The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 12-01-2009, 01:49 PM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Straits of Magellan vs. Cape Horn

Which passage was more dangerous to a ship? In the days of sail, the trip around Cape Horn was feared by mariners. Sailors rounding the cape encountered fierce winds, high seas, and frequent storms-many times,ice storms would cause a sailing ship to become topheavy and capsize. In contrast, the Straits of Magellan are fairly safe waters-except for the strong currents and dangerous island at the Pacific side (the "Twelve Apostles").
My question: were ther any tugboats in the straits, so sas to tow sailing ships through? Or was rounding the Cape (even though dangerous) preferred to navigating the straits?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 12-01-2009, 02:46 PM
Xema Xema is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Based on my reading, the route south of Cape Horn was preferred. The Straits gave some shelter from stormy conditions, but along this route dangerous land was always fairly near and ready to wreck a ship that had trouble or became uncertain of its position.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 12-01-2009, 03:02 PM
Irishman Irishman is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Wiki has this to say:

Quote:
There are a number of potential sailing routes 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, between Tierra del Fuego and Isla Navarino, offers a potential, though difficult route; and there are various passages around the Wollaston and Hermite Islands to the north of Cape Horn.[14]

All of these, however, are notorious for treacherous williwaw winds, which can strike a vessel with little or no warning;[15] given the narrowness of these routes, there is a significant risk of then 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.[4]
So according to Wiki, the Cape route (Drake Passage) was preferred, even though it was discovered after the Straits route, which indicates the answer you desire.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 12-01-2009, 05:02 PM
Xema Xema is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
were ther any tugboats in the straits, so sas to tow sailing ships through?
I've not heard of such in the SoM during the sailing ship era. And typical merchant sailing ship economics would not have allowed for this sort of expense.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 12-02-2009, 03:26 PM
Irishman Irishman is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
What would a tugboat be in that era? A smaller sailing vessel? How does that work? A rowing vessel?

Typically the solution at the time was not to employ tugboats, but rather dedicated pilots who knew the area in question and could thus avoid the trouble spots. Would there have been a career in being a SoM pilot, commuting between two cities in South America?
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 12-02-2009, 03:32 PM
Xema Xema is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Irishman View Post
What would a tugboat be in that era? A smaller sailing vessel?
Well, the era of powered tugboats overlaps that of merchant sail. But deepwater sailors typically had both the skills and tradition to avoid much use of them.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:02 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.