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The Buccaneers arrive at a place incognito, to which they give the name of the Duke of York's Islands. A description of the said islands, and of the gulf, or lagoon, wherein they lie, so far as it was searched. They remain there many days by stress of weather, not without great danger of being lost. An account of some other remarkable things that happened there.
WEDNESDAY, October 12th. All the night before this day we had many high winds. I reckoned an E.S.E. way, and twenty leagues; for our vessel drove at a great rate. Moreover, we were in lat. 50° 50' S., so that our casting from Paita by my account ought to be one hundred and one leagues, or thereabouts.
This morning about two hours before day, we happened by great accident to spy land. It was the great mercy of God, which had always attended us in this voyage, that saved us from perishing at this time, for we were close ashore before we saw it; and our foreyard, which we most needed on this occasion, was taken down. The land we had seen was very high and towering; and here appeared to be many islands scattered up and down. We steered in with what caution we could, between them and the main, and at last, God be praised, arrived at a place or rather bay, where we perceived ourselves to be land-locked, and, as we thought, pretty safe from the danger of those tempestuous seas. From hence we sent away our canoe to sound and search the fittest place for anchoring. At this time one of our men, named Henry Shergall, as he was going into our sprit-sail top, happened to fall into the water, and was drowned before any help could be had, though we endeavoured it as much as we possibly could. This incident several of our company interpreted as a bad omen of the place, which proved not so, through the providence of the Almighty, though many dangers were not wanting here to us, as I shall relate.
We came to an anchor in the depth of forty tathom, more or less, and yet at a greater distance than a stone's cast from shore. The water where we anchored was very smooth, and the high lands round about all covered with snow. Having considered the time of the year, and all other circumstances, we resolved, that in case we could find a sufficient stock of provisions here, we would stay longer, that is, until summer came, or something more, before we prosecuted our intended voyage homewards through the Straits of Magellan; which now we began to be careful how to find. That day of our anchoring in this bay, we shot six or eight brave geese, and some smaller fowl besides. Here we found also many hundreds of mussel-banks; all which were very plentifully stocked with that kind of fish. We buried our dead man on the shore, giving him several vollies for his funeral-rites. according to the custom In the night of this day our anchor came home, so that we were forced to let go a grappling to secure ourselves. But still every flaw of wind drove us. Hereupon we set our sprit-sail, and ran about a mile into another bay, where we let go another anchor, and thus anchored again. The first anchor, which was also the biggest in our ship, we lost by this accident, the cable being cut by the rocks. To these islands afore-mentioned our captain gave the name of His Royal Highness the Duke of York's Islands.
Thursday, October 13th. This day we began to moor our ship, she driving as we easily could perceive with every flaw of wind that blew. The tide flows here full seven feet up and down. We moored our vessel into a rocky point, being a key whereof there are many in the circumference of this bay. The ground of the bottom of the said bay we found was hard and sandy, being here and there rocky. This evening we brought on board great store of limpets, of which we made a kettle of broth that contained more than all our company could eat.
On Friday, October 14th, we killed several geese, as also many of another sort of fowl like an eagle, but having a bigger beak, with their nostrils rising from the top of the middle of their beak by a hand trunk. This fowl lives on fish, but we saw none. Yesterday in the evening there fell a great sleet of snow on the hills round about the bay, but none where we were at anchor. NIoreover, this day in the evening we caught limpets in great quantity, being three times as many as we could eat. Our men in ranging the keys for game, found grass plaited above a fathom long, and a knot tied at the end thereof. In like manner on other keys they found mussels and limpet shells. From these things we presently concluded that these countries were inhabited, and that some Indians or others were to be found hereabouts.
Saturday, October 15th. Last night we had much rain, with large hailstones. About midnight the wind came to north with such great fury that the tree to which our cable was fastened on shore gave way, and came up by the roots. All those gusts of wind were mixed with violent storms of rain and hail. Thus we fastened again to other trees. But here it happened that our ship coming up to the shore, our rudder touched, and thereupon broke our goose-neck. Great was now our extremity, and greater it will be, if God send not better weather. Scarce a minute now passed without flaws of wind and rain.
Sunday, October 16th. Last night was rainy, as before. About nine o'clock our biggest hawser gave way and broke. All this day likewise we had rain, with several showers of hail, and but little wind to W. of N.
Monday, October 17th. All last night, until five this morning, it ceased not to rain. Then until ten it snowed. On the hills it snowed all the night long. This day we hunted on the shore many tracks of people hereabouts, but could find none hitherto, they having fled and concealed themselves for fear of us, as we supposed.
October 18th. In the past night we had much rain and hail. But the day was very clear. Hereupon we made an observation, which gave us lat. 50° 40' S. Moreover, this day we had pretty warm weather.
October 19th. Both clear and frosty last night. This day was hazy, and somewhat windy from the north quarter. Every day we had plenty of limpets and mussels of a very large size.
October 20th. Last night was rainy, and this day windy, with very great gusts of wind at N.N.W. until the afternoon. Then we had wind at N.W., being very fresh and in gusts.
October 21st. All the past night was tempestuous, with huge gusts of wind and showers of hail. Yesterday in the evening we carried a cable ashore, and fastened it to a tree. This being clone, at midnight our biggest cable broke in the middle. Towards morning we had much snow. In the day, great gusts of wind with large hailstones; and also great plenty of limpets.
October 22nd. Last night we had strange gusts of wind from N.W., together with much hail and rain. This day we killed a penguin; and also began to carry water on board.
October 23rd. All the last twenty-four hours we had much rain. The wind was but little at W. and W. S. W.
October 24th. All this time until noon nothing but rain. At that time it held up fair for the space of half an hour, or thereabouts, and then it rained again all the rest of the day.
October 25th. All this while we had not one minute fair. Towards evening it held up from raining, but the weather was cloudy, and withal much warmer than when we came hither at first
Wednesday, October 26th. All the past night, and this forenoon, we had fair weather. But afternoon it rained again. We found cockles like those we have in England.
Thursday, October 27th. Last night we had much rain, with very great gusts of wind, lasting for the whole space thereof. Yet notwithstanding, this day proved to be the fairest that we ever had since we came into this place. In the evening of this day our canoe, which was gone to search the adjacent places for Indians, or what else they could find, returned to the ship, with a dory at her stern. They had gone, as it should seem, beyond the old bay- where we first anchored, and thereabouts happened to meet with this dory. In it were three Indians, who perceiving themselves near being taken, leaped overboard to make their escape. Our men in pursuing them unadvisedly shot one of them dead. A second, being a woman, escaped their hands. But the third, who was a lusty boy about eighteen years of age, was taken, and him they brought on board the ship. He was covered only with a seal's skin, having no other clothing about him. His eyes squinted, and his hair was cut pretty short. In the middle of the dory they had a fire burning, either for dressing victuals or some other use. The dory itself was built sharp at both ends, and flat bottomed. They had a net to catch penguins, and a club like our bandies, called by them a tomahawk. His language we could not understand, but he pointed up the lagoon, giving us to understand that there were more people thereabouts. This was confirmed by our men, who also said they had seen more. They had darts to throw against an enemy, pointed with wood.
On the next day, being October 28th, in the evening our canoe went from the ship again to seek for more Indians. They went into several lagoons, and searched them narrowly. But they could find nothing but two or three huts, all the natives being fled before our arrival. In the evening they returned to the ship, bringing with them very large limpets, and also mussels which were six inches and a half long. Our Indian prisoner could open these mussels with his fingers, which our men could not so readily do with their knives. Both the night past and this day we had very fait weather.
On the 29th we had in like manner a very fair day, and also a smooth wind at S.S.E. Our Indian this day pointed to us that there were men in this country, or not far off from here, with great beards. He appeared to us by his actions to be very innocent and foolish. But by his carriage I was also persuaded that he was a man-eater. This day likewise we caught limpets enough to suffice us for the morrow.
Sunday, October 3oth. This day was fair, and there blew a small S.S.E. wind. In the morning we sent a canoe over to the eastward shore, to seek either for provisions or Indians. I myself could not go as I desired, being, with two or three more, at that time very much tormented with the gripes. I am persuaded that this place where we now were, is not so great an island as some hydrographers lay it down, but rather an archipelago of smaller islands. We saw this day many penguins, but they were so shy that we could not come near them. They paddle on the water with their wings very fast, but their bodies are too heavy to be carried by the said wings. The sun now made the weather very warm, insomuch that the snow melted apace.
October 31st. Both last night and this day were very fair. At noon our canoe returned from the eastern shore, bringing word that they had found several good bays and harbours, that were deep even close to the shore; only that there lay in them several sunken rocks, which we had also where we were. But these rocks are not dangerous to shipping, by reason that they have weeds which lie two fathoms in circumference about them. This morning blew a small wind at N.N.E.
November 1st. This day was also fair, and we had a small wind as before, at N.N.E.
November 2nd. Last night I took the polar distance of the South star of the cock's foot, and found it to be 28° 25'. I observed also the two Magellan clouds, of which I made mention in this Journal before, and found them to be as follows, viz., the lesser 14° 05', and the greater 14° 25'. The morning of this day we hoisted on end our top-masts, and also brought too a maintop-sail and fore-sail, and finished our filling all the water we needed. At the same time the wind hung easterly; and I was still much tormented with the gripes as before.
November 3rd. This morning we hung our rudder, the greatest piece of work we had to do, after those violent storms above-mentioned. In the afternoon we hauled in our two biggest hawsers, and also our biggest cable from the shore. For the last three days we had a very great and dark fog between us and the eastward shore. We had now very little wind in the cove where we were, but abroad at sea there blew at the same time a stiff gale at S.S.E. Moreover, we could perceive now, the stormy weather being blown over, much small fry of fish about the ship, whereof we could see none, as was mentioned before. This day we had a very clear and calm evening.
November 4th. Both all last night and this day we had very calm weather. And this morning a small breeze sprang up at N. and N.N.E., which afterwards wheeled about to S. and S.S.E. This morning we hoisted our main and fore-yards; and likewise fetched off from the shore our other hawser and cable, into eleven fathom water. Our resolutions were now changed for a departure, in order to seek the mouth of the Straits of Magellan, seeing that we could not winter here for want of provisions, which we could not find either on the continent or about these islands afore-mentioned. The weather now was very warm, or rather hot, and the birds sung as sweetly as those in England. We saw here both thrushes and blackbirds, and many other sorts of those that are usually seen in our own country.
This morning brought us a wind at N.N.E. hereupon; we
warped to a
rocky point, thereby to get out of the cove where we lay.
anchor came home to us as we were carrying our warp out.
At this time
a second breeze came up very fresh in our stern; so that
we took the
opportunity thereof, and went away before it. By noon this
hoisted in our canoes, and also turned away loose to the
Indian dory. As for the Indian boy whom we had taken in
said dory we
kept him still prisoner, and called him Orson. Our cove at
departure from this place looked thus, as I took then the
thereof. When we were come out into the channel, the
dead calm. Only now and then we had a small breeze,
one quarter and then from another. By this slackness of
observed that the current hoisted us to the southward. On
side of this lagoon we perceived the Indians make a great
We had a very fair day till six in the evening; when we got without the mouth of the gulf, it blew so hard, that in an hour it forced us to hand our top-sails. Having now a fit gale at N.W. and N.N.W., we stood S.W. by W. to clear ourselves of some breaks which lie four leagues from the gulf's mouth at S. and S.S.E. Hereabouts we saw many reefs and rocks, which occasioned us to stand close hauled. I have drawn here and given to my reader so much as I have seen of the gulf itself; the rest must be completed in due time by them that have greater opportunities of making a farther search into it than I had at the time of our stay here under such tempestuous weather as I have described, and the distemper which hung upon me at the same time.
The Duke of York's Island is probably situated near the S. part of the island of Madre de Dios, and English Gulf is the Brazo de la Concepcion a little to the N. of Magellan's Straits on the Pacific side.