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Francisco Hudson Cárdenas (Curaco de Vélezmarker, Chilemarker, July 1, 1826 – March, 1859) was a Chilean naval officer and hydrographer notable for having explored the coasts of Chilean Patagonia. Hudson sailed on behalf of the Chilean government several times to Perumarker and Ecuadormarker, but gained notoriety for his explorations and investigations of Maullín River, Roca Remolino and the channels of Aysén Regionmarker. Hudson was the first to infer the possible existence of sailing route through internal waters from Chiloé Archipelago to Straits of Magellanmarker, but was also the first to realize that the Isthmus of Ofqui did this impossible. However his hydrographic works laid the groundwork for Hans Steffen's exploration of Aysén Regionmarker in late 19th century.


Hudson was born in the town of Curaco de Vélezmarker in Quinchao Islandmarker of Chiloé Archipelago to the couple Santiago (possibly a translation of "James") Hudson and Juana Cárdenas. Hudson studied at the Maritime School of Ancud (Escuela Naútica de Ancud), afterwards he was transferred to the frigate Chile where Roberto Simpson was in command. He later explored Maullín River with Francisco Vidal Gormaz but did however not reach Llanquihue Lakemarker, its birth place. Hudson and Vidal Gormaz reached only to the "three cascades". Gormaz proposed to clean the river from trunks to use it for transport of wood in benefit of the German settlers that had already settled in the shores of Llanquihue Lakemarker. He tried later unsuccesfully to reach the "three cascades" starting from Llanquihue Lake, and was preparing a new expedition when he was ordered instead to investigate Roca Remolino (lit. "whirl rock"), a dangerous underwater rock in Chacao Channelmarker.

After having read "Sailing Directions for South America" by Robert FitzRoy Francisco Hudson realized the possibility of the existence of a route that would allow traffic trought the channels of Patagonia without the need of sailing trought the open sea at Tres Montes Peninsula. Sailing at the open sea in the roaring 40s was dangerous and finding such route would significantly improve the traffic between the Chilean settlement of Punta Arenasmarker in the Straits of Magellanmarker one one hand and Chiloé and Central Chile on the other.

In 1857 he is sent to explore the possible inner passage he had infered from Fitz Roy's writings. He sailed of Ancud with the brigantine Janaqueo and the sloop-of-war Emprendedora but had to sent back Janaqueo due to its bad mantainance after many years of service. The expedition sailed thought Moraleda Channel to San Rafael Lagoonmarker where they explored by foot the Isthmus of Ofqui without finding any passage to the San Quintín Bay of Gulf of Penasmarker.

After this expedition he mapped Dalcahue Channelmarker near his hometown and explored once again Maullín River with Vidal Gormaz.


In 1858 he was put in command of the brigantine Pizarro and sailed south from Valparaísomarker with the governor of Punta Arenas. In Punta Arenas he met his brother-in-law Martín Aguayo who was in command of the brigantine Meteoro and had like Hudson to sail north, so they decided to sail toghether. They then tryed to sail throug the westertn section of the Strait of Magellan but had to sail instead east to enter the Atlanticmarker and through Cape Hornmarker due to strong westerlies. After having passec the Le Maire Straitmarker the two ships separed in a storm and while the more robust Meteoro managed to sail back to Punta Arenas for reparations, Pizarro and Francisco Hudson were never seen again. On July 1, 1860, the government issued a decree where he was considered dead.

Places named after Francisco Hudson

Francisco Hudson had Mount Hudsonmarker, the most most active volcano of Aysén Region is named after him as well as one of serveral headlands in at the entrance of San Rafael Lagoonmarker, The Oceanographic and Hydrographic service of the Chilean Navy have one of its buildings named "Don Francisco Hudson".


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