Cover image for Rounding the Horn : being a story of williwaws and windjammers, Drake, Darwin, murdered missionaries and naked natives--a deck's-eye view of Cape Horn
Rounding the Horn : being a story of williwaws and windjammers, Drake, Darwin, murdered missionaries and naked natives--a deck's-eye view of Cape Horn
Murphy, Dallas.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Basic Books, [2004]

Physical Description:
xv, 358 pages : maps ; 25 cm
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Format :


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Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F3186 .M87 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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For as far back as he can remember, Dallas Murphy has been sea-struck. Since he began to read, "besotted by salt-water dreams and nautical language," he studied the lore surrounding a place of mythic proportions: the ever-alluring Cape Horn. And after years of dreaming--and sailing--he finally made his voyage there. In this lively, thrilling blend of history, geography, and modern-day adventure, Murphy shows how the myth crossed wakes with his reality.Cape Horn is a buttressed pyramid of crumbly rock situated at the very bottom of South America--55 degrees 59 minutes South by 67 degrees 16 minutes West. It's a place of forlorn and foreboding beauty, one that has captured the dark imaginations of explorers and writers from Francis Drake to Joseph Conrad. For centuries, the small stretch of water between Cape Horn and the Antarctic peninsula was the only gateway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and it's a place where the storms are bigger, the winds stronger, the seas rougher than anywhere else on earth. Rounding the Horn is the ultimate maritime rite of passage, and in Murphy's hands, it becomes a thrilling, exuberant tour. Weaving together stories of his own nautical adventures with long-lost tales of those who braved the Cape before him--from Spanish missionaries to Captain Cook--and interspersed with breathtaking descriptions of the surrounding wilderness, the result is a beautifully crafted, immensely enjoyable read.

Author Notes

Dallas Murphy is the author of several novels, including Lush Life and Apparent Wind, and the plays The Terrorists and The Explorers. His column on piloting and boating safety appears in Offshore magazine. Murphy, who lives in New York City, races one-designs (J-24s) on Long Island Sound and sails offshore, preferably to wild places, whenever possible

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Cape Horn is the southernmost point of South America, in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. Murphy, a novelist and journalist, sailed to Cape Horn in 2000. He chronicles the history of the cape and describes in detail the many ships that have made the voyage, battered by the unique weather with its treacherous winds. Francis Drake and Robert FitzRoy are two of the many explorers whose voyages Murphy recounts here. (FitzRoy was the captain of the Beagle and Charles Darwin was its most famous passenger.) Much of the book deals with Murphy's own trip to Cape Horn. In vivid prose, he describes the ship and observes and wonders about birds and other animals; he makes readers experience the island wilderness as if firsthand, and feel for themselves the driving rain and wind that he encountered. The book will interest those looking for an adventure but too frightened to actually make the trip. --George Cohen Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Even landlubbers may recognize Cape Horn as the Americas' southernmost tip. Between this crag of rock and Antarctica lies the Drake Passage, whose waters are the planet's most consistently violent. Of a trip through these latitudes, sailors warned, "Below 40 South there is no law, below 50 South there is no God." Murphy, a mystery writer and nautical journalist, sailed there from Ushuaia, Argentina, in a 53-foot sloop and carefully points out that he only visited the island rather than sailing around it. He revels in the tales of those who made the entire trip, however, and spends much time vividly recounting their adventures, found in old books with thrilling titles like The World Encompassed and A Two Years' Cruise off Tierra Del Fuego. Nautical buffs will find some of these yarns familiar: Darwin's South American voyages aboard HMS Beagle were the subject of last fall's Evolution's Captain, by Peter Nichols, and Murphy's version adds little to the story beyond subtle interpretive differences. Another chapter touches upon the U.S. Navy's South Seas Exploring Expedition, chronicled at length by Nathaniel Philbrick in Sea of Glory (also published last fall). Yet such narrative retreads are offset by the details of Murphy's own voyage (his desire to explore almost set off an international incident with the Chilean government). As exciting as Murphy's historical yarns are, it's always a treat to return to him and his crew as they brave the elements at the end of the earth. Maps. Agent, Loretta Barrett. (May) Forecast: Murphy's book may appeal to readers of the aforementioned books by Nichols and Philbrick. Basic will send Murphy on a tour and will run print ads and an NPR feature campaign. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

List of Mapsp. ix
Introductionp. xi
1 From Ushuaia to Puerto Williamsp. 1
2 Sea-Struckp. 23
3 Windp. 39
4 Discovering Seasp. 51
5 Drakep. 73
6 From Puerto Williams to Caleta Martialp. 95
7 A Glorious Failurep. 115
8 Discovering Peoplep. 131
9 FitzRoy's Fuegiansp. 145
10 "Too Much Skylark!"p. 159
11 Back Home Againp. 175
12 To Cape Hornp. 197
13 From Hermite to Duckp. 215
14 The Death and Life of the British Islesp. 237
15 How to Round Cape Hornp. 253
16 The Undiscovered Landp. 267
17 A Fjord for the Namingp. 283
18 The Martyrs Insistedp. 295
19 At Wulaiap. 315
20 "The Wet and Cold Life"p. 329
Acknowledgmentsp. 333
Bibliographyp. 335
Indexp. 341