donderdag 11 september 2014

William Bligh -- 12 september 1792

William Bligh (1754-1817) was een Britse marinekapitein en later admiraal, nu vooral nog bekend als gezagvoerder van de Bounty. In 1791-93 maakte hij een tocht die bekendstaat als The second breadfruit voyage. Gedeelten uit het journaal van die reis zijn hier te lezen.

Sept. 10. The boats sounded the channel to the north-west, between Dungeness and Warriours Islands; and finding sufficient water, the vessels got under way, at noon, to follow them. There were many natives collected upon the shore of Dungeness Island, and several canoes from Warriours Island were about the brig. Presently, captain Portlock made the signal for assistance; and there was a discharge of musketry and some guns, from his vessel and from the boats. Canoes were also coming towards the Providence; and when a musket was fired at the headmost, the natives set up a great shout, and paddled forward in a body; nor was musketry sufficient to make them desist. The second great gun, loaded with round and grape, was directed at the foremost of eight canoes, full of men; and the round shot, after raking the whole length, struck the high stem. The Indians leaped out, and swam towards their companions; plunging constantly, to avoid the musket balls which showered thickly about them. The squadron then made off, as fast as the people could paddle without showing themselves; but afterwards rallied at a greater distance, until a shot, which passed over their heads, made them disperse, and give up all idea of any further attack.

In passing the deserted canoe, one native was observed still sitting in it. The other canoes afterwards returned to him; and, with glasses, signals were perceived to be made by the Indians, to their friends on Dungeness Island, expressive, as was thought, of grief and consternation.

No arrows fell on board the Providence; but three men were wounded in the Assistant, and one of them afterwards died: The depth to which the arrows penetrated into the decks and sides of the brig, was represented to be truly astonishing.

The vessels passed between Dungeness and Warriours Islands, with from 19 to 13 fathoms; and anchored, at four o'clock, under the lee of Dungeness Island and Reef. The passage to the westward then appeared clearer; three high islands, bearing from S. 60° W. three leagues, to N. 76° W. five leagues, forming the sole visible obstructions.

Sept. 12. The vessels followed the boats to the westward; but were interrupted by reefs, and obliged to anchor again before noon. The water had shoaled gradually, and there was then only 6 fathoms: the bottom a coarse, coral sand. Two other islands were then in sight: a low one, named Turn-again Island, bore N. 53° W. about four leagues; and Jervis' Island, which is rather high, S. 48° W. nine leagues. A reef, with a dry sand upon it, extended from S. 7° E. to 62° W. four or five miles; another was distant three miles to the west; and a third bore N. 18° W. five miles. The latitude of the anchorage was 9° 41' south, and longitude 142° 24' east.

A fresh gale from south-east did not allow the Providence and Assistant to proceed onward for three days. In the mean time, the passage between the reefs to the N. W., was sounded by the boats; and found to contain about 5 fathoms, regularly, upon hard ground. They were also sent to examine the passage round the southern reefs; and this being deeper, with a superior bottom, it was chosen as the preferable route.

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