This is the account of a voyage to Canton in the early days of America's China trade. The romantic story of this commerce has been told many times by modern writers, but seldom are the actual incidents related by the trader himself. The narrative here presented is from the manuscript of Captain Samuel Hill, of Boston. His journal, including his autobiography, clearly written, is preserved in the New York Public Library.
From his own account, which he wrote while at sea, we have the following brief outline of his life. He was born on a farm in Washington County, the Province of Maine, in February, 1777. When he was but eight years old his father died. At seventeen he began his career at sea as a steward on the ship, Jane. The next few years he spent in voyages to many parts of the world. During a trip to Batavia he learned the Malayan language, and "also a very considerable addition to the stock I already possessed of a knowledge in the ways of iniquity." Other adventures took him to Europe, the Far East, South America, and the West Indies. He tells how, during the French naval war, his ship was blown to sea during a hurricane, leaving the captain ashore. After avoiding French cruisers the ship was provisioned by Captain Decatur of the Delaware before reaching home.
During this period he was working his way through the grades of ordinary and able seaman. It was in Cuba, when the mate died of p356 yellow fever, that he received his first commission to that office. In 1802, while returning from Cadiz, the captain got drunk and ran his ship on a reef. Hill assumed command and took the vessel safely into Newport. Instead of being shot, as the captain threatened, or being prosecuted by the owners for mutiny, he was rewarded by being given a command. As master, or first officer, his duties carried him to many other ports. Once, on the northwest coast of America, he rescued two ship-wrecked sailors who were held in slavery by the Indians. His several trips to Canton made him an expert in the China trade of that day.
During the War of 1812 he commanded the letter-of‑marque brig Ulysses, which was captured by a British ship of war, Majestic. Taken to Halifax as a prisoner of war, he was recognized by a former acquaintance in Canton and finally returned to Boston, where he remained until peace was declared. As he states in his journal of the Ophelia the war had seriously damaged his fortune, the Ulysses venture alone having cost him seven thousand dollars.
Thus, in July 1815, he arranged to take the ship Ophelia to Canton as master and supercargo for Mr. William Sturgis, of Boston. It is the account of this voyage which follows. As the journal is presented here there are many deletions of routine matter on ship-board such as recording currents, wind conditions, soundings, and many other details of interest to the navigator only. It has been shortened also by omitting entries through certain seas where the routine is similar for days on end.
In 1815, on the 24th of March, Mr. William Sturgis of Boston made proposals for a voyage to the coast of northwest America and the Russian settlements of Kodiack, and then to China. . . . and it was determined by the concern to procure a ship for the business as soon as convenient. About the middle of April the ship Lady Strong . . . was purchased from Messrs. Lincoln and Wright for sixteen thousand five hundred dollars, as she then stood with hull, spars and blocks, and I received orders to haul her on the ways in order to prepare her for coppering, which was accordingly done.
The ship was built . . . in 1814 at South Boston, of the best materials. . . . Her timber had been properly stocked and seasoned and she was considered by competent judges an excellent p357 ship, measuring about 360 tons. . . . [Toward the end] of May the caulking and coppering was completed and most of the carpenters' and joiner's work finished when she was hauled to the wharf of Messrs. Bryant & Sturgis and orders given to have her rigged and fitted for sea with all convenient dispatch. . . .
The rigging, carpenters' work and stowage of ballast, water and provisions was forwarded. On the eighth of June Mr. John J. King entered on board as first officer of the Ophelia and immediately commenced his duties. The ship was now in a state of forwardness for sea. No expense was spared to make her serviceable and convenient. She was armed with six pounders, eight of them, muskets, blunderbusses, cutlasses, boarding pikes and pistols, with shot balls, powder, cartridges, etc. She also was furnished with one of Jacob Perkins's new invented patent pumps which was capable of throwing four times the quantity of water which a common chamber pump would do in the same time. A large brass cock or syphon was fixed in the ship's bottom for the purpose of letting in water when judged necessary to work the ship, and for other purposes. Our principal provisions such as bread, beef, pork, etc. were furnished of the best qualities for a voyage of eighteen months. Our lesser stores were furnished for the passage to Canton at least.
On the 14th of June I commenced entering men. The wages which I was authorized to give were $17 per month for able seamen and $6 to $10 per month for ordinary and green hands. Our sails having been mostly bent and our provisions, water and stores on board and stowed, on the 27th the pilot received orders to haul the ship off into the stream and moor her with the small bower and kedge, which was accordingly done.
Our cargo, consisting of seventy thousand Spanish dollars, was taken on board and stowed. The ship, manned with a complement of 22 men and officers, now being ready for sea, I received my final instructions for the voyage on Sunday morning, the 20th of July. Immediately after this the pilot was directed to get under weigh and proceed to sea. Some delay took place in getting under weigh in consequence of our small bower anchor having got fowl of the Constitution's riding cable during the preceding evening. The commanding officer on board very politely sent a number of his men to assist us in clearing our anchor. This accomplished we made sail and stood down the harbor with a fine breeze at west to W.B.S.
Mr. Thomas Perkins and several others of the owners were on board with some of their friends. At noon we passed the Light House Channel and stood down towards the U. S. ship Independence of 74 guns, then low‑lying at anchor •about four or five miles below the light house. After passing under the stern of the Independence we hauled our wind to the northward and made a p358 stretch over towards Cape Ann, then tacked and hauled our wind for the Light House Channel and anchored •about 5 miles below the light house. Here our owners and their companions left us after having taken dinner, etc., on board and returned to town. The Independence with two other U. S. Ships had sailed about one o'clock P.M., being destined as we understood for the Mediterranean to chastise the Algerines for their faithless conduct toward the U. S.
[In the meantime] a boat had been dispatched to town for some light sails left in Mr. Jones's loft, and we only awaited their arrival. They were on board at sunset shortly after which we weighed anchor and proceeded down the bay with a pleasant evening and gentle breeze from W.S.W. At midnight the watches were established and we steered East, half south per compass. In the morning the sandy land or shores of Cape Cod bore south to S.W. Four leagues distant from this position our departure was taken for proceeding to sea. The latitude of Cape Cod Light House was assumed at 42° 8′ north and its longitude at 70° 12′ west from Greenwich. The wind gradually hauled to the S.S.E. and S.E., a moderate breeze attended with hazy weather which soon obscured the land. Set all sail close hauled on a wind, steering E.½ S. to E.N.E. . . .
[During the early days of July] the winds continued from the southwestern quarter attended with a heavy swell from the south. This caused the ship to roll and to stretch the new rigging so much that we found it necessary to haul our wind on different tacks for the purpose of setting it up. After which stood on our course with a light wind S.W. 2½ to 3 knots, under all canvas we could spread. . . . Most of our crew were composed of indifferent raw hands and several of them had been sick since leaving land.
On July 6 at 8 A.M. was spoke by the U. S. S. Independence, Commander William Bainbridge.1 . . . This line of battle ship still continued to stand on the same tack with us the next day. My conclusion was that as a man of war she sailed but indifferently, as when close hauled on a wind for several hours together the Ophelia certainly kept away with her very handsomely. The only difference noticeable was that the Independence gained a little to windward which I attributed to her being very deep in the water, while we were only in easy ballast or moderate sailing trim. . . .
July 13th, winds moderate, weather pleasant. Saw a brig which we spoke at noon. It was an English gun brig from Bermuda bound home.
p359 Good weather had permitted progress in placing rigging and sails in proper state for carrying sail. . . . The weather now put on a very unpleasant aspect. The royal yards were sent on deck, ship trimmed close on the wind at south by east. Frequent squalls were experienced until the 20th, after which the heavy head sea subsided and the weather continued tolerably regular except for a few hours on the 21st. Then we were obliged to take in the single reefs in our top sails for a few hours, though this was the first time we had been under the necessity of so doing since we left Boston. With these winds we made good progress. . . . Through the night squally with showers. At 7 A.M. the land suddenly made its appearance from the fog and haze right ahead, bearing from south to southwest, four leagues distant. Immediately wore ship and steered along the northern shot of this land, which was known to be the Cape de Verde Islands, although by our reckoning we should not have been so far eastward by more than two degrees of longitude. The day was pleasant and a moderate northeast breeze soon enabled us to clear away the northwest extremity of St. Anthony after which our course was again resumed to the southwest. As we ranged along the northern shores of St. Vincent, St. Nicholas and St. Anthony, their summits were enveloped in a dense haze which obscured them from our view. On comparing the situation of the ship in longitude as shown per the dead reckoning with the position of the Islands, it appeared we had been affected by currents or other causes, during the last eight days, which had set us •123 miles or 15 miles per day. This current or drain must have set about E.S.E. per compass as had there been any northing in its course it would have been evident in our observations for the latitude. It may be well to remark here too, that from the time of first entering the Gulf Stream near the American coast until the 15th July when our longitude was ascertained per lunar distance, we had been set to the eastward by currents nearly two degrees of longitude.
As we passed these islands the weather was pleasant and the wind very light which afforded an opportunity for setting up the rigging, which was accordingly done to good advantage. Having nearly finished setting up our rigging, we crowded all sail to the southwest. After midnight the wind hauled to E.S.E. and continued a fine pleasant breeze attended by a regular sea and pleasant weather. . . .
July 31st, the winds continued in a southwestern quarter and the weather now put on a more unsettled aspect. On Monday we were reduced to the double reefed topsails, reefer jib and spanker. . . .
At six A.M. on August 3rd, saw a ship on the weather bow standing on the same tack with us under all sail. At 10 got within signal distance when she shewed English colors and we hoisted p360 American. At 11.30 spoke her and she sent her boat on board. Informed she was the English company's ship Speke . . . 40 days out from London bound to Cape of Good Hope and Bengal. By the accounts received from these gentlemen a battle had taken place in Flanders between the troops of Great Britain and Holland on the one part and those of France on the other. Lord Wellington and Bonaparte commanded their respective armies and the French troops were defeated with the loss of their artillery . . . but they shewed no papers to confirm these accounts. . . .
August 7th, progress slow, winds south, little variation. 1½ to 2 degrees of westing per day while we made only from 40 to 50 miles of southing. Several man of war birds in sight. Continuous through this period a dense luminous vapour, obscuring every object at a short distance. On the 11th we crossed the Line in 32° 33′ 2″ of west longitude at 8.10 A.M. and with adverse winds though pleasant weather, took leave of the North Atlantic Ocean.
Passage Across the South Atlantic. Our sailors on this occasion were indulged with grog and allowed a holiday as usual. The ancient ceremony of receiving a visit from Old Neptune and introducing and initiating the young sailors in the mysteries of his godship was attended to and performed with all due solemnity, to the no small satisfaction and amusement of the old sailors. . . .
While passing this track of ocean our men were busily employed in the several branches of work on board. Our rigging had been well stretched in the warm weather and had been several times carefully set up, which had brought it to an equal bearing. The carpenter had finished most of the jobs which required immediate attention, such as making a new top to the companionway, which was leaky and unsatisfactory when we sailed, new cover to the cabin skylight, which had also been leaky, new grating to the after hatches for the purpose of admitting air and light, etc., which he finished this day, and was directed to commence the caulking of the upper deck, which in some places required it very much. The men were employed, or such of them who could sew, at making a new mizzen course, which it was judged was wanted very much as the ship carried little or no weather helm and the sails on the mizzen-mast, top‑mast and top‑gallant-mast were proportionably lighter than usual. The mizzen-topsail and topgallant sail could be carried without inconvenience or extra pressure, when those of the fore and main-masts required to be reduced. Mr. Larkin with one man was employed to paint the boats and put them in order for service, and the boatswain with some of the men was employed in sundry requisite jobs about the rigging, and hauling up and newly bending the sails to the yards. These several branches of work occupied the close attention of all hands, and considering our crew was composed p361 of a very indifferent set of men, a very tolerable progress was made. . . .
On the 30th, the winds were light and moderate from E.B.S. to S.W.B.S., the sea smooth and the weather clear and pleasant. Saw several Portuguese fishing boats rigged with lug sails and carrying 10 to 15 men each. Towards noon hailed and boarded one of them and bought some fish which in shape and flavor very much resembled cod fish. They were of a red color and I believe are commonly by us called red snappers. . . .
With moderate and variable winds, except some short intervals of fresh breezes, accompanied most part of the time with a smooth sea, our course was continued along the shores of the Brazilian coast, with all the sail we could set to advantage. . . .
As we were now advancing towards the parts where it was reasonable to expect boisterous and unpleasant weather, our anchors were got in and stowed on deck and our stump topgallant masts were got up from between decks and the carpenters ordered to prepare them for going aloft when wanted. . . .
The current of the Rio de la Plata, even at a distance of •80 to 90 miles from its entrance, produced a sensible effect on the waters of the ocean. From the beginning of the 12th [September] to the beginning of the 13th, we should have made 80 miles west, whereas from accurate observations on both days, taken under circumstance liable to but very little error, the difference in longitude was but •35 miles west. . . .
Very heavy gales, wore ship. . . . Split the main topsail. . . . Saw a dead whale. . . . From the 1st to the 14th of October experienced a series of very heavy gales accompanied with a most tremendous sea. Nearly the whole of the above time we were under close reefed topsails and courses, or close reefed courses and the topsails furled. Our ship making very good weather we did not heave too,º and she made but very little water. . . . Saw the land indistinctly on the west coast of Tierra del Fuego, near Cape Victory bearing N.N.E. per compass. Several of our men disabled with inflammation and swellings in the hands and legs. On the 20th October, a tremendous heavy sea from the west and southwest increased our progress very considerably. Stocked the anchors. Long following sea, all sail set. . . .
In Valparaiso we were advised by the governor that the exchange of copper for specie was strictly prohibited by the laws, yet under the existing situation of the country he was of the opinion that permission to exchange copper for specie might be granted if application was made in due form. . . .
On the 13th November, some gentlemen of Valparaiso dined on board the Ophelia by invitation, with Captain Edes and Mr. Brown of the Beverly. We sat late after dinner and perfect harmony prevailed. Towards evening I went on deck and was conversing p362 with Mr. King when I heard some noise and disputing in the cabin. I immediately went below and found Mr. Perkins and Captain Edes warmly engaged in a dispute. I sat some time and after hearing Mr. Perkins make use of very indecent and abusive language to Captain Edes, such as calling him a liar and telling him he would deprive him of a living by his father's influence, etc., I begged Mr. Perkins to desist and not make my company unhappy. He then diverted the same kind of language to me and after repeated attempts to pacify him I urged him to go to his room. . . .
Mr. King was provided with a letter of instructions for the government of the ship during my absence. . . . Matters [were] arranged, our passports being furnished we set off from Valparaiso on the 18th, on horseback, for Santiago.2 . . .
Upon arriving [at Valparaiso] I immediately went aboard ship, where I found everything to be quiet.3 . . . After duly weighing the evidence, it was my opinion that . . . I could not permit Mr. King longer to remain on board the ship. I accordingly handed him his discharge from office, after which he was again delivered over to the government. . . . On the 28th of January arrived in port the Zephyr, an English whaling ship, Captain Morris, 116 days from London. The captain came on shore to purchase vegetables and I was fortunate enough to procure his consent to receive Mr. King on board his ship as a passenger until he should meet with an American ship or touch at a port where Mr. King could provide for himself more to his liking. . . .
Sail from Valparaiso bound to the Galapagos Islands distant 2278 miles on a course North 29° 56′ West. On Tuesday the 6th of February, at 1 P.M., we weighed and sailed from the port of Valparaiso with a fine breeze from W.S.W. and hazy though pleasant weather, bound to the Galapagos Islands. We left in port two American ships, viz, the Beverly and Indus, Captains Edes and p363 Page, and ten sail of Spanish merchant ships, three of which were from six to seven hundred tons burthen.
At 2.30 P.M. the Point of Angels bore south by east 3 leagues distant, the town of Valparaiso S.S.E. . . .
The object of my visit to the Galapagos Islands is to procure whales' teeth, which are said to be found in great numbers on the northern shores of Banks Bay, or the Lee Bay in the Island of Albemarle. If successful in finding a sufficient number of these teeth I shall proceed with them to the Marquesas Islands to procure sandalwood by purchasing it with the teeth.
On the passage from Valparaiso to the Galapagos Islands we experienced a succession of very fine weather with constant and regular breezes from the southeastern quarter and a regular following sea. A current set to the northwest most of the time until within a short distance of the Islands.
Very few fish or birds were observed in this passage except some shoals of Bonitos which were frequently seen in great numbers and some of them were caught. . . .
On the 24th saw Charles Island, the southwesternmost of the Galapagos, but it being night I was uncertain whether it was Charles Island or the southern point of Albemarle Island. I hauled off and ascertained the latitude from two stars which passed the meridian in succession, viz, the east foot of the Centaur and the Scorpion's Heart. I was convinced it was Charles Island, and accordingly hauled up again N.N.W., and crowded on all sail. At 8 A.M. the extremes of Charles Island bore from N. 43° to 70° east. This Island appeared moderately elevated in general with one considerable hill in its center and two others near its extremities, with low, sharp projecting points.
At 9 the elevated land of Albemarle was discovered right ahead, bearing from N.N.W. to N.W.B.W. The lofty hills of this island appeared like several detached Islands, but on a nearer view they were found connected by low land between. With a fine breeze from the southeastward we ranged along the southwestern shores of Albemarle Island at a distance of •six or seven miles. It appeared to be composed of mostly naked rocks except some small patches of a kind of low shrub. Nothing appeared the size of a bush or tree and the surf beat violently on every part of its shores yet within our view. . . .
On the 25th we spoke the ship President of Nantucket, Captain Jonathan Swaine, out 8 months on a whaling voyage — had got on board 600 barrels of oil. He reported several other whaling ships near these islands. . . .
On the 26th, with a tolerably fresh breeze, and carrying all sail, I got within •five miles of the northwest point of Narborough Island. I now considered it as certain that I should get into Banks Bay with ease before night, and accordingly made preparations p364 for sending a boat on shore, when on a sudden it again fell calm, and in spite of our efforts to keep our position we drifted with great rapidity to the southward. I considered myself fortunate in being able to keep clear of drifting on to the west point of the Island. The current set us past this point at a rate of 2½ knots. The calm continued until next day at 10 A.M., when we had drifted nearly abreast of the south head again. . . .
It appears from the information I obtained from several of the commanders of these whaling ships that at this season of the year and also in the month of August the calms generally prevail most of the time. . . .
From these considerations I determined to wait and continue my efforts until the 7th of March, when if I should not succeed, to proceed to the Sandwich Islands without further loss of time, in the hope of being able to purchase a cargo of sandalwood with specie. . . .
Departure from the Galapagos for the Sandwich Islands distant from Albemarle 3980 miles. At 6 P.M. of the 7th of March the center of Narborough Island bore E.B.N. distant about 36 miles. Bore up W.N.W. and made all sail for the Sandwich Islands, the wind light from the southeastern quarter, the weather pleasant and clear. . . .
At 6 A.M. on the 28th [March] land was discovered bearing from N.W.B.W. to S.W. distant about 26 miles. At 9 A.M. the south point of entrance to Whyeatea Bay was sighted. The east point of the island is a low, black, projecting point with a grove of cocoanut trees near it, and a remarkable craggy hillock also near it. . . .
With all sail closely hauled we stood down the northeastern shores of Owhyhee [Hawaii]. The land about this part of the island rose by a gradual ascent from the seashore until it reached the foot of the mountains at a considerable distance.
At 10 A.M. hauled around the north point of the island and at noon we were close in with the entrance of Toeaijh Bay, where a white man named Matthews came on board along with several of the islanders. From there I learned that Tamahamaha, the sovereign of the Windward Islands, now resided or held his court at Tyatatooah, a small village situate •about ten miles north of Karakakoah Bay. We accordingly bore up for that place, but soon after met the wind ahead. We continued working to windward along the northwestern shores of Owhyhee. The winds continued light and baffling and our progress was very slow. . . .
Towards sunset of the 1st April, we were close in with the entrance of Tyatatooah. But it soon after fell calm and in spite of all our efforts we drifted to the northwest again and did not gain our anchorage until late afternoon, two days later. Then, with a fine breeze, we stood in to Tyatatooah Bay and anchored in •nine p365 fathoms of water on a bottom of hard sand interspersed with patches and reefs of coral rock. Close to the waterside stands the king's new marai, a building enclosed with a stone wall. Around the shores of the bay stands the village and some groves of cocoanut trees. . . .
Soon after we anchored I went on shore and visited the king, whom I found at his house taking his afternoon nap. He immediately recognized me and seemed glad to see me. After the usual civilities and inquiries had passed, I introduced the subject of my business, viz, the purchase of a cargo of sandalwood. I informed him I was ready to pay him a fair price in Spanish dollars. He immediately replied that he had none ready cut, that the wood was in the mountains and his people were now unwilling to work as formerly, because they had not been paid according to their agreement for the many cargoes which they had furnished to Captains Winship and Davis. He complained bitterly of their having carried away his ship the Lelia Bird which had not been returned, etc. etc. I replied by stating to him that I was totally unacquainted with the business of Captains Winship and Davis, but if they had ill treated him I was very sorry, although it was not in my power to remedy it. . . .
In the evening the king and his wives paid me a visit on board the Ophelia, but as I did not furnish them with strong spirits in sufficient quantity to make them intoxicated, they made but a short visit. We again touched on the subject of my business but he would talk of nothing but a brig or schooner in exchange for sandalwood. As this was an article with which I could not furnish him it appeared to me to be useless to talk more on the subject. . . . I applied to the king for some hogs and vegetables, but as I had no small articles of trade, the chiefs and people would not bring any for sale. And the king only sent me one indifferent hog and about two bustle bushels of vegetables. . . .
On the 6th of April at 6 P.M. we unmoored and got under weigh with a light land breeze bound to Attooi in the hope of purchasing a cargo of sandalwood of Tamooeree, the king of that Island. We arrived and anchored in Whymea Rood, Attooi, on a bottom of stiff clay and sand, or mud and sand, in •seven fathoms of water, at noon of the 7th. . . .
After much solicitation, Tamooeree was induced to come on board, but like Tamahamaha, he seemed indifferent to any kind of barter for sandalwood except for a brig or schooner of 180 or 200 tons burthen. I determined on going back to Owhyhee where I was certain I could purchase some hogs and vegetables in exchange for a quantity of pine plank and joist which I had on board, after which to sail with all possible dispatch for the port of Batavia in the Island of Java. This appeared to me the most advisable route both in compliance with my instructions and for p366 promoting my owner's interest, as on my arrival in Batavia, if I should be able to effect nothing there the season would be such that we should arrive in China in sufficient time to profit of the favorable monsoon for the passage to the United States. . . .
At 6 P.M. of the 11th we got under weigh, bound for Owhyhee. We carried all the sail we could reasonably bear close-hauled on the wind. The sea was unsettled and rough, which retarded our progress very much. On the 14th, the western shore of Owhyhee was in sight. In this situation the southwest current sat nearly three knots, and the sea was much agitated, so that it was with difficulty we kept steerageway on the ship with a four-knot breeze, with all our canvas. At 2 P.M. we had got beyond the influence of this dreadful current and with a favoring breeze we neared the land very fast. At 10 P.M. the lights of the houses on the sides of the mountains were visible and at midnight the entrance of Tyatatooah was discovered. At 3 A.M. we anchored in •thirteen fathoms hard sand and coral, the village •about half a mile distant. At 9 A.M. I went on shore and called on the king who promised I should have my supplies. The king's principal chief Crymakoo agreed to deliver the supplies [I needed] in return for 160 pine planks and some articles [such as empty wine jars and a loaf of refined sugar.] They would be delivered at Woahoo, and it was stipulated that I should take on board thirty of his men as passengers to Woahoo. . . .
At 10 P.M. of the 20th, with a light land breeze, we weighed and stood to sea bound to Woahoo, where we arranged on the 22nd, and anchored in the outer Roods of Whyetee Bay. Here I went on shore and visited Mr. Holmes, who, with Hannah Mytie, one of the king's confidential chiefs, has the care of the Island of Woahoo. Holmes is a native of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and has resided in these islands twenty years. He has five children, two of whom are full grown. I also called on Mr. Nathan Winship and Dr. Schaffer in the Russian service. Schaffer is a naturalist and is collecting plants and minerals, etc., by the order of the Emperor Alexander.
All hands were busily employed while at Woahoo in filling up our water, getting on board our wood and vegetables and receiving our hogs, etc. . . .
From my observations while among [the Sandwich Islanders] I am decidedly of opinion they have degenerated in character, conduct and morals, within the last six years very much. Indeed many of them acknowledge the fact, and as men ever seek some excuse for what they know to be wrong, they say it is owing to the faithless and deceptive conduct practised among them by the Houras or white men. At present both the males and females give themselves up to an immoderate use of ardent spirits and make a practice of getting intoxicated whenever they can obtain a sufficient p367 quantity of liquor. Some of the common people, however, especially among the farmers, are not addicted to this shocking practice. They also make use of an immense quantity of tobacco and all ages and sexes smoke the pipe at all hours of the day and night. The females will rise three or four times in the course of the night and each in turn take a few whiffs of the same pipe. This is particularly the case with the chiefs or all people of distinction, and it is common to see boys and girls of six years smoking their pipes of tobacco frequently. . . . They also indulge in stealing much more than formerly, but this is not a new vice lately introduced, for they certainly did not learn the art or trade of stealing from Europeans or civilized Americans. They were well acquainted with that science before they knew the white men. Their late dexterity in stealing, therefore, is only a greater latitude given to their original passion for thieving which had been considerably restrained for many years past by the severe discipline of Tamahamaha. But he is now grown old and takes less interest in the conduct of his people than formerly. According to the best data I could procure from Mr. Young, the king is now about 67 years of age.
So barefaced have these people become of late that when a number of the most respectable or considerable chiefs at Owhyhee, both male and females, were entertained in the Ophelia's cabin, they pilfered the brass escutcheons from the keyholes in the cabin lockers, and a large brass patent padlock. At another time the king's son, who is heir to the sovereignty of the islands, was on board on a visit with a number of his attendant chiefs, and after having been treated with every mark of friendship and attention, he himself had the audacity to countenance and sanction the stealing of three of the boarders cutlasses from the capstan head. This was done after dark, but I insisted on their being restored and they accordingly were restored in about two hours. . . .4
Passage Across the North Pacific Ocean. At 4 P.M. of Tuesday, the 7th of May, 1816, we stood close in with the western shore of Onehow and hove tooº for our passengers to land, which being effected at 5 P.M. we bore up and crowded all sail to the southwestward, bound to Batavia in the Island of Java. We intended to pass near Hoppers Island [Gilbert Islands] under the Line, and thence between Egmont Island, the largest of the Queen Charlotte Islands, and the Arsacides land, or New Georgia, and from thence to the Endeavor or Torres Strait between New Holland and New Guinea. . . .
On the 16th, towards noon, the atmosphere became lighter and p368 clearer and the clouds appeared light and fleecy, with a brisk motion. The southeast wind had now commenced blowing tolerably regular and continued a fine brisk breeze from S.B.E. to E.S.E. and a regular sea. As we were now approaching the position which is assigned to the southeasternmost of the New Caroline Islands, a good lookout was kept from the masthead from daylight in the morning until sunset, and regularly relieved.
On the 18th, steering S.S.W. by compass, at 9.30 A.M. land was discovered from the masthead, bearing from S.W.B.W. to W.S.W. Took in the steering sails and hauled up S.W. at 10.50, being •about four miles from the shores, which were low and sandy and bounded on the outside by a coral reef. We hove to and sounded, but found no bottom. Ranged along the southeastern shore of the Island and at noon when the sun was on the meridian the south point bore north, distant •six miles. . . .
From the western point of this little islet, the northwest point of another small island bore north. Between it and the one which we were now abreast of, there appeared a navigable channel •about two miles wide. From the west point above mentioned, I hauled up north and ran •about three miles. Sounded •forty fathoms, coral and sand. •Three fourths of a mile from the beach while we lay to, to sound, a tall man stood on the shore up to his knees in the water, waving a large branch of a plantain or banana tree5 and calling loudly to us in their language, which, however, I could not understand. All the land was covered with trees and bushes to the margin of the white, sandy beach which surrounds the islands and which is protected from the surf by a wall of coral. I do not think the elevation of the land, I mean the highest part, was more than •twenty feet above the level of the sea.
At 3 P.M. we made sail from the west point above mentioned, and steered S.W.B.S. and S.S.W. by compass for another small island or islands. As we approached there the wind headed us off so that I could not weather them as I wished to do. I accordingly steered for the channel between the two, which appeared perfectly clear and •about 1½ miles wide. At 5 P.M. we were within one mile of the point on the southeastern island which forms the narrowest part of the channel between it and the more western island, when the man at the masthead sung out "Rocks ahead." Tacked ship immediately and could see the coral reefs under the bottom while we were in stays. I judge there was •about seven fathoms of water but before we had trimmed all on the other tack she was off the reef. Hauled off on the wind, at north, and ran •two miles. Then wore and bore up at sunset for the channel between the N.E. point of the more western island, and the southwest point of that which we left at 3 P.M. This channel is •about eight miles wide and perfectly p369 safe. . . . At 10 set the course at S.S.W. ½ west and saw no more of Hoppers Islands. . . .
At 10 P.M. on the 19th, as has already been stated, we cleared away the Hoppers Islands, and with a fine southeasterly breeze crowded all sail to the south-westward for the land of the Arsacides, intending to pass near Egmont Island. It was now distant from us, allowing Captain Hogan's description and position of the southwest cape of that island to be correct, •820 miles on a course south 35° west. The latitude at noon was 00° 50′ 8″ south, the longitude 187° 56′ 21″ west and the variation of our compasses, from the mean of azimuths of sun and planet Venus, showed 10° 45′ eastward of the Pole.
After examining carefully all the charts and descriptions of Endeavor Strait which I possessed, I came to a determination not to attempt that passage, as I considered its numerous reefs and shoals so great an obstacle that I should hardly be justified in making the attempt. . . .
In pursuance of this determination, at 3 P.M. of the 27th, we bore up W.B.S. and set all our light sails. At half past 7 A.M., land was discovered from the masthead, bearing N.W.B.W., six or seven leagues distant. On a nearer view it appeared to be two islands of moderate elevation extending 3½ to 4 leagues in a N.E. and S.W. direction. . . .6
At 4 P.M. of the 2nd, we hauled into a bay and anchored on a bottom of sand and mud in •15 fathoms. Quartered the men for harbour defense, and put the guns and small arms in readiness for immediate use if attacked. Near our anchorage were two villages of fifteen to twenty huts each, and soon after we had anchored, the natives visited us in about a dozen canoes, carrying an average of fifteen men each. They approached the ship in a cautious manner and did not come on board until frequently solicited, and with one of our men in their canoe as a hostage. Three of them ventured on board under this precaution, but seemed afraid and suspicious and stayed on board but a few minutes. They evidently knew the use of guns as they frequently made me understand by signs their dread of them and fear of my using them. They all came armed with bows and arrows of a very large size. Their bows were well made and very strong, and their arrows made of reeds, except the heads, which were of a hard kind of wood very neatly joined to the staff.
Their canoes were •about 25 or 30 feet long, and five and a half feet broad in the middle, and tapering gradually to each end. The body of the canoe was formed of narrow strips or boards p370 hewed from small trees, and the joints on the inside covered with other strips in the form of battens, and pitched. The whole thus formed was fastened on the inside to knee timbers, on which rested the benches or cross-pieces to sit on. The fastenings were either sinews of animals or strips of the skins of animals. Their bow strings were sinews of animals or fish. Most of their canoes were very leaky. On each end was fitted a high pointed circular head, •about five feet high, and curved inward, forming a figure like a crescent.
These people are Coffrees, their skins are a kind of slate black rather than jet, and of a very different tint from the black of Africa. Their heads were wooly and some of them had wool of a reddish or sandy color. They seemed robust, tolerably well shaped men, and about the middle size, none either very tall or very stout. They wore no kind of garments or even a covering for the sexual parts. The chiefs had feathers stuck in their hair and a strip of dyed bark round their heads as a fillet. A similar strip of bark round their waists •about half an inch broad, and dyed red. Some colored bands in the form of bracelets round their wrists and arms above the elbows. These were of basket work and diversified with various figures of different colors. Most of them had the cartilage of the nose which separates the nostrils, perforated, and wore a piece of bone or shell, and some a piece of small reed stuck crosswise through it. Their ears were also perforated, and some of them wore ornaments of sharks' teeth suspended to their ears by a string. Others were observed to wear necklaces of these and other kinds of teeth, which appeared to be the teeth of fish, probably porpoise teeth. Some of the females came along side in the canoes. They were entirely naked except a small leaf or piece of bark just big enough to cover the sexual part. The hair was mostly plucked out. They all chewed the Areca or Betel nut with a mixture of lime and other substance much like the Malays of Java and Sumatra. I saw no iron tools or weapons among them and I do not think they possessed them, as I saw axes made of flint stone in their canoes. I offered a good hatchet in exchange for one of them but the owner refused to part with it.
They spoke a language unintelligible to us, which seemed to have no affinity to the Owhyhean language, or the Malayan, neither in accent nor pronunciation. Such were the inhabitants of the Arsacides or Isle of Bougainville and there is little doubt but these are a pretty fair sample of the generality of the inhabitants of this archipelago. Although they came along side in their canoes with their men paddling and their chiefs standing up seemingly in their proper stations for action, with their bows strung and grasped in their left hands and quivers stuck full of arrows slung at their shoulders, yet I am inclined to think it was either intended as a preparation for defense if attacked, or a display of their strength than from any ill intention. They all very readily laid p371 down their weapons when I requested them so to do. And one canoe which seemed to be a war canoe and contained a considerable number of fighting men went immediately away on my signifying their dislike to their approaching the ship. While they were along side N.E. of the booms fell down from aloft overboard. They did not attempt to meddle with it or come near it but kept at a distance while our men picked it up from the boat. They very readily disposed of their bows and arrows etc. for some pieces of iron hoops and some knives, etc. . . .
This morning [8 June 1816] a severe shock of an earthquake was felt which continued for nearly one minute and a half, during which the ship was very sensibly agitated and a confused rumbling noise was heard at the same time. On the 8th and 9th very light airs and frequent calms, the light flaws of wind blowing in almost every direction. The weather excessively sultry, the atmosphere very close and oppressive, a kind of dense vapor obscured the horizon and prevented our seeing the objects at a very short distance, several shoals of porpoises and bonitoes were observed, which was I believe, the first which had been seen since we made the Arsacides land. Great quantities of driftwood and some sea fowl were also observed in various directions. . . .
On the 10th we took a fine breeze from the south eastern quarter with which we crowded all sail to the westward. At 6 P.M. the long low extremity of New Ireland bore north 31° west and a cluster of low flat woody Islands lying to the west or W.S.W. of said point. . . . At midnight [on the 12th June] we were about 5 leagues to the westward of what I consider the westernmost of a chain of Islands of various sizes and heights. At half past 12 breakers were seen on the weather bow close aboard. Wore ship instantly to the eastward and hauled close on a wind for an hour and a quarter, the wind not permitting us to lay better than east, and east half south. At 1:45 A.M. we tacked to the westward and hoped to weather away the reef as the wind hauled to south or south by east. At 15 minutes past three breakers were again seen on the weather bow, too near to tack. We accordingly wore, and when before the wind she struck forward under the forefoot and remained stationary. At this time the wind was light from S.S.E. not sea smooth as a pond. Furled all the sails. Sent the yawl to sound round the ship. Found the eastern edge of the reef on which we lay to be very steep, with shelves projecting beyond each other as it deepened, the edges of which were sharp and rugged coral. It descended so suddenly as scarcely to afford room to lay an anchor on, and it appeared pretty certain that whatever anchors we should lay out on this bottom would not come up again. It appeared equally probable that the cables would be cut off in a very short time, as they must lay over the sharp projecting edges of the coral shelves.
The reef on which we had struck was about •one mile and a p372 quarter in length from North to South and 150 yards in breadth from East to West and in the form of a crescent. Its concave side to the eastward was that on which we lay, nearly in the center with our bows pointing directly over the reef. Under our jib boom there was •5 feet of water. Under the bows and near the stem just forward of the fore foot •11 feet . . . under the starboard quarter •40 fathoms. The reef was sounded round before daylight and it appeared there was water enough all round it a distance of five yards from the breakers. Thus circumstanced our boats were all hoisted out and the kedge anchor laid out under the larboard quarter in very deep water. This was done in order if possible to give room to heave the ship clear of the Bank, so as to wear round in order to bring our sails to draw, as the wind and sea set directly on the reef. The swell also had begun to rise about daylight and I much feared would increase. Our hawser, attached to the kedge was brought to the capstan and hove taught. The stream anchor was next laid out on the starboard bow but we could get no greater distance to lodge this anchor than •10 fathoms from the fore-chains, and then in deep water. The stream cable was hove taught by the windlass. Three boats were manned and attached to a tow line from the bowsprit end. These lay under the fore, main and mizzen channels ready to start and pull away at a moment's notice. The jib, spanker, and stay sails were loosed ready for hoisting, but none of the square sails as they would hold wind, and drive her on before we could wear round, in which case our destruction appeared inevitable.
The guns were all run aft on the starboard quarter and the cables shifted to the starboard side between decks. At 11 the wind veered to the S.W. and became squally. The tide had fallen since 4 A.M. •about fourteen inches by the stem, but now 11 A.M. it began to flow, and the swell began to heave on. At 11:30 A.M., just as she began to move, the hawser parted. At this instant our boats were ordered to pull away in a direction about 45 degrees abaft the starboard beam. The wind providentially blowing a little fresher at this moment gave a greater impulse to the strain of the stream cable. She launched off and got stern way, which the boats assisting swung her round on her heel with her head to the northward. The stream cable was cut and she came around so as to bring the wind on the starboard quarter. Hoisted the spanker to bring her head too on the N.E. tack. Hoisted jib and middle and main top gallant stay sails, mizzen top sail, etc. Got headway, made sail and just cleared the reef. At the most critical moment, just before she brought the wind on the starboard quarter, the larboard bow was not more than •5 feet clear of the shelves and had she struck she must have gone broadside on from which position I think she would have been hardly extricated.
Having thus got clear of the reef with loss of stream and kedge p373 anchors, and •20 fathoms stream cable, with •25 fathoms of hawser, we steered N.W.B.W. between the reefs, which broke in various directions as per bearings for a distance of •15 miles. After we had run •about 16 or 17 miles to the northwestward in the hope of finding a clear passage through this labyrinth of dangers we perceived that every part of the ocean in that direction was occupied with reefs and Islands. At 10 P.M. it fell calm and we anchored for the night in •16 fathoms water and good holding ground.
During the night some of the inhabitants of the adjacent Islands came off toward the ship and hailed several times in their language. Their language was unintelligible to us, as was ours to them, and they paddled toward the shore again; but came off to us in the morning in considerable numbers, say two hundred. They approached the ship with the greatest caution, frequently hesitating as if in doubt. They however at length all came along side and two or three came up the side and ventured on board. They seemed much surprised and astonished and gave lengthy details to their countrymen in the canoes as if describing the capacity, etc. of the ship. At 8 A.M. got under weigh . . . and cleared away the southeastern breakers at midnight. . . . At 4 A.M. steered west and at day dawn set all our light sails and pursued our course to the northwestward. . . .7
[June 25th] The wind at South East, a moderate breeze and all sail set. Steering south by west directly for Forel Island until within •3 miles of it. . . . August and Pigeon Islands bore west ¾ south, a ship's length open, then steered directly for the opening . . . which course would doubtless have carried us through perfectly clear. But it soon after fell calm and we drifted away N.E. at the rate of three knots. At 4 P.M. we had by working across the tide got near in with the shores of King William Island. The squalls again set in with the rain, the gloomy presage of another unpleasant night. I used every effort to gain some anchorage for the night but in vain, for after sounding in shore within 2 cables' lengths of the beach no bottom was found at •25 fathoms. We accordingly hauled off on the wind close hauled in order to pass the night in making short tacks in the very narrowest part of the straits. The night was excessively dark and from 9 in the evening until 2 in the morning the rain fell in one continued shower, part of the time accompanied with a stiff squall which obliged us to take in the top gallant sails. At 10 P.M. in one of these squalls the fore top gallant yard was carried away in the slings by neglecting p374 to let go the brau in the dark, when the head yards were braued about. . . .8
Bouro Island. By a set of distances of sun and moon taken near the west point of Bouro, the longitude was found 125° 30′ E. But as I found on examination afterwards there was an error in the sun's altitude I did not place full confidence in it. Many of the islands and points etc. which I have had very good opportunities for ascertaining their longitude with tolerable accuracy have been neglected for want of proper assistance to take the altitudes of sun and moon, as I have not an officer in whom the smallest confidence can be placed, not even to keep the run of the ship. . . .
Along North Coast of Moluccas. . . . Saw a long low straight sheered brig standing to the northward. She showed no colors and made all sail towards the Celebes shore. We kept the south coast of the Celebes well aboard until up with the southern projecting cape or point, called Booloo or Janeyponta. . . . As we passed Bonthain Bay a large prow or vessel of that description hove to right ahead of us in our tracks with colors flying. But as soon as our colors were hoisted and we began to draw up within •3 or 4 miles of her she made all sail toward the shore. The country about the south extremity of Celebes presented a most delightful and beautifully variegated appearance. The face of the country is generally a regular inclined plane, gradually rising from the seashore to the more elevated interior country. The hazy atmosphere prevented our seeing the more distant country. The whole coast of the Celebes from Point Lassoa at the Saleyer Straits to Point Matofforo and Laykan, with the Tanakeka and Tonyn Islands, the Deseres Banks and shoals, the cluster of small islets called the Hen and Chickens are placed too far south from 6 to 10 miles of latitude on the charts of the East India Directory or Oriental Pilot, edition of 1802. . . .
Arrival Batavia. on the 11th [July, 1816] stood in at S.W.B.W. with all steering sails set. Saw several sail of ships, some steering northward. Some bound in. At 2 P.M. made Edam Island right ahead. Hauled up S.W.B.S. and S.W. and at 4:30 P.M. passed between Edam and Alkmaar Islands and entered the Leyden Channel between Leyden and Eukhuyson Islets. Night coming on I brought the Island Eukhuyson well on with the eastern part of Edam and then steered south half west per compass for Batavia Roads. We reached the anchorage at 8 P.M. just without the Dutch men of war and anchored in •7 fathoms after a tedious passage of 65 days from the Sandwich Islands.
A boat from the M. A. with an officer visited us and delivered the Port Regulations and required a report in writing from me which was given. . . .
p375 From the 11th to the 17th, we lay in Batavia Roads getting on board a supply of water and putting the ship in readiness for sea again. The British Government was still in possession of Batavia and its dependencies, although the Dutch authorities had been commissioned some time since to receive it and were waiting in daily expectation of its being given up to them. Three Dutch Line of Battle Ships, 2 of 80 guns, each one 74 and two smaller ships were lying in the Roads. These ships brought troops for the several establishments on Java and Macassar on Celebes. One English ship of war viz the Volage, Captain Joseph Drury, lay in the Roads when we arrived. She sailed soon after bound to the eastward, two or three East India Company's cruisers of 10 to 16 guns each and several British merchant ships, probably waiting to be employed as transports to convoy the British Troops to Bengal, their property etc. . . .
The very great scarcity of coffee, sugar, pepper etc. and the high prices at which these articles were selling induced me to give up all thoughts of loading the ship at Batavia. The English merchants or officers of the government being the greatest holders of coffee, chose rather to ship it than sell it for less than ten Spanish dollars per pecul. I was willing to give them nine Spanish dollars per pecul . . . for a cargo of prime coffee in good shipping order to be delivered in Batavia within two months but to this they could not accede. So I determined to proceed to Canton in China without further loss of time.
According to the best information I could get the articles of sugar, pepper, block tin, nutmegs, etc. were all proportionably dear. . . . American flour was dull at six dollars per barrel. Iron no sale. . . .
Departure for Canton. At 5 A.M. of the 17th, we weighed anchor from Batavia Roads and stood to sea through the Leyden Channel under all sail, bound to Canton in China, distant •1800 miles, on a course North 12° West. The Alexander Mansfield, Captain Church, got under way at the same time bound to the United States. . . .9
With all steering sails below and aloft our course was pursued at N.B.E.½E. and north. . . . At 9:20 A.M., from the masthead saw the Morias or Moras or Morrey's Isle, the westernmost of the Paracel group. At daylight the next day we saw the land from N.B.E. to N.W. and broken like Islands. As I was doubtful of our position, I stretched inshore to examine it, and having satisfied myself, bore up to the north-eastward. We were •about 35 or 40 miles westward of St. Johns or about halfway between the Island of Haylin Shim and St. Johns. The general appearance of p376 this part of the Chinese coast is high and rugged with many deep inlets or bays appearing likely to afford good shelter and anchorage. As we ranged along this coast we passed many fleets of fishing boats or vessels in succession, beating out through the islands along shore to the westward.
It appears that during this monsoon the fishermen, all or most of them work out to the westward towards Haylin Shim and commence their fishing in that quarter and so take advantage of the wind for a return passage. The reverse is true in the N.E. monsoon by working out towards Formosa, fishing with nets as they return homeward with a fair wind. The numbersº of these boats isº truly astonishing. . . .
At 9 A.M. anchored in Macao Roads quite close in with the fort in •3¼ fathoms. Went on shore immediately and dispatched a letter to Mr. Cushing in Canton, informing him of our arrival and determination to wait his orders before I proceeded further. I returned on board at 6 P.M. and at 6 was seized with a violent attack of festival, which confined me to my cabin several days. The weather very sultry and frequent showers of rain.
On the 5th, Mr. Cushing arrived from Canton and visited the ship and communicated his ideas respecting the employment of the ship, etc. I determined to wait a few days at Macao in order to take on board some salt petre, which was not effected until the 9th and 11th. While we lay at Macao, got under weigh frequently and shifted the position of the ship and finally anchored at the entrance of the Typa for security in case of bad weather. At 5 P.M. of the 12th got under weigh and at 3 P.M. of the 13th arrived and anchored in Whampoa Roads. . . .
As the salt petre had been taken on board at Macao and stowed on top of our ballast water and provisions etc. it was found necessary to employ four men with Mr. Larkenº in the hold to remove the salt petre and break up the provisions which lay over the ballast. Also to take the lumber on deck in order to lay the platform and restore the salt petre as fast as the ballast was cleared to prevent the chance of hogging the ship, which would inevitably have happened had the salt petre been suffered to remain piled at each extremity of the hold, until the ballast was all cleared from the main hold.
These several branches of our business occupied all hands, and as I had no first officer I remained constantly on board and attended to the business of the deck in order that no time should be lost in getting the ship ready for the reception of the residue of her cargo. Mr. Cushing informed me it would be ready in a few days. As soon as the carpenter had finished one side of the ship, Mr. Larkin was taken from the hold and employed with four men to scrape and paint the outside of the ship and get the bends well covered with a coat of stuff before she should be brought too deep in the water with the cargo. . . .
p375 On the 27th we finished discharging our ballast, and on the 29th we got the salt petre stowed and well rammed down fore and aft, having been one whole day employed in reducing the upper surface of the flooring thus made by the bags of salt petre, to a level or as nearly so as possible. On the 30th, we commenced taking in our Canton goods, and on the 24th of September we finished the stowage of the ship, having filled up all the staterooms and store rooms with cargo and stores, the magazine, sail room, etc. being all stowed with cargo. The ships cabin contained the baggage of myself and officers with our bedding and powder, etc. from the magazine.
Captain James Bennett, late of the Atahualpa, wishing to take a passage to the United States, Mr. Cushing made an arrangement with him on the subject. Captain Bennett offered to take charge of one of the watches on the passage, which relieved me of a very considerable degree of fatigue and care which I otherwise must have suffered by being deficient of a first officer.
The ship being thus completely filled up with owner's property, Mr. Cushing very obligingly offered to pay me for ten tons of measurement, which I was entitled to as privilege in the ship. But as it was evidently of no advantage to receive money in Canton without the means of investing and shipping it home I declined his offer. . . .
Homeward Bound from Canton. At 9 A.M. of the 30th September, we unmoored and got under weigh with the boats ahead for towing down thruº the fleet at Whampoa. It being calm and the tide of ebb running strong we fell foul of an English country ship but got clear without damage. Soon after this we anchored and on the morning of October 1 we warped down below the Whampoa fleet with a kedge and line. Adverse wind, and calms detained us in the river until the 5th, when with a fine moderate breeze from the northwestern quarter we cleared away the nine islands and discharged the pilot. . . . From this point our departure was taken and we spread all our sails to the breeze, with a fine moonlit night, intending to pass to the westward of the Paracel Shoals and Islands. Stowed the anchors and unbent the cables, except the small bower. . . .10
On the 5th of November, at 3 A.M. we anchored at North Island and in the morning dispatched our boats for water. The watering place is on the Sumatra shore, nearly opposite the northmost of the three sisters and may be easily known by a remarkable white cliff on the same shore a few rods north of the watering place. The most convenient anchorage is •about half a mile north of the northmost Sister Island, and as near in shore as the water will permit. This will place you •about two miles from the watering place. The p378 landing is on a sandy beach immediately to the south of the cliff above mentioned, and the water is •about 15 rods from the beach, to which there is a path and fine open meadow ground.
On firing a gun the Malays from the interior generally come down and bring fowls, buffaloes, etc. for sale. I have always taken the precaution to have a spare boat and crew armed with muskets for fear of accidents. The inhabitants I have seen have behaved with civility but they always wear a cris or dagger. This may be on account of domestic enemies. Having filled up our water and stowed our boats, we were ready to proceed. Calm held us until 3 A.M. of the 7th when we weighed anchor and stood over toward St. Nicholas Point. By 1 P.M. we got within •2 miles of the shore just to the north of Pulo Menoar where we lay off and on and sent the yawl on ship with the two Malay men and a boy whom we had received on board in Banca Straits. One of these men was possessed of considerable education in the Arabic and had as he informed me a wife and two children at Bantam. He could read and explain many of the Arabic characters with accuracy, especially those on the subject of religion. No language can describe the expressions of gratitude which these good people manifested on being thus placed among their friends again. They would fain have kneeled and kissed my hands, but it was not permitted, and I can truly say I felt a sincere pleasure in having it in my power to assist their return to their native home. The inhabitants of the village on shore received them with expressions of joy and would have loaded the boat with cocoa nuts and plaintains, but the officer whom I sent in the boat was ordered to return immediately and of course declined their liberal offers. It would seem the subjects of the king of Bantam are not on terms of friendship with the people of Sumatra on the opposite sides of the Straits of Sunda, as I observed when I landed at North Island for water. Two of the men whom I had on board, accompanied me on shore, but they would not trust themselves with the Malays of Sumatra beyond the reach of our muskets, and although they spoke the same language, yet they showed no inclination to converse with them. On being asked if they would go on shore and remain there, they replied that they would sooner remain in the ship at my disposal even if I thought proper to keep them as slaves. But I informed them we kept no slaves. They were furnished with a letter directed to the sultan, their master, informing of the time plan and reasons for having received them on board, the name of the ship, etc. At 6 P.M. the boat returned and we made all sail down the straits. . . . Saw several Malay fishing boats standing over from Port Samborico or Tamasind Island. . . . Cleared away the Sunda Straits in 38 days from Whampoa and 33 days from Macao.
Rations. An allows of •three quarts and a pint of water was p379 ordered to be daily served to each man on board and the regular stated allowance of provisions was ordered as follows, viz, — to each man per day, one pound of salt pork or one and a half pounds of salt beef and one pound of bread; three pints of tea or coffee per day viz, — morning and evening. Rice with molasses at dinner once a week. One gill of rum per man twice a week, viz — Saturday evening and Sunday noon. One seaman sick of the Flux and had been since leaving Canton viz, Lawrence Peterson. . . .11
Saw several vessels off the Cape [of Good Hope, December 24, 1816] standing to the east, but from the distance of some and the very boisterous weather when we saw others less distant, we did not speak with any of them. On Christmas Day at noon, the Island of St. Helena bore from us north 43°, west •1490 miles. In my numerous passages around this cape, I have never experienced so long a continuance of adverse winds nor such very severe gales. Took the S.E. Trade Wind on the 31st [of December, 1816] in latitude of 27° south.
Time rolls its ceaseless course. The New Year was ushered in with moderate southeasterly winds and pleasant weather with a regular following sea. On the 3rd, we passed the meridian of London, having completely measured 360 degrees of longitude from London or Greenwich. . . .
On the 13th [of February, 1817] in latitude 36° 08′ N. we entered the eastern edge of the Gulf Stream when the wind which had been blowing in heavy gales from the south western quarter now increased to a perfect hurricane. The clouds appeared very black and their lower extremity jagged with spiral points directed towards the horizon and seemed to hang very low. The rain commenced and was soon succeeded by hail and lightning with high thunder, until midnight, the sea was tremendously high and very unequal.
Rescue from Disabled Ship. The gales continued with some short intermission of squalls until the 16th when we discovered a dismasted vessel under a signal of distress •about two miles to leeward of us. We immediately bore up along side of her and sent a boat on board to enquire her situation. Upon return of the boat she was reported to be the Brig Waterloo of Saco, Captain Noah Cole, from Madeira bound to Philadelphia, out 50 days. She had lost all her spars but the stump of her foremast at 3 A.M. of the 15th, when she upset and shifted her ballast. The captain, mate and crew consisting of 7 persons were taken on board the Ophelia. Their provisions were nearly exhausted and the vessel had •three feet of water in the hold, which was gaining on the pumps. At 6 P.M. we made sail again and stood to the W.S.W. close hauled. . . .
p380 From this time until our arrival we experienced a series of the most dreadful weather, being a constant succession of heavy gales mostly from the western quarter, frequently accompanied with hail, thunder and lightning, and nearly the whole time a tremendous high sea running. This weather kept us under the close reefed top sails and storm stay sails most of the time, and had not the Ophelia been a very strong ship we should undoubtedly have suffered severely, since she was laden excessively deep. . . .
At 2 P.M. on 23rd of February saw cape from the mast head bearing W.B.W. to N.W. •20 miles distant. . . . The wind increased to a heavy gale at east to E.N.E. with a heavy snow storm and a very high sea. At 2:30 A.M. being wide over toward Salem lights, though they were not to be seen, we tacked or rather wore on the southern tack and hauled close on a wind under the close reefed top sails and reefed courses, storm mizzen etc. Through the day very severe winds and a tremendous high sea. No land in sight, no observations, still blowing a very heavy gale and the ice increasing fast on the ship and rigging etc. . . . Three men frozen. . . . On the 25th split the fore top sail. The men suffered much during the night, all hands being engaged in reducing sail. . . .
At 2 P.M. of the 26th, saw land near Cape Neddock N.W.B.W. •12 miles. Turned all hands tooº and beat off the ice with which the ship was completely enveloped. . . . At noon next day saw the Monument land near Plymouth S.W.B.W., two brigs standing down the Bay. . . . At 8 A.M. had seen Scituate Meeting House S.W. •5 miles, but a thick snow storm coming on we could not see the light house and soon after every surrounding object was hidden from our view. We fired several guns for a pilot but none came and as I found the gale increasing I determined to enter the port if possible. We accordingly hauled up the courses and took in the top‑gallant sails, stood on under the top sails and jib etc., borrowed on the south shore and kept the lead going. When near the hardings rocks, we suddenly shoaled the water to •4½ fathoms. Soon after we discovered a fishing boat coming out of the light house channel. She was immediately under the jib boom before we saw her, the snow being so very thick. From the boat we were furnished with 2 of her crew. By this assistance we succeeded in gaining the anchorage in Nantasket Roads a little past noon and did not see the light house or Nantasket Island in passing the channel, the wind blowing a gale at S.E. and a heavy storm. On the 28th we got under weigh from Nantasket Roads and arrived in Boston Harbour and anchored in the ice near Long Wharf.
Thus ended our voyage after an absence of twenty months from Boston Harbour, which by the blessing of Divine Providence, we had been enabled to finish with safety and success [February 28, 1817].
1 William M. Crane, Captain. This meeting with the Ophelia is mentioned in the "Journal Kept on board U. S. Ship Independence," manuscript in the New York Public Library.
2 The request for a license to trade was discussed by many officials, all of whom agreed that while it was distinctly contrary to law, yet because the treasury was depleted, the president was urged to use his superior judgment. Finally the president ordered it before the audiencia of the kingdom for their vote. The decision went against Captain Hill.
3 During Hill's absence Mr. King had been taken off the Ophelia by the commander of the port, who had been told Mr. King was making plans to cut the cable and go to sea. Upon an investigation at which the commander of the British ship Indefatigable, the commander of the port, the captain of the Beverly, and others of the profession were present, testimony was given which established the following: Mr. King told the officers and men in turn that he was informed by reliable advice that Mr. Hill was in prison in Santiago, and that the government intended seizing the ship. He therefore thought it his duty to save the ship and its cargo for the owners by cutting the cables and going to sea.
4 Here follows a list of other vessels which had visited the Sandwich Islands since the previous November (1815), and several pages of calculations and observations.
5 A form of friendly salutation in the South Seas.
6 Here follows a correction of positions of several islands as laid down on earlier charts and descriptions of the islands with suggestions for navigating this area.
7 Here follows a description and location of other reefs in this vicinity, the bearings taken while on the reef and other navigation notes; the passage along the north coast of New Guinea towards Dampiers Straits, the islands of St. David, and passage of Dampiers Straits.
8 An account of the entrance to Banda Sea, or Pitts Straits, follows here.
9 Here follows a description of the passage of the China Sea along the western part of Paracels.
10 An account of the rescue of three Malays, see below, and a meeting with pirates follows here, also of the passage of the China Sea and Banca Straits.
11 A description of the passage across the Indian Ocean toward the Cape of Good Hope follows here.
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