16th December 1832

Tierra del Fuego
We made the coast of Tierra del Fuego a little to the South of Cape St. Sebastian & then altering our course ran along, a few miles from the shore. The Beagle had never visited this part before; so that it was new to every body. Our ignorance whether any natives lived here, was soon cleared up by the usual signal of a smoke, & shortly by the aid of glasses we could see a group & some scattered Indians evidently watching the ship with interest. They must have lighted the fires immediately upon observing the vessel, but whether for the purpose of communicating the news or attracting our attention, we do not know. The breeze was fresh & we ran down about 50 miles of coast & anchored for the night. The country is not high, but formed of horizontal strata of some modern rock, which in most places forms abrupt cliffs facing the sea. It is also intersected by many sloping valleys, these are covered with turf & scattered over with thickets & trees, so as to present a cheerful appearance. The sky was gloomy & the atmosphere not clear, otherwise the views would in some places have been pretty. At a great distance to the South was a chain of lofty mountains, the summits of which glittered with snow. We are at anchor to the South of St. Pauls head.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
We closed the shore about Cape Sunday, ran along it past Cape Peñas, and anchored off Santa Inez.

A group of Indians was collected near Cape Peñas, who watched our motions attentively. They were too far off for us to make out more than that they were tall men, on foot, nearly naked, and accompanied by several large dogs. To those who had never seen man in his savage state — one of the most painfully interesting sights to his civilized brother — even this distant glimpse of the aborigines was deeply engaging; but York Minster and Jemmy Button asked me to fire at them, saying that they were "Oens-men—very bad men."

Our Fuegian companions seemed to be much elated at the certainty of being so near their own country; and the boy was never tired of telling us how excellent his land was — how glad his friends would be to see him — and how well they would treat us in return for our kindness to him.

We remained but a few hours at anchor under Cape Santa Inez, for so heavy a swell set in, directly towards the shore, caused probably by a northerly gale at a distance, that our situation was dangerous as well as disagreeable. Our only chance of saving the anchor and chain was by weighing immediately; yet if we did so, there would be a risk of drifting ashore: however, we did weigh, and drifted some distance, rolling our nettings in; but a breeze sprung up, freshened rapidly, and soon carried us out of danger. This happened at three in the morning, so my hopes of observations and angles were frustrated, and I had no choice but to run for the strait of Le Maire.

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