far more animation and anxiety than was displayed at this meeting. Jemmy was evidently much mortified, and to add to his confusion and disappointment, as well as my own, he was unable to talk to his brothers, except by broken sentences, in which English predominated. After a few minutes had elapsed, his elder brother began to talk to him; but although Jemmy understood what was said, he could not reply. York and Fuegia were able to understand some words, but could not or did not choose to speak.This first evening of our stay at Woollӯa was rather an anxious one; for although the natives seemed inclined to be quite friendly, and they all left us at sunset, according to their invariable practice, it was hard to say what mischief might not be planned by so numerous a party, fancying, as they probably would, that we were inferior to them in strength, because so few in number. Jemmy passed the evening with his mother and brothers, in their wigwam, but returned to us to sleep.

22nd January 1833


Beagle Channel
After an unmolested night in what would appear to be neutral ground, between the people we saw yesterday & Jemmy’s, we enjoyed a delightful pull through the calm water. The Northern mountains have become more lofty & jagged, their summits are partially covered with snow & their sides with dark woods: it was very curious to see as far as the eye ranged, how exact & truly horizontal the line was at which the trees ceased to grow. It precisely resembled on a beach, the high-water mark of drift sea-weed.

At night we arrived at the junction with Ponsonby Sound; we took up our quarters with a family belonging to Jemmy’s or the Tekenika people. They were quiet & inoffensive & soon joined the seamen round a blazing fire; although naked they streamed with perspiration at sitting so near to a fire which we found only comfortable. They attempted to join chorus with the songs; but the way in which they were always behind-hand was quite laughable. A canoe had been despatched to spread the news & in the morning a large gang arrived.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
Favoured by beautiful weather, we passed along a tract of country where no natives were seen. Jemmy told us it was "land between bad people and his friends;" (neutral-ground probably). This evening we reached a cove near the Murray Narrow; and from a small party of Tekeenica natives, Jemmy's friends, whom we found there, he heard of his mother and brothers, but found that his father was dead. Poor Jemmy looked very grave and mysterious at the news, but showed no other symptom of sorrow. He reminded Bennett* of the dream (related in the previous chapter), and then went for some green branches, which he burned, watching them with a solemn look: after which he talked and laughed as usual, never once, of his own accord, recurring to the subject of his father's decease. The language of this small party, who were the first of Jemmy's own tribe whom we met, seemed softer and less guttural than those of the "bad men" whom we had passed near the clay cliffs; and the people themselves seemed much better disposed, though as abject and degraded in outward appearance as any Fuegians I had ever seen. There were three men and two women: when first we were seen they all ran away, but upon two of our party landing and advancing quietly, the men returned and were soon at their ease. Jemmy and York then tried to speak to them; but to our surprise, and much to my sorrow, we found that Jemmy had almost forgotten his native language, and that, of the two, York, although belonging to another tribe, was rather the best interpreter. In a few minutes the natives comprehended that we should do them no harm; and they then called back their women, who were hiding in the woods, and established themselves, very confidently, in a wigwam within a hundred yards of our tents. During this and the preceding day, we found the weather, by comparison, so mild, even warm, that several of our party bathed; yet the thermometer ranged only to 53° in the shade, and at night fell to 40°. The temperature of the sea was 48°.

Being within a few hours' pull (row) of Jemmy's 'own land,' which he called Woollӯa, we all felt eager, though anxious, and I was much gratified by seeing that Matthews still looked at his hazardous undertaking as steadily as ever, betraying no symptom of hesitation. The attentions which York paid to his intended wife, Fuegia, afforded much amusement to our party. He had long shewn himself attached to her, and had gradually become excessively jealous of her good-will. If any one spoke to her, he watched every word; if he was not sitting by her side, he grumbled sulkily; but if he was accidentally separated, and obliged to go in a different boat, his behaviour became sullen and morose. This evening he was quizzed so much about her that he became seriously angry, and I was obliged to interpose to prevent a quarrel between him and one of his steadiest friends.

On this and previous evenings, as we sat round the blazing piles, which our men seemed to think could never be large enough, we heard many long stories from Jemmy about the Oens, or Coin men, who live beyond the mountains at the north side of the Beagle Channel, and almost every year make desperate inroads upon the Tekeenica tribe, carrying off women and children, dogs, arrows, spears, and canoes; and killing the men whom they succeed in making prisoners. He told us that these Oens-men made their annual excursions at the time of 'red leaf;' that is in April or May, when the leaves of deciduous trees are changing colour and beginning to fall; just the time of year also when the mountains are least difficult to pass.

At that period these invaders sometimes come down to the shores of the Beagle Channel in parties of from fifty to a hundred; seize upon canoes belonging to the Yapoo division of the Tekeenica tribe, cross over to Navarin Island, and thence sometimes to others, driving the smaller and much inferior Tekeenica people before them in every direction. By Jemmy's own account, however, there are hard battles sometimes, and the Oens tribe lose men; but as they always contrive to carry away their dead, it seems that the advantage of strength is on their side.

These periodical invasions of a tribe whose abode is in the north-eastern quarter of Tierra del Fuego are not to be confounded with the frequent disputes and skirmishes which take place between the two Tekeenica tribes; and it is interesting to compare what we thus heard with the account obtained by Oliver Van Noort in 1589: who learnt that the people lived in caves dug in the earth, and that there were five tribes—four of ordinary stature and one of gigantic size. These giants, called Tiremenen, lived in 'Coin.' The other tribes were called Enoo, Kemenites, Karaike, and Kenneka.

21st January 1833

Beagle Channel
In the morning however, a fresh party having arrived, they became troublesome, some of the men picked up stones & the women & children retreated; I was very much afraid we should have had a skirmish; it would have been shocking to have fired on such naked miserable creatures. Yet their stones & slings are so destructive that it would have been absolutely necessary. In treating with savages, Europeans labour under a great disadvantage, until the cruel lesson is taught how deadly firearms are. Several times when the men have been tired & it was growing dark, all the things have been packed up to remove our quarters; & this solely from our entire inability to frighten the natives. One night the Captain fired double barrelled pistols close to their faces, but they only rubbed their heads & when he flourished his cutlass they were amused & laughed. They are such thieves & so bold Cannibals that one naturally prefers separate quarters.

The country on each side of the channel continues much the same, slate hills, thickly clothed by the beech woods run nearly parallel to the water; the low point of view from a boat & the looking along one valley & thus loosing the beautiful succession of ridges, is nearly destructive to picturesque effect.

20th January 1833

They left Windhond Bay ("W" on map, above) anchored at Goree Roads ("G" on map, above) and spent the next few days loading three whale-boats and the yawl with provisions. On 18 January 1833 Capt. FitzRoy took the three Fuegians, twenty-eight members of the crew, and Darwin, in the four boats down the Beagle Channel ("B" on map, above).

In the afternoon they headed into the eastern side of the Channel, and in a short time found a small cove hidden by a few little islets and camped there for the night. The next day they glided along the Beagle Channel under the watchful eyes of native Fuegians on shore. At their next camp the crew met with several natives who begged endlessly for the most trifling objects. Over the next few days they continued along the channel and camped near the northern point of Ponsonby Sound ("P" on map, above). The next morning several natives came to their camp, all of whom were very excited to see the strange "pale people" who have visited their land. (With thanks to www.aboutdarwin.com)

Beagle Channel
We began to enter to day the parts of the country which is thickly inhabited. As the channel is not generally more than three or 4 miles broad, the constant succession of fresh objects quite takes away the fatigue of sitting so many hours in one position. The Beagle channel was first discovered by Cap. FitzRoy during the last voyage, so that it is probable the greater part of the Fuegians had never seen Europeans. Nothing could exceed their astonishment at the apparition of our four boats: fires were lighted on every point to attract our attention & spread the news.

Many of the men ran for some miles along the shore. I shall never forget how savage & wild one group was. Four or five men suddenly appeared on a cliff near to us. They were absolutely naked & with long streaming hair; springing from the ground & waving their arms around their heads, they sent forth most hideous yells. Their appearance was so strange, that it was scarcely like that of earthly inhabitants.

We landed at dinner time; the Fuegians were not at first inclined to be friendly, for till one boat pulled in before the others, they kept their slings in readiness. We soon delighted them by trifling presents such as tying red tape round the forehead; it is very easy to please but as difficult to make them content; the last & first word is sure to be "Yammer-schooner" which means "give me". At night we in vain endeavoured to find an uninhabited cove; the natives being few in number were quiet & inoffensive.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
We passed the clay cliffs, spoken of in the former volume, first visited by Mr. Murray. They narrow the channel to less than a mile, but, being low, were beneath the horizon of our eye at Cutfinger Cove:—westward of them the channel widens again to its usual breadth of two miles. Several natives were seen in this day's pull; but as Jemmy told us they were not his friends, and often made war upon his people, we held very little intercourse with them. York laughed heartily at the first we saw, calling them large monkeys; and Jemmy assured us they were not at all like his people, who were very good and very clean. Fuegia was shocked and ashamed; she hid herself, and would not look at them a second time. It was interesting to observe the change which three years only had made in their ideas, and to notice how completely they had forgotten the appearance and habits of their former associates; for it turned out that Jemmy's own tribe was as inferior in every way as the worst of those whom he and York called "monkeys—dirty—fools—not men."

We gave these 'Yapoos,' as York called them, some presents, and crossed over to the north side of the channel to be free from their importunities; but they followed us speedily, and obliged us to go on further westward than was at all agreeable, considering the labour required to make way against a breeze and a tide of a mile an hour. When we at last landed to pass the night, we found that the forests on the sides of the mountains had been burned for many leagues; and as we were not far from the place where a volcano was supposed to exist, in consequence of flames having been seen by a ship passing Cape Horn, it occurred to me that some conflagration, like that of which we found the signs, might have caused appearances resembling the eruption of a distant volcano: and I have since been confirmed in this idea, from having witnessed a volcano in eruption; and, not long afterwards, a conflagration, devouring many miles of mountain forest; both of which, at a distance, shewed lines of fire, fitful flashes, and sudden gleams.

Persons who have witnessed a forest burning on the side of a mountain, will easily perceive how, when seen from a distance, it may resemble the eruption of a volcano; but to those who have not seen fire on such a scale, I may remark that each gust of wind, or temporary calm; each thick wood, or comparatively barren space; augments or deadens the flames so suddenly, as the fire sweeps along the mountain side, that, at a distance of fifty miles or more, the deception may be complete.

19th January 1833

Beagle Channel
In the morning, three whale-boats & the Yawl started with a fair wind. — We were 28 in number & the yawl carried the outfit given to Matthews [Rev. Richard, Missionary] by the Missionary society. The choice of articles showed the most culpable folly & negligence. Wine glasses, butter-bolts, tea-trays, soup tureens, mahogany dressing case, fine white linen, beaver hats & an endless variety of similar things shows how little was thought about the country where they were going to. The means absolutely wasted on such things would have purchased an immense stock of really useful articles. Our course lay towards the Eastern entrance of the Beagle channel & we entered it in the afternoon. The scenery was most curious & interesting; the land is indented with numberless coves & inlets, & as the water is always calm, the trees actually stretch their boughs over the salt water. In our little fleet we glided along, till we found in the evening a corner snugly concealed by small islands. Here we pitched our tents & lighted our fires. Nothing could look more romantic than this scene: the glassy water of the cove & the boats at anchor; the tents supported by the oars & the smoke curling up the wooded valley formed a picture of quiet & retirement.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
The yawl, being heavily laden, was towed by the other three boats, and, while her sails were set, went almost as fast as they did; but after passing Cape Rees, and altering our course to the westward, we were obliged to drag her along by strength of arm against wind and current. The first day no natives were seen, though we passed along thirty miles of coast, and reached Cutfinger Cove. (This name was given because one of our party, Robinson [Foretop Man] by name, almost deprived himself of two fingers by an axe slipping with which he was cutting wood.) At this place, or rather from a hill above it, the view was striking. Close to us was a mass of very lofty heights, shutting out the cold southerly winds, and collecting a few rays of sunshine which contrived to struggle through the frequent clouds of Tierra del Fuego. Opposite, beyond a deep arm of the sea, five miles wide, appeared an extensive range of mountains, whose extremes the eye could not trace; and to the westward we saw an immense canal, looking like a work of gigantic art, extending between parallel ranges of mountains, of which the summits were capped with snow, though their sides were covered by endless forests. This singular canal-like passage is almost straight and of nearly an uniform width (overlooking minute details) for one hundred and twenty miles.

17th & 18th January 1833

Tierra del Fuego
Spent in preparing for a long excursion in the boats. In consequence, the Captain determined to take the whole party to J. Button's country in Ponsonby Sound.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
18th. Having moored the Beagle in security, and made arrangements for the occupation of those who were to remain on board, I set out with four boats (yawl and three whale-boats), carrying Matthews and the Fuegians, with all the stock of useful things which had been given to them in England.† A temporary deck having been put upon the yawl, she carried a large cargo, and was towed by the other boats when the wind was adverse. Matthews showed no sign of hesitation or reluctance; on the contrary, he was eager to begin the trial to which he had been so long looking forward. Messrs. Darwin, Bynoe [Surgeon], Hamond [Mate], Stewart [Mate], and Johnson [Midshipman], with twenty-four seamen and marines, completed the party.

My intention was to go round the north-east part of Navarin Island, along the eastern arm of the Beagle Channel, through Murray Narrow, to the spot which Jemmy called his country: there establish the Fuegians, with Matthews: leave them for a time, while I continued my route westward to explore the western arms of the channel, and part of Whale-boat Sound: and at my return thence decide whether Matthews should be left among the natives for a longer period, or return with me to the Beagle.

† By far the larger part of their property, including Matthews's outfit, was sent by Mr. Coates, Secretary of the Church Missionary Society.

16th January 1833

Tierra del Fuego
The Captain took two boats to search for a good place for the settlement. We landed & walked some miles across the country. It is the only piece of flat land the Captain has ever met with in Tierra del Fuego & he consequently hoped it would be better fitted for agriculture. Instead of this it turned out to be a dreary morass only tenanted by wild geese & a few Guanaco. The section on the coast showed the turf or peat to be about 6 feet thick & therefore quite unfit for our purposes. We then searched in different places both in & out of the woods, but nowhere were able to penetrate to the soil; the whole country is a swamp. The Captain has in consequence determined to take the Fuegians further up the country. This place seems to be but sparingly inhabited. In one place we found recent traces; even so that the fire where limpets had been roasted was yet warm. York Minster said it had only been one man; "very bad man" & that probably he had stolen something. We found the place where he had slept. it positively afforded no more protection than the form of a hare. How very little are the habits of such a being superior to those of an animal. By day prowling along the coast & catching without art his prey, & by night sleeping on the bare ground.

15th January 1833

Tierra del Fuego
Standing to the East, we found a most excellent anchorage in Goree Sound & moored ship, secured from wind & sea: We shall probably remain here some weeks as the Fuegians & Matthews are to be settled here & there will be some boat expeditions. The object of our disastrous attempt to get to the Westward was to go to the Fuegian York Minster's country. Where we now are is Jemmy Button's & most luckily York Minster from his free choice intends to live here with Matthews [Missionary] & Jemmy. Goree Sound is situated by Lennox Island & near to the Eastern entrance of Beagle channel.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
The following day (15th) we again tried to get to the head or north-west corner of Nassau Bay, but ineffectually, for repeated squalls opposed us, and at last obliged me to bear up for Goree Road; one of the most spacious, accessible, and safe anchorages in these regions. Here, to my surprise, York Minster told me that he would rather live with Jemmy Button in the Tekeenica country than go to his own people. This was a complete change in his ideas, and I was very glad of it; because it might be far better that the three, York, Jemmy, and Fuegia, should settle together. I little thought how deep a scheme master York had in contemplation.

Syms Covington’s Journal:
Sailed for Goree Road where we anchored the same day in Beagle Channel. Here the three Indians and missionary left the ship for their native island, or Button’s Land, called after the name of the boy. Three boats with the greater part of the ships company went with them, built large wigwams and set seed of different sorts for their use, which took all of them several days; and after landing their utensils which were a numerous and various bounty; left for another part of the island.

14th January 1833

[Winhond Bay is the large bay in the centre top of the Google Image]
Tierra del Fuego
The winds certainly are most remarkable; after such a storm as yesterdays, it blew a heavy gale from the SW. As we are in smooth water it does not so much signify. We stood to the North to find an harbor; but after a wearying search in a large bay did not succeed. I find I have suffered an irreparable loss from yesterday's disaster, in my drying paper & plants being wetted with salt-water. Nothing resists the force of an heavy sea; it forces open doors & sky lights, & spreads universal damage. None but those who have tried it, know the miseries of a really heavy gale of wind. May Providence keep the Beagle out of them.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
... crossed Nassau Bay in search of a convenient harbour near the Beagle Channel. Having found so much difficulty in getting to the westward by the open sea, I decided to employ boats in the interior passages, and leave the Beagle at a secure anchorage.

Furious squalls prevented our effecting this purpose; and we anchored for the night in Windhond Bay.

13th January 1833

[“Sorely Tried” ~ HMS Beagle off Cape Horn, 13 January 1833 at 1.45 p.m., by John Chancellor]

Off Cape Horn
The gale does not abate: if the Beagle was not an excellent sea-boat & our tackle in good condition, we should be in distress. A less gale has dismasted & foundered many a good ship.

The worst part of the business is our not exactly knowing our position: it has an awkward sound to hear the officers repeatedly telling the look out man to look well to leeward. — Our horizon was limited to a small compass by the spray carried by the wind: — the sea looked ominous, there was so much foam that it resembled a dreary plain covered by patches of drifted snow. — Whilst we were heavily labouring, it was curious to see how the Albatross with its widely expanded wings, glided right up the wind.

At noon the storm was at its height; & we began to suffer; a great sea struck us & came on board; the after tackle of the quarter boat gave way & an axe being obtained they were instantly obliged to cut away one of the beautiful whale-boats. — the same sea filled our decks so deep, that if another had followed it is not difficult to guess the result. — It is not easy to imagine what a state of confusion the decks were in from the great body of water. — At last the ports were knocked open & she again rose buoyant to the sea. — In the evening it moderated & we made out Cape Spencer (near Wigwam cove), & running in, anchored behind false Cape Horn. — As it was dark there was difficulty in finding a place; but as the men & officers from constant wet were much tired, the anchor was "let go" in the unusual depth of 47 fathoms. — The luxury of quiet water after being involved in such a warring of the elements is indeed great. — It could have been no ordinary one, since Capt. FitzRoy considers it the worst gale he was ever in. — It is a disheartening reflection; that it is now 24 days since doubling Cape Horn, since which there has been constant bad weather, & we are now not much above 20 miles from it.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
At three in the morning of the 13th, the vessel lurched so deeply, and the main-mast bent and quivered so much, that I reluctantly took in the main-topsail (small as it was when close-reefed), leaving set only the storm-trysails (close-reefed) and fore-staysail. At ten, there was so continued and heavy a rush of wind, that even the diminutive trysails oppressed the vessel too much, and they were still farther reduced. Soon after one, the sea had risen to a great height, and I was anxiously watching the successive waves, when three huge rollers approached, whose size and steepness at once told me that our sea-boat, good as she was, would be sorely tried. Having steerage way, the vessel met and rose over the first unharmed, but, of course, her way was checked; the second deadened her way completely, throwing her off the wind; and the third great sea, taking her right a-beam, turned her so far over, that all the lee bulwark, from the cat-head to the stern davit, was two or three feet under water.

For a moment, our position was critical; but, like a cask, she rolled back again, though with some feet of water over the whole deck. Had another sea then struck her, the little ship might have been numbered among the many of her class which have disappeared: but the crisis was past — she shook the sea off her through the ports, and was none the worse —excepting the loss of a lee-quarter boat, which, although carried three feet higher than in the former voyage (1826-1830), was dipped under water, and torn away.

From that time the wind abated, and the sea became less high. The main-topsail was again set, though with difficulty, and at four o'clock the fore-topsail and double-reefed foresail were helping us towards False Cape Horn, my intention being to anchor in Nassau Bay. When the quarter-boat was torn away, we were between the Ildefonsos and Diego Ramirez: the wind varying from W.S.W. to S.W.

This gale was severely felt on all parts of the coast, south of 48°, as I afterwards ascertained from sealing-vessels: and at the Falkland Islands, a French whaler, called Le Magellan, was driven from her anchors and totally wrecked in that landlocked and excellent port, Berkeley Sound.

Some persons are disposed to form a very premature opinion of the wind or weather to be met with in particular regions, judging only from what they may themselves have experienced. Happily, extreme cases are not often met with; but one cannot help regretting the haste with which some men (who have sailed round Cape Horn with royals set) incline to cavil at and doubt the description of Anson and other navigators, who were not only far less fortunate as to weather, but had to deal with crazy ships, inefficient crews, and unknown shores; besides hunger, thirst, and disease.

Before midnight we anchored under shelter of the land near False Cape Horn.

* It was well that all our hatchways were thoroughly secured, and that nothing heavy could break a-drift. But little water found its way to the lower deck, though Mr. Darwin's collections, in the poop and forecastle cabins on deck, were much injured. Next to keeping a sharp look-out upon the sky, the water, and the barometer, we were always anxious to batten down our hatches in time—especially at night, during a gale, or in very squally weather.

† The roller which hove us almost on our beam ends, was the highest and most hollow that I have seen, excepting one in the Bay of Biscay, and one in the Southern Atlantic; yet so easy was our little vessel that nothing was injured besides the boat, the netting (washed away), and one chronometer.

Syms Covington’s Journal:
On the 13th, lost the Captain's gig, which was occasioned by the sea breaking over our quarter and poop, and likewise sprung our bowsprit etc.
Anchored in Wind Bound Bay in the evening.

12th January 1833

Off Cape Horn
A gale with much rain, at night it freshened into a regular storm. The Captain was afraid it would have carried away the close reefed main topsail. We then continued with merely the trysails & storm stay sail.

11th January 1833

Off Cape Horn
A very strong breeze, with heavy squalls; by carrying a press of sail, we fetched within a mile of Christmas Sound. This rough precipitous coast is known by a mountain which from its castellated form was called by Capt. Cook York Minster. We saw it only to be disappointed, a violent squall forced us to shorten sail & stand out to sea. To give an idea of the fury of the unbroken ocean, clouds of spray were carried over a precipice which must have been 200 feet high.
Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
On the 11th we saw that wild-looking height, called York Minster, 'looming' among driving clouds, and I flattered myself we should reach an anchorage; but after tearing through heavy seas, under all the sail we could carry, darkness and a succession of violent squalls, accompanied by hail and rain, obliged me to stand to seaward, after being within a mile of our port. All the next day we were lying-to in a heavy gale—wearing occasionally.

10th January 1833

Off Cape Horn
A gale from the SW.
Syms Covington’s Journal:
On the passage we experienced a very heavy gale.

9th January 1833

Off Cape Horn
To day the weather has been a little better, but now at night the wind is again drawing to the old quarter. We doubled Cape Horn on the 21st, since which we have either been waiting for good or beating against bad weather & now we actually are about the same distance, viz. hundred miles, from our destination; there is however the essential difference of being to the South instead of the East. Besides the serious & utter loss of time & the necessary discomforts of the ship heavily pitching & the miseries of constant wet & cold, I have scarcely for an hour been quite free from sea-sickness. How long the bad weather may last, I know not; but my spirits temper & stomach, I am well assured, will not hold out much longer.

8th January 1833

Off Cape Horn
On the 8th it blew what Sailors term a strong gale (it is the first we have had) the Beagle is however so good a sea-boat, that it makes no great difference.

4th to 7th January 1833

Off Cape Horn
During all these precious days we have been beating day & night against the Westerly winds. The cause of our slow progress is a current which is always setting round the coast & which counterbalances the little which can be gained by beating up against strong winds & a heavy sea. After passing the Ildefonsos rocks, it blew strong & in 24 hours we were rather to leeward of them. After this the wind was steady from the NW with much rain, & we drifted down to the Latitude of 57° .. 23'.
Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
On the 5th, the same islands [Diego Ramirez Islands] were again under our lee—a sufficient evidence that we did not make westing. In fact, no sooner did we get a few reefs out, than we began taking them in again; and although every change of wind was turned to account, as far as possible, but little ground was gained.

2nd & 3rd January 1833

Off Cape Horn
This is always accompanied by constant rain & a heavy sea; & now after four days beating we have scarcely gained a league. Can there be imagined a more disagreeable way of passing time? Whilst weathering the Diego Ramirez rocks, the Beagle gave an unusual instance of good sailing; with closed reefed topsails & courses & a great sea running, close hauled to the wind she made 7 & 1/2 knots.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
Jan. 2d. We were rather too near the Diego Ramirez Islands, during a fresh gale of wind, with much sea; but by carrying a heavy press of sail, our good little ship weathered them cleverly, going from seven and a half to eight knots an hour, under close-reefed topsails and double-reefed courses — the top-gallant-masts being on deck.

Syms Covington’s Journal:
January 2nd, saw the Islands of Ildefonso and York Minster.

1st January 1833

Tierra del Fuego
For this & the following day we had a moderate wind from the old quarter SW; we all thought that after so much bad weather we should at least have a few fine days; the wind lulled & we hailed with joy a light air from the East; but in a couple of hours it veered to the North & then blew a strong gale from the SW.