Wednesday, 26th December, 1770

Wednesday, 26th. In the P.M. myself, Mr. Banks, and all the Gentlemen came on board, and at 6 a.m. weigh’d and came to sail with a light breeze at South-West. The Elgin Indiaman saluted us with 3 cheers and 13 Guns, and soon after the Garrison with 14, both of which we return’d. Soon after this the Sea breeze set in at North by West, which obliged us to Anchor just without the Ships in the Road. The number of Sick on board at this time amounts to 40 or upwards, and the rest of the Ship’s Company are in a weakly condition, having been every one sick except the Sailmaker, an old Man about 70 or 80 years of age; and what is still more extraordinary in this man is his being generally more or less drunk every day. But notwithstanding this general sickness, we lost but 7 men in the whole: the Surgeon, 3 Seamen, Mr. Green’s Servant, and Tupia and his Servant, both of which fell a sacrifice to this unwholesome climate before they had reached the object of their wishes. Tupia’s death, indeed, cannot be said to be owing wholy to the unwholesome air of Batavia; the long want of a Vegetable Diet, which he had all his life before been used to, had brought upon him all the Disorders attending a Sea life. He was a shrewd, sensible, ingenious man, but proud and obstinate, which often made his situation on board both disagreeable to himself and those about him, and tended much to promote the diseases which put a Period to his Life.

Batavia is a place that hath been so often visited by Europeans, and so many accounts of it extant, that any discription I could give would seem unnecessary; besides, I have neither abilities nor materials sufficient for such an undertaking, for whoever gives a faithful account of this place must in many things contradict all the Authors I have had an opportunity to consult; but this task I shall leave to some abler hand, and only take notice of such things that seem to me necessary for Seamen to know.

The City of Batavia is situated on a low flatt near the Sea, in the Bottom of a large Bay of the same name, which lies on the North side of Java, about 8 Leagues from the Straits of Sunda; it lies in 6 degrees 10 minutes South Latitude, and 106 degrees 50 minutes East Longitude from the Meridian of Greenwich, settled by Astronomical Observations made on the spot by the Reverend Mr. Mohr, who has built a very ellegant Observatory, which is as well furnished with Instruments as most in Europe. Most of the Streets in the City have canals of water running through them, which unite into one Stream about 1/2 a mile before they discharge themselves into the Sea; this is about 100 feet broad, and is built far enough out into the Sea to have at its entrance a sufficient depth of Water to admit Small Craft, Luggage boats, etc. The communication between the Sea and the City is by this Canal alone, and this only in the day; for it is shut up every night by a Boom, through which no Boats can pass from about 6 o’clock in the evening to between 5 and 6 the next morning. Here stands the Custom house, where all goods, either imported or exported, pay the Customary Dutys; at least, an Account is here taken of them, and nothing can pass without a Permit, wether it pays duty or no. All kinds of refreshments, Naval Stores, and Sea Provisions are to be had here; but there are few Articles but what bear a very high Price, especially if you take them of the Company, which you are obliged to do if you want any Quantity; that is, of such Articles as they monoplie to themselves, which are all manner of Naval Stores and Salted Provisions.

The Road of Batavia, or place where Shipping Anchor, lies right before the City, and is so large as to contain any number of Shipping. You anchor with the Dome of the Great Church, bearing about South in 7, 6, or 5 fathoms water, about 1 1/2 or 2 miles from the Shore; and nearer you cannot come with Large Ships, by reason of a Mud bank which lines all the Shore of the Bay. The ground that you Anchor in is of such a nature that the Anchors buries themselves so deep that it is with difficulty they are got out; for this reason Ships always lays at Single Anchor, being in no manner of danger of fouling them. You lay apparently open to the winds from the North-West to the East-North-East; but the Sea that is caused by these winds is a good deal broke before it reaches the Road by the small Islands and Shoals without. These Shoals have all of them either Buoys or Beacons upon them; but if these Guides should be moved, there is a very good Chart of this Bay and the Coast of Java as far as the Straits of Sunda, bound up in the English East India Pilot, sold by Mount & Page. In this Chart everything seems to be very accurately delineated.

Fresh water and wood for fuel must be purchased here. The water is put on board the Ship in the Road at a Spanish Dollar, or 5 shillings a Leager, containing 150 Gallons; but if sent to Onrust, which is one League from the Road, it cost a Duccatoon, or 6 shillings 8 pence. The supplying shipping with water, especially Foreigners, is a perquisite of the Commodore, who is always an Officer in the State’s Service, but acts here under the Company. He takes care to tell you that the Water is very good, and will keep sweet at Sea; whereas everybody else tells you that it is not so.

Be this as it will, Batavia is certainly a place that Europeans need not covet to go to; but if necessity obliges them, they will do well to make their stay as short as possible, otherwise they will soon feel the effects of the unwholesome air of Batavia, which, I firmly believe, is the Death of more Europeans than any other place upon the Globe of the same extent. Such, at least, is my opinion of it, which is founded on facts. We came in here with as healthy a Ship’s Company as need go to Sea, and after a stay of not quite 3 months left it in the condition of an Hospital Ship, besides the loss of 7 men; and yet all the Dutch Captains I had an opportunity to converse with said that we had been very lucky, and wondered that we had not lost half our people in that time.


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