Cape Horn is often said to be the southernmost point of South America. It is located in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. The southernmost point on the mainland is Cape Froward.
The cape was first rounded by a European on January 26, 1616, by the Dutch expedition of Willem Schouten and Jacob Le Maire. They named it Kaap Hoorn after the city of Hoorn, Schouten's birthplace. The Spanish name of the place is derived from the Dutch: Cabo de Hornos.
Cape Horn is notorious because of the poor weather conditions that made it difficult to round in sailing ships. The open waters of the Drake Passage, south of the Cape, offer ample sea room for maneuvering, while the narrow Strait of Magellan through the Tierra del Fuego islands can offer a slow and difficult passage.
The Cape lies within Chilean territorial waters, and the Chilean Navy supports a lighthouse keeper and his family. The government station consists of a residence, utility building, chapel, and lighthouse. A short distance from the main station is a large sculpture featuring the silhouette of an albatross. The terrain is entirely treeless, although quite lush due to the frequent precipitation.
Rounding Cape Horn is considered the sailing-equivalent of climbing Mount Everest. All major yacht races go around it with the prevailing winds except for the Global Challenge.
Last updated: 10-17-2005 16:30:27