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° 35′ north and longitude 14° 26′ 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.
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° 44′ north and their longitude by our timekeeper 16° 5′ 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. Map
(*Footnote. South 82° 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.
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° 28′ north latitude and 16° 18′ west longitude. I observed the variation by two compasses to be 20° 1′ west: this much exceeded what I could have imagined; for in 1776 I observed it only 14° 40′ 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, Map 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 Map lies on the east side of the island, at the end of a range of craggy hills, barren and very lofty, along which 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.
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° 6′ 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.
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° 54′ 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 31st, latitude at noon 2° 5′ 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° in the shade, and 81 1/2° 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° 8′ north and longitude 19° 43′ west. The next day we had more of these appearances from the number of schools of fish by which the ship was surrounded.
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 2½° 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′ north and longitude 20° 42′ west.
The next afternoon we crossed the equinoctial line in longitude 21° 50′ west. Map 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° 0′ south and longitude 31° 15′ west. At noon we were in latitude 20° 44′ south and longitude 31° 23′ 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°, and one time at 85°. 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.
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° 55′ south, longitude 36° 29′ 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.
Tuesday 26. Map
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° 38′ south, longitude 41° 44′ west. Variation 7° 13′ 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.
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° 50′ south and longitude 52° 53′ 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° 40′ south and longitude 49° 54′ 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° 8′ south and longitude 55° 40′ 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 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° 6′ south and longitude 58° 42′ west. Had soundings at seventy-five fathoms; the bottom a fine greenish sand. Saw two hawks.
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° 24′ south and longitude 65° 50′ west. In the afternoon the wind, which had for some time past been northerly, suddenly shifted to the west-south-west and blew hard.
Sunday 23. Map
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. Map 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° 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° 28′ south, longitude 64° 4′ 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° 40′ 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° 48′ west; the easternmost of the New Year's isles 63° 52′ west; and the longitude of Cape St. John 63° 19′ west.
In our run from the latitude of 12° south to 48° south the ship was set 2° 30′ to the eastward by currents; and from the latitude of 48° south to Staten Land the currents set us to the westward 2° 43′; 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° 1 minute south and in 71° 45′ west longitude, which is 8° 26′ 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 inhospitable 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 9th at noon we were in latitude 59° 31′ south and our longitude 76° 58′ 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.
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° 9′ south and longitude 76° 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.
Monday 21. Map
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° 31′ south and longitude 70° 7′ 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° 58′ west, three degrees to the west of Cape Deseada, the west part of the Straits of Magellan; and at this time we were 3° 52′ 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° 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.