Cape Horn and The Beagle Channel

Dec 08, 2019 - National Geographic Explorer

With Antarctica now nearly 700 nautical miles far to our south, our sights are set for Ushuaia, Argentina, our home port for the summer months in the Southern Hemisphere. The grip of the Southern Ocean, however, still held firm as we sailed through the “Furious Fifties”—powerful gale-force winds south of the Equator—toward Cape Horn, Chile. This iconic and legendary point of land, part of the Hermite Archipelago, is where hundreds of ships and thousands of mariners have been laid to rest over the centuries—victims of the notorious and regular gales that have lashed these shores for millions of years. Conditions today could be described as typical with 20–30-knot winds and swells of 2 to 3 meters. Albatross and other seabirds plied these waters in search of food, taking advantage of the steady winds to ease their search. Their very presence was comforting: watching them rise and fall on the mighty winds served as a fitting welcome salute for weary travelers from afar.

As we rounded the Horn, our Bridge team brought us close enough to be able to see the lighthouse and monument to lost sailors on this once-feared and deadly locale. Both the lighthouse and the monument reside there under the control of the Chilean Navy; it was our first view of land in two days and a welcome sight. We set our course next for the Beagle Channel and ultimately Ushuaia, Argentina. For the remainder of the day, there were several lectures on board from our natural history staff and our guests were able to enjoy the calm seas and begin to process the events and experiences that unfolded on our expedition to Antarctica.

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About the Author

Doug Gualtieri


Doug’s passion for the natural world started at an early age in his home state of Michigan. He received two biology degrees from Central Michigan University, and later went on to get a master’s degree in conservation biology. His education led him to study a diverse range of natural sciences, with an emphasis on ecology, animal behavior, and migratory birds. Shortly after leaving the academic world, Doug migrated north to Alaska with his trusty Siberian husky, Koda. He began working as a naturalist in Denali National Park in 1999. For over seven years he has shared his love of Alaska and Denali’s six million acres with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic guests, as trip leader for the Denali Land Extension based at the North Face Lodge deep within the park.

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