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Located on Chile's Isla Hornos in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, Cape Horn is widely considered to be the southernmost tip of South America. At this spot the Atlantic and Pacific oceans meet, often in a confrontation.
 
No land to the east, none to the west—winds sweep all the way around the world from the west. The closest arm of Antarctica, Graham Land of the Antarctic Peninsula, lies six hundred miles to the south across the roughest stretch of water known on the planet, Drake Passage. Since its discovery by the Dutch mariners Jacques Le Maire and Willem Corneliszoon Schouten in 1616, Cape Horn has become known as the graveyard of ships. Its precise geographical location is the southern headland of Horn Island, Chile, in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago at the bottom of South America. As ships got larger, they could not navigate the Magellan Strait and had to risk “rounding the Horn,” a phrase that has acquired almost mythical status. For most mariners, it means sailing windward, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, fighting winds, waves, and currents, for sailing with the wind is strategically simpler and carries no bragging rights.
 
The culmination of the Andes mountain range, the legendary Cape is prone to unpredictably strong winds, choppy waters, icebergs and rogue waves - none of which phase the Princess ships that sail here. Nevertheless, hazardous maritime conditions have protected the rocky region from human settlement, so you'll enjoy the same views as the earliest explorers discovered centuries ago. Unusual rock formations with deep grooves and granite cliffs covered in trees are its signature features.

Cape Horn was originally given the Dutch name Kaap Hoorn, in honor of the Dutch city of Hoorn. In a typical example offalse cognates, the Hoorn became known in English as "Cape Horn", and in Spanish as "Cabo de Hornos" (which literally means "Cape of Ovens"). It is commonly known to English-speaking sailors as "The Horn. Cape Horn marks the northern boundary of the Drake Passage. For decades it was a major milestone on the clipper route, by which sailing ships carried trade around the world. The waters around the Cape are particularly hazardous, owing to strong winds, large waves, strong currents and icebergs; these dangers have made it notorious as a sailors' graveyard.
 
Cape Horn is part of the Commune of Cabo de Hornos, whose capital is Puerto Williams; this in turn is part of Antártica Chilena Province, whose capital is also Puerto Williams. The area is part of the Magallanes y la Antártica Chilena Region of Chile. Puerto Toro, a few miles south of Puerto Williams, is the closest town to the cape
 
Navigating around the Cape was a near-impossible feat for sailors who braved its intense winds and treacherous waters in the 17th century. However, those fortunate enough to return from a successful trip were entitled to numerous benefits, including dining with one foot on the dinner table and wearing a gold loop earring to boast of their seafaring victory.
 
Though Cape Horn became a significant trade route between the 18th and early 20th centuries, the opening of the Panama Canal rendered this route obsolete - but that hasn't prevented adventurers from recreational journeys to the Cape, or the bragging rights that come along with them!
 
Notorious for welcoming guests with strong gusts of wind, icebergs, and rocky waters, Cape Horn's dark black cliff (known as the "Horn") has enchanted travelers since the 1600's. This alluring cape just south of Tierra del Fuego once served as the gateway between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Before the Panama Canal was built in 1914, sailors had to brace themselves for a long journey around South America. On his voyage in 1892, Charles Darwin wrote, "On our weather-bow this notorious promontory in its proper form—veiled in a mist, and its dim outline surrounded by a storm of wind and water." Today, Cape Horn's grandeur still draws daring explorers from across the globe.
 
Rounding the Horn
Visiting Cabo de Hornos can be done on a day trip by helicopter or more arduously by charter power boat or sailboat, or by cruise ship. "Rounding the Horn" is traditionally understood to involve sailing from 50 degrees South on one coast to 50 degrees South on the other coast, the two benchmark latitudes of a Horn run, a considerably more difficult and time-consuming endeavor having a minimum length of 930 miles.
 
Discovery
Approaching Cape Horn from the south-west.
 
The voyage of Willem Schouten and Jacob le Maire in 1615–1616 In 1525 the vessel San Lesmes commanded by Francisco de Hoces, member of the Loaísa Expedition, was blown south by a gale in front of the Atlantic end of Magellan Strait and reached 56° S where they thought to see Land's End.
 
In September 1578, Sir Francis Drake, in the course of his circumnavigation of the world, passed through the Strait of Magellan into the Pacific Ocean. Before he could continue his voyage north his ships encountered a storm, and were blown well to the south of Tierra del Fuego. The expanse of open water they encountered led Drake to guess that far from being another continent, as previously believed, Tierra del Fuego was an island with open sea to its south. This discovery went unused for some time, as ships continued to use the known passage through the Strait of Magellan.
 
By the early 17th century the Dutch East India Company was given a monopoly on all Dutch trade via the Straits of Magellan and the Cape of Good Hope, the only known routes at the time to the Far East. To search for an alternate route and one to the unknown Terra Australis, Isaac Le Maire, a wealthy Amsterdam merchant and Willem Schouten, a ship’s master of Hoorn, contributed in equal shares to the enterprise, with additional financial support from merchants of Hoorn. Jacob Le Maire, Isaac’s son, went on the journey as “chiefe Marchant and principall factor,” in charge of trading aspects of the endeavor. The two ships that departed Holland at the beginning of June 1615 were the Eendracht of 360 tons with Schouten and Le Maire aboard, and the Hoorn of 110 tons, of which Schouten’s brother Johan was master. It was Eendracht then, with the crew of the recently wrecked Hoorn aboard,[28] that passed through the Le Maire Strait and Schouten and Le Maire made their great discovery:
 
“In the evening 25 January 1616 the winde was South West, and that night wee went South with great waves or billowes out of the southwest, and very blew water, whereby wee judged, and held for certaine that ... it was the great South Sea, whereat we were exceeding glad to thinke that wee had discovered a way, which until that time, was unknowne to men, as afterward wee found it to be true.”

“... on 29 January 1616 we saw land againe lying north west and north northwest from us, which was the land that lay South from the straights of Magelan which reacheth Southward, all high hillie lande covered over with snow, ending with a sharpe point which wee called Cape Horne [Kaap Hoorn] ...”
At the time it was discovered, the Horn was believed to be the southernmost point of Tierra del Fuego; the unpredictable violence of weather and sea conditions in the Drake Passage made exploration difficult, and it was only in 1624 that the Horn was discovered to be an island. It is a telling testament to the difficulty of conditions there that Antarctica, only 650 kilometres (400 mi) away across the Drake Passage, was discovered only as recently as 1820, despite the passage having been used as a major shipping route for 200 years.
 
Sailing Routes
A number of potential sailing routes may be followed around the tip of South America. The Strait of Magellan, between the mainland and Tierra del Fuego, is a major — although narrow — passage, which was in use for trade well before the Horn was discovered. The Beagle Channel (named for the ship of Charles Darwin's expedition), between Tierra del Fuego and Isla Navarino, offers a potential, though difficult route. Other passages may be taken around the Wollaston and Hermite Islands to the north of Cape Horn.
 
All of these, however, are notorious for treacherous williwaw winds, which can strike a vessel with little or no warning; given the narrowness of these routes, vessels have a significant risk of being driven onto the rocks. The open waters of the Drake Passage, south of Cape Horn, provide by far the widest route, at about 800 kilometres (500 mi) wide; this passage offers ample sea room for maneuvering as winds change, and is the route used by most ships and sailboats, despite the possibility of extreme wave conditions.



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