False Cape Horn

Sailing around the end of South America, you steer around what you think is Cape Horn. But instead of open ocean there’s a surprise island dead ahead. You’re about to be shipwrecked thanks to the False Cape Horn.

False Cape Horn
User [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
The False Cape Horn (in Spanish Falso Cabo de Hornos) is 56km northwest of the real Cape Horn, and looks a lot like it to the untrained eye. Ships sailing the Drake Passage around the cape from the Pacific to the Atlantic would sometimes mistake it for the real cape.

Doing so was a big mistake: having turned too early, you were very likely to be shipwrecked on the Wollaston Islands, which have the real Cape Horn. In the second half of the 19th century this happened on average twice a year.


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