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Voyages in the Southern Hemisphere, Vols. II - IIIVoyaging Accounts
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26 January - 28 February 1769

Endeavour Voyage Maps
James Cook
Joseph Banks

South East Terra del Fuego and the Streight of Le Maire


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South East Terra del Fuego and the Streight of Le Maire (continued)

From a variety of observations which were made with great care, it appeared probable in the highest degree, that, from the time of our leaving the land to the 13th of February, when we were in latitude 49° 32’, and longitude 90° 37’ we had no current to the west.

At this time we had advanced about 12 to the westward, and 3 and ½ to the northward of the Streight of Magellan: having been just three and thirty days in coming round the land of Terra del Fuego, or Cape Horn, from the east entrance of the Streight to this situation. And though the doubling of Cape Horn is so much dreaded, that, in the general opinion, it is more eligible to pass through the Streight of Magellan, we were not once brought under our close reef’d topsails after we left the Streight of Le Maire. The Dolphin in her last voyage, which she performed at the same season of the year with ours, was three months in getting through the Streight of Magellan, exclusive of the time that she lay in Port Famine; and I am persuaded, from the winds we had, that if we had come by that passage, we should not at this time have been in these seas; that our people would have been fatigued, and our anchors, cables, sails and rigging much damaged; neither of which inconveniences we had now suffered. But supposing it more eligible to go round the Cape, than through the Streight of Magellan; it may still be questioned, whether it is better to go through the Streight of Le Maire, or stand to the eastward, and go round Staten Land. The advice given in the Account of Lord Anson’s voyage is, "That all ships bound to the South Seas, instead of passing through the Streight of Le Maire, should constantly pass to the eastward of Staten Land, and should be invariably bent on running to the southward as far as the latitude of 61 or 62 degrees, before they endeavour to stand to the westward." But, in my opinion, different circumstances may at one time render it eligible to pass through the Streight, and to keep to the eastward of Staten Land at another. If the land is fallen in with to the westward of the Streight, and the wind is favourable for going through, I think it would be very injudicious to lose time by going round Staten Land, as I am confident that, by attending to the directions which I have given, the Streight may be passed with the utmost safety and convenience: but if, on the contrary, the land is fallen in with to the eastward of the Streight, and the wind should prove tempestuous or unfavorable, I think it would be best to go round Staten Land. But I cannot in any case concur in recommending the running into the latitude of 61 or 62, before any endeavour is made to stand to the westward. We found neither the current nor the storms which the running so far to the southward is supposed necessary to avoid; and indeed, as the winds almost constantly blow from that quarter, it is scarcely possible to pursue the advice. The navigator has no choice but to stand to the southward, close upon a wind, and by keeping upon that tack, he will not only make southing, but westing; and, if the wind varies towards the north of the west, his westing will be considerable. It will, indeed, be highly proper to make sure of a westing sufficient to double all the lands, before an attempt is made to stand to the northward, and to this every man’s own prudence will of necessity direct him.

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© Derived from Vols. II-III of the London 1773 edition: National Library of Australia call no. FERG 7243, pages 67 - 69, 2004
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