A VOYAGE TO THE SOUTH SEA
BY WILLIAM BLIGH.
TO THE SOUTH SEA,
UNDERTAKEN BY COMMAND OF
FOR THE PURPOSE OF
CONVEYING THE BREAD-FRUIT TREE
TO THE WEST INDIES,
IN HIS MAJESTY'S SHIP THE BOUNTY,
LIEUTENANT WILLIAM BLIGH.
INCLUDING AN ACCOUNT OF THE
MUTINY ON BOARD THE SAID SHIP,
SUBSEQUENT VOYAGE OF PART OF THE CREW, IN THE SHIP'S BOAT,
FROM TOFOA, ONE OF THE FRIENDLY ISLANDS,
TO TIMOR, A DUTCH SETTLEMENT IN THE EAST INDIES.
THE WHOLE ILLUSTRATED WITH CHARTS, ETC.
PUBLISHED BY PERMISSION OF THE
LORDS COMMISSIONERS OF THE ADMIRALTY.
PRINTED FOR GEORGE NICOL, BOOKSELLER TO HIS MAJESTY, PALL-MALL.
At the time I published the Narrative of the Mutiny on Board the Bounty it was my intention that the preceding part of the Voyage should be contained in a separate account. This method I have since been induced to alter. The reason of the Narrative appearing first was for the purpose of communicating early information concerning an event which had attracted the public notice: and, being drawn up in a hasty manner, it required many corrections. Some circumstances likewise were omitted; and the notation of time used in the Narrative being according to sea reckoning, in which the days begin and end at noon, must have produced a degree of obscurity and confusion to readers accustomed only to the civil mode. And this would have increased as the remainder of the voyage, on account of the numerous shore occurrences at Otaheite and elsewhere, could not, with clearness and propriety, have been related in any other than the usual manner of reckoning.
Besides remedying these inconveniencies I have thought a fuller account of our passage from Timor to Europe than that contained in the Narrative would not be unacceptable. These reasons, with the manifest convenience of comprising the whole Voyage in one continued narrative, in preference to letting it appear in disjointed accounts will, it is hoped, be allowed a sufficient excuse for having varied from the original intention. Nevertheless for the accommodation of the purchasers of the Narrative already published those who desire it will be supplied with the other parts of the Voyage separate; i.e. the part previous to the mutiny and the additional account after leaving Timor.
Plan of the Expedition. Outfit and Occurrences to the time of leaving England. Description of the Breadfruit.
Departure from England. Arrival at Tenerife. Sail from thence. Arrival off Cape Horn. Severity of the Weather. Obliged to bear away for the Cape of Good Hope.
Passage towards the Cape of Good Hope and Search after Tristan da Cunha. Arrival at False Bay. Occurrences there. Reports concerning the Grosvenor's People. Departure from the Cape.
Passage towards Van Diemen's Land. Make the Island of St. Paul. Arrival in Adventure Bay. Natives seen. Sail from Van Diemen's Land.
Rocky Islands discovered. See the Island Maitea and arrive at Otaheite. Ship crowded by the Natives.
Account of an English Ship lately sailed from Otaheite. Death of Omai. Captain Cook's Picture sent on board. Otoo visits the Ship. His Visit returned. Natives well disposed towards us. Account of the Cattle left by Captain Cook. Breadfruit plants promised. Visit to the Earee Rahie. Presents made to the Arreoys.
A theft committed. Deception of the painted Head. Conversation with a Priest. A Wrestling Match. Reports of the Natives concerning other Islands. Some Account of Omai.
Expedition to Tettaba after a Heifer. Extraordinary domestic Arrangements. Tinah's Mother visits the Ship. A Sheep brought from Ulietea. Heavy Storm. Death of the Surgeon. Taowne and Toahroah Harbours examined.
A Walk into the Country. The Peeah Roah. Prevailed on by the Kindness of the Chiefs to defer our Departure. Breadfruit Plants collected. Move the Ship to Toahroah Harbour. Fishing. Three of the Ship's Company desert. Indiscretion of our People on Shore. Instances of Jealousy. Mourning. Bull brought to Oparre by a Prophet. The Deserters recovered. Tinah proposes to visit England.
The Ship's Cable cut in the Night. Coolness with the Chiefs on that Account. Visit to an old Lady. Disturbance at a Heiva. Tinah's Hospitality. A Thief taken and punished. Preparations for sailing.
Arrival of an Arreoy Woman from Tethuroa. A Present delivered by Tinah for his Majesty. Other Occurrences to the Time of the Ship's Departure from Otaheite.
At the Island Huaheine. A Friend of Omai visits the Ship. Leave the Society Islands. A Water-spout. The Island Whytootackee discovered. Anchor in Annamooka Road. Our Parties on Shore robbed by the Natives. Sail from Annamooka. The Chiefs detained on board. Part friendly.
A Mutiny in the Ship.
Proceed in the Launch to the Island Tofoa. Difficulty in obtaining Supplies there. Treacherous Attack of the Natives. Escape to Sea and bear away for New Holland.
Passage towards New Holland. Islands discovered in our Route. Our great Distresses. See the Reefs of New Holland and find a Passage through them.
Progress to the Northward along the Coast of New Holland. Land on different Islands in search of Supplies.
Passage from New Holland to the Island Timor. Arrive at Coupang. Reception there.
From Timor to Batavia.
Occurrences at Batavia and Passage thence to England.
(LIST OF THE PLATES.
Head of Lieutenant Bligh.
Plan and profile of the deck of the Bounty.
Sections of the Breadfruit.
Plan of Toahroah harbour.
Copy of the draught from which the Bounty's launch was built.
Chart of Islands discovered from the launch.
Chart of part of the north-east coast of New Holland.
Chart of the track of the launch from Tofoa to Timor.)
A VOYAGE TO THE SOUTH SEAS, ETC.
Plan of the Expedition. Outfit and Occurrences to the time of leaving England. Description of the Breadfruit.
The King having been graciously pleased to comply with a request from the merchants and planters interested in his Majesty's West India possessions that the breadfruit tree might be introduced into those islands, a vessel proper for the undertaking was bought and taken into dock at Deptford to be provided with the necessary fixtures and preparations for executing the object of the voyage. These were completed according to a plan of my much honoured friend, Sir Joseph Banks, which in the event proved the most advantageous that could have been adopted for the intended purpose.
The ship was named the Bounty: I was appointed to command her on the 16th of August 1787. Her burthen was nearly two hundred and fifteen tons; her extreme length on deck ninety feet ten inches; extreme breadth twenty-four feet three inches; and height in the hold under the beams at the main hatchway ten feet three inches. In the cockpit were the cabins of the surgeon, gunner, botanist, and clerk, with a steward-room and storerooms. The between decks was divided in the following manner: the great cabin was appropriated for the preservation of the plants and extended as far forward as the after hatchway. It had two large skylights, and on each side three scuttles for air, and was fitted with a false floor cut full of holes to contain the garden-pots in which the plants were to be brought home. The deck was covered with lead, and at the foremost corners of the cabin were fixed pipes to carry off the water that drained from the plants into tubs placed below to save it for future use. I had a small cabin on one side to sleep in, adjoining to the great cabin, and a place near the middle of the ship to eat in. The bulk-head of this apartment was at the after-part of the main hatchway, and on each side of it were the berths of the mates and midshipmen; between these berths the arm-chest was placed. The cabin of the master, in which was always kept the key of the arms, was opposite to mine. This particular description of the interior parts of the ship is rendered necessary by the event of the expedition.
The ship was masted according to the proportion of the navy; but on my application the masts were shortened, as I thought them too much for her, considering the nature of the voyage.
On the 3rd of September the ship came out of dock; but the carpenters and joiners remained on board much longer, as they had a great deal of work to finish.
The next material alteration made in the fitting out was lessening the quantity of iron and other ballast. I gave directions that only nineteen tons of iron should be taken on board instead of the customary proportion which was forty-five tons. The stores and provisions I judged would be fully sufficient to answer the purpose of the remainder; for I am of opinion that many of the misfortunes which attend ships in heavy storms of wind are occasioned by too much dead weight in their bottoms.
The establishment of men and officers for the ship were as follows:
1 Lieutenant to command. 1 Master. 1 Boatswain. 1 Gunner. 1 Carpenter. 1 Surgeon. 2 Master's Mates. 2 Midshipmen. 2 Quartermasters. 1 Quartermaster's Mate. 1 Boatswain's Mate. 1 Gunner's Mate. 1 Carpenter's Mate. 1 Carpenter's Crew. 1 Sailmaker. 1 Armourer. 1 Corporal. 1 Clerk and Steward. 23 Able Seamen. —- 44.
Two skilful and careful men were appointed, at Sir Joseph Banks's recommendation, to have the management of the plants intended to be brought home: the one, David Nelson, who had been on similar employment in Captain Cook's last voyage; the other, William Brown, as an assistant to him. With these two our whole number amounted to forty-six.
It was proposed that our route to the Society Islands should be round Cape Horn; and the greatest dispatch became necessary as the season was already far advanced: but the shipwrights not being able to complete their work by the time the ship was ready in other respects, our sailing was unavoidably retarded.
October. Thursday 4.
However by the 4th of October the pilot came on board to take us down the river.
On the 9th we fell down to Long Reach where we received our gunner's stores and guns, four four-pounders and ten swivels.
The ship was stored and victualled for eighteen months. In addition to the customary allowance of provisions we were supplied with sourkraut, portable soup, essence of malt, dried malt, and a proportion of barley and wheat in lieu of oatmeal. I was likewise furnished with a quantity of ironwork and trinkets to serve in our intercourse with the natives in the South Seas: and from the board of Longitude I received a timekeeper, made by Mr. Kendal.
On the 15th I received orders to proceed to Spithead.
November. Sunday 4.
But the winds and weather were so unfavourable that we did not arrive there till the 4th of November. On the 24th I received from Lord Hood, who commanded at Spithead, my final orders. The wind, which for several days before had been favourable, was now turned directly against us.
On the 28th the ship's company received two months pay in advance, and on the following morning we worked out to St. Helen's, where we were obliged to anchor.
1787. December. Sunday 23.
We made different unsuccessful attempts to get down Channel, but contrary winds and bad weather constantly forced us back to St. Helen's, or Spithead, until Sunday the 23rd of December when we sailed with a fair wind.
During our stay at Spithead, the rate of the timepiece was several times examined by Mr. Bailey's observations at the Portsmouth observatory. On the 19th of December, the last time of its being examined on shore, it was 1 minute 52 seconds, 5 too fast for meantime, and then losing at the rate of 1 second, 1 per day; and at this rate I estimate its going when we sailed.
The object of all the former voyages to the South Seas undertaken by the command of his present majesty, has been the advancement of science and the increase of knowledge. This voyage may be reckoned the first the intention of which has been to derive benefit from those distant discoveries. For the more fully comprehending the nature and plan of the expedition, and that the reader may be possessed of every information necessary for entering on the following sheets, I shall here lay before him a copy of the instructions I received from the admiralty, and likewise a short description of the breadfruit.
BY THE COMMISSIONERS FOR EXECUTING THE OFFICE OF LORD HIGH ADMIRAL OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND, ETC.
Whereas the king, upon a representation from the merchants and planters interested in his Majesty's West India possessions that the introduction of the breadfruit tree into the islands of those seas, to constitute an article of food, would be of very essential benefit to the inhabitants, hath, in order to promote the interests of so respectable a body of his subjects (especially in an instance which promises general advantage) thought fit that measures should be taken for the procuring some of those trees, and conveying them to the said West India islands: And whereas the vessel under your command hath, in consequence thereof, been stored and victualled for that service, and fitted with proper conveniences and necessaries for the preservation of as many of the said trees as, from her size, can be taken on board her; and you have been directed to receive on board her the two gardeners named in the margin, David Nelson, and William Brown, who, from their knowledge of trees and plants, have been hired for the purpose of selecting such as shall appear to be of a proper species and size:
You are, therefore, in pursuance of his majesty's pleasure, signified to us by Lord Sydney, one of his principal secretaries of state, hereby required and directed to put to sea in the vessel you command, the first favourable opportunity of wind and weather, and proceed with her, as expeditiously as possible, round Cape Horn, to the Society Islands, situate in the Southern ocean, in the latitude of about eighteen degrees south, and longitude of about two hundred and ten degrees east from Greenwich, where, according to the accounts given by the late Captain Cook, and persons who accompanied him during his voyages, the breadfruit tree is to be found in the most luxuriant state.
Having arrived at the above-mentioned islands, and taken on board as many trees and plants as may be thought necessary (the better to enable you to do which, you have already been furnished with such articles of merchandise and trinkets as it is supposed will be wanted to satisfy the natives) you are to proceed from thence through Endeavour Straits (which separate New Holland from New Guinea) to Prince's Island in the Straits of Sunda, or, if it should happen to be more convenient, to pass on the eastern side of Java to some port on the north side of that island, where any breadfruit trees which may have been injured, or have died, may be replaced by mangosteens, duriens, jacks, nancas, lanfas, and other fine fruit trees of that quarter, as well as the rice plant which grows upon dry land; all of which species (or such of them as shall be judged most eligible) you are to purchase on the best terms you can from the inhabitants of that island with the ducats with which you have also been furnished for that purpose; taking care however, if the rice plants above-mentioned cannot be procured at Java, to touch at Prince's Island for them, where they are regularly cultivated.
From Prince's Island, or the Island of Java, you are to proceed round the Cape of Good Hope to the West Indies (calling on your way thither at any places which may be thought necessary) and deposit one half of such of the above-mentioned trees and plants as may be then alive at his majesty's botanical garden at St. Vincent, for the benefit of the Windward Islands, and then go on to Jamaica: and, having delivered the remainder to Mr. East, or such person or persons as may be authorised by the governor and council of that island to receive them, refreshed your people, and received on board such provisions and stores as may be necessary for the voyage, make the best of your way back to England; repairing to Spithead, and sending to our secretary an account of your arrival and proceedings.
And whereas you will receive herewith a copy of the instructions which have been given to the above-mentioned gardeners for their guidance, as well as in procuring the said trees and plants, and the management of them after they shall be put on board, as for bringing to England a small sample of each species, and such others as may be prepared by the superintendent of the botanical garden at St. Vincent's, and by the said Mr. East, or others, for his majesty's garden at Kew; you are hereby required and directed to afford, and to give directions to your officers and company to afford, the said gardeners every possible aid and assistance, not only in the collecting of the said trees and plants at the places before mentioned, but for their preservation during their conveyance to the places of their destination.
Given under our hands the 20th November 1787.
HOWE, CHARLES BRETT, RD. HOPKINS, J. LEVESON GOWER.
To Lieutenant William Bligh, commanding his majesty's armed vessel the Bounty at Spithead.
By command of their Lordships,
In the foregoing orders it is to be observed that I was particularly directed to proceed round Cape Horn but, as the season was so far advanced and we were so long detained by contrary winds, I made application to the Admiralty for discretional orders on that point; to which I received the following answer:
BY THE COMMISSIONERS FOR EXECUTING THE OFFICE OF LORD HIGH ADMIRAL OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND, ETC. ETC.
The season of the year being now so far advanced as to render it probable that your arrival with the vessel you command on the southern coast of America will be too late for your passing round Cape Horn without much difficulty and hazard, you are in that case at liberty (notwithstanding former orders) to proceed in her to Otaheite, round the Cape of Good Hope.
Given under our hands the 18th December 1787.
HOWE, CHARLES BRETT, BAYHAM.
To Lieutenant William Bligh, commanding His Majesty's armed vessel Bounty, Spithead.
By command of their Lordships,
The Breadfruit is so well known and described that to attempt a new account of it would be unnecessary and useless. However as it may contribute to the convenience of the reader I have given the following extracts respecting it with the plate annexed.
EXTRACT FROM THE ACCOUNT OF DAMPIER'S VOYAGE ROUND THE WORLD PERFORMED IN 1688.
The breadfruit (as we call it) grows on a large tree, as big and high as our largest apple-trees: It hath a spreading head, full of branches and dark leaves. The fruit grows on the boughs like apples; it is as big as a penny-loaf when wheat is at five shillings the bushel; it is of a round shape, and hath a thick tough rind. When the fruit is ripe it is yellow and soft, and the taste is sweet and pleasant. The natives of Guam use it for bread. They gather it, when full-grown, while it is green and hard; then they bake it in an oven, which scorches the rind and makes it black; but they scrape off the outside black crust, and there remains a tender thin crust; and the inside is soft, tender, and white like the crumb of a penny-loaf. There is NEITHER SEED NOR STONE in the inside, but all is of a pure substance, like bread. It must be eaten new; for, if it is kept above twenty-four hours, it grows harsh and choaky; but it is very pleasant before it is too stale. This fruit lasts in season EIGHT MONTHS in the year, during which the natives eat NO OTHER SORT OF FOOD OF BREAD KIND. I did never see of this fruit anywhere but here. The natives told us that there is plenty of this fruit growing on the rest of the Ladrone islands; and I DID NEVER HEAR OF IT ANYWHERE ELSE. Volume 1 page 296.
EXTRACT FROM THE ACCOUNT OF LORD ANSON'S VOYAGE, PUBLISHED BY MR. WALTER.
There was at Tinian a kind of fruit, peculiar to these (Ladrone) islands, called by the Indians rhymay, but by us the breadfruit; for it was constantly eaten by us, during our stay upon the island, * instead of bread; and so UNIVERSALLY PREFERRED that no ship's bread was expended in that whole interval. It grew upon a tree which is somewhat lofty, and which towards the top divides into large and spreading branches. The leaves of this tree are of a remarkable deep green, are notched about the edges, and are generally from a foot to eighteen inches in length. The fruit itself is found indifferently on all parts of the branches; it is in shape rather elliptical than round; it is covered with a tough rind and is usually seven or eight inches long; each of them grows singly and not in clusters. This fruit is fittest to be used when it is full-grown but still green; in which state, after it is properly prepared by being roasted in the embers, its taste has some distant resemblance to that of an artichoke's bottom, and its texture is not very different, for it is soft and spongy.
(*Footnote. About two months, namely from the latter end of August to the latter end of October, 1742.)
EXTRACTS FROM THE ACCOUNT OF THE FIRST VOYAGE OF CAPTAIN COOK. HAWKESWORTH, VOLUME 2.
IN THE SOCIETY ISLANDS.
The breadfruit grows on a tree that is about the size of a middling oak; its leaves are frequently a foot and a half long, of an oblong shape, deeply sinuated like those of the fig-tree, which they resemble in consistence and colour, and in the exuding of a white milky juice upon being broken. The fruit is about the size and shape of a child's head, and the surface is reticulated not much unlike a truffle: it is covered with a thin skin, and has a core about as big as the handle of a small knife. The eatable part lies between the skin and the core; it is as white as snow, and somewhat of the consistence of new bread: it must be roasted before it is eaten, being first divided into three or four parts. Its taste is insipid, with a slight sweetness somewhat resembling that of the crumb of wheaten bread mixed with a Jerusalem artichoke.
Pages 80, 81. See also the plate there and at page 232.
Of the many vegetables that have been mentioned already as serving them for food, the principal is the breadfruit, to procure which costs them no trouble or labour but climbing a tree. The tree which produces it does not indeed shoot up spontaneously, but if a man plants ten of them in his lifetime, which he may do in about an hour, he will as completely fulfil his duty to his own and future generations as the native of our less temperate climate can do by ploughing in the cold winter, and reaping in the summer's heat, as often as these seasons return; even if, after he has procured bread for his present household, he should convert a surplus into money, and lay it up for his children.
It is true indeed that the breadfruit is not always in season; but coconuts, bananas, plantains, and a great variety of other fruits supply the deficiency. Page 197.
EXTRACT FROM THE ACCOUNT OF CAPTAIN COOK'S LAST VOYAGE.
IN THE SOCIETY ISLANDS.
I (Captain Cook) have inquired very carefully into their manner of cultivating the breadfruit tree at Otaheite; but was always answered that they never planted it. This indeed must be evident to everyone who will examine the places where the young trees come up. It will be always observed that they spring from the roots of the old ones which run along near the surface of the ground. So that the breadfruit trees may be reckoned those that would naturally cover the plains, even supposing that the island was not inhabited, in the same manner that the white-barked trees, found at Van Diemen's Land, constitute the forests there. And from this we may observe that the inhabitant of Otaheite, instead of being obliged to plant his bread, will RATHER be under the necessity of preventing its progress; which I suppose is sometimes done to give room for trees of another sort, to afford him some variety in his food. Volume 2 page 145.
IN THE SANDWICH ISLANDS.
The breadfruit trees are planted, and flourish with great luxuriance, on rising grounds. Where the hills rise almost perpendicularly in a great variety of peaked forms, their steep sides and the deep chasms between them are covered with trees, amongst which those of the breadfruit were observed particularly to abound. Volume 3 pages 105 and 114, containing Captain King's Narrative.
The climate of the Sandwich Islands differs very little from that of the West India Islands, which lie IN THE SAME LATITUDE. Upon the whole perhaps it may be rather more temperate. Captain King ib page 116.
The breadfruit trees thrive in these islands, not in such abundance, but produce double the quantity of fruit they do on the rich plains of Otaheite. The trees are nearly of the same height, but the branches begin to strike out from the trunk much lower, and with greater luxuriance. Captain King ib page 120.
Departure from England. Arrival at Tenerife. Sail from thence. Arrival off Cape Horn. Severity of the Weather. Obliged to bear away for the Cape of Good Hope.
1787. December. Sunday 23.
On Sunday morning the 23rd of December 1787 we sailed from Spithead and, passing through the Needles, directed our course down channel with a fresh gale of wind at east. In the afternoon one of the seamen, in furling the main-top-gallant-sail, fell off the yard and was so fortunate as to save himself by catching hold of the main-top-mast-stay in his fall. At night the wind increased to a strong gale with a heavy sea.
It moderated however on the 25th and allowed us to keep our Christmas with cheerfulness; but the following day it blew a severe storm of wind from the eastward, which continued till the 29th, in the course of which we suffered greatly. One sea broke away the spare yards and spars out of the starboard main chains. Another heavy sea broke into the ship and stove all the boats. Several casks of beer that had been lashed upon deck were broke loose and washed overboard, and it was not without great difficulty and risk that we were able to secure the boats from being washed away entirely.
On the 29th we were in latitude 39 degrees 35 minutes north and longitude 14 degrees 26 minutes west when the gale abated and the weather became fair. Besides other mischief done to us by the storm, a large quantity of our bread was damaged and rendered useless, for the sea had stove in our stern and filled the cabin with water. From this time to our arrival at Tenerife we had moderate weather and winds mostly from the northward.
This forenoon we spoke a French ship bound to the Mauritius.
Saturday 5. Tenerife.
The next day at nine in the forenoon we saw the island of Tenerife bearing west-south-west half west about twelve leagues distant. It was covered with a thick haze except the north-westernmost part which is a remarkable headland, resembling a horse's head, the ears very distinct. To the eastward of this head* lie two round rocks, the northern boundary of Tenerife. I had a good observation at noon by which I make the latitude of the two rocks 28 degrees 44 minutes north and their longitude by our timekeeper 16 degrees 5 minutes west. To the southward of these and near the shore is a high needle rock: about four leagues farther to the southward the coast inclines towards the west to the road of Santa Cruz, where we anchored at half-past nine on Sunday morning in twenty-five fathoms water, and moored along shore in the same depth, with the cupola tower of the church of St. Francis bearing west half north one mile, the east part of the road east by north, the castle on the south point south-west, and the west part of the Grand Canary south-south-east. A Spanish packet bound to Corunna, an American brig, and several other vessels, were lying here.
(*Footnote. South 82 degrees east by the compass.)
As soon as the ship was anchored I sent an officer (Mr. Christian) to wait on the governor and to acquaint him I had put in to obtain refreshments and to repair the damages we had sustained in bad weather. To this I had a very polite answer from the governor, * that I should be supplied with whatever the island afforded. I had also directed the officer to acquaint him that I would salute, provided an equal number of guns were to be returned but, as I received an extraordinary answer to this part of my message, purporting that his excellency did not return the same number but to persons equal in rank to himself, this ceremony was omitted.
(*Footnote. Marquis de Brancheforte.)
During this interval I was visited by the port-master (Captain Adams) and shortly afterwards several officers came on board from his excellency to compliment me on my arrival. As soon as the ship was moored I went on shore and paid my respects to him.
On Monday morning I began to forward the ship's business with the utmost dispatch, and gave the necessary directions to Messrs. Collogan and sons, the contractors, for the supplies I wanted. I also got leave of the governor for Mr. Nelson to range the hills and examine the country in search of plants and natural curiosities.
As there was a great surf on the shore I bargained for everything I wanted to be brought off by the shore boats, and agreed to give five shillings per ton for water. Very good wine was bought at ten pounds per pipe, the contract price; but the superior quality was fifteen pounds; and some of this was not much inferior to the best London Madeira. I found this was an unfavourable season for other refreshments: Indian corn, potatoes, pumpkins, and onions, were all very scarce and double the price of what they are in summer. Beef also was difficult to be procured and exceedingly poor; the price nearly sixpence farthing per pound. The corn was three current dollars per fanega, which is full five shillings per bushel; and biscuit at twenty-five shillings for the hundred pounds. Poultry was so scarce that a good fowl cost three shillings. This is therefore not a place for ships to expect refreshments at a reasonable price at this time of the year, wine excepted; but from March to November supplies are plentiful, particularly fruit, of which at this time we could procure none except a few dried figs and some bad oranges.
During our stay here the weather was fair with north-east winds and calms and small drizzling rain in the night. The thermometer from 66 to 69 degrees at noon in the shade. I could make no lunar observations for the longitude, but by the help of the timekeeper I have computed the situation of the town of Santa Cruz to be 28 degrees 28 minutes north latitude and 16 degrees 18 minutes west longitude. I observed the variation by two compasses to be 20 degrees 1 minute west: this much exceeded what I could have imagined; for in 1776 I observed it only 14 degrees 40 minutes west; a difference of above five degrees in eleven years: and this makes me reflect on the uncertainty of obtaining the exact deviation of the magnetic pole, and of course its annual variation which never can be accurately ascertained unless the observations are made always in one spot and with the same compass.
Tenerife, though considerably without the tropic, is so nearly within the limits of the tradewind that navigators generally steer to it from the eastward. The road of Santa Cruz lies on the east side of the island, at the end of a range of craggy hills, barren and very lofty, along with you sail west by south by compass into the road, with a sea unfathomable until near the shore. The anchoring ground may be accounted from fifty fathoms to twenty, or even fifteen. The bank is very steep and gives but little time to sound; for which reason it should be done effectually with a heavy lead, or a ship will be too near in before a stranger is aware of it: he will likewise too soon expect to find bottom, owing to the great deception of the adjacent high land. To obviate these difficulties it is necessary to observe that while a town which lies some distance to the southward of Santa Cruz is open with the castle on the south part of the road, though you may appear near to the shore, there is no anchorage; but after it is shut entirely in you get on the bank. The church bearing west or west by south and the south point of the road south-west half south to south-west by west is a good situation for anchoring: the depth about twenty-five fathoms. The distance from the shore will be three quarters of a mile; and the southernmost land that can be seen then will be a half or quarter point of the compass farther out than the south point of the road.
The bottom is black soft mud, with some patches of rocks; for which reason vessels that lie here any length of time buoy their cables. This precaution, besides being useful in that particular, they think makes them ride more easy when there is much sea setting into the road, which, with the wind any way to the southward of east or at south-west, must be very considerable; it is therefore usual to moor with four anchors, though more than two are scarce ever of use. Mooring is however advisable if a ship is only to remain twenty-four hours, and the tighter the better, that the cables may keep clear of the ground.
The landing on the beach is generally impracticable with our own boats, at least without great risk; but there is a very fine pier on which people may land without difficulty if there is not much swell in the road. To this pier the water is conveyed by pipes for the use of shipping, and for which all merchant-ships pay.
There is a degree of wretchedness and want among the lower class of people which is not anywhere so common as among the Spanish and Portuguese settlements. To alleviate these evils the present governor of Tenerife has instituted a most charitable society which he takes the trouble to superintend; and by considerable contributions a large airy dwelling that contains one hundred and twenty poor girls and as many men and boys has been built and endowed with a sufficiency of land round it, not only for all present purposes but for enlarging the building for more objects of charity as their funds increase. I had the honour to be shown by his excellency this asylum (Hospicio they call it) where there appeared in every countenance the utmost cheerfulness and content. The decency and neatness of the dress of the young females, with the order in which they were arranged at their spinning-wheels and looms in an extensive airy apartment, was admirable. A governess inspected and regulated all their works, which were the manufacturing of ribbons of all colours, coarse linens, and tapes; all which were managed and brought to perfection by themselves from the silk and flax in their first state; even the dying of the colours is performed by them. These girls are received for five years, at the end of which they are at liberty to marry, and have for their portions their wheel and loom, with a sum of money proportioned to the state of the fund, which is assisted by the produce of their labour, and at this time was estimated at two thousand dollars per annum.
The men and boys are not less attended to: they are employed in coarser work, blanketing and all kinds of common woollens: if they become infirm they spend the remainder of their days here comfortably and under a watchful inspector who attends them in the same manner as the governess does the girls. They are all visited every day by the governor, and a clergyman attends them every evening. By this humane institution a number of people are rendered useful and industrious in a country where the poor, from the indulgence of the climate, are too apt to prefer a life of inactivity, though attended with wretchedness, to obtaining the comforts of life by industry and labour.
The number of inhabitants in the island I was informed were estimated at between eighty and one hundred thousand. Their annual export of wine is twenty thousand pipes and of brandy half that quantity. Vessels are frequently here from St. Eustatia, and from thence a great quantity of Tenerife wine is carried to the different parts of the West Indies, under the name of Madeira.
Tenerife is considered of more value than all the other Canaries: the inhabitants however, in scarce seasons, receive supplies from the Grand Canary; but their vineyards here are said to be greatly superior. Their produce of corn, though exceedingly good, is not sufficient for their consumption; and owing to this the Americans have an advantageous trade here for their flour and grain, and take wine in return.
The town of Santa Cruz is about half a mile in extent each way, built in a regular manner, and the houses in general large and airy, but the streets are very ill paved. I am told that they are subject to few diseases; but if any epidemic distemper breaks out it is attended with the most fatal consequences, particularly the smallpox, the bad effects of which they now endeavour to counteract by inoculation. For this reason they are very circumspect in admitting ships to have communication with the shore without bills of health.
A sloop from London, called the Chance, William Meridith, master, bound to Barbados, out nineteen days from the Downs, came into the road the day before we sailed. She had suffered much by the bad weather but, having brought no bill of health, the governor would not allow any person to come on shore unless I could vouch for them that no epidemic disease raged in England at the time they sailed, which I was able to do, it being nearly at the same time that I left the land; and by that means they had the governor's permission to receive the supplies they wanted without being obliged to perform quarantine.
Having finished our business at Tenerife on Thursday the 10th we sailed with the wind at south-east, our ship's company all in good health and spirits.
I now divided the people into three watches, and gave the charge of the third watch to Mr. Fletcher Christian, one of the mates. I have always considered this as a desirable regulation when circumstances will admit of it on many accounts; and am persuaded that unbroken rest not only contributes much towards the health of a ship's company but enables them more readily to exert themselves in cases of sudden emergency.
As it was my wish to proceed to Otaheite without stopping I ordered everybody to be at two-thirds allowance of bread: I also directed the water for drinking to be filtered though dripstones that I had bought at Tenerife for that purpose.
In the evening we passed the south end of Tenerife which is a round lump of land that, from the lowness of the contiguous land, has at a distance the appearance of a separate island. By our run from the bay of Santa Cruz I make the latitude of the south end of Tenerife to be 28 degrees 6 minutes north.
We ran all night towards the south-south-west having the wind at south-east. The next morning we could see nothing of the land. I now made the ship's company acquainted with the intent of the voyage and, having been permitted to hold out this encouragement to them, I gave assurances of the certainty of promotion to everyone whose endeavours should merit it.
The winds for some days after leaving Tenerife were mostly from the southward. Fishing-lines and tackle were distributed amongst the people and some dolphins were caught.
On the 17th the wind came round to the north-east and continued steady in that quarter till the 25th on which day at noon we were in 3 degrees 54 minutes north. As the cloudiness of the sky gave us reason to expect much rain we prepared the awnings with hoses for the convenience of saving water, in which we were not disappointed. From this time to our meeting with the south-east tradewind we had much wet weather, the air close and sultry with calms, and light variable winds generally from the southward.
On the 29th there was so heavy a fall of rain that we caught seven hundred gallons of water.
On the 31st, latitude at noon 2 degrees 5 minutes north, found a current setting to the north-east at the rate of fourteen miles in the twenty-four hours. The thermometer was at 82 degrees in the shade, and 81 1/2 degrees at the surface of the sea, so that the air and the water were within half a degree of the same temperature. At eight o'clock in the evening we observed a violent rippling in the sea about half a mile to the north-west of us which had very much the appearance of breakers. This I imagine to have been occasioned by a large school (or multitude) of fish as it was exactly in the track the ship had passed, so that if any real shoal had been there we must have seen it at the close of the evening when a careful lookout was always kept. However if it had appeared ahead of us instead of astern I should certainly have tacked to avoid it. To such appearances I attribute the accounts of many shoals within the tropics which cannot be found anywhere but in maps. Our latitude at this time was 2 degrees 8 minutes north and longitude 19 degrees 43 minutes west. The next day we had more of these appearances from the number of schools of fish by which the ship was surrounded.
February. Saturday 2.
This morning we saw a sail to the north-north-west but at too great a distance to distinguish what she was.
Had very heavy rain during which we nearly filled all our empty water casks. So much wet weather, with the closeness of the air, covered everything with mildew. The ship was aired below with fires and frequently sprinkled with vinegar; and every little interval of dry weather was taken advantage of to open all the hatchways, and clean the ship, and to have all the people's wet things washed and dried.
With this weather and light unsteady winds we advanced but 2 1/2 degrees in twelve days; at the end of which time we were relieved by the south-east tradewind which we fell in with on the 6th at noon in latitude 1 degree 21 minutes north and longitude 20 degrees 42 minutes west.
The next afternoon we crossed the equinoctial line in longitude 21 degrees 50 minutes west. The weather became fine and the south-east tradewind was fresh and steady, with which we kept a point free from the wind and got to the southward at a good rate.
The weather continuing dry we put some of our bread in casks, properly prepared for its reception, to preserve it from vermin: this experiment we afterwards found answered exceedingly well.
On the 16th at daylight we saw a sail to the southward. The next day we came up with her and found her to be the British Queen, Simon Paul, master, from London, bound to the Cape of Good Hope on the whale-fishery. She sailed from Falmouth the 5th of December, eighteen days before I left Spithead. By this ship I wrote to England. At sunset she was almost out of sight astern.
In the course of this day's run the variation changed from west to east. According to our observations the true and magnetic meridians coincided in latitude 20 degrees 0 minutes south and longitude 31 degrees 15 minutes west. At noon we were in latitude 20 degrees 44 minutes south and longitude 31 degrees 23 minutes west. In our advances towards the south the wind had gradually veered round to the east and was at this time at east-north-east. The weather after crossing the Line had been fine and clear, but the air so sultry as to occasion great faintness, the quicksilver in the thermometer in the daytime standing at between 81 and 83 degrees, and one time at 85 degrees. In our passage through the northern tropic the air was temperate, the sun having then high south declination and the weather being generally fine till we lost the north-east tradewind; but such a thick haze surrounded the horizon that no object could be seen except at a very small distance. The haze commonly cleared away at sunset and gathered again at sunrise. Between the north-east and south-east tradewinds the calms and rains, if of long continuance, are very liable to produce sickness unless great attention is paid to keeping the ship clean and wholesome by giving all the air possible, drying between decks with fires, and drying and airing the people's clothes and bedding. Besides these precautions we frequently wetted with vinegar, and every evening the pumps were used as ventilators. With these endeavours to secure health we passed the low latitudes without a single complaint.
The currents we met with were by no means regular, nor have I ever found them so in the middle of the ocean. However from the channel to the southward as far as Madeira there is generally a current setting to the south-south-east.
On the evening of the 21st a ship was seen in the north-east but at too great a distance to distinguish of what country.
The next day the wind came round to the north and north-west so that we could no longer consider ourselves in the tradewind. Our latitude at noon was 25 degrees 55 minutes south, longitude 36 degrees 29 minutes west. Variation of the compass three degrees east.
Towards night the wind died away and we had some heavy showers of rain of which we profited by saving a ton of good water. The next day we caught a shark and five dolphins.
We bent new sails and made other necessary preparations for encountering the weather that was to be expected in a high latitude. Our latitude at noon was 29 degrees 38 minutes south, longitude 41 degrees 44 minutes west. Variation 7 degrees 13 minutes east. In the afternoon, the wind being westerly and blowing strong in squalls, some butterflies and other insects like what we call horseflies were blown on board of us. No birds were seen except shearwaters. Our distance from the coast of Brazil at this time was above 100 leagues.
March. Sunday 2.
In the forenoon, after seeing that every person was clean, divine service was performed according to my usual custom on this day. I gave to Mr. Fletcher Christian, whom I had before directed to take charge of the third watch, a written order to act as lieutenant.
We were at noon in latitude 36 degrees 50 minutes south and longitude 52 degrees 53 minutes west. The last four days we several times tried for soundings without finding bottom, though considerably to the westward of Captain Wallis' track, who had soundings at fifty-four fathoms depth in latitude 35 degrees 40 minutes south and longitude 49 degrees 54 minutes west. This day we tried with two hundred and forty fathoms of line but did not find bottom; at the same time, observing a rippling in the water, we tried the current by mooring a keg with one hundred fathoms of line, by which it appeared to run to the north-north-west at the rate of a mile and a half per hour. By the noon observation however we were eighteen miles to the southward of our reckoning. In the afternoon we saw a turtle floating and, not having much wind, hoisted a boat out and sent after it; but it was found to be in a putrid state with a number of crabs feeding upon it.
The change of temperature began now to be sensibly felt, there being a variation in the thermometer since yesterday of eight degrees. That the people might not suffer by their own negligence I gave orders for their light tropical clothing to be put by, and made them dress in a manner more suited to a cold climate. I had provided for this before I left England by giving directions for such clothes to be purchased as were necessary.
In the forenoon we struck soundings at eighty-three fathoms depth; our latitude 40 degrees 8 minutes south and longitude 55 degrees 40 minutes west. This I conclude to have been near the edge of the bank for, the wind being at south-south-west, we stood towards the south-east; and after running fourteen miles in that direction we could find no bottom with one hundred and sixty fathoms of line. In the night we stood towards the west-south-west with a southerly wind and got again into soundings. The next day we saw a great number of whales of an immense size that had two spout-holes on the back of the head. Upon a complaint made to me by the master I found it necessary to punish Matthew Quintal, one of the seamen, with two dozen lashes for insolence and mutinous behaviour. Before this I had not had occasion to punish any person on board.
On the 12th we caught a porpoise by striking it with the grains. Everyone eat heartily of it; and it was so well liked that no part was wasted.
On the 14th in the afternoon we saw a land-bird like a lark, and passed part of a dead whale that had been left by some whalers after they had taken the blubber off. Saw likewise two strange sail. The next day at noon our latitude was 43 degrees 6 minutes south and longitude 58 degrees 42 minutes west. Had soundings at seventy-five fathoms; the bottom a fine greenish sand. Saw two hawks.
On the 16th another ship was seen to the west-north-west standing to the northward. Latitude at noon 43 degrees 34 minutes south. We continued running to the southward keeping in soundings.
On the 19th at noon by my account we were within twenty leagues of Port Desire; but the wind blowing fresh from the north-west with thick foggy weather I did not attempt to make the land. We passed a good deal of rock-weed and saw many whales, and albatrosses and other seabirds.
On the 20th at noon our latitude was 50 degrees 24 minutes south and longitude 65 degrees 50 minutes west. In the afternoon the wind, which had for some time past been northerly, suddenly shifted to the west-south-west and blew hard.
We steered to the south-south-east and on the 23rd at two o'clock in the morning we discovered the coast of Tierra del Fuego bearing south-east. At nine in the forenoon we were off Cape St. Diego, the eastern part of Tierra del Fuego. Observed the variation here to be 21 degrees 23 east. The wind being unfavourable I thought it more advisable to go round to the eastward of Staten Land than to attempt passing through Straits le Maire. The two opposite coasts of the Straits exhibited very different appearances. The land of Tierra del Fuego hereabouts, though the interior parts are mountainous, yet near the coast is of a moderate height and, at the distance we were from it, had not an unpromising appearance. The coast of Staten Land near the Straits is mountainous and craggy, and remarkable for its high peaked hills. Straits le Maire is a fair opening which cannot well be mistaken; but if any doubt could remain, the different appearances of the opposite shores would sufficiently make the Straits known.
I did not sail within less than six leagues of the coast that we might have the wind more regular and avoid being exposed to the heavy squalls that came off from the land. At noon Cape St. Anthony bore south and the westernmost of New Year's Isles south-east one-quarter south, five or six leagues. Latitude observed 54 degrees 28 minutes south, longitude 64 degrees 4 minutes west.
The sight of New Year's Harbour almost tempted me to put in; but the lateness of the season and the people being in good health determined me to lay aside all thoughts of refreshment until we should reach Otaheite. At two o'clock in the afternoon the easternmost of New Year's Isles, where Captain Cook observed the latitude to be 55 degrees 40 minutes south, bore from us south four leagues. We saw the entrance isles of New Year's harbour at the back of which the land is very craggy and mountainous. This must be a very convenient port to touch at as the access to it is safe and easy. The harbour lies south-south-east by compass from the north-east part of the easternmost of the New Year's Islands.
About two leagues to the westward of Cape St. John I observed the separation of the mountains that Captain Cook has taken notice of, which has the appearance of Staten Land being there divided into two islands.
At sunset Cape St. John bore south-south-east five or six leagues. The land hereabouts is of less height and not so rugged as near New Year's Harbour. The night coming on I could get no good view of the coast near the Cape; and at daylight next morning we were at too great a distance.
We had stood to the southward all night with the wind at west-south-west and south-west. At eight in the morning Cape St. John bore north-west ten leagues distant. Soon after we lost sight of the land.
From the result of my lunar observations, assisted by the timekeeper, I make the longitude of the west side of Straits le Maire 64 degrees 48 minutes west; the easternmost of the New Year's isles 63 degrees 52 minutes west; and the longitude of Cape St. John 63 degrees 19 minutes west.
In our run from the latitude of 12 degrees south to 48 degrees south the ship was set 2 degrees 30 minutes to the eastward by currents; and from the latitude of 48 degrees south to Staten Land the currents set us to the westward 2 degrees 43 minutes; which I imagine to have been occasioned by an indraught into the Straits of Magellan.
From the time we lost sight of the land to the end of the month we were struggling with bad weather and contrary winds.
But on the morning of the 31st the wind came to the north-north-east and made us entertain great hopes that we should be able to accomplish our passage round the Cape without much difficulty. At noon we were in latitude 60 degrees 1 minute south and in 71 degrees 45 minutes west longitude, which is 8 degrees 26 minutes west of the meridian of Cape St. John. This flattering appearance was not of long continuance: in the night the wind became variable and next day settled again in the west and north-west with very bad weather.
April. Wednesday 2.
On the 2nd in the morning the wind, which had blown fresh all night from the north-west, came round to the south-west and increased to a heavy gale. At six in the morning the storm exceeded what I had ever met with before; and the sea, from the frequent shifting of the wind, running in contrary directions, broke exceeding high. Our ship however lay to very well under a main and fore-stay sail. The gale continued with severe squalls of hail and sleet the remainder of this and all the next day.
On the 4th the wind was less violent but far from moderate. With so much bad weather I found it necessary to keep a constant fire night and day; and one of the watch always attended to dry the people's wet clothes: and this I have no doubt contributed as much to their health as to their comfort.
Our companions in this in hospitable region were albatrosses and two beautiful kinds of birds, the small blue petrel and pintada. A great many of these were frequently about the wake of the ship, which induced the people to float a line with hooks baited to endeavour to catch them and their attempts were successful. The method they used was to fasten the bait a foot or two before the hook and, by giving the line a sudden jerk when the bird was at the bait, it was hooked in the feet or body.
On the 6th the weather was moderate and continued so till the 9th with the wind veering between the north-west and south-west; of which we were able to take advantage.
On the 7th observed the variation 27 degrees 9 minutes east; our latitude 60 degrees 24 minutes south and longitude 75 degrees 54 minutes west.
On the 9th at noon we were in latitude 59 degrees 31 minutes south and our longitude 76 degrees 58 minutes west, which is farther to the west than we had yet been. The weather was now unfavourable again, blowing strong from the westward with a high sea.
On the 10th we saw some fish which appeared spotted and about the size of bonetos: these were the only fish we had seen in this high latitude.
The stormy weather continued with a great sea. The ship now began to complain and required to be pumped every hour; which was no more than we had reason to expect from such a continuance of gales of wind and high seas. The decks also became so leaky that it was obliged to allot the great cabin, of which I made little use except in fine weather, to those people who had wet berths to hang their hammocks in, and by this means the between decks was less crowded.
Every morning all the hammocks were taken down from where they hung, and when the weather was too bad to keep them upon deck they were put in the cabin; so that the between decks were cleaned daily and aired with fires if the hatchways could not be opened. With all this bad weather we had the additional mortification to find at the end of every day that we were losing ground; for notwithstanding our utmost exertions and keeping on the most advantageous tacks (which if the weather had been at all moderate would have sufficiently answered our purpose) yet the greater part of the time we were doing little better than drifting before the wind.
Birds as usual were about the ship and some of them caught; and for the first time since we left Staten Land we saw some whales. This morning, owing to the violent motion of the ship, the cook fell and broke one of his ribs, and another man, by a fall, dislocated his shoulder. The gunner who had the charge of a watch was laid up with the rheumatism: and this was the first sicklist that appeared on board the ship. The time of full moon which was approaching made me entertain hopes that after that period we should experience some change of wind or weather in our favour; but the event did not at all answer our expectations. The latitude at noon this day was 58 degrees 9 minutes south and longitude 76 degrees 1 minute west.
As we caught a good many birds but which were all lean and tasted fishy we tried an experiment upon them which succeeded admirably. By keeping them cooped up and cramming them with ground corn they improved wonderfully in a short time; so that the pintada birds became as fine as ducks, and the albatrosses were as fat, and not inferior in taste to, fine geese. Some of the latter birds were caught that measured seven feet between the extremities of the wings when spread. This unexpected supply came very opportunely; for none of our livestock remained except hogs, the sheep and poultry not being hardy enough to stand the severity of the weather.
This morning the wind died away and we had a calm for a few hours which gave us hopes that the next would be a more favourable wind. A hog was killed for the ship's company which gave them an excellent meal. Towards noon, to our great disappointment, the wind sprang up again from the westward and in the afternoon blew strong with snow and hailstorms.
This was the second day after the full moon but, as I have remarked before, it had no influence on the weather. At noon our latitude was 58 degrees 31 minutes south and longitude 70 degrees 7 minutes west, which is near seven degrees to the eastward of our situation on the morning of the 9th instant, when we had advanced the farthest in our power to the westward, being then in 76 degrees 58 minutes west, three degrees to the west of Cape Deseada, the west part of the Straits of Magellan; and at this time we were 3 degrees 52 minutes to the east of it and hourly losing ground.
It was with much concern I saw how hopeless and even unjustifiable it was to persist any longer in attempting a passage this way to the Society Islands. We had been thirty days in this tempestuous ocean. At one time we had advanced so far to the westward as to have a fair prospect of making our passage round; but from that period hard gales of westerly wind had continued without intermission, a few hours excepted, which, to borrow an expression in Lord Anson's voyage, were "like the elements drawing breath to return upon us with redoubled violence." The season was now too far advanced for us to expect more favourable winds or weather, and we had sufficiently experienced the impossibility of beating round against the wind, or of advancing at all without the help of a fair wind for which there was little reason to hope. Another consideration which had great weight with me was that, if I persisted in my attempt this way and should after all fail to get round, it would occasion such a loss of time that our arrival at Otaheite soon enough to return in the proper season by the East Indies would be rendered precarious. On the other hand the prevalence of the westerly winds in high southern latitudes left me no reason to doubt of making a quick passage to the Cape of Good Hope and thence to the eastward round New Holland.
Having maturely considered all circumstances I determined to bear away for the Cape of Good Hope; and at five o'clock on the evening of the 22nd, the wind then blowing strong at west, I ordered the helm to be put a weather, to the great joy of every person on board. Our sicklist at this time had increased to eight, mostly with rheumatic complaints: in other respects the people were in good health, though exceedingly jaded.
The passage round Cape Horn into the South Seas during the summer months has seldom been attended with difficulty and is to be preferred in the moderate seasons to the more distant route to the eastward round the Cape of Good Hope and New Holland. If we had been one month earlier, or perhaps less, I doubt not but we should have effected our passage.
The soundings that are met with off the coast of America, from the latitude of 36 degrees south to the southward, are very convenient to enable ships to judge of their distance from the land, as thick fogs are very frequent near that coast. If the winds are favourable, to go through Straits le Maire must considerably shorten the passage round Cape Horn, as all the distance saved is so much gained to the westward. I am informed that several harbours have been lately discovered by the South Sea whalers on the north side of Staten Island that afford safe anchorage with supplies of wood and water.
While we were off Cape Horn I did not observe that our situation was at all affected by currents.
Passage towards the Cape of Good Hope and Search after Tristan da Cunha. Arrival at False Bay. Occurrences there. Reports concerning the Grosvenor's People. Departure from the Cape.
1788. April. Friday 25.
The westerly winds and stormy weather continuing gave me no reason to repent of my determination. On the 25th at noon we were in latitude 54 degrees 16 minutes south and longitude 57 degrees 4 minutes west. The nearest of the Falkland Islands by my reckoning then bore north 13 degrees west; distance 23 leagues. Our stock of water being sufficient to serve us to the Cape of Good Hope I did not think it worth while to stop at these islands as the refreshment we might obtain there would scarce repay us for the expense of time: we therefore continued our course towards the north-east and east-north-east.
May. Friday 9.
On the 9th of May at eight o'clock in the evening we were near the situation of Tristan da Cunha, our latitude being 37 degrees 7 minutes south and longitude 15 degrees 26 minutes west. All the afternoon the weather had been clear enough for land of a moderate height to be seen at least seven leagues; I therefore concluded that we had not yet passed the meridian of the island; for the most western position given to it from any authority is 15 degrees 0 minutes west.
As I wished to make this island we kept our wind on different tacks during the night, that we might be nearly in the same place at daylight in the morning as on the preceding evening: in the morning no land being in sight we continued to steer to the eastward.
We ran on all day having clear weather but without seeing anything to indicate our being near land. At noon our latitude observed was 37 degrees 27 minutes south which, being more to the southward than we had reason to expect, I altered the course to the northward and steered north-east all the afternoon. At six o'clock in the evening we were in latitude 37 degrees 0 minutes south and longitude 12 degrees 42 minutes west, having a clear horizon but not the least sign of being in the neighbourhood of land. With the night came thick rainy weather and we were now to the eastward of the situation ascribed to Tristan da Cunha; I therefore determined to give over the search and to resume our course towards the Cape of Good Hope.
The island of Tristan da Cunha, by Robertson's Elements, is laid down in 37 degrees 12 minutes south latitude and 13 degrees 23 minutes west longitude. In Captain Cook's general map, prefixed to his last voyage, it is placed in the same latitude but in 15 degrees west longitude. From our track and the clearness of the weather I am convinced, if the latitude ascribed to it as above is correct, that it is not to be found between the meridians of 16 degrees 30 minutes west and 12 degrees 30 minutes west. On the 13th I had a number of lunar observations for the longitude, the mean of which agreed exactly with the timekeeper.*
(*Footnote. In Mr. Dalrymple's Collection of Plans which I had not with me the northernmost of the Islands of Tristan d'Acunha is placed in latitude 37 degrees 22 minutes south and longitude 13 degrees 17 minutes west. I think it probable we missed them by being too much to the northward.)
In this passage the weather was generally so cloudy that I had few opportunities to make observations of any kind except for the noon latitudes. I could not determine when we crossed the line of no variation. The two nearest observations to it were: the first in 39 degrees 51 minutes south latitude and 26 degrees 11 minutes west longitude, where the variation of the compass was found to be 3 degrees 17 minutes east; and the other in latitude 35 degrees 30 minutes south and longitude 5 degrees 21 minutes west, where I observed the variation 11 degrees 35 minutes west; between these we had no intermediate observation for the variation.
At two in the afternoon we saw the Table Mountain of the Cape of Good Hope. As it is reckoned unsafe riding in Table Bay at this time of year I steered for False Bay. The next evening we anchored in the outer part.
And on the forenoon of the 24th got the ship secured in Simon's Bay, which is in the inner part of False Bay. When moored, Noah's ark bore south 35 degrees east three-quarters of a mile, and the hospital south 72 west. We found lying here one outward bound Dutch Indiaman, five other Dutch ships, and a French ship.
After saluting the fort, which was returned by an equal number of guns, I went on shore and dispatches were sent away to Cape Town to acquaint the governor of our arrival. A Dutch ship at this time lying in Table Bay bound for Europe, I sent letters by her to the Admiralty. It is very unusual for ships to be in Table Bay so late in the year, on account of the strong north-west winds. April is the time limited.
I gave the necessary directions for getting our wants supplied. The ship required to be caulked in every part for she was become so leaky that we had been obliged to pump every hour in our passage from Cape Horn. This we immediately set about, as well as repairing our sails and rigging. The severe weather we had met with and the leakiness of the ship made it necessary to examine into the state of all the stores and provisions. Of the latter a good deal was found damaged, particularly the bread. The timekeeper I took on shore to ascertain its rate, and other instruments to make the necessary astronomical observations. Fresh meat, with soft bread and plenty of vegetables, were issued daily to the ship's company the whole time we remained here. A few days after our arrival I went over to Cape Town and waited on his excellency M. Vander Graaf, the governor, who obligingly arranged matters so much to our advantage that we scarcely felt the inconvenience of being at a distance from the Cape Town, whence we received all our supplies.
The Cape Town is considerably increased within the last eight years. Its respectability with regard to strength has kept pace with its other enlargements and rendered it very secure against any attempt which is not made with considerable force. Great attention is paid to military order and discipline; and monthly signals are established to communicate with their shipping as they arrive near the coast that they may not run unawares into the hands of an enemy. I found everything much dearer than when I was here in 1780. Sheep cost four Spanish dollars each and were so small that it answered better to purchase the mutton for the ship's daily use at fourpence per pound.
During our stay here I took care to procure seeds and plants that would be valuable at Otaheite and the different places we might touch at in our way thither. In this I was greatly assisted by colonel Gordon, the commander of the troops. In company with this gentleman the loss of the Grosvenor East Indiaman was mentioned: on this subject colonel Gordon expressed great concern that from anything he had said hopes were still entertained to flatter the affectionate wishes of the surviving friends of those unfortunate people. He said that in his travels into the Caffre country he had met with a native who described to him that there was a white woman among his countrymen who had a child, and that she frequently embraced the child and cried most violently. This was all he (the colonel) could understand and, being then on his return home with his health much impaired by fatigue, the only thing that he could do was to make a friend of the native by presents and promises of reward on condition that he would take a letter to this woman and bring him back an answer. Accordingly he wrote letters in English, French, and Dutch desiring that some sign or mark might be returned, either by writing with a burnt stick or by any means she should be able to devise, to satisfy him that she was there; and that on receiving such token from her every effort should be made to ensure her safety and escape. But the Caffre, although apparently delighted with the commission which he had undertaken, never returned, nor has the colonel ever heard anything more of him, though he had been instructed in methods of conveying information through the Hottentot country.
To this account, that I may not again have occasion to introduce so melancholy a subject, I shall add the little information I received respecting it when I revisited the Cape in my return towards Europe. A reputable farmer of the name of Holhousen, who lives at Swellendam, eight days journey from the Cape, had information from some Caffre Hottentots that at a kraal or village in their country there were white men and women. On this intelligence Mr. Holhousen asked permission of the governor to make an expedition with some of the farmers into the country, requiring a thousand rix-dollars to bear his expenses. The governor referred him to Mr. Wocke, the Landros of Graaf Rienet, a new colony in his way. But from the place where Mr. Holhousen lives to the Landros, Mr. Wocke's residence, is a month's journey, which he did not choose to undertake at an uncertainty, as Mr. Wocke might have disapproved of the enterprise. It was in October last that Mr. Holhousen offered to go on this service. He was one of the party who went along the sea-coast in search of these unfortunate people when a few of them first made their appearance at the Cape. I am however informed that the Dutch farmers are fond of making expeditions into the country, that they may have opportunities of taking away cattle; and this I apprehend to be one of the chief reasons why undertakings of this kind are not encouraged.
On the 13th of June the Dublin East Indiaman arrived from England, on board of which ship was a party of the 77th regiment under the command of colonel Balfour.
The result of my lunar observations gave for the longitude of Simon's Bay 18 degrees 48 minutes 34 seconds east; the latitude 34 degrees 11 minutes 34 seconds south. The timekeeper likewise made the longitude 18 degrees 47 minutes east. The longitude as established by former observations is 18 degrees 33 minutes east. The variation of the compass on shore was 24 degrees 4 minutes west; but on board of the ship it was only 22 degrees 28 minutes west. The time of high-water was three-quarters past two on the full and change and it then flowed six feet.
With respect to the Cape Promontory it lies about three miles east of the meridian of Simon's Town. All the tables of latitude and longitude place the Cape in 34 degrees 29 minutes south latitude; but from many observations off it with good instruments I make it to lie in 34 degrees 23 minutes south, which agrees with its situation as laid down in major Rennel's map. The part which I call the Cape is the southernmost point of the land between Table Bay and False Bay; but the Dutch consider the westernmost part of the coast to be the Cape.
On the 29th, being ready for sea, I took the timekeeper and instruments on board. The error of the timekeeper was 3 33 seconds, 2 too slow for the mean time at Greenwich, and its rate of going 3 seconds per day, losing. The thermometer during our stay here was from 51 to 66 degrees.
July. Tuesday 1.
We had been thirty-eight days at this place, and my people had received all the advantage that could be derived from the refreshments of every kind that are here to be met with. We sailed at four o'clock this afternoon, and saluted the platform with thirteen guns as we ran out of the bay, which were returned.
Passage towards Van Diemen's Land. Make the Island of St. Paul. Arrival in Adventure Bay. Natives seen. Sail from Van Diemen's Land.
We lost sight of the land the day after leaving False Bay and steered towards the east-south-east, having variable winds the first week with much thunder, lightning and rain. The remainder of this passage the winds were mostly between the south and west blowing strong. There were almost every day great numbers of pintada, albatrosses, blue petrels, and other oceanic birds about us; but it was observed that if the wind came from the northward, only for a few hours, the birds generally left us, and their presence again was the forerunner of a southerly wind.
The variation of the compass was 30 degrees 34 minutes west which was the greatest variation we found in this track. Our latitude 36 degrees 28 minutes south and longitude 39 degrees 0 minutes east.
The latitude at noon was 40 degrees 30 minutes south and longitude 60 degrees 7 minutes east. We were at this time scudding under the fore-sail and close-reefed main-top-sail, the wind blowing strong from the west. An hour after noon the gale increased and blew with so much violence that the ship was almost driven forecastle under before we could get the sails clewed up. As soon as the sails were taken in we brought the ship to the wind, lowered the lower yards, and got the top-gallant-masts upon deck, which eased the ship very much.
We remained lying to till eight the next morning when we bore away under a reefed fore-sail. In the afternoon the sea ran so high that it became very unsafe to stand on: we therefore brought to the wind again, and remained lying to all night without accident excepting that the man at the steerage was thrown over the wheel and much bruised.
Towards noon the violence of the storm abated and we again bore away under the reefed fore-sail. Our latitude at noon 38 degrees 49 minutes south: in the afternoon saw some whales.
We continued running to the eastward in this parallel, it being my intention to make the island St. Paul.
On Monday the 28th at six in the morning we saw the island bearing east by north 12 leagues distant: between 10 and 11 o'clock we ran along the south side at about a league distant from the shore. There was a verdure that covered the higher parts of the land, but I believe it was nothing more than moss which is commonly found on the tops of most rocky islands in these latitudes. We saw several whales near the shore. The extent of this island is five miles from east to west; and about two or three from north to south. As we passed the east end we saw a remarkable high sugarloaf rock, abreast of which I have been informed is good anchorage in 23 fathoms, the east point bearing south-west by south by true compass. I had this information from the captain of a Dutch packet in which I returned to Europe. He likewise said there was good fresh water on the island and a hot spring which boiled fish in as great perfection as on a fire. By his account the latitude which he observed in the road is 38 degrees 39 minutes south; and from the anchoring place the island of Amsterdam was in sight to the northward. We had fair weather all the forenoon, but just at noon a squall came on which was unfavourable for our observation. I had however two sets of double altitudes and a good altitude exactly at noon according to the timekeeper. The result of these gave for the latitude of the centre of St. Paul 38 degrees 47 minutes south. The longitude I make 77 degrees 39 minutes east. The variation of the compass, taking the mean of what it was observed to be the day before we saw the island and the day after, is 19 degrees 30 minutes west.
At noon we were three leagues past the island. We kept on towards the east-south-east, and for several days continued to see rock-weed, which is remarked to be generally the case after ships pass St. Paul's; but to the westward of it very seldom any is seen.
August. Wednesday 13.
In latitude 44 degrees 16 minutes south, longitude 122 degrees 7 minutes east, I observed the variation of the compass to be 6 degrees 23 minutes west. I had no opportunity to observe it again till in the latitude of 43 degrees 56 minutes south, longitude 133 degrees 16 minutes east, when it was 1 degree 38 minutes east; so that we had passed the line of no variation. In 1780, on board the Resolution in latitude 44 degrees 23 minutes south, longitude 131 degrees 28 minutes east, the variation was observed 6 degrees 0 minutes west, which is a remarkable difference. We had much bad weather with snow and hail, and in our approach to Van Diemen's Land nothing was seen to indicate the nearness of the coast, except a seal, when we were within the distance of 20 leagues.
At ten o'clock this afternoon we saw the rock named the Mewstone, that lies near the south-west cape of Van Diemen's Land, bearing north-east about six leagues. The wind blew strong from the north-west. As soon as we had passed the Mewstone we were sheltered from a very heavy sea which ran from the westward. At eight o'clock at night we were abreast of the south cape when the wind became light and variable. Saw several fires inland.
The Mewstone is a high bold rock that lies five leagues to the south-east of the south-west cape and is the part that all ships bound this way should endeavour to make. Its latitude is 43 degrees 46 or 47 minutes. Several islands lie to the northward between that and the main, among which, bearing north by west from the Mewstone, is a high rock much resembling it; and north-north-east from the Mewstone, on the mainland, is a remarkable high mountain, which in this direction appears notched like a cock's comb; but as viewed from the eastward seems round.
All the 20th we were endeavouring to get into Adventure Bay but were prevented by variable winds. The next morning at five o'clock we anchored in the outer part, and at sunrise weighed again: at noon we anchored well in the bay and moored the ship, Penguin Island bearing north 57 1/2 degrees east, about two miles distant; Cape Frederic Henry north 23 degrees east; and the mouth of the Lagoon south 16 degrees east.
In our passage from the Cape of Good Hope the winds were mostly from the westward with very boisterous weather: but one great advantage that this season of the year has over the summer months is in being free from fogs. I have already remarked that the approach of strong southerly winds is announced by many kinds of birds of the albatross or petrel tribe, and the abatement of the gale, or a shift of wind to the northward, by their keeping away. The thermometer also very quickly shows when a change of these winds may be expected by varying sometimes six and seven degrees in its height. I have reason to believe that, after we passed the island St. Paul, there was a westerly current; the ship being every day to the westward of the reckoning, which in the whole, from St. Paul to Van Diemen's land, made a difference of four degrees between the longitude by the reckoning and the true longitude.
The ship being moored I went in a boat to look out for the most convenient place to wood and water at, which I found to be at the west end of the beach: for the surf, though considerable, was less there than at any other part of the bay. The water was in a gully about sixty yards from the beach; it was perfectly good but, being only a collection from the rains, the place is always dry in the summer months; for we found no water in it when I was here with Captain Cook in January 1777. We had very little success in hauling the seine; about twenty small flounders, and flat-headed fish called foxes were all that were taken.
I found no signs of the natives having lately frequented this bay or of any European vessels having been here since the Resolution and Discovery in 1777. From some of the old trunks of trees then cut down I saw shoots about twenty-five feet high and fourteen inches in circumference.
In the evening I returned on board.
The next morning, the 22nd, at daylight, a party was sent on shore for wooding and watering under the command of Mr. Christian and the gunner; and I directed that one man should be constantly employed in washing the people's clothes. There was so much surf that the wood was obliged to be rafted off in bundles to the boat. Mr. Nelson informed me that in his walks today he saw a tree in a very healthy state which he measured and found to be thirty-three feet and a half in girt; its height was proportioned to its bulk.
The surf was rather greater than yesterday which very much interrupted our wooding and watering. Nelson today picked up a male opossum that had been recently killed, or had died, for we could not perceive any wound unless it had received a blow on the back where there was a bare place about the size of a shilling. It measured fourteen inches from the ears to the beginning of the tail which was exactly the same length.