The wind, which had been fresh at N. by W., began to abate, and at noon it fell calm, when we observed in latitude 55 deg. 20’ S., longitude made from Cape Deseada 3 deg. 24’ E. In this situation we were about three leagues from the nearest shore, which was that of an island. This I named Gilbert Isle, after my master. It is nearly of the same height with the rest of the coast, and shews a surface composed of several peaked rocks unequally high. A little to the S.E. of it are some smaller islands, and, without them, breakers.
I have before observed that this is the most desolate coast I ever saw. It seems entirely composed of rocky mountains without the least appearance of vegetation. These mountains terminate in horrible precipices, whose craggy summits spire up to a vast height, so that hardly any thing in nature can appear with a more barren and savage aspect than the whole of this country. The inland mountains were covered with snow, but those on the sea-coast were not. We judged the former to belong to the main of Terra del Fuego, and the latter to be islands, so ranged as apparently to form a coast.
After three hours calm we got a breeze at S.E. by E., and having made a short trip to south, stood in for the land; the most advanced point of which, that we had in sight, bore east, distant ten leagues. This is a lofty promontory, lying E.S.E, nineteen leagues from Gilbert isle, and situated in latitude 55 deg. 26’ S, longitude 70 deg. 25’ W. Viewed from the situation we now were in, it terminated in two high towers; and, within them, a hill shaped like a sugar-loaf. This wild rock, therefore, obtained the name of York Minster. Two leagues to the westward of this head appeared a large inlet, the west point of which we fetched in with by nine o’clock, when we tacked in forty-one fathoms water, half a league from the shore; to the westward of this inlet was another, with several islands lying in the entrance.
During the night between the 19th and 20th we had little wind easterly, which in the morning veered to N.E. and N.N.E., but it was too faint to be of use; and at ten we had a calm, when we observed the ship to drive from off the shore out to sea. We had made the same observation the day before. This must have been occasioned by a current; and the melting of the snow increasing, the inland waters will cause a stream to run out of most of these inlets. At noon we observed in latitude 55 deg. 39’ 30” S., York Minster then bearing N. 15 deg. E., distant five leagues; and Round-hill, just peeping above the horizon, which we judged to belong to the isles of St Ildefonso, E. 25 deg. S., ten or eleven leagues distant. At ten o’clock, a breeze springing up at E. by S., I took this opportunity to stand in for the land, being desirous of going into one of the many ports which seemed open to receive us, in order to take a view of the country, and to recruit our stock of wood and water.