Posted by: Rob Viens | December 3, 2012

Sailing with St. Blaise

For the better part of the last week, Darwin and the Beagle were cruising south to rendezvous with Lieutenant Wickham and the schooners. Darwin tracked the journey from Montevideo to just south of Bahia Blanca – their planned meeting point at St. Blas:

“A beautiful day; but fair wind of yesterday is now foul.— We sail direct for the bay St. Blas, where we appointed to meet the Schooners by the 20th of this month.— After meeting them we push directly onwards to Terra del Fuego, so that we may not loose any more of these precious long days.— I thank our good fortune that the Mount is at last out of sight; & I sincerely trust we may not see its outline for several months to come.” (Nov 28)

“Beautiful days, calm sea, & a fine breeze; what can the heart of man desire more?” (Nov 29/30)

“In the evening the weather looked threatening; & during the first watch there was a strong breeze.— it died away in a baffling calm; which the sailors call the “Doldrums”.” (Dec 1)

“A cloudy day with a strong breeze.” (Dec 2)

On December 3rd the Beagle reached St Blas and met the schooners – glad to see their friends for the first time in over a month:

“We anchored at night not far from the entrance of St Blas.— Within a few miles the two Schooners were at anchor.— Mr Wickham came on board & reports all well in the vessels.— They had a fine passage from Bahia Blanca; but during the month they have been surveying these coasts, there has been much dirty weather; & a little wind soon raises a great sea.— The report of the Bay of San Blas is so bad, that I suppose we shall not enter it.” (Dec 3)

St Blas (usually written as San Blas) is located due south of Bahia Blanca. Ever since parting ways with the Beagle, Wickham (as ordered) had surveyed the coastline between the two “towns”.  It was all part of FitzRoy’s plan – using the additional boats to help double the rate at which the team could perform their survey work.

San Blas

Modern visitors refer to San Blas as a “sleepy fishing village” and “off the beaten path”. The permanent population (the people who live there year round) is still only about 500 people. Tourist sites claim that you can find some of the best fishing in Argentina in the bay of San Blas.

San Blas itself is named after Saint Blaise – a bishop from Armenia from the 3rd and 4th century A.D. that was tortured with iron carding combs (the kind used on sheep wool) and beheaded. Because of these “incidents” he has become the patron saint of wool combers (and anything related to wool), as well as the one you call on if you are choking.

St Blaise – stained glass from Picardy, France (from Wikipedia)

St. Blaise

Interesting fish aside,it may not come as a surprise that Darwin didn’t stay long… (RJV)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: