January 26, 1820 – Last night Capt. B. chose to lie by rather than proceed lest falling into the “straits” of Le Maire he should be becalmed in the night and drifted ashore. We are now in the “Straits” of L.M. – Del Fuigo on our right and Staten Land on the left, on both of which among their towering rocks, we can discover banks of snow now in the midsummer. We have a little hail today. The mercury in our thermometer stands at 58 f. We entered the strait early in the morning with a fair wind which, however, subsided at 10 A.M. before we had quite passed through and we were carried back by the current 19 or 20 miles. During this recess we were much interested by discovering two men kindling a fire on the beach. Our attention was first attracted by the rising smoke; then by the help of our glasses, the men could be very distinctly seen. But whether they were natives of the Island about their ordinary business, or endeavoring to attract our notice, or whether they were ship-wrecked mariners making the usual signal of distress, and imploring our aid, we could not tell. Of what name or nation soever they may be, they have awakened our compassion, and were it in our power we would gladly extend to them the hand of kindness and the voice of consolation, and affectionately tell them that a Savior lives in heaven all powerful and gracious, who died for them, and who is ready to afford his aid, and if they will obey him, to give them eternal life and receive them from these tempest beaten shores to the peaceful mansions of heavenly rest. (Thaddeus Journal)
Jan. 26th, Wednesday. “Begins with pleasant, hazy weather, and a fresh breeze from the northward. Steering to the southeastward along the coast of Terra del Fuego. The land appears barren and mountainous. Running for the Straits of Le Maire, a little to the N. W., are two remarkable hills with flat tops. Between them is a small hill running up to a peak like a sugar-loaf. Cape St. Vincent, or N.E. point, runs off low and flat. Bearing E. S. E. we saw, over the low point, the high land of Staten Land. At 8 p.m., in close reef topsails, and hauled on a wind to the northward. Fresh gales from West. At 3 a.m. wore ship and stood for the Straits of Le Maire; at 9 a.m. entered the Straits. The land on both sides appears high, rough, and barren. Saw a small smoke on the west shore. Ends, light baffling winds and passing clouds. Thermometer 60°. Lat. obsd. 54° 40′ South.” (James Hunnewell)
Jan. 26th. We are now in the Straits of Le-Maire. Terra-del-Fuego on the right, and Staten-Land on the left. We had not entered them, yesterday, when I thought. You will see by the map that the former discovers a considerable point previous to entering the Straits. Fight coming on, Capt. B— thought it prudent to lie by for the night, and seek an entrance in the morning.
Many thoughts run in the mind as we gaze on these rude coasts; but not such conflicting ones, as when we shall gaze on those of Owyhee. Here, as there, “No gospel’s joyful sound” is heard. The poor souls, scattered about on its bleak mountains, yet own no other sceptre than that of the Prince of darkness. But the day is hastening when, they shall. As we pass by them, and deplore their wretched state, we would enquire in what way we may do them good. We may ask God to remember them—we may exhort our Christian friends to stop not in their exertions till every dark corner feels the rays of the Sun of Righteousness. 2 o’clock. At ten A. M. we had almost made the point through Le-Maire. A calm came on, and the current has forced us back about thirty miles. Behing us, at the entrance of the Strait, where we were this morning, there is a tremendous sea.
We hear the distant roar, and see the white caps of the waves, the waters as it were trembling under us; while two of the blackest clouds hang over each island, en- creasing fast. I narrowly observe the Capt.’s countenance. Marks of deep solicitude are plainly visible now. What the Captain of our salvation is about to cause us to pass through in this narrow sea, I know not, but this * do know, and it shall be my consolation, as these high mountains are round about us, and “as the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so is. the Lord round about his people. What time I am afraid, I will trust in Him.” (Sybil Bingham)
January 26. At 7 this morning we made the island of Staten land on our left-just entering the Straits of Le Maire. This we deemed the most critical period of our voyage. The wind having turned against us. we were driven off and on for 12 hours. in no small danger of being dashed against the rocks, which border the surrounding islands. But Providence. Interfering in our behalf as he is ever wont to do. we found ourselves on the morning of the 27th quite past the Straits of Le Maire, steering up towards the Cape as fast as the winds could take us. Thus. was the Lord better to us than our fears. The appearance of these islands. as we sailed between them. were as follows:
That of Tierra del Fuego, is one of the most abrupt and mountainous countries that I ever beheld. appearing at the distance of 8 miles. like a continued mass of rocks and hills peeping over hills. some rising in the form of a pyramid. others terminating in steep. craggy cliffs. many of which showed marks of a volcano.
Staten Land is not dissimilar to the former – only in size – being much smaller. The perpendicular height of some of its mountains appeared to reach above the clouds, and [to be] covered with perpetual snow, yet, history informs us, that here, in this cold, barren, and unfriendly soil, dwells a savage race of men, whose natures are no less rude than the rocks among which they dwell. subsisting chiefly on fish and clothing themselves with the skins of wild beasts.
Upon these poor souls the Son of Righteousness hath never shone, no sound of the Gospel ever saluted their ears – but they must spell out their existence. by the dim light of nature, until the Lord in his own time shall give them to his Son for an inheritance.
These Islands abound in almost an infinite variety of birds and wild-fowl: such as Geese of different species. and of ducks, Pigeons. Cormorants. Albatrosses. &c. The morning on which we passed the Straits was calm and pleasant and not unfavorable for taking observations. I took a rude draught of both these Islands. as we passed them. which. for the sake of variety some future day (if permitted) I will retrace and send you. (Lucia Ruggles Holman)
Jan. 26th. 1 o’clock P. M. Hoisted sail early this morning and the wind still breezing in our favour, at 10 o’clock were half thro’ the straits of Le Maire, when a sudden and tremendous swell of the sea came in, and our wind died away leaving us tossing to and fro upon the waves which were comparatively as high as the mountains on each side, and in no small danger of being dashed against the rocks. Here for the first time I realized immediate danger; Capt. B. was much agitated; we could neither proceed nor go back. But He in whom we trust who has always been trying us with mercies as well as judgments soon appeared for us and now the water has become calm and the weather pleasant. We are so near the Terra del Fuego shore, as to discover that there are some trees upon the mountains but it is a black and barren place. It seems hardly possible for man to exist here, but there are few wretched inhabitants, whose condition is but little better than the wild beasts around them.
We discover a smoke on the beach, and. with the help of a spy, glass can distinctly see two men. Probably they see us and make the fire as a signal for us to go to them; but we think it not proper. The natives on this side of the Island are said to be friendly; those on the south side savage and barbarous. The thought is interesting that we are so near heathen grounds; we would remember affectionately these poor people, as we pass by their dreary land, and pray that Jesus may soon possess them for an inheritance. An immense number of birds are constantly flying about us. Four or five kinds of ducks, several of geese, Albatrosses, Penquins, Cormorants, Teal, and many other kinds of land birds, visit us as we lie becalmed. 7 o-clock in the eve. The wind again breezes in our favour and we begin to proceed through the strait. Surely the Lord Jehovah is on our right hand and on our left. (Samuel Ruggles)
Jan. 26. I have just been on deck to take a view of the scene around us. We are now in the Straits with a good breeze carrying us forward. The Straits are said to be about 15 miles long, and near as wide. We are walled in on either side by high mountains and craggy cliffs. Two or three ridges are seen one above the other. Most of them appear to be entirely barren. They resemble a huge pile of massy rocks. But this is not the most dreary part, upon which imagination seems to linger. What fills the mind with most painful sensations, is the thought that the inhabitants of these Isles, or in the state of moral degradation, without one ray of Gospel light to cheer their souls, or illumine their dreary path. We have been so near the shore of Terra Del Fuego as to see a smoke and with the aid of a glass discovered two human beings near it. (Mercy Partridge Whitney Journal)
26. – Captain B judging it not prudent to pass through the Straits of Le Marie last evening we lay too until this morning, when we entered them under a strong west wind which continued till we had passed halfway through. We have now been be calmed about 2 hours & a strong current from the Pacific is drifting us out again. We are about halfway between Staten Island & Terra Del Fuego. The straits are said to be about 15 miles in length and as many in breadth. Staten Island presents nothing but rocks. On the other side there are a few trees. Here is a safe retreat for birds. Albatrosses, ducks, penquins, teal &c abound here. Two men thought to be natives are seen standing on Terra Del Fuego by a fire. (Samuel Whitney Journal)