19th January 1833

Beagle Channel
In the morning, three whale-boats & the Yawl started with a fair wind. — We were 28 in number & the yawl carried the outfit given to Matthews [Rev. Richard, Missionary] by the Missionary society. The choice of articles showed the most culpable folly & negligence. Wine glasses, butter-bolts, tea-trays, soup tureens, mahogany dressing case, fine white linen, beaver hats & an endless variety of similar things shows how little was thought about the country where they were going to. The means absolutely wasted on such things would have purchased an immense stock of really useful articles. Our course lay towards the Eastern entrance of the Beagle channel & we entered it in the afternoon. The scenery was most curious & interesting; the land is indented with numberless coves & inlets, & as the water is always calm, the trees actually stretch their boughs over the salt water. In our little fleet we glided along, till we found in the evening a corner snugly concealed by small islands. Here we pitched our tents & lighted our fires. Nothing could look more romantic than this scene: the glassy water of the cove & the boats at anchor; the tents supported by the oars & the smoke curling up the wooded valley formed a picture of quiet & retirement.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
The yawl, being heavily laden, was towed by the other three boats, and, while her sails were set, went almost as fast as they did; but after passing Cape Rees, and altering our course to the westward, we were obliged to drag her along by strength of arm against wind and current. The first day no natives were seen, though we passed along thirty miles of coast, and reached Cutfinger Cove. (This name was given because one of our party, Robinson [Foretop Man] by name, almost deprived himself of two fingers by an axe slipping with which he was cutting wood.) At this place, or rather from a hill above it, the view was striking. Close to us was a mass of very lofty heights, shutting out the cold southerly winds, and collecting a few rays of sunshine which contrived to struggle through the frequent clouds of Tierra del Fuego. Opposite, beyond a deep arm of the sea, five miles wide, appeared an extensive range of mountains, whose extremes the eye could not trace; and to the westward we saw an immense canal, looking like a work of gigantic art, extending between parallel ranges of mountains, of which the summits were capped with snow, though their sides were covered by endless forests. This singular canal-like passage is almost straight and of nearly an uniform width (overlooking minute details) for one hundred and twenty miles.

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