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The following extract of a letter is from Captain Cunningham, of the ship A. J. Donaldson, to his owner, Mr. Burrows, dated Valparaiso, April 26th, and communicates much important information relative to a passage through the Straits of Magellan. This is, we believe, the first American ship that has ever made this passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and it appears from Capt. Cunningham's success, that all the terrors of Cape Horn are obviated by this route. "I am happy to inform you that we passed through the Straits of Magellan, instead of doubling Cape Horn, and were six days from Cape Virgins to Cape Victory. One day we spent wooding and watering at Port Famine, and part of three nights, we were also at anchor, six hours at the Bay of St. Gregory, and twelve hours at Port Famine—making, in all about forty-eight hours at anchor, and only four days under way, in passing the Straits ; and by taking this route, I consider I saved twelve days. As it is an unusual thing to pass these Straits, I feel myself bound to give you some reasons for so doing, besides the mere ambition to achieve something out of the common way.

First. We were from the length of our passage in consequence of calms eighty-two days from New York to the Straits, and were in want of both wood and water, and if I stopped at any other place I considered the detention would be great, and much out of our way; but in the Straits, where wood and water are abundant, we could stop anywhere when the wind was not favourable, and thus lose no time. We also had so heavy a deck load that I considered it would be far more pleasant, to say nothing of safety, to sail through the smooth sea, than to be exposed to the fury of the Cape Horn Gales. My most powerful inducement, however, was the firm conviction that it was the quickest, as well as safest and consequently the cheapest, for both you, and underwriters, and I flatter myself you will concur with me in approving of this passage. The navigation through the Straits is certainly very fine, and the country appears very beautiful, but passing so quickly, we could only have little opportunity to make any discoveries. For this reason we killed no game, although we saw abundance. We also saw two or three hundred Patagonians, and two canoes with four men, four women, and two children, came along side between Cape Famine and  Cape Froward, and offered us some fur seal skins, which we bought. They were Fuegians,* and the most miserable beings I ever saw. They appeared, however, very amiable without possessing any features or  actions that looked like ferocity. In the neighbourhood of Indian Sound, we saw  many fires which indicated a dense population, but it being night we saw no natives."— Singapore Chronicle.

* Inhabitants of Terra del Fuego; Captain Cunningham took with him Captain Morrell's voyages, which was probable an inducement to his going through the straits.

Source: "Sydney Morning Herald" (NSW), 6 November 1834
Clipped: 22-IX-2012
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