Posted by: Rob Viens | August 24, 2012

Cape Corrientes and the Country of the Devil

On the 24th  the Beagle continued its route south reaching the town of Mar del Plata (at Cape Corrientes).  Darwin writes:

“We have made a good run; at last North of Cape of Corrientes the coast in a small degree has altered its appearance: instead of the undulating chain of sand-hillocks the horizon is bounded by low table land. This being divided by broard gaps or vallies, presents so many square masses.— We have seen during the day the smoke from several large fires within the country: it is not easy to guess how they arise.— It is too far North for the Indians & the country is uninhabited by the Spaniards.— The sun set in a cloudless sky; & there is every prospect of the Northerly wind lasting; if so tomorrow we shall double Corrientes & if we can, land in the boats on the promontory.” (Aug 24)

My only addition today is a short geography lesson on the location of Cape Corrientes.  Clearly the Beagle was making good time as it sailed to Bahia Blanco.

Cape Corrientes (and the city of Mar del Plata)

FitzRoy, thining like a ship captain as he is want to do, is mainly concerned with the lack of safe harbor in his description of Cape Corrientes and the surrounding coastline:

“Cape Corrientes is a bold, cliffy promontory; off which, notwithstanding the name, I could not distinguish any remarkable current. It is said to be hazardous for a boat to go alongshore, near the high cliffs of that cape, because there are rocks under water which sometimes cause sudden and extremely dangerous ‘blind breakers.’ More than one boat’s crew has been lost there, in pursuit of seals, which are numerous among the rocks and caves at the foot of those cliffs. Hence to Bahia Blanco is a long and dreary line of coast, without an opening fit to receive the smallest sailing vessel, without a remarkable feature, and without a river whose mouth is not fordable. Even the plan of it, on paper, has such a regular figure, that an eye accustomed to charts may doubt its accuracy; so rarely does the outline of an exposed sea-coast extend so far without a break. A heavy swell always sets upon it; there is no safe anchorage near the shore; and, as if to complete its uninviting qualities, in the interior, but verging on this shore, is a desert tract, avoided even by the Indians, and called, in their language, Huecuvu-mapu (country of the Devil).” (Narrative, FitzRoy)

NASA image of the cape – the large city is Mar del Plata

Cape Corrientes

Darwin also started on a long scientific journey of discovery today which would (12 years from now) lead to a publication regarding arrow worms.  But the hour grows late, so that story will have to wait till tomorrow. (RJV)


  1. muy bueno gracias.

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