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The Garc�a de Nodal expedition was chartered in 1619 by King Philip III of Spain to

reconnoiter the passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, rounding Cape
Horn, south of Tierra del Fuego, just discovered by the Dutch merchants Jacob Le
Maire and Willem Schouten. It was a successful expedition, as all goals were
reached. In addition, neither lives nor ships were lost and the whole was done in a
small amount of time.

Southeastern Tierra del Fuego, including Strait of Le Maire, Cape Horn and Diego
Ramirez Islands. The easternmost tip of Tierra del Fuego main island (Isla Grande
de Tierra de Fuego) is the Cape San Diego, so named by the Garcia de Nodal brothers

Map of Diego Ramirez Islands

1 Background
2 Results and evaluation
3 Death of Nodal
4 Achievements
5 Notes
6 Bibliography
7 External links
The Garc�a de Nodal expedition was crucial to the Spanish Empire. The discovery of
a route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, an alternative to the Strait of
Magellan, dramatically changed the Spanish approach to the management of the
southernmost regions of America, which were already disturbed by Drake�s unexpected
emergence in the Pacific through the Strait in 1578.

The expedition was led by the brothers Bartolom� (Pontevedra, 1574�1622) and
Gonzalo Garc�a del Nodal (Pontevedra, 1569�1622), with the cosmographer Diego
Ram�rez de Arellano Cham�s serving as pilot (chief navigator). Two vessels of
similar construction were used in the expedition to prevent one ship of having to
wait for the other when sailing, a common hindrance in others expeditions of the

The expedition sailed from Lisbon, Portugal (which was by then united to Spain in
the crown of Philip II) on September 27, 1618 and on January 1619, they entered the
strait between Tierra del Fuego and Isla de los Estados which they called Estrecho
de San Vicente (now known as Strait of Le Maire). The following weeks were spent
meticulously exploring and naming the southern shores of Tierra del Fuego and its
southern islands including Cape Horn, which they named Cabo San Ildefonso. Next the
expedition sailed south to 58�30'S, discovering the Diego Ramirez Islands and going
farther south into the Drake Passage. They then turned north into the Pacific Ocean
and skillfully entered the Strait of Magellan from the west in their first attempt.
They passed into the Atlantic on March 13, and on they returned to Spain July 7,

Results and evaluation

As a result of their expedition they provided the Spanish Casa de Contrataci�n with
invaluable data and maps that were kept secret for centuries.

In the annals of Cape Horn exploration, this must rank as one of the most
professional expeditions, particularly when seen against the standards of the age
in which it took place, and it would be nice to report the two brothers had many
years to enjoy their justly deserved fame. Sadly both perished on 5th September
1622 when a hurricane struck a fleet returning from Havana to Spain, and their
respective commands were lost. However, their signature rightly remains on Cape
Horn through the names of many points, rocks and the most prominent peak on the
Brunswick Peninsula. Appropriately they are also remembered in the Diego Ramirez
group, where the two main islands are called after the brothers, the northern one
is Bartolom� and the southern, Gonzalo. The mile-wide channel between is known as
Canal Nodales [or Paso Nodal]. The Nodals proved that Schouten's account was
correct and there was indeed a serious threat to the Spanish South American
colonies. They had also found an alternative route for their ships but the Spanish
government took no action on the Nodals' report then or later.[1]

Death of Nodal
Nodal was among those killed when the Nuestra Se�ora de Atocha was sunk by a
hurricane off the coast of Florida in 1622.

The achievements of the Garcia de Nodal expedition include:

The first circumnavigation of Tierra del Fuego including a thorough survey of its
The discovery of the Diego Ram�rez Islands (for one and a half centuries the
southernmost land reached by man).
The first navigation south into the Drake Passage.
The first European contact with southern Fuegian people.
The second passage around Cape Horn.
The third eastward crossing of the Strait of Magellan.
Robin Knox-Johnston, "Cape Horn. A Maritime History ".
Oyarzun, Javier. Expediciones espa�olas al Estrecho de Magallanes y Tierra de
Fuego. Madrid: Ediciones Cultura Hisp�nica ISBN 84-7232-130-4.
Knox-Johnston, Robin. "Cape Horn. A Maritime History". London Hodder & Stoughton
ISBN 0-340-41527-4
External links