We ran down alongside the Schooners; & all the necessary business between them & the Beagle was carried on with the greatest activity. The morning passed away most merrily in hearing & relating everything which has happened since we parted. The coast, however, on which the Schooners have been employed seems to be even more uninteresting than that of Bahia Blanca.
The instructions for the next three months are as follows: Mr Wickham, after cauking La Lievrè at R. Negro, runs up B. Blanca; returns immediately & joins Mr Stokes, who will be employed in this neighbourhood. They then in company sail for Port Desire; & from that point, these little vessels will survey the coast up to Rio Negro. The Beagle will meet them there in March; which month being very boisterous, our whole fleet intend lying snug in the river. All the Officers dined together in the Gun-room; soon after which the Beagle made sail. We are now with a rattling breeze & a bright moon scudding for Nassau Bay, behind Cape Horn.
Syms Covington’s Journal:
... they came out and anchored close to us, in order to receive stores and various supplies which we had brought for them from Buenos Ayres and Monte Video. I was a little uneasy when I saw that the pilot of the Liebre, Mr. Roberts, was one of the largest of men, and that his little vessel looked, by comparison, no bigger than a coffin; but Mr. Wickham allayed my doubts by assuring me that his moveable weight answered admirably in trimming the craft; and that, when she got a-ground, Mr. Roberts stepped overboard, and heaved her afloat. "Certainly," said Mr. Wickham, "he did harm on one day, by going up to look-out, and breaking the mast."
In the afternoon of this day (4th) we weighed anchor and parted company from the Paz and Liebre. They returned to San Blas, and the Beagle steered southward. Secure and capacious as is the port just mentioned, it is one of the most difficult and dangerous to enter on this coast. The best, indeed only approach to it, is called by those sealers and sea-elephant fishers who have hitherto frequented it,—'Hell-gate.'
At about four the weather was very hot, the sky cloudless, and varying flaws of wind drove quantities of gossamer, and numbers of insects off from the land. The horizon was strangely distorted by refraction, and I anticipated some violent change. Suddenly myriads of white butterflies surrounded the ship, in such multitudes, that the men exclaimed, "it is snowing butterflies." They were driven before a gust from the north-west, which soon increased to a double-reefed topsail breeze, and were as numerous as flakes of snow in the thickest shower. The space they occupied could not have been less than two hundred yards in height, a mile in width, and several miles in length.