Rus Articles Journal

Drake Strait. What sea passage is the widest in the world?

there was an era of Great Geographical discoveries. Searches of the shortest way to India and to “islands of spices“ led to opening of the new passage connecting the Atlantic and Quiet oceans. It was the widest sea passage in the world which called by the name of his pioneer, sir Francis Drake, one of the best-known pirates. Within three centuries Drake Strait was the most navigable artery around South America.

Sir Francis Drake was very successful person. One of the greatest zemleprokhodets in the history of our planet will of destiny became not less great and famous pirate who obtained in the beginning the license for a privateering from hands of the English queen Elizabeth, and then awarded with it for feats for the sake of the British Empire of an honourable title and become vice-the admiral.

Good luck accompanied it and in 1578 when carrying will of a gale carried by its ship by the Strait of Magellan where it went to carry out round-the-world travel, and took out to the high sea.

So involuntarily pass on the widest passage in the world connecting waters of the Atlantic and Quiet oceans which on all world maps is called as as Drake Strait was for the first time carried out . However, Spaniards believe that the priority in opening of this passage has to belong to a past along this route in 1526 to the Spanish captain Frantsisko Oses. However “vezunka“ Drake and here was promoted by good luck and if know about Oses units, then a name of Drake - here it, before us, on the majority of maps of the world.

During that swimming from six ships only the flagman vessel managed to pass the newly opened passage to the Pacific Ocean. One ship returned to England, the others died. The leader, originally called “Pelican“, was carried by a storm far on the South where its strong current carried by by a small island, and soon it got to boundless open spaces of the Pacific Ocean.

In honor of happy rescue “Pelican“ was renamed into “A gold fallow deer“. The reason of the choice of the new name is simple. Francis Drake had the rich patron Christopher Hutton on whose coat of arms the gold fallow deer was represented. Superstitious as all seamen, Drake, having seen a certain sign in rescue, changed a name to the vessel which is a lot more after that years honor and the truth served the owner.

Width of Drake Strait in the bottleneck makes 820 km, reaching 1120 km in certain places. At the same time its length only 460 km, and depth is from 276 to 5250 m. The part of the passage belongs to the water area of the Atlantic Ocean, and part - Silent. The conditional line was decided to be drawn from the island the Horn of Tierra Del Fuego to the island Snow the Southern Shetland Islands which are part of Antarctica.

The proximity to Antarctica leaves the mark on the passage and everything that surrounds it. In a warm season water hardly - hardly reaches 6 °C. However, in the winter it too not critically cold, also keeps on average at the level of 3 °C. Therefore the passage, unlike the closest neighbors, no more than on a quarter freezes that does it navigable all the year round. Water temperature in Magellan`s passages and the Beagle approximately same, but there is few current in this connection they are held down several months by ice.

Unlike them through Drake Strait the enormous mass of water forced by the strongest western winds storming between 40 ° and 55 ° southern latitude and called “roaring the fortieth“ rushes. Winds rest against the curved chain of the Andes, insuperable to them, stretched from Isthmus of Panama to the most southern suburb of the continent and in attempt to find “opening“ direct on the South, creating the most powerful Antarctic circumpolar current, or a current of the Western Winds. This river rushing by the rough sea moves waters approximately in 600 times more, than Amazon, at a speed of current up to 4 meters per second.

Nobody risked to pass long time from the ocean to the ocean Drake Strait, and only in 1616 the Dutch schooner of the captain Willem Skhouten rounded South America on the shortest way. They gave the name of an extreme point of the archipelago - Cape Horn.

From this point the stormy life of Drake Strait which proceeded a little more than three hundred years before official discovery of the Panama Canal began. Since 1920 Drake, Magellan`s passages and the Beagle giving till that time the only chance for a passage of the vessels from Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean and back lost the value, and about them, perhaps, absolutely would forget if curiosity not inherent in mankind.

It is about development of cruise fleet and emergence of huge passenger ships which the fortieth are not terrible neither “storming“, nor “violent the fiftieth“. Passengers of these vessels are eager to pass along a legendary route, by “the old cannibal“ or “the cape of a devil“ as seamen once called Cape Horn. There the western winds blow with an inconceivable speed - 35 meters per second, and it is not a limit. And waves rise on height of the five-floor house, and the sea at the same time is considered enough - quiet. In the summer there storms weekly. In the spring this figure reaches two times a week, and in the winter - a storm do not stop at all.

Of course, sitting in a convenient chair, to look at the sea storming somewhere there deeply below is not that to cling an icy hand for a handrail, standing on shkanets of a fragile sailing small boat, but all the same promotes plentiful emission of adrenaline in blood. Therefore on the most popular sea cruises which route is laid through Drake Strait permits are bought beforehand.

The sailing vessels going from Silent to the Atlantic Ocean constantly went to an era of Great Geographical discoveries through the widest passage in the world and seamen were never sure that they will manage to subdue this artful water barrier. Still passing on a sailing vessel through Drake Strait is appreciated among yachtsmen like climbing Chomolungma among climbers.

There are a lot of customs connected with Drake Strait and Cape Horn, was born at seamen. The most known among them - following: allegedly British queen Elizabeth I enjoined that after the first passing along this route, the English seamen pierced the left ear and passed in it a copper earring that granted them the right for free visit of all pothouses on the way. And seamen should have repeated this feat to change a copper earring for silver. Well, and the gold earring in an ear granted the right to consider the seaman as “old salt“ as he three and more times visited on the brink of disaster the sea abyss.

They say that all tourists who passed through Drake Strait and rounded at the same time Cape Horn are handed the special memorable certificate. We hoped to fill up the house collection with the similar document too, but to us it, unfortunately, did not hand.