Friday, 15th March, 1771

Friday, 15th. Strong Gales at South-East all the Afternoon and most part of the Night, though in the Evening it fell a little moderate, which gave the Indiaman’s Boat an opportunity to come on board us, with a Complement of a Basket of Fruit, etc,; she was the Admiral Pocock, Captain Riddell, homeward bound from Bombay. In the morning we got under sail, and stood into the Road, having variable light airs mostly from the Sea. A Dutch boat from the Shore came on board, in which were the Master Attendant and some other Gentlemen; the former directed us to a proper birth, where about 10 o’clock we anchored in 7 fathoms water, a Ouzey bottom; the Lyon Tail, or West point of the Bay, bore West-North-West, and the Castle South-West, distance 1 1/2 miles. I now sent a Petty Officer on shore to know if they would return our Salute, but before he return’d we Saluted, which was immediately return’d with the same number of Guns; after this I waited myself upon the Governour, who was pleased to tell me that I should have everything I wanted that the place afforded. My first care was to provide a proper place ashore for the reception of the Sick, for which purpose I order’d the Surgeon to look out for a House where they could be lodged and dieted. This he soon found, and agreed with the people of the house for 2 shillings a day per man; which I found was the customary Price and method of proceeding. I afterwards gave the Surgeon an order to superintend the whole.

Remarks on Dysentery

Few remarks have hapned since we left Java Head that can be of much use to the Navigator, or any other Person, into whose hand this Journal may fall; such, however, as have occur’d I shall now insert. After our leaving Java head we were 11 days before we got the General South-East Trade wind, in which time we did not advance above 5 degrees to the South and 3 degrees to the West, having all the time Variable light Airs of Wind, interrupted by frequent Calms, the weather all the time hot and sultry, and the Air unwholesome, occasioned most probably by the Vast Vapours brought into these Latitudes by the Easterly Trade wind and Westerly Monsoons, both of which blow at this time of the Year in this Sea. The Easterly winds prevail as far as 12 or 10 degrees South, and the Westerly winds as far as 6 or 8 degrees; between them the winds are Variable, and I believe always more or less unwholesome, but to us it was remarkable from the Fatal Consequences that attended it, for whatever might be the cause of First bringing on the Flux among our people, this unwholesome Air had a Great share in it, and increased it to that degree that a Man was no sooner taken with it than he look’d upon himself as Dead. Such was the Despondency that reigned among the Sick at this time, nor could it be by any Means prevented, when every Man saw that Medicine, however skillfully Administered, had not the least effect. I shall mention what Effect only the immaginary approach of this disorder had upon one man. He had long tended upon the Sick, and injoyed a tolerable good State of Health; one morning, coming upon Deck, he found himself a little griped, and immediately began to stamp with his feet, and exclaim, “I have got the Gripes, I have got the Gripes; I shall die, I shall die!” In this manner he continued until he threw himself into a fit, and was carried off the Deck, in a manner, Dead; however he soon recover’d, and did very well.

We had no sooner got into the South-East Trade wind than we felt its happy Effect, tho’ we lost several men after, but they were such as were brought so low and weak that there were hardly a possibility of there recovery; and yet some of them linger’d out in a State of Suspence a month after, who, in all Probability, would not have lived 24 Hours before this Change hapned. Those that were not so far gone remained in the same state for some time, and at last began to recover; some few, however, were seized with the disorder after we got into the Trade wind, but they had it but slightly, and soon got over it. It is worth remarking, that of all those who had it in its last stage only one man lived, who is now in a fair way of recovering; and I think Mr. Banks was the only one that was cured at the first Attack’d that had it to a great degree, or indeed at all, before we got into the South-East Trade, for it was before that time that his Cure was happily effected.

It is to be wished, for the good of all Seamen, and mankind in general, that some preventative was found out against this disease, and put in practice in Climates where it is common, for it is impossible to Victual and water a Ship in those Climates but what some one article or another, according to different Peoples opinions, must have been the means of bringing on the Flux. We were inclinable to lay it to the water we took in at Princes Island, and the Turtle we got their, on which we lived several days; but there seems to be no reason for this when we consider that all the Ships from Batavia this Year suffer’d by the same disorder as much as we have done, and many of them arrived at this place in a far worse State; and yet not one of the Ships took any water in at Princes Island. The same may be said of the Harcourt Indiaman, Captain Paul, who sail’d from Batavia soon after our arrival, directly for the Coast of Sumatra; we afterwards heard that she, in a very short time, lost by Sickness above 20 men; indeed, this seem to have been a year of General Sickness over most parts of India, the Ships from Bengal and Madrass bring Melancholly Accounts of the Havock made there by the united force of Sickness and famine.

Some few days after we left Java we saw, for 3 or 4 evenings succeeding one another, boobies fly about the ship. Now, as these birds are known to roost every night on land they seem’d to indicate that some Island was in our neighbourhood; probably it might be the Island Selam, which Island I find differently laid down in different Charts, both in Name and Situation.

The variation of the Compass off the West Coast of Java is about 3 degrees West, which Variation continues, without any sencible difference in the Common Track of Ships, to the Longitude of 288 degrees West, Latitude 22 degrees 0 minutes South. After this it begins to increase apace, in so much that in the Longitude of 295 degrees, Latitude 23 degrees, the Variation was 10 degrees 20 minutes West; in 7 degrees more of Longitude and one of Latitude it increased 2 degrees; in the same space farther to the West it increased 5 degrees; in the Latitude of 28 degrees and Longitude 314 degrees it was 24 degrees 20 minutes; in the Latitude 29 degrees and Longitude 317 degrees it was 26 degrees 10 minutes, and continued to be much the same for the space of 10 degrees farther to the West; but in the Latitude of 34 degrees, Longitude 333 degrees we observed it twice to be 28 1/4 degrees West; but this was the greatest Variation we observed, for in the Latitude of 35 1/2 degrees, Longitude 337 degrees, it was 24 degrees, and continued decreasing, so that of Cape Laguillas it was 22 degrees 30 minutes and in Table Bay it was 20 degrees 30 minutes West.

From what I have observed of the Current it doth not appear that they are at all considerable until you draw near the Meridian of Madagascar, for after we had made 52 degrees of Longitude from Java head we found, by observation, our Error in Longitude was only 2 degrees, and it was the same when we had made only 19 degrees. This Error might be owing partly to a Current setting to the Westward, or, what I thought most likely, that we did not make sufficient allowance for the set of the Sea before when we run, and, lastly, the assum’d Longitude of Java head might be wrong. If any Error lays there it Arises from the imperfection of the Charts I made use of in reducing the Longitude from Batavia to the above mentioned Head, for it cannot be doubted but the Longitude of Batavia is well Determined. After we had passed the Longitude of 307 degrees we began to find the Effects of the Westerly Currents, for in 3 days our Error in Longitude was 1 degree 5 minutes; its Velocity kept increasing as we got to the Westward, in so much that for 5 days successively, after we had made the land, we were drove to the South-West or South-West by West by the Currents not less than 20 Leagues a day; and this continued until we were within 60 or 70 Leagues of the Cape, where we found the Current to set sometimes one way and sometimes another, but mostly to the Westward.

After the Boobies above mentioned left us we saw no more birds till we got nearly abreast of Madagascar, where, in the Latitude of 27 3/4 degrees, we saw an Albatross. After that time we saw more of these birds every day, and in greater numbers, together with several other sorts; one sort about as big as a Duck, of a very Dark brown Colour, with a yellowish bill. The number of these birds increased upon us as we approached the Shore. As soon as we got into Soundings we saw Gannets, which we continued to see as long as we were on the Bank, which stretches off Laguillas 40 Leagues, and Extends along shore to the Eastward from Cape False, according to some charts, 160 Leagues; the Extent of this Bank is not well known, however, it is useful in directing Shipping when to haul in to make the land.


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