17th December 1832

Tierra del Fuego (Good Success Bay)
The Ship rolled so much during the night from the exposed anchorage, that there was no comfort to be obtained. — At daylight which is about 3 oclock we got under weigh & with a fair breeze stood down the coast. At Port St Policarpo, the features of the country are changed. — high hills clothed in brownish woods take the place of the horizontal formations. — A little after noon we doubled C. St. Diego & entered the famous Straits Le Maire. — We had a strong wind with the tide; but even thus favoured it was easy to perceive how great a sea would rise were the two powers opposed to each other. — The motion from such a sea is very disagreeable; it is called "pot-boiling", & as water boiling breaks irregularly over the ships sides. — We kept close to the Fuegian shore; the outline of the rugged inhospitable Staten Land was visible amidst the clouds. — In the afternoon we anchored in the bay of Good Success, here we intend staying some days. — In doubling the Northern entrance, a party of Fuegians were watching us, they were perched on a wild peak overhanging the sea & surrounded by wood. — As we passed by they all sprang up & waving their cloaks of skins sent forth a loud sonorous shout, — this they continued for a long time. — These people followed the ship up the harbor & just before dark, we again heard their cry & soon saw their fire at the entrance of the Wigwam which they built for the night. — After dinner the Captain went on shore to look for a watering place; the little I then saw showed how different this country is from the corresponding zone in the Northern Hemisphere. — To me it is delightful being at anchor in so wild a country as Tierra del F.; the very name of the harbor we are now in, recalls the idea of a voyage of discovery; more especially as it is memorable from being the first place Capt. Cook anchored in on this coast; & from the accidents which happened to Mr Banks & Dr Solander. — The harbor of Good Success is a fine piece of water & surrounded on all sides by low mountains of slate. — These are of the usual rounded or saddle-backed shape, such as occur in the less wild parts of N: Wales. — They differ remarkably from the latter in being clothed by a very thick wood of evergreens almost to the summit. The last time Cap. FitzRoy was here it was in winter; he says the landscape was of the same brownish green tint & but little more snow on the hills. — The Barometer had been very low & this evening it suddenly rose 3/10 of an inch, & now at night it is blowing a gale of wind & rain & heavy squalls sweep down upon us from the mountains.

Those who know the comfortable feeling of hearing the rain & wind beating against the windows whilst seated round a fire, will understand our feelings: it would have been a very bad night out at sea, & we as well as others may call this Good Success Bay.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
At noon, very high breakers were reported by the mast-head man, off Cape San Diego; at that time the flood-tide was setting strongly against a northerly wind and high swell; but when the tide was slack, at one, the breakers disappeared; and when we passed close to the cape, at two, the water was comparatively smooth.

There is a ledge extending from Cape San Diego, over which the flood-tide, coming from the southward, sometimes breaks with such violence, that a small vessel might be swamped by the 'bore' which it occasions.

As we sailed into Good Success Bay, a Fuegian yell echoed among the woody heights, and shout after shout succeeded from a party of natives, posted on a projecting woody eminence, at the north head of the bay, who were seen waving skins, and beckoning to us with extreme eagerness. Finding that we did not notice them, they lighted a fire, which instantly sent up a volume of thick white smoke. I have often been astonished at the rapidity with which the Fuegians produce this effect (meant by them as a signal) in their wet climate, where I have been, at times, more than two hours attempting to kindle a fire.

Scarcely was our ship secured, when the wind shifted to south-west, and blew strongly, bringing much rain with it; and we had indeed reason to rejoice at having attained so secure an anchorage. During the night, heavy squalls (williwaws) disturbed our rest very often, but did no injury, the water being quite smooth.

Syms Covington’s Journal:
Moored ship December 17th in deep water AT Good Success Bay, Tierra Del Fuego. The island, or Islands, and Staten Land form the Strait le Miare. HERE IT IS daylight until 10 o'clock at night, REMAINING twilight UNTIL daybreak at 2.30 o'clock. These Islands are completely forested mountains, their tops capt with snow which remains the whole year round.

[Syms Covington (1816?-1861), ‘Fiddler and boy to the poop cabin’on Beagle's voyage, he became Darwin's personal servant from 22 May 1833 until 25 February 1839]

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