Santa Cruz, Tenerife detail
Joseph finally did make it ashore at Madeira,
shortly before departure for Tenerife.
I had a fine run on
shore at Madeira, walked nearly to the top of the island and drank
some of the wine as well.
We coaled on the Monday and sailed on Tuesday at
3 o'clock. As soon as we got clear of the island, we picked up a
splendid breeze,the fires were put out, and every stitch of Canvas
set, driving the ship 12 miles an hour. The Canary islands are distant
from Madeira 250 miles, and we sighted the Peak of Tenerife, at
3 PM yesterday, exactly 24 hours from Madeira. We remained out sounding
all night and came into Santa Cruz early this morning. Being so
misty we are unable to see the Peak today, but I think some of the
Scientifics are going to try and reach the summit before we leave,
it is 12,300 feet high, or nearly 2 1/2 miles, and on the top, is
at present covered with snow, although here at the bottom it is
quite hot & sultry.
Tenerife is not such a pretty island as Madeira,
and Santa Cruz is not to be compared with Funchal for cleanliness.
Its population is 300,000 and it has an area of 878 sq. miles. Palmas
one of the other Canaries is nearly as large. They all belong to
the Spaniards, and one of their gunboats is at anchor close to.
The productions are the same as at Madeira, with the exception of
Cocineal, but I think the Bananas are finer. Santa Cruz is very
strongly defended, and there are a great many Spanish soldiers here.
It is famous as being the only place Nelson was unable to take,
but he failed in consequence of the great surf which runs here capsizing
the Boats before the men could land. He lost his right eye and a
great many men here. An Ironclad of the present day could knock
the place into ashes in about 2 minutes.
After a visit to Santa Cruz, Challenger spent four days
touring the rest of the Canary Islands, and made some interesting discoveries.
We steamed around Palmas,
Fuerita Ventura, and two or three smaller ones, and were away four
days. The soundings varied considerably, in one place it was only
75 fathoms, a little farther on it was 1,900, then 2,500 and so
on, showing the bottom to be as varied in depth as the islands in
height. The dredge brought up a sort of petrified cinders, which
had every appearance of being thrown up from volcanoes ages ago.
Off the island of S. Christopher, we fell in with
a Spanish fishing boat, and bought all the fish they had for 3 dollars.
There were 3 large baskets full, and they were of the most wonderful
color I ever saw, being gold and silver, green, violet, blue, and
every shade you could mention, I never thought the sea contained
such beautiful creatures.
Accidents happen: here another fall, but fortunately without
loss of life:
The day after we returned we took
in all the coal there was in Santa Cruz, 25 tons, and got ready
for sea; the same evening one of the Boys fell from the main yard
into the sea, but was immediately picked up by one of the seamen
who jumped overboard after him, he was stunned at first, but soon
recovered, the distance was 37 feet from the main yard.