Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
On the 22d, both ships sailed from Coquimbo, and soon afterwards parted company. The Conway stood to the westward, 'close-hauled;' while the Blonde steered towards the north with a fresh southerly wind.
What caused the loss of the Challenger?—is a question not easy to answer with certainty. The error in her reckoning amounted to more than forty miles; and the only way in which I can account for it to my own satisfaction is, that while the north-west wind was blowing, a current set to the southward and eastward, for which no allowance was made, as those on board could not be aware that such a current might be found, its existence not being known. A south-east current was not to be expected thereabouts; for the general set of the waters is northerly, excepting near the land, and they thought themselves in the offing. But currents are very uncertain and treacherous in most places. Unusual winds, peculiar seasons affecting the weight of the atmosphere, and those powerful interrupters of all order—earthquakes, have immediate effect upon the great ocean, as well as upon small bodies of water, though not always so visibly.