On the 24th May, the day I arrived here, I wrote to you a particular account of my proceedings which I sent express to Table Bay, from whence a Dutch ship was immediately to sail, but for fear that should miscarry this letter will in great part be a duplicate as an opportunity offers by a French Packet from Isle de France to Havre de Grace.
I left Tenariffe on the 10th. of January and past the Coast of Brasil and Rio de la Plata with good weather, but after that it became changeable with high Winds and some heavy Gales. As I advanced to the southward and finding the season closing fast in upon me I fully determined to loose no time by putting in either at Falkland Islands or in the Neighbourhood of Terra del Fuego. I therefore carried all possible Sail night and day to make the Coast of the latter which I did on the 23d of March a few leagues to the northward of Streights Le Maire. The appearance of the country gave me every reason to think I had determined properly. The interior parts only were covered with snow and it appeared evidently that Winter nad not set in. The Wind came at south and I could not enter the streights, I therefore made the most of it & push'd on to double Staten Land which I did the next day, having past close to New Years Harbour with fair Wr that was sufficiently tempting after a long Voyage to benefit by the refreshments it could afford us; but dreading the consequences of delay I entered into the Southern Ocean with a very fresh Gale under low Sails and severe snow storms and at one time was to the westward of the land in the lat'd of 60° when a violent Gale took me from the SW & West and in lying to lost all I had got. I still kept persevering making whatever sail I could at intervals when the wind moderated. The limits of my Track was between 58° & 61° So. I sould still have attempted to get round the land but the grand consideration with me was the fear of loosing my Masts or crippling the ship and my Men falling sick. This with other reasons which I will state to you again as I have done in my first letter was the cause of my bearing away on the 22 April.
That it appeared I had little chance to accomplish my passage during the time I could stay longer in this Sea. That to put into Port at such a season and attempt it again, provided I had success, was gaining but little time at a great risk, and the chances much against me. That I had not a moment to spare to make my passage to the C of Good Hope & refit so as to be sure of my getting to Otaheite in time. That the ship from being constantly in very high seas began to be leaky & required carefully to be attended with the Pumps which encreased our labour. That my People being now but ten on whom the hard Duty of furling & reefing principally fell upon, felt much the severity of the weather and were much harrassed & fatigued, the Sails & Ropes being work'd with much difficulty from the heavy snow storms. That upon the whole being considered, the one amounting the matter to a certainty & the other to a doubt, and being honored with discretionary orders it became my duty to take the most secure way for the good of the Voyage, I therefore made my mind up on the first being the only one eligible, and no doubt of it being successfull.
From these considerations I bore away on the 22'd. April and repassed Staten Land the next day, to the joy of all hands. When I bore away I was in lat'd. 58°:31′ S and Long'd 70°:7′ West about 70 leagues to the west'd. of Cape St. John. I might still have kept lying to & have drifted this distance but in that can every week so lost would have been equal to double the time.
Notwithstanding I have failed in getting round Cape Horn it is certainly a safe & eligible passage to the South Sea, and I would be answerable for ships getting round, that were there in the Month of Feb'y., but when Winter sets in it is a horrid tempestuous place to struggle with.
Nelson & his assistant are very well and are away constantly from the Ship in search of Plants but the Dutch are now very strict, no one can go in the country without a pass. I have only heard that Mr. Mason is here & well.
With respecft to myself & Ships Company no people can be in better in [sic] health or spirits. It will give me the greatest satisfaction to be favored with a few lines from you on my return to St. Helena or Jamaica. August 1789 will certainly be the latest time of my arrival at S. Hellena.
I here [hear] from the French Captain that where he left the Isle de France, a Capt Barclet or Barcley was here who had been on the Fur Trade from America to China & sold to a great amount, had sold his ship to the Portuguese & was on his way home as Passenger. That he had been at the Society & Sandwich Islands where the Natives had supplied him plentifully with provisions. I never heard any thing of this Man & therefore imagine he has sailed from Ostend or Dunkirk.
I have only now Sir to assure you of my utmost exertions & confidence of success, & wishing you the most perfect enjoyment of health beg leave to subscribe myself
Dear Sir Your faithful & most obliged Humble Servant Wm Bligh
Sir Joseph Banks Bart.