In False Bay Cape of Good Hope
Bread in Biscuit & Soft Bread...9200 pounds Flour...............................7166 pounds Oil.................................34 Gallons 5 pound Callivances.........................69 Bushels Wine................................776¼ Gallons Fresh Meat..........................1656 pounds (a) Raisins.............................119 pounds Gun Powder 3 Barrells...............300 pounds 256 Cabbages...................... 256 Bunches of Greens &ca.
(a) The Raisins by neglect was not charged to Government. It must therefore come in the next supply.
After Saluting the Fort from a Message to it from the Resident Mr. Brand, that he would return any number Gun for Gun, I went on shore and made the necessary arrangements with that Gentleman to supply the Ship with whatever we wanted, the full Authority lying with him and he immediatly sent off Dispatches to the Governor at Cape Town to acquaint him of my Arrival.
A Dutch ship being in Table Bay and bound for Europe waiting only for a Wind to carry her out, by this conveyance I wrote to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty and requested Mr. Brand to direct that care might be taken to get it conveyed on board, which he afterwards informed me was done.
I now directed that fresh Meat and soft Bread should be issued at the usual rate of One Pound per Man each Day with a Pint of Wine, likewise as many Cabbages, Bunches of Cellery Onions & Leeks as were not only necessary to brew broth, but to make the other part of the Meal pleasant and wholesome, and having made the necessary arrangements for the Ships Duty to be carried on, every one began to be employed in their particular deposition as circumstances would admit of. The Cooper I fixed a Tent for, and the Armourer I was permitted to have at work in the Smiths Shop, finding him in Coals, which was much better than errecting my own Forge.
The ship wanted to be caulked in every part, and to be repaired about the Quarters & waist where the Sea had laid us quite open. My own Carpenters were not able to complete this in time. I was therefore under the necessity to engage some Artificers, and to purchase some necessary Boards & Plank to repair the damage that had been done to us. The Sails and Rigging had of Course suffered proportionally, and the former particularly wanted repair which was done by the People on board.
I had before been at this place and at Table Bay when with Captain Cook in his last Voyage, and I was therefore particularly surprized to find a great change in the prices of Provisions and every other article. I could not get Mutton or Beef under four pence per pound or four Spanish Dollars by the Sheep, which when I was here before cost no more than two Dollars. I took the Sheep at first in preference to buying by the pound; but this I found would not answer as the Sheep run so very small, and I therefore bought the Sheep after they were killed at four pence per pound. The Tails of these Sheep were equally small as the largest did not weigh above 6½ pounds for at the Cape Town I have seen them weigh ten: however the mutton tho smaller, was much sweeter and preferable to the larger kind.
On my Arrival I found a Dutch East Indiaman just come in that had left Europe the last of January in company with three others not yet arrived, one of these came in two days afterwards. This last had a great many sick men on board, but the other I was told had only a few. The other Ships were still hourly expected and remained so on my leaving this place. The Senior Captain or Commodore as they call him, told me he parted with one of the missing Ships off Cape Finisterre, and that they all had particular orders to touch here before they proceeded to the East Indies. It is a striking circumstance to unmask, that it could be possible for a Ship (as we have done in this) by sailing five weeks earlier, to have employed no more time in performing more than Double the Task; for ever putting it on the footing of the arrival of the Ship that I found here and had come in only three days before us, the difference that remained then was only between the 23d December the time I sailed and the last of January that he past the Downs— To make up for which I had been of[f] the Coast of Terra del Fuego 30 days from the latitude of 59° to 61° and the Passage from thence here one month. To account for these great differences which are frequently found to take place between the Dutch Ships and ours in their passages to more remote parts, I must leave to those who are better acquainted with that Nation.
A few Days having elapsed I went to the Cape Town to see His Exellency Governor Vander Graff, who received me with much politeness and sympathised much on our embarrassed situation off Cape Horn, scarce beleiving that any ship would have ventured to persist in a passage that way in so unfavorable a Season of the year. He requested to know if every thing was doing for me at Table Bay that I wished, as he had ordered every assistance to be given to me, and all Supplies of what ever kind they might be, to be delivered instantly on my Application, all which was fully complyed with great exactness by the Resident Mr. Brand.
Apr 8, 1788
I spent this day with him, in the Course of which he often expressed a peculiar joy at the prospects of reestablishement of friendship and goodwill between England and the States. His Majesty's Ship the Vestal he told me had been there from the 11th March to the 8th of April, so that Captain Strachan arrived at Table Bay 12 days earlier than I did at Staten Land & he sailed the day before me from England, and had touched at Madeira the same as I had done at Tenariff.
I met afterwards some of their sick men that had been left behind and who applied to me to take them the Voyage, but this was out of my power. They said they had 38 sick on their arrival, were 14 Days going to Madeira & had staid 6 days there.
After taking leave of the Governor, I spent the next day with Colonel Gordon The Commander of the Troops, to whom I am obliged for some seeds and a few Plants which he gave me to add to the already abundance of other valuable things at Otaheite. This gentleman will be better known when he publishes his travels into the Caffrae Country, an enterprize which was not only of the most hazardous nature, but from it only can we be tolerably acquainted with that Country. The World will also be benefited by his general draught of it, which appears to me by his indefatibable labours to be very accurately delineated.
The only thing that I now wanted was a written authority or permission for Provisions or liquors to be put on board the Ship, without which according to the law here neither could be shipped, and this I found was forwarded to me without delay. The Fiscal whose office these kind of Papers go through as well as most others, and who always attests them, had certianly sent it without loss of time; but with it was announced I had a certain number of Dollars to pay as a fee for such a necessary material. I objected to this private kind of imposition, and I heard no more of it afterwards.
This Town is considerably increased within these Eight years and its respectability with regard to Force seems to have kept way with its other enlargements. The Original Fort is vastly improved and enlarged with outworks of considerable strength at the back of it where is the only accessible Part; by which means, if they are kept in good order, landing for an attack at the upper or East part of the Bay will now become not only a doubtufll enterpize but a laborious one. But the principal part which their attention has been particularly drawn to is the West point opposite to Penguin or Robin Island, which commands the entrance. Their works here are considerably enlarged, and have exceeding heavy Cannon. This place with a sufficient number of Troops will have great power and prevent a Fleet of ships from getting within Two miles of the Town, at which distance they may be advanced within 1½ mile or less of several Considerable Batteries close to the shore on the East side, which are capable of doing the greatest execution.
The Bay of itself is easy of access, and the depths of water are gradual from 7 to 3 fathoms to the Southward of the West point. Without this which may be called the Road, the depth of water is greater 5 or 18 fathoms being between Robin Island and the Lyons Rump, gradually decreasing towards the East shore.
But the entrance into this Bay is not confined to the pass between Robin Island and the Lyons Rump. There is one equally good on the northeastward of the Island; yet either is open to the Batteries in advances towards the Town. So that upon the whole this place is now very secure, without a Considerable Force is opposed against it, unless landing could be made elligible a few leagues to the Southward on the Coast, and a descent be made between the Sugar Loaf Hill and Table Mountain at the back of the Town; but this could not be done securely, as no ships can be on the Coast without it being known so that their Indifference to that side may thoroughly be warrented.
They have now 4500 Dutch and Wittenberg Troops, and their attention to Military Order & discipline appears to be rigid and pursued with vital Ardour. They nevertheless consider their Situation precarious in time of War, and have Monthly Signals which are communicated to all their shipping that denote on their arrival whether the place is in possession of themselves or an Enemy.
A Spacious and extensive Building is now nearly finished which was begun about the year 1780. It is a commodious and well planned Hospital situated with an Open prospect to the Sea near the Fort, but however elligible in itself, rests much blame with those who planned its Situation, as it will become a Nuisance to the Town, of which it is now a part. It would be superfluous in me to remark the neatness and many other circumstances respecting this Town already so generally known and which appear to me to have had no material Alteration in size. Every thing seems to be the same both in manners and customs, and the diserved advantages of Industry keep pace with all their Transactions, for however, they may have been remarked for their keenness in their dealings, they seem to do little other than comply with the universal Maxim of Trade—To get as much as they can openly and fairly, and what more do we meet with in any part of the World.
Slaves are a property here as well as in the West Indies, and the number imported by the French, (to whom that Trade has been confined) from Madagascar, Mosambique, Sumatra & Mallacca have been considerable, but it appears there is in some degree a stop put to this Trade, for the Seller has now only permission to part with as many as can pay for the supplies he absolutely is in need of. To this if the Police would oblige the owners of these Poor Wretches consigned to constant drudgery, to cloath and feed them properly it would be much in their honor and humanity, for it is distressing to see some of them carrying weighty burthens naked, or what is worse in such Rags that one would imagine could not fail to reproach the Owners of a want of decency and compassion in not relieving such a degree of Wretchedness of which they were the Cause, and had every call on their humanity to remove. Several of these poor wretches I have seen pick up the most offensive offals and clean them for their food. But I understand it is among a few of the lower Class of Inhabitants that they suffer so much, for not having always private employment for the Slaves that belong to them and not constant opportunities to hire them out, they are then considered a burthen. The proprietor not recollecting the duty he owes to their support.
Notwithstanding the opulence and great plenty of this Country, it is at times (altho but seldom) subject to a great degree of want. About two years since they experienced in some degree a famine in all their settlements, but this is a circumstance that rarely happens, on the contrary they have great abundance of the necessaries of life.
This however is gathered from detached Farms through a large part of Country wherever the land is elligible for Cultivation, for by far the greatest part is nothing but barren Mountains, and in general most of the lower grounds a loose Sandy Soil. The Hills also mostly partake of it, which with immense Rocks and Stones constitute the whole range of Mountains in the Neighbourhood of this Coast. Wood is very scarce of any tolerable size; but there are on som eparts of the Coast (as I am told) trees that are sufficiently large to be fit for the common uses of shipping, and in general the Hills have a plenty of Bushes very good for the purposes of Fuel.
In places where pains are taken in planting the Fir amd Oak they grow luxuriantly, and as the Winds frequently blow with great Violence, both in Summer and Winter Months, the Oak is become of great consequence in sheltering all their Gardens. They are planted very close together, and after being kept carefully pruned, & grown to about Twenty feet high, they become not only great shelter but even a barrier to the Plat they surround.
It now occurred to me that in visiting many foreign places amidst Captain Cooks late new discoveries, we used to attend to the growth of the Trees to judge of the prevailing Winds, and in attending to the same particular here where the Trees were exposed to all quarters, I observed the branches had, as I had seen before one common tendency. This was to the NW, and of course agreeable to my general maxim the prevailing Wind was SE, but this is only a summer Wind at this place, and as the Tree is then in a State of Growing, and the branches naturally taking any Way that may be given them, it is obvious they may incline in an opposite direction which a contrary Wind equally lasting and strong cannot alter, when the young branches have become firm wood as the other parts of the Tree. It therefore appears that to judge of the Winds from such circumstances only prove that which is common in the spring or summer months. However upon an exposed Coast the Sea Winds upon all Trees have generally a bad effect.
But to return to the general matter of my account. There are many pretty and desireable situations in this Country. The principal of which lie between Cape Town and False Bay, directly in that Road, under the highest land in the Vicinity of the Promontory, called Table Hill, a tremendous height of Rocks that draws the attention of all Travellers who even pass it, and from whence a chain of Hills continue to the Sea which terminates the Southern extremity of this quarter of the Globe.
In this Road are many gentlemens houses neatly laid out with Gardens, some of them have Avenues of Vine Trees and other ornaments to their property that not only have the appearance of Wealth, but Taste; yet this is not common with respect to the latter, unless the Eye had never been accustomed or the judgement to express it, but by straight lines. So much preciseness and formality certainly affect the beauty of the designs, as they might surely follow the perfections of Nature without destroying their Views in rejecting its redundancy. It is here however clipt with an unmerciless hand, and the Myrtle and other Evergreen Walks which would be beautifull of themselves are made tiresome to the Eye by being formed into Pyramids and Strange Figures.
In this neighbourhood which is the only fertile part of the Country hereabouts, is the famous Constantia. Here are two Estates of that Name which produce the remarkable fine Wine so scarce to be had truly Genuine. I was assured they only made 80 leaguus[?] annually of prime Wine between them, and that in bad years only 18, but its excellence is universally allowed, and none but those two Estates produce the same quality. Very fine Madeira is notwithstanding to be met with at the Cape, and where it is well made and of a proper age, it is equal to any Wine whatever of the Article Wine. The Country produces 2000 leaguus every Season and about 800 leaguus of Brandy. This with Corn, Live Cattle, & Sheep are the Staples of this Country. The Flour is so very Sandy, that at first it creates a disgust to every one, and it is difficult to say what is the Cause of it; but is generally allowed to be occasioned by the softness of the Mill Stones, and which I rather suppose, than admitt some illiberal conjectures to the Contrary.
The distance from Cape Town to False Bay is computed about 25 Miles. One third from the Cape Town the Roads have been taken much pains with, and is pleasant Riding except in high Winds; but from that to False Bay it is very sandy and heavy travelling. The Road is across an extensive flat Country which is limited by a range of high Mountains on the East, the Country of the Hottentots and by the Cape Mountains on the West. Then within Eight Miles of False Bay where the High Road begins by the Sea Side, there is established a Post of Soldiers to prevent any communication of the Two places without leave, so that no one can take this Route without a passport. Near this is a Lake of water formed by the Sea which at the Place generally passed is about ¼ Mile wide, and 3 or 4 feet deep, but more or less so as the entrance is Barred or not barred up with sand, it is however fordable with safety, the bottom being firm, so that not only Horses but all the Waggons cross it.
I expected from the accounts given me on my passage from England from on board an English South Sea Whaler called the British Queen; to have found some of these ships at the Cape, but on enquiry I found not one of them came there, the Place of Rendezvous being in and about Saldahna Bay. In conversation at Colonel Gordons Table I found these ships had given great offence by their conduct at that place or rather upon the whole by frequenting it, the Dutch having established a Fishery there, and where they resorted to annually to kill seals for the Oil. This they expected was in a great measure done away by the frequency of our shipping using that place, these animals having left it, and of course affected their principal resource for that Article.
The melancholy circumstances also of the loss of the Grovesner [Grosvenor] East India Man became part also of the Conversation. On this subject Colonel Gordon expressed great concern that it had been understood from him that hopes were still maintained to flatter the affectionate wishes of the surviving Friends of these unfortunate People. He said he had in his Travels in the Coffrae Country met with a Native who had described to him there was a Woman among his Countrymen who had a child, and that as she frequently embraced it cried most violently: but this was all he could understand, and being on his return home with his health much impaired by the fatigue, all that he could do was to make a Friend of the Native by promises, and he accordingly assured him of the greatest rewards of every thing that was valuable to him on conditions he would take some letters to this Woman for him, and bring him back a token of her being there. Accordingly he wrote letters in English, French and Dutch, desiring that as an Answer any sign or mark might be returned by either writing with a burnt Stick, or any other thing she might devise to assure him she was there, and that every effort would be made to ensure her safety and escape. But the Caffrae altho apparently delighted with the Plan he had undertaken never returned to him, or did he hear any more by the Means he had pointed out to him, to convey it through the Hotentots where he might himself have joined the Colonel, and got his reward. From this all that he concluded was, that this unfortunate poor Woman was certainly seen by the Caffrae, as he described, but he firmly beleived she could never have supported an existence for many months among such a Savage set of People, and that he scarcely thought it possible for any of the shipwrecked people to be alive, and therefore was peculiarly unhappy that any of their remaining Friends had faith through him that any thing could be done in favor of them.
The Governor had used his endeavors at an early period of this affair and some expeditions were set forward with great honor to his humanity and feelings, but they were all without effect.
On my Return to False Bay, I began to expedite the duty of the Ship with my utmost exetions, being determined to get to Sea without a moments loss of time; but this being the Depth of Winter and the weather being frequently stormy with much Rain, I could not get on with so much dispatch as I at fitrst thought might be done.
I now got the Time Keeper on shore to establish its error and rate of going and began to make observations for that purpose whenever an opportunity offered.
The very Severe weather I had experienced made it necessary for a general examination of the Provisions and stores. The Bread in the Bread Room I feared was damaged, and I considered that from the Violent motion and working of the ship other things might be equally hurt and lost, of which I could here only get a knowledge of. I directed the Master therefore to examine every species of Provisions; but there proved to be nothing hurt so as to be useless except two Puncheons of Pork and 2500 pounds of Bread, besides 30 Bags that lay at the place where the leak was. Those were losses that could not possibly be prevented, and were replaced among my other Supplys. The Powder also was damaged and in Airing and sifting the Gunner represented a want of Three Barrels to complete up to a sufficiency for the use of the ship, and this also I ordered to be in readyness for us too. It was the 25th June before the Carpenter had completed his work, and I then paid them the money for their labour allowed by Government. The Sailmakers and Armourer also I paid at the Rate of 15 Stivers per day. I saw no Article in my Instructions to authorise this; but I knew it to be constantly done in like situations.
Jun 25, 1788
On the 13th the Dublin East Indiaman arrived from England Commanded by Captain Smith; he put in here to water the ship. On board was a part of the 77th Regiment under Colonel Balfour, they were all well and left us on the 24th.
Captain Smith had Three Time Keepers and a Pocket Watch all of Mr. Arnolds make, and as he observed I was finding the Rate of mine, of Mr. Kendals, he requested I would discover what error his might have gathered in the course of the Passage. One of the Time Keepers had received a blow in the Trip and was Stopt, but the others on the Day he visited he got safe with their errors from Mean Time at Greenwich and Rate of going. Out of the whole only the small pocket watch or Chronometer had performed tolerably well.
On the 30th I was all ready for Sea with every person in the most perfect health & Spirits, and I finally closed my business with Mr. Brand leaving with him letters to the Admiralty and other necessary papers and Accounts to the different Boards to be sent by the first safe conveyance.
I could lay in no Stock of sheep for the use of my People & Officers, for having no place to keep them except on Deck, I had little reason to hope I could keep them alive many hours, or prevent them from being washed overboard having a Winters passage to perform through a track whre the Winds are Strong and the Sea high.
I had now been here 38 Days, during which time every person greatly benefited by the abundance of Vegetables and Fresh Meat that they daily received, and their allowance of a Pint of Wine a day which was of a very good quality. With these advangages I sailed on the 1st July near a month earlier than my most sanguine expectations had allowed me to think of when I left Cape Horn, and is of great importance with respect to my Arrival at Otaheite.
I have now determined to touch at Van Diemens Land to wood and water, and afterwards at Dusky Bay New Zealand if wind & circumstances will permitt without much loss of time. Dusky Bay I mean to go into with an intent to carry the Cloth Plant round with me, but this is only a secondary consideration. To be as soon as Possible at the Society Islands depends the success of my undertaking, and therefore I have fixed my route to be to the Southward of New Zealand, where I expect I shall find the prevailing winds to be Westerly. I shall indeavour to pursue a new Track by which means it will be of use to future Navigators, and the Voyage may very properly, so far be said to be on discoveries. On such a peice of service all Voyages have been considered as matter of Publick concern, and I trust the few men who now again undertake it in the depth of Winter, will hereafter be rewarded for their chearfullness and good behavour. They began the Winter off Cape Horn in the Month of March, equal to our September, and they have no chance of ending it but with the Spring in the month of October. In justice therefore to them it is my duty to mention it as they will be the only people that ever navigated these Seas a whole winter in such tempestuous Weather and with so few advantages.
The observations I was able to make in this Bay were not numerous but they were exceedingly good and as many as opportunities would allow me. The Time Keeper on the 29th June when I took it on board was 0 hour3′33″ too slow for Mean Time at Greenwich and its Rate of going 0′3″ loosing on Mean Time and is the Rate I carry on. My Lunar Observations make the Longitude of this place 12°48′34″ E. The Latitude 34°11′34″ S. The Variation of the Compass on shore 24°04′W but the Variation on board 22°23′W;. It was high water at ¾ past Two and flowed nearly Six feet. The observations were all made in Mr. Brands House.
The Longitude of Simons Bay as established by the New Requisite Tables is 18°33′ E. The situation of the Cape Town is certainly determined with exactness and I therefore take it as allowed is: 18°23′15″ E. Now to compare the Relative situation with that of the Cape Promontory however it has been determined appears not to have been exactly done. The Situation of the Cape, from a Plan I have made of this Bay, is certainly speaking to the nearest Mile 13 Miles in Longitude East of Simons Town. That this place also is to the East of the Cape Town can be observed by the Meridian passing a track of Country far beyond the parallel of its latitude, and if I was to rely on information I should fix it at 5 or 6 Miles in longitude. The Cape Promontory I therefore conceive is more to the East than as established, and is not under the same Meridian with the Cape Town. If there are a sufficient number of Observations to fix the Longitude of Simons Bay, the Cape should be determined by its situation with respect to it, which is three miles to the East of Simons Town.
I am positively certain the Latitude of the Cape Promontory is not 34°29′ S but 34°23′ S as I have had very Satisfactory observations off it with excellent Instruments of Ramsdens and my observations agree with those I made in 1776. I have given all my observations fair and without biass and the Longitude may be a triffle too far to the Eastward. I have therefore taken the Longitude from the Requisite Tables as the most exact: and from that I find the error of the Time Keeper from Mean Time at Greenwich.