The Adventure, not being ready for sea, the Captain determined to run down to Port St Julians about 110 miles to the South & to survey some of the intermediate coast. We floated with a strong tide out of harbour; it is called backing & filling from a particular manner of sailing the vessel & is a ticklish operation. Having passed the narrows, made sail: in a few minutes we struck rather heavily on a rock; the tide was ebbing, but with good fortune she struck only twice more & then went over. The Beagle, in her last voyage, struck in the night & as is now supposed, on the same rock, the summit is so small that the next day it could not be found by any efforts. On both occasions the Beagle has received no essential damage; for the which all in her ought to be grateful. At night we anchored off the coast.
On the 4th of January both vessels anchored safely in Port Desire:—this was a bold stroke, but success attended it. They were thus placed at the southernmost point of the coast they were to survey, while the sun was farthest south; and as the days shortened, they would work along the coast northward. Recent traces of Indians were found; and the master of an American sealer told Mr. Wickham that they had been there in considerable numbers, about two months previously. The wells were all full; therefore much rain must have fallen during October, November, or December. I have mentioned elsewhere that although the eastern coast of Patagonia is usually an arid desert, there are periodical times, of short duration, at which rain falls abundantly.