On the 14th all hands were employed in filling water, and refitting. Several places where the vessel leaked were found out and caulked. At this time I discovered that the seed of disaffection had been industriously sown by my second mate amongst the crew; insomuch, that one half of the men would not speak to the other. To remedy this, I delivered the offender to the Governor to be put on board the first British vessel that arrived. In such a small vessel as mine, and employed in a business which required unanimity and good humour, the only step was to get rid of such a man. He had, however, gained his point with some of the younger part of the crew, for on the night of the 23rd, two lads set off with one of my boats ; and although it was much less than a Thames skiff, and the weather rainy with thunder and lightening, they put to sea with an hammock for a sail, taking with them some biscuit, water, and a tomahawk.
As soon as I was informed of it, I went on shore to take the necessary steps to recover them. To effect this the Governor shewed much attention, by sending out parties of men in every direction. He observed, that in such a time they would be discovered if they had landed on the island ; and the boat would facilitate that, as they could not carry it with them. I was more concerned for the loss of it than the men. The following day the culprits were brought into town, by a party of the natives, both riding on one ass, which had a more ignominious effect than any punishment I could inflict, they being exposed to the ridicule of the inhabitants, and the Portuguese seamen belonging to vessels then there. When they arrived I was informed of it, and that the boat was safe about seven miles from the vessel, from whence I sent for it. Having used the means to prevent the like desertion in future, together with the principal being removed, I found a total change amongst the men, who became more united, living friendly and happily together.
Having got all my water casks filled, and the rigging put in good order, I wished to know the state of my keels. On raising the after one I found it broken short off in the wake of a bolt, which bolt, being in the nip of the bottom of the vessel, was nearly bent double, and, no doubt, happened in the heavy weather already mentioned : but here it became of the greatest consequence to me to repair the broken keel. In the accomplishment of this I had a very laborious job, as I had not a carpenter on board. However, with the assistance of one of my crew, I finished it in two days; and the Governor very politely offered me all the help in his power.
Previous to sailing I purchased a bullock, weighing two hundred and seventy-five pounds. On paying for it I had an opportunity of finding out the reason of the inhabitants being so unwilling to answer my questions. When I deposited the money I was surprised to see nearly one half of it sent to the Governor. On asking the reason of this, I was told it was a duty to the Crown. I am of opinion, all the herds I saw without keepers or marks are the property of the sovereign, and the individuals who catch and kill them are paid a certain proportion for their trouble, and any damage their lands may suffer by these wild cattle. Besides, it may be prudent to conceal whether they are wild or not, to prevent strangers killing them; by which means both the crown and individuals would lose the purchase money. This is not the case with their hogs; a small duty only I believe goes to the Government for these.
On the 27th of April we bid adieu to St. Jago. With permission of the Governor, I entered on the vessel's books two young men, making up the crew to twelve in all. On getting clear of the islands I found a strong current setting to the south, which differed our latitude, by observation, thirty miles more to the south than our distance would give. I at first suspected some fault in the log-line or glasses, but on trial found them correct. The thermometer now in general stood at 86º and 87º. Several of the ship's Company began to complain of bilious disorders.
On the 1st of May we had an observation at noon in lat. 7º 59'N. long. 21º 48'W. by lunar observation. One of the men was seized with violent spasms in the bowels, attended with a considerable degree of fever; but by the exhibition of an emetic, fomentation's, opening medicines and opiates, I cured him in four days. To prevent infection I made up a bed for him under an awning on deck: the thermometer was up to 94 degrees at this time. All the bedding, clothes, and the cabins the men slept in were washed, thoroughly cleansed, and a wind-sail put down. This, with the attention I paid to the mens messing, kept them in perfect health. As I supposed oatmeal, which is generally used for breakfast on board his Majesty's ships, was of too heating a quality; (and which joined the salt provisions at dinner-time creates a considerable degree of thirst,) to obviate this, I recommended to the men the use of tea.
The good effects of this change were soon visible, for they hardly or ever drank any water in the forenoons. In lieu of spirits I issued wine, reserving the former for a colder climate. Having a quantity of essence of spruce on board, I brewed a good wholesome beer from it, which I also gave the men. The generality of the crew were young lads who had never crossed the tropics before; but by pursuing these means not one of them sickened afterwards. The adoption of such a regulation might, perhaps, prove of infinite service in warm climates; and I case of a scarcity of water, the saving would be considerable (I am happy to find this mode is adopted on board of East Indiamen ).
We now began to find various currents as we approached the line, with heavy squalls and rain at times.
On Sunday the 4th the wind shifted to the S. W. and blew hard till the 6th, when it fell perfectly calm; previous to which it had been for some time N. and N. E. and shifting suddenly to the S. W. and S. S. W. caused a very turbulent sea. The succeeding calm made our little vessel tumble and toss to so un-common a degree, that hardly any of us could stand on the deck or sleep below; and almost every one was sea-sick. During all this she never shipped any water, nor did she strain or chafe her rigging. In the recollection of us all never had so disagreeable a sea occurred. Our observation this day, the 6th, was lat. 3º 6'N. long. 20º 57'W.
On the 7th we had light winds. Numbers of porpoises were seen: we caught one which measured seven feet and a half: we procured about a gallon and a half of oil from it for our binnacle, We found the current here S. W. by S. nearly at the rate of half a knot an hour. I tried it several times this day. This accounts for our latitude, by observation for some days, exceeding our distance run. The East Indian Directory informs us of the currents in or near these latitudes setting to the S. and W. but no rate is mentioned. My observation may be of use, perhaps to future navigators. The weather was now very sultry ; the mercury from 94 degrees to 92 degrees. On the 8th the difference of latitude exceeded the distance run twenty miles.
At six A. M. of the 9th we saw a schooner, and soon after a brig in the S. W. quarter; the latter standing towards us. At seven there came on a very heavy squall, which I made the best use of to avoid the brig, not wishing to run the risk of being detained or examined, should she be an enemy. The wind was at E. by S. attended with heavy rain. It cleared up at eleven A. M. the strange vessels not in sight. We had a good observation at noon , Lat. 0º 53'N. Long. by account, 20º 16'W. thermometer 86.
On the 10th we had light winds. At sun-rise the variation was from several sights, per azimuth, 13º 48'W. We had gained sight of the brig. At noon , lat. 0º 9'N. I judged this to be the last day we should be in north latitude. Fish of various kinds were in plenty round us: many flying fish lighted on the deck during the night. We caught some bonetta, about fourteen pounds weight each. Birds answering the description given by Captain Cook, in the run from St. Jago to the Cape of Good Hope , were also seen in great numbers. The wind began freshen gradually at S. by E. to S. S. E.
A ship and a sloop were seen on the 13th standing to the W. Found per sun amplitude at setting, variation to be 11º 13'W.
0n the 14th, light winds at S. S. E. found, by several sights, the variation to be 13º 8'W. Saw several Pintado birds, and a black bird, called by sailors, haglet. Wind freshened into strong breezes from S. E. to S. S. E.
On the 16th, we had light weather, but a long heavy swell. At night much phosphoric matter about us in the water. If the hands are dipt into it, the substance is observed on them, but after being exposed to the air it goes off : it is of a glutinous nature. The ocean surrounding the coast of Africa seems particularly impregnated with this luminous appearance. In heavy dark rainy weather it is not observable, but by moon or star light it is.
We had an observation on the 17th at noon , which give us lat. 8º ll'S. and long. 27º 28'W. The wind in general at S. E. and S. E. by S. I followed the directions of Monsieur Apres, and the observations of Captain Cook, keeping a good point free, as I thereby expected to get the sooner to the S. and clear of the S. E. trade-wind, having crossed the Equator in the Long, 20º 30' W. by this means we did not see any part of the Coast of Brazil. It may be proper to remark, that we found a current drifting us farther to the W. than we had any reason to expect, and that the vessel minutess head was never farther to the W. than S. W. by S. and sometimes S. W. by S.½S. which with 13º W. variation ought to have give us with a S. W. by S. course, by compass, a S. S. W. true course, instead of which we have never been able to make better than a S. W. course. Of this I am the more certain, because we have not these twenty-four hours had occasion to steer on any point but one, S. W. by S. with a S. E. wind, and with every attention I could pay to the steerage. Such is the result of my observation. It is true that all voyage writers who have navigated for the business of discovery, take notice of the different currents about the equator, without being able to reduce them within any certain bounds or rate: and I much fear that this will always remain a source of error. These currents, as already observed, set to the westward, therefore I think our navigators in general, who cross the line about 20 degrees or 21 degrees W. might do it to more advantage at 12 degrees; as by that means they will avoid the heavy weather experienced near the African shore.
On my return to Europe, I found the winds as favourable for crossing the line in nearly the lat. 12 degrees, as I did in 20 degrees, and as the great point is to get into the variable winds between the S. E. and N. E. trade, to cross, I found them equally so; neither had we more rain. If a vessel therefore crosses about 12 degrees, she will not have so far to run to the W. before she gets clear of the S. E. trade; and if bound to the Cape or India, where it may be acceptable to have a sight of the former, or the land near it, she will greatly shorten the passage, as it is well known many have fallen in with Cape St. Augustine or Cape Rocque on the Coast of Brazil, and by so doing we obliged to run from continent to continent, merely because they judged it useless or impracticable to cross the Line under 20 deg. W. Independent of all this, there is another reason why at certain seasons the Coast Brazil ought to be avoided, that is, between the months of February and July when the winds hang much to the S. being generally from S. S. W. to S. by E. and S. S. E. This is an old remark made by many, but not generally mentioned by navigators who have laid down directions for navigating these seas. The current on the Coast of Brazil from March to September sets to the N. and from September to March back again to the S. No doubt in doubling the Capes of Rocque and St. Augustine, the currents extend themselves more to the E. of which we had a sufficient demonstration enabling me to account for the remarks already made respecting the course of the Lady Nelson.
On the 18th, we were in lat. 9º 50' S. long. 28º 28' W. by lunar observation. Ever since the 12th instant we had nothing but S. S. E. and S. winds blowing at all times very heavy and squally with rain. This had impeded our progress to the S. very much, and carried us a long way to the W. Between the 3d and 7th degrees of S. latitude we observed the diminution of the strength of the current to the W.
The weather became moderate and pleasant on the 21st, with fresh breezes. We found the variation to be 4º 47'W. In these regions there is in general a constant weight or thickness of the air, even in the finest weather, perceivable to the eye, which proceeds, no doubt, from the heat of the sun rarifying the surrounding atmosphere, and no doubt makes a difference on the refraction of all bodies observed.
At sunset on the 23d, found the variation to be 5º 30' W. We were now so far to the S. as 16º 4'S. This agrees pretty nearly with the Variation Chart contained in the East India Pilot, which was projected in 1772, adding thereto the annual increase of variation to the W. The day proving fine we got the boats out to overhaul the keels, and found that the piece which had been joined on to the after-keel at Port Praya was gone. Not having sufficient plank in the vessel, I was obliged to admit the keel further in the well, and join a breadth of plank I had left on it with spike nails and iron hoops, by which means it went three feet into the water below the vessels bottom.
On the 24th, we had strong gales from the S. S. E. with squalls and much head sea, that made us labour to a great degree. The following day the weather was the same. Several pintadoe birds and sheerwaters were seen around us.
On the 28th, the weather became steady at N. W. but in the afternoon it took us aback at S. E. and fell calm in the evening. As we were now fast approaching Rio Janeiro, having an observation in lat. 22º 18'S. long. per account, 32º 19'W. ordered a survey of the water on board; when finding we had twenty-four half hogsheads in good order, and several barricoes, I came to the resolution of not touching at Rio Janeiro. I also took the opportunity of inspecting the state of the vessel. The sail-room was perfectly dry. The bread-room, which we had access to every day, appeared the same; but unwilling to trust too much to that, I had the bread removed, and found several places where it leaked; particularly close to the stern frame, where the thwart-ship planks of the stern join to the butt-end of the fore and aft planks of the side; another near to the stem post, and several oozings about the iron knees that had been put into her previous to leaving the Thames.
The loss sustained by this was upwards of two hundred weight of bread; however, we had still twenty-four bags and an half undamaged, It may be thought improper in me to make any observation of the work done to the vessel in Deadmans Dock, particularly in caulking her; but from the damage accruing to the sails and bread, and the wetness of the places where we slept, I trust the candid reader will excuse me, happy would I have been to have recorded otherwise.(I hope these hints will be serviceable to those who have similar voyages to perform, and that they will not rely too much on those who are employed in caulking and fitting their vessels. Captain Cook complains of a similar circumstance.)
On the 30th, we had variable weather from calm to blowing strong, with squalls and rain. Although the swell was long and heavy, yet the vessel went through the water easy and dry. Numbers of birds were seen by us, particularly the haglet, many of which the men caught by baiting hooks with pork; and as the skin is covered with a very thick down, they made warm caps of them, which they wore instead of fur ones. Their flesh, if made into a pie, or broiled, we found not unpalatable.
We now completed the stopping of the leaks in the bread-room. The mercury for some time past had not exceeded 86 degrees, and sometimes was not higher than 81 degrees.
On the 31st, our observation at noon was lat. 23º 56'S. long. by sun and moon, 30º 3'W the weather heavy and gloomy with squalls and variable winds. Thermometer 8l degrees, which generally, by its falling, indicated a change of weather. The same weather, with much sea from the S. W was experienced on the 1st of June: the wind shifted frequently from W N. W. to S. S. W.
On the 2nd, the thermometer at noon stood at 80º. At four P. M. the wind set in from the S. shifting at times to the S. S.W. At seven, it freshened into a brisk gale, with rain and squalls. The mercury fell to 75º½. During the night much lightning and rain and a heavy gale. At noon on the 3d it cleared up and moderated, which was indicated by the thermometer rising to 78º ½. We now experienced a very heavy long sea, which, as we advanced to the S. seemed to increase in bulk.
This sea takes longer time in rising and falling than that we generally have in the Western Ocean; nevertheless, it is not more troublesome, unless agitated from long blowing or currents, when the tops of those seas will break much and heavily. On the 5th, the mercury fluctuated much from 75º to 71º, and back again to 76º, varying more or less almost every hour. At noon we found our latitude to be 25º 4l' S. long. per account, 22º 9' W and the variation, per sun minutes s amplitude at setting, 7º 20' W. Much sea and blowing hard from S. S. E. to S. E. with heavy squalls. Caught a number of haglets this day. Mother Carys chickens, as commonly called by the sailors, or tempest birds, (the Procellaria Pelagica of Linnaeus,)were seen in great numbers. Although they are said to indicate stormy weather, I have met with them in these seas in the calmest.
On the 8th, heavy sea with gales from the S.S.W. towards noon the wind died away, leaving a disagreeable swell, which made our little vessel roll and labour much. The mercury varied from 75º to 70º during the gale; and when it became calm it stood at 70º. Our observation this day was lat. 26º 38' S. long. 20º 4' W.
The calm was not of long duration, for at seven A. M. of the 9th it hauled back to blow from the S.W. which at noon freshened into a gale at S.S.W. with heavy rain and squalls, occasionally shifting from S.W. to S.S.W. and S. This weather continued rather increasing all the 10th. The mercury fell to 68º. The sea had by this time got to such an height, that it was very pleasing to see our little vessel go through it so easy.
On the 11th, the squalls became more frequent, and increased with great violence attended by hail. At three P.M. it blew a perfect storm, which obliged me to heave the vessel to. The wind had risen to that pitch, that I looked for nothing else than having all the canvas (small and low as it was) blown out of the bolt-rope when exposed to the wind, as the vessel got on the top of a sea. She behaved much better than could have been expected, as she rose on the top of every thing, and shipped very little water, during the day.
A few leaks broke out on the deck, one of which, over my bed, was a little troublesome, till the weather permitted its being secured. Several rainbows made their appearance this day. The mercury, which was 67º 30' when the vessel was hove to, rose towards the evening to 69º. At nine P.M. a very heavy squall of hail and rain came on, with an increased degree of wind, which for a little seemed to lay the weight of the sea. We heard the squall before we felt it, and after it left us, which was not of long duration. A large rainbow was seen, which joined to the darkness of the night had a very disagreeable appearance. This was the second lunar rainbow I had ever seen; the first was whilst cruizing in the Gulph of Lyons in very heavy weather, which, however, brought with it a favourable change, as it also did on the previous occasion.
In the morning of the 12th the weather moderated, the wind gradually abating. It hauled round to the S.S.E. We had still strong gales, with some rain, and much sea: but by this time we had got so accustomed to the little vessel and the rough weather, that all became familiar to us. It is but justice to my crew to observe that, though young and inexperienced lads, they had become so alert and attentive to their duty in reducing or making sail in such fluctuating weather, as to demand my highest praise. I had seldom occasion to call all hands upon deck for this purpose. At noon this day we had moderate weather, the wind from S. to S.S. E. The mercury, which during the night had been at 69º 30', now got up to 71º, I ordered all the bedding and clothes on deck to dry.
On the 13th, we had light breeze from N. N. E, which we made the best use of to get southing. Took the opportunity of stopping the leaks through the deck, and examining our rigging which was found not to be in the smallest degree chafed by the gale. Our latitude at noon was 27º 34' S. longitude 16º 51' W.
The wind shifted on the 14th to the W. and in an heavy squall at twelve P. M. it came round to the old quarter, blowing heavy and steady from S. S. W.
At day-break on the 15th it moderated and shifted to the S.E. by S. This variable weather was what we had no reason to expect in this latitude at this season of the year. As N. W. winds are generally experienced, directions are given to get to the southward, but hanging so long to the S. and blowing in so great a degree, together with the force of the sea, our progress was much impeded.
On the 16th it fell for a short time calm; but a N. W. breeze springing up, we carried all possible sail, it being the wind we had long looked for. The breeze failed us on the 17th, shifting again to the S. W. accompanied with rain and squalls. One of the men struck a pilot fish, (Gastereotus, Ductor, Lin.) being one of two which had followed the vessel some time. It measured seven inches in length and in its maw was found a small fish resembling our common sand eel.
On the 18th we had a very heavy sea, with the wind as yesterday. By observation at noon we were in lat. 31º 13' S. long. per account, 11º 48'W. We were often obliged this day to throw the vessel before the sea, as it followed us, and rose more perpendicular than I had observe before. About five P. M. my attention was excited by a more than ordinary motion of the vessel. On my reaching the deck, I found no more wind than we had all day, but the sea was running very hollow, and breaking at times. On asking the mate, who had the watch, how long it was since this sea, had got up? He answered, about ten minutes, when it rose and broke about half a cable-length from the vessel on the starboard-bow. It appeared to me so much like a break, that I believed the bottom could be at no great depth. Both of us were so much surprised, that, without speaking a word, I went and took the sails in to heave the vessel to a deep-sea lead over, but had no soundings with one hundred and twenty fathoms line out. I saw the sea break twice as we passed it, one sea following the other, but as we were going six knots, and the sea very high, I could only observe it rise while the vessel was rounding to, higher on that spot than the place we were on. From the different form of the sea, together with the manner in which it broke, I think there must be some ground at no great depth in this spot; for it did not gradually rise into a heavy long swell, and break at top, as it had done all day, but was lifted suddenly up perpendicular, throwing itself forward, and doubling over as it fell into an im- immense column of water, breaking in a very heavy surge.
There is little doubt, if we had been in it, that it would have overwhelmed us as it fell so that more owing to chance than good management we escaped. The sea we had been going through all day, when in the hollow of it, was much higher than our mast head, so that we had no great scope of view; but no inconveniency was felt, as it was long, regular, and heavy, admitting the vessel to remain on the top of it some time before it rolled from under her: but these breakers were of a very different nature, I observed before, that it was the sudden motion of the vessel which brought me on deck; but as soon as she was hove to, we found ourselves in the same state we had been in all day. After laying to about an hour we bore up. In the Chart prefixed to the East India Directory, some breakers seen by Captain Smith are laid down in the same latitude we were in at noon this day; but judging myself to the E. of them, and having a powerful swell from the W. with a strong W. S. W. gale, steering S. E. half S. with the addition of sometimes being obliged to throw the vessel farther off to the E. to avoid the break of the top of the sea at times, I did not apprehend falling in with them, as laid down by him in 13º W Whether these be the same or not, or whether there is any ground, (though I have no doubt there is,) yet it will be some satisfaction to seamen to know, that they may guard against them. The latitude so nearly corresponds, that I have every reason to believe them the same. On my arrival at the Cape of Good Hope , I seized the first opportunity to transmit an account of them to Europe , with my opinion. I before remarked the latitude and longitude at noon , from which, until we fell in with these breakers, we had run thirty-two miles S. E. half S. by compass. On the 16th, the variation was observed to be 11º 30' W. and on the 20th, 14º W. I allowed the variation to be about l2º 15' W. when we saw those breakers. On the 19th, the wind was fluttering all round the compass without any steadiness.
The following day we had it from E. S. E. to E. At noon , by observation, our lat. was 32º 31'S. Petrels, albatrosses, and pintadoes, were numerous. The weather was very cold; the mercury fell to 64º.
On the 21st, having got nearly into the latitude of the Cape, we bent our cables, but the wind which had hung so long to the S. seemed determined to oppose us, the more unlucky as we had got enough of southing, and now wanted easting. It continued till the 23d at E. and N. N. E. so variable were the winds at this season of the year from what they are supposed to be in these southern latitudes, and which is laid down to be in general from the W. The sea was much smoother. At three P. M. of the 23d, we saw a vessel bearing down before the wind upon us. It now began to blow hard at N.N.E. The stranger as she approached proved to be a Spanish brig with prize colours up; captured in the River of Plate by a privateer fitted out by a merchant at the Cape of Good Hope, commanded by Mr. John Black, of whom I shall have occasion to make mention hereafter. On coming within hail the prizemaster informed me that he had neither book or chart on hoard, and that he did not know where he was. He had suffered considerably in the heavy weather we had seen the breakers in, and begged some canvas and twine to repair his sails, and a few other articles he stood in need of. I desired him to keep company with me till the morning, informing him of the course I intended steering, and that I would shorten sail for him: I also gave him the latitude and longitude. The brig was about seventy tons burthen, laden with bees wax, hides, tallow and tobacco. On perceiving the shattered state of this vessel, without a boat, she having it washed overboard, I could not but be thankful we had not lost a single article from our decks since we left the Thames .
The wind moderated about eight P.M. but with heavy rain, which continued during the night. The wind shifted in the morning of the 24th, back to the W. but moderate. Our boat was hoisted out, and sent for the prize-master, to whom I gave a chart of the Cape, and the harbours in its vicinity; Hamilton Moore's Epitome, some canvas, twine, tea, sugar, and rum, which his men, from being constantly wet, stood much in need of. He received these with many expressions of thankfulness. I promised to keep him company to the Cape if his vessel did not sail too slow. I also furnished him with the declination for several days from the Nautical Almanack. I was convinced, from his bearing down on us, that he had lost both latitude and longitude, and asked why he would run the risk, as we were painted like a Spaniard; but he said he knew from our canvas we were not enemies. As to the crew, they were careless what we were, for having lost themselves they were determined to speak to us. The privateer had parted with the prize in a gale of wind.
The Master was much surprised at the sight of the Lady Nelson, and concluded that we had started some of our sheathing, when he saw one of the keels, as the vessel was rolling from his. I explained the construction to him, which being perfectly new excited his wonder. He asked me if she was one of the Kings yachts. When I sent him back to his own vessel, he asked one of my men whether I was not a little mad, for he could not credit the story I told him of our going on a voyage of discovery. However, to shew his gratitude, he sent us some jerked beef, of which he had plenty on board; and it proved an agreeable change from our salt meat.
On the 25th, we had light airs, inclining to calm. Mercury at 64º. Brig in company. The following day strong gales with rain, and an heavy following sea. Mercury from 60º to 63º.
On the 27th, we had numbers of birds round us. Strong gales from N. W. Brig in company. On the 28th, very heavy weather, but the little vessel behaved very well. They who are conversant with the weather in the vicinity of the Cape in the winter season, with a N. W. gale, must know it is sufficient to try vessels of any description whatever. On this day, the brig being ahead hoisted her colours, which was the signal I had agreed the Master should make if he saw land first. I was astonished at this, for my reckoning gave me no more than 3ºE. It proved, however, nothing more than a cloud, which he mistook for the land about the Table Mountain at the Cape . Several pieces of rock weed floated past us this day. Our lat. per account, was 34º 24' S. long. 3º 56'E.
On the 29th, it blew from the N. W. a perfect storm, and in so irregular a manner, raising a very confused sea, accompanied with torrents of rain and lightning, that we had not experienced since we came out. At ten P. M. it shifted suddenly in a squall, and blew as hard from S. S. W. and S. W. causing the sea to break so much, that we were at midnight obliged to heave the vessel to.
At day-light on the 30th, the S. W. wind had laid the N.W. swell, so that we were enabled to bear up. Our companion had partly laid to, and partly run under bare poles during the night, so that he could but just be seen at day-light from the mast head. At three P. M. we joined company. The wind continued hovering between S.W. and W. sometimes W.N.W. with thick cloudy weather till the 5th of July, when my latitude by dead reckoning, (for we had not been able to get an observation,) was 34º 20' S. long. 17º 27' E, We tried for soundings with an hundred and fifty fathom line, but found none.
On the 1st of July we had found the variation to be at sunset per amplitude 21º 30'W. It was nearly calm on the 6th, with a considerable sea. Our companion began to be very uneasy, as he expected to have seen land some time before. I gave him the declination from the Nautical Almanack for a few days more. During the night we kept ahead, as his men were few in number and much fatigued. The wind hauled to the N.W. in the first part of the night, and then back to S. S.W.
At five A. M. of the 7th we saw the land bearing S. S. E. and made all possible sail for it. Threw out the signal to the brig. At clear daylight the Lion's Rump S. E. by E. half E. distant five leagues. The southernmost point of the Cape bearing S. about eight or nine leagues. There was a great deal of sea going, and the wind unsettled, fluttering sometimes in light airs, and then bursting out in heavy squalls. Parted company with the brig, which was bound for Table Bay . At seven A.M. tacked and stood to sea in order to get in to Simon's Bay, as it is by no means safe to anchor at this season in Table Bay on account of the N. W. winds, which when they set in throw an immense sea into it, so that few vessels are able to ride them out. These winds prevail only in the winter season; that is, from the latter end of April till September, when the S. E. winds set in at times in the summer season with a great force in Simon's Bay. The latter being open to the S. E. and the former to the N. W. are entered by ships, according to the season of the year. At nine o'clock it fell perfectly calm, with a lowering sky and heavy sea, which made me think that we should have a favourable breeze from the N.W. But after beating backward and forward till eleven o'clock we lost ground. As a proof of the keels, though we had but little wind, she never missed stays but once, when the way through the water was scarcely perceivable; and such a body of water when she came head to the sea, was sufficient to make any vessel miss stays: perhaps when she did it, it was more my fault than hers.
As we had much sea for some days, it was observed by my first-mate, as well as myself, that the vessel had more motion than we were generally used to in such weather. He started his suspicions of the main keel being gone; but it being impossible, in the weather we had, to cast loose the boats that stood over the top of it, in order to overhaul it, I would not suffer any mention to be made of the subject until we had a proper season to investigate it; I judged this also to be the case from the vessel not holding so good a wind as usual: but more of this hereafter. As the wind now freshened at S. S.W. I thought if it should come on to blow, from the want of main and after-keels, we might not be able to fetch any where, I determined to secure the port in view, and procure those repairs to the keels that they stood in need of: besides, as there were several small vessels in Table Bay, I was well convinced the Lady Nelson could ride much more out of the weight of the sea than most of them; particularly, as she drew at present not more than five feet aft, and four forwards when the keels were up. I therefore bore up, and was at anchor some time before the brig which had left me in the morning. When I entered the Bay, I found the vessel work into her berth very well; and at five P. M. of the 8th, I dropped my anchor in Table Bay , having been at sea ninety-nine days, independent of our stay at St. Jago.
I intended to stop no longer in Table Bay, at this season of the year, than was necessary to get my vessel's keels repaired, which was instantly set out by order of Admiral Sir Roger Curtis, who sent the builder of the naval yard to survey them. On getting up the main-keel we found it broken short off in the wake of a bolt, as had happened to the after-keel, as already mentioned, and with such force that the bolt was twisted in different forms from the strain it received in breaking. On further examination, we perceived that the bolt running from one side of the keel to the other, which secured the planks it was composed of, had not been, from the boring of the holes, fairly introduced; as on one side there was not in some places above an eighth of an inch solid wood, though composed of oak plank of three inches and a half thick; so that there was about two inches of solid wood on one side of' the bolt, and very little more at any one part than half an inch in the opposite side. Here again was a most flagrant degree of neglect in the eyes of every person who saw it; and was particularly observed by the Admiral and Mr. Boswell, builder's assistant, employed at this time to carry on the duty at Table Bay, in the absence of the master-builder, who was obliged to be with the men of war in Simon's Bay. It being impossible to repair the old keels, two new ones were ordered to be made; and as we had twice suffered by the bolts passing from one side of the keels to the other, I proposed having them fastened by bars of iron or copper let in level with the surface of the wood, one bar on a side opposite each other, secured with bolts passing through both bars and the keel in the middle of them, riveting the ends of the bolts on each side.
Two of these bars should be applied within three feet of the head of the keel, and two in like manner at the same distance from the lower end of it, with this idea that one bolt would be sufficient in the middle, and that these. bands would prevent the planks from warping. It may be proper to observe, that it was evident the bolts which had secured the former keels were not driven through the planks in a right line; not, perhaps, owing so much to the holes being bored at equal distances from the ends, so as to become parallel with each other, but from the driving, which being obliged to be tight, might from the jerk of the stroke throw the bolt out of straight direction, as it appeared that one end of the bolts which, in the first instance passed through the heart of the planks, was higher than the other, as if they had been driven aslant, which left a small auger-hole beneath it unfilled, according as it had been wooded. As to the bolts, I confess, I was not partial to them, as they appeared to take away the strength of the wood. Mr Boswell, being a young man of talents and genius in his profession, saw these defects, and proposed, in addition to the bars above mentioned, that in place of the bolts passing right through the keel from side to side, rag-bolts should be substituted in their room, passing only half way through each plank; and that no two bolts should fall in a direct line with each other, the planks by this means would be pinned one to another without any more than half of each being perforated in any one place. With the approbation of the Admiral this mode was adopted, and with bolts and bands of copper the whole was soon finished in a stile, that from the experience I afterwards had of them reflected the greatest credit on the builder.*
* This, like many observations I have been obliged to make on leaks, Etc. has proceeded from the fault of the workmanship, and not any fault in the original plan.– As the fore-keel, which was constantly used in the worst of weather, absolutely lasted the voyage, and was in the vessel when I left her.
On the 16th we sailed for Simon's Bay, and anchored the following day at nine o'clock A. M. I found there his Majesty's ship Porpoise, which had sailed from Spithead with us, bound to new Holland; the commander of which thought we had returned to Portsmouth, after parting company with the East India Fleet on the 23d of March. From that Officer I learned, that the night we parted one of the Indiamen had lost her top-masts, and that the Porpoise on her passage had been obliged to cut away one of her boats, which was slung on her quarter; and likewise had her foremast damaged. I was very thankful that the Lady Nelson, which was not deemed sea-worthy, should have performed her voyage to the Cape without losing a stitch of canvas, or having a spar of any kind damaged, and that we had our three boats safe on the deck. After this, surely even those who do not approve of such constructed vessel will not attribute it to chance, but to the proper cause, her goodness.
As I intended to wait for a more convenient season to make our passage to New Holland, I for this reason moved from Table Bay to Simon's Bay, avoiding by this means the violent N. W. winds, and heavy sea which rolls into the former from the 1st of May till the middle of September. From the construction of the Lady Nelson, and the little depth of water she drew, (not exceeding four feet when the keels were up,) we could have rode with safety in Table Bay , as some vessels at this time did. Vessels like ours would be highly serviceable at the Cape, either when the N. W. wind blows, as already observed, or when the S. E. winds prevail and have a similar effect on the bays which open to the eastward. The construction of the keels admits of the vessels being laid on shore, or even hauled up on it, advantages which must be obvious to every one who has witnessed a gale of wind in this quarter. My orders being to remain at the Cape till the summer season commenced, a considerable stay for a circumnavigator, I therefore embraced every opportunity of gratifying my curiosity with respect to the state of the Colony.