Page:In Memoriam. Matthew Fontaine Maury.djvu/14

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.


his first Chart to navigators, with his new Rio, his "Fair way to Rio," as he afterwards delighted to call it, they doubted, hesitated, declined.

The new route was precisely that which all had been taught to avoid. And here it may be proper to state, for the clear understanding of this sea matter, which involves much, that the promontory Cape St. Roque, the most eastern projection of the coast of the South American Continent, divides the waters of the great Equatorial current flowing westward, turning one branch to the Caribbean Sea, the other to the South Atlantic, while the general trade winds from that Zone blow from the south-east. Sea captains, therefore, have inferred, that if, on the passage from the North to the South Atlantic, a ship should fall to leeward of the Cape, she would be unable to beat around it. And this opinion was confirmed by the results of the common practice of tacking to the eastward, even when still far from the Cape, whenever there appeared the slightest chance of lacking margin to pass. In all such cases, voyages were prolonged, in some instances, to double the usual time. Hence to avoid this danger, they crossed the equator further east than was necessary, and in doing so doing not unfrequently exchanged Scylla for