Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
On the 4th, the weather had improved enough to allow of a partial view of the coast between the supposed place of the Leübu and Cape Tirua; but no signal-fire, nor any thing like a flag, could be perceived on any of the heights.
Land appears so different when viewed from an offing at sea and when seen closely, especially from the land side, that it is less surprising that Vogelberg, who had visited the Leübu dozens of times by land, and also by sea in a boat, should be as much at a loss as myself to recognise the height which we had both ascended with Captain Seymour.
How it happened that I, who had surveyed this coast, should be ignorant of the real place of the Leübu, as I then certainly was, is another affair entirely, and one which I feel bound to explain. A momentary reference to my instructions shows that the Beagle was only expected to "correct the outline, and to fix the positions of all the salient points" of the coast between Chilóe and Topocalma (near Valparaiso); and the Beagle's charts of that coast prove that a great deal more was accomplished than was thought practicable when those instructions were framed.
Between Cape Tirua opposite Mocha, and Tucapel Head, the shore was laid down on our chart as determined by triangulation connected with the ship under sail, her distance from the land varying from one mile to five miles; and as no river was seen thereabouts, nor any break in the coast-line where a river's mouth could be, our chart contained merely a note, saying, "River Lebo, according to the Spanish chart." Now, the erroneous place of this Lebo (meant for Leübu) was twenty miles south of the real position, which, shut in behind Tucapel Head, could never have been seen from any vessel sailing past, however near the shore she might have been. The coast-line in the Beagle's chart was proved to be perfectly correct; but the place of the Leübu, which could only have been obtained by landing, or having a local pilot on board, was not known; and not being a navigable river, I did not deem it of sufficient consequence to be worth our delaying on an exposed coast, without an anchorage or a landing-place—so far as I then knew—while it was sought for.
Considering the multiplicity of places the Beagle had to visit subsequently, I often found it necessary to sacrifice such details as seemed to me of least consequence. Every seaman knows how very difficult it is to make out the openings of some small rivers, while he is sailing along a coast little known, and all marine surveyors know that there is seldom any way of making sure of such openings without landing; or entering them in a boat. I do not say this to excuse neglect—not feeling culpable—but simply to explain how the case stood.
On each day, when near the land, guns were fired at intervals, and sometimes three or four were fired at once; blue lights also were occasionally burned during the nights, in hopes that the schooner might see them.