Read Cape Horn: The Story Of The Cape Horn Region by Felix Riesenberg Online

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Title : Cape Horn: The Story Of The Cape Horn Region
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781881987048
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 593 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Cape Horn: The Story Of The Cape Horn Region Reviews

  • Eric_W
    2018-10-19 04:09

    Magellan left on his historic voyage around the world without a clue as to what he might encounter. In 1519, just a few years after Columbus’ famous discovery, the Copernican theory of the universe had yet to be articulated, and the telescope was still one hundred years into the future. Had they known of the travails of Cape Horn, they might not have left. In 1939, Felix Riesenberg wrote a history of sea travel around Cape Horn. Fortunately, it has been reissued. He begins his study with Magellan’s magnificent discovery of the strait through to the Pacific at the tip of South America. It is difficult for us to comprehend the feat this was until we note that several other explorers attempted it, but few were able to conquer the incredible hardships, nor manage their men well enough to quell the mutinies. Magellan faced a mutiny but was able to trick the rebellious captain into surrender. They ran short of food. Pigafetta, the voyage’s chronicler, reported, “We ate biscuit, but in truth it was biscuit no longer but a powder full of worms, and in addition it was stinking with the urine of rats. So great was the want of food, we were forced to eat the hide with which the main yard was covered. These hides, exposed to the sun, wind, and rain, had become so hard we were first obliged to soften them by putting them overboard for four or five days, after which we put them on the embers and ate them thus. We also used sawdust for food, and rats became such a delicacy that we paid half a ducat apiece for them.” Magellan was never to see Spain again (he was killed in the Philippines by natives who were not quite as eager to be converted to Christianity as Magellan had assumed), and when the little brig Vittoria returned to Spain more than three years later (with only eighteen of the original crew left), he was soundly condemned for his harsh treatment of the mutineers. Sir Francis Drake made it around the Horn in the early sixteenth century, and Riesenberg analyzed his data and that of others who followed later to determine that Elizabeth Island, long sought by successors to Drake (who anchored there for several days), must be what is known now as Pactolus Bank. The island itself, of volcanic origin, may have blown up or been ground to a pulp by some of the enormous icebergs that patrol the southern ocean. Spain, under Philip II, sent another lesserknown armada, to the Straits for the purpose of fortifying the area in an attempt to prevent such ruinous escapades as Drake’s voyage from using the passage to attack Spain from the rear. The result was catastrophe. Twenty ships and over a thousand men were lost in futile attempts to overcome the elements. Despite its bitter environment, the Cape was not uninhabited. A “stone-age” people called the Fuegans occupied the rocky land at the tip of South America named Tierra del Fuego. They had adapted to the harsh climate and traveled with a fire burning in their canoes. Captain Robert Fitzroy, later of Beagle fame, captured four of them after one of his longboats was stolen by the local tribe. He returned to England with them in 1828. One was an eight-year-old girl, the oldest only twenty-six. He hoped to “civilize” them. They became somewhat of a spectacle, prodded and poked by physicians — one adolescent died after being vaccinated for smallpox — and proselytized by innumerable clergy. Fitzroy, tiring of foster parenthood, and finding the girl in the bushes in a rather compromising position with one of her much older compatriots, resolved to return them to their homeland. He managed to be appointed captain of the Beagle for a surveying voyage that included Charles Darwin among the passengers . . . so one could obliquely argue that a little girl’s tryst in the bushes resulted in the theory of evolution. The return of the Fuegans to their native land is described in detail by Riesenberg (and Darwin). They were accompanied by a missionary-apprentice, eager to save the savage souls, and their encounter with long-lost relatives was humorously tragic or tragically humorous depending on your point of view. The Fuegans were later horribly abused by passing whalers and sealers so that when a party of missionaries landed in 1859 they were massacred without mercy. By 1865, the now Admiral Robert Fitzroy, discouraged and dismayed, committed suicide. Herman Melville, in White Jacket, said of the Cape: “Sailor or landsman, there is some sort of a Cape Horn for all. Boys! beware of it; prepare for it in time. Graybeards! Thank God it has passed. And ye lucky lives, to whom, by some rare fatality, your Cape Horns are placid as Lake Lemans, flatter yourselves that good luck is judgment and discretion; for all the yolk in your eggs, you might have foundered and gone down, had the spirit of the Cape said the word.”

  • Jack Davison
    2018-10-09 01:45

    Some real men in these pages!