The Drake Passage
is the body of water between the southern tip of South America
at Cape Horn
. It forms part of the Southern Ocean
. The Drake Passage has some of the worst sea weather in the world. It is named for 16th century British explorer Sir Francis Drake
. The first recorded voyage through the passage was that of the Eendracht
(named for the home town of the ship's captain, Willem Schouten
) in 1616.
The passage is 400 miles wide and thus is the shortest crossing from Antartica to the rest of the world's land. The boundary between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans is sometimes taken to be the shortest distance from Cape Horn to Snow Island (160 miles north of mainland Antartica). Alternative the meridan that passes through Cape Horn may be taken as the boundary. Both boundaries lie entirely within the Drake Passage.
Ships in the passage are often good platforms for the sighting of whales, dolphins and Giant and Petrel Albatrosses.
Older references refer to the passage as the Drake Strait.