Gateway Gazette

Cape Horn: Where Two Oceans Meet

 

(Submitted)

This is a story about a part of the world probably unknown to most. It is the southern tip of Chile, in South America. Prior to the Panama Canal’s construction in 1914,to navigate this treacherous cape was the only way to western Canada’s British Columbia from the east coast. Treacherous was hardly an adjective, as it was very dangerous, and more than likely white knuckles were involved while navigating this area. Many seamen did not survive the voyage. Many men were lost over the years. You see it wasn’t only navigating the Cape, but being in the perilous waters of the Drake Passage made the journey a complete nightmare.

Albatross Memorial at Cape HornTaking a second look at freight, the silkworm larvae were forced to use this dangerous route, and it was noted to be a precious cargo and very costly as well. Cape Horn is where the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans meet, gigantic waves driven by the winds and the ocean currents makes navigation almost impossible.

The Panama Canal was the answer . Not only did it help save lives, as it was a safe passage, but it also cut travelling time to a great extent.

Temperatures range in the mid 40 degrees in the warmer season. There are icy winds besides, which makes it more than chilly. When you would most likely expect snowfall in February, there is usually none. You are in the southern hemisphere. It is their summer season. Just to mention a few things that may be of interest, over 1,000 ships have been lost and about 1400 sailors have lost their lives over the years. This stretch of water is the roughest on our planet. There have been wind-driven, notorious waves nearly 30 meters high to contend with.

There has been a plaque set up in memory of the deceased sailors. The plaque is erected at the top of Cape Horn. Since it’s erection in 1992 the plaque has experienced very severe weather conditions, and consequently is not in a very good condition.

This is a thankless part of the world. …..you are at the southern most tip. The elements of nature are against you. One thinks of the amount of courage it must have taken to navigate these uncertain waters back then. Take a minute and bow your head, and say a prayer in their honour. They were such brave sailors.

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