7th January 1835

Chonos Archipelago
We ran on during the night. The French ship most pertinaciously followed us; she supposed we were making for some Harbor; & a harbor on this lee-shore is a prize which a Whaler dare not herself look for. We found MrStokes had arrived a week before at this (Lowes Harbor) our rendevous. The islands here are chiefly of the same Tertiary formation as at Chiloe, & are beautifully luxuriant: The woods come down to the beach in precisely [the] same manner as an evergreen shrubbery over a gravel walk. We found here a Periagua from Caylen; the Chilotans had most adventurously crossed in their miserable boat the open space of the sea which separates Chonos from Chiloe. — I think this place will soon be inhabited; there is a great abundance of fine muscles & oysters; wild potatoes grow in plenty, one which I measured was oval, & its longest diameter two inches. — Mr Stokes & his party cooked & ate them & found them watery but good. — The Chilotans expected to catch fish, & the very great numbers of sea-otters shows to be the case.

We enjoyed from the anchorage a splendid view of four of the great snowy cones of the Cordilleras; the most Northern is the flat-topped Volcano, & next to this comes "el famoso Corcovado". The range itself is almost hidden beneath the horizon.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
On the 7th we anchored in Port Low, and found Mr. Stokes just arrived, after a fagging cruise among the Chonos islands. His journal contains a great deal of information, from which I have extracted those passages most likely to interest the general reader.

His whale-boat was so loaded at starting (16th Dec.) that her gunwale amidships was but a foot above water. She was twenty-five feet long and six feet broad, and then carried seven men, besides instruments and a month's provisions. Of water she had only two 'barecas,' because on that coast fresh water is only too plentiful. In passing a promontory, the following day, while their boat was still deep, the swell became so great that Mr. Low said he had never before been in a boat exposed to greater danger.

In some places where they landed the woods were so thick that Mr. Stokes was obliged to climb trees to get angles; and not being able to tell previously which would answer his purpose, sometimes he made three or four useless ascents, before he could obtain a view: "but," he says "there is a pleasure I cannot express in roaming over places never visited by civilized man." On Rowlett Island potatoes were found growing wild; the largest dug up measured two inches in length, and an inch in thickness: they were quite tasteless.

At the east side of Ipun, on Narborough Island, an excellent small port was found, which was named Scotchwell Harbour. On the shore, near it, was a large bed of strawberries, like those that grow in English woods; and there was a sweet-scented pea, besides abundance of other vegetable produce, both herbage and wood, and plenty of water.

"Hitherto, all the islands we had seen were of slate-rock, some parts so soft, that I could break them easily with my finger, and I found that they blacked my hand, like plumbago; but Ipun is quite different in structure, being an earthy sandstone." (Stokes MS)

Syzygial high water at Ipun takes place at noon, and the tide rises six or eight feet. The flood-tide comes from the southward.

At May Harbour (which may be the Bello Dique of the Santa Barbara), many cypress trees were noticed, for the first time hereabouts, and a surprising number of otters. The tide rose seven feet. About the Huaytecas Islands, the northern-most of the Archipelago, quantities of excellent oysters were found, quite as good as any sold in London. No quadrupeds were seen, except nutria and otters, which were numerous. Their numbers, and the quantity of birds, show that Indians do not now frequent that quarter; indeed, no traces of them whatever were found by Mr. Stokes, or any of our party, among the Chonos islands.

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