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Explorers of the Pacific: European and American Discoveries in Polynesia

Urey Lisiansky

page 72

Urey Lisiansky

1803 to 1806

As Captain Urey Lisiansky of the Neva had been given a different assignment than that of Krusenstern, his narrative contains some different episodes of interest. After rounding Cape Horn, he parted from the Nadeshda and, finding the winds favorable, called at Easter Island, which he sighted on April 16, 1804. Some observations were made concerning the people. He also recorded useful information concerning the Marquesans. At the Sandwich Islands, he stayed longer than Krusenstern and visited Caracacoa (Kealakekua) Bay in Hawaii and Weymea (Waimea) Bay in Otooway (Kauai). He left the Sandwich Islands on June 20 and reached Kodiak Island off the northwest coast on July 8. He spent time at Kodiak and Sitka Sound in making observations and trading for furs, of which he procured a good cargo. He sailed south from Sitka on September 1, 1805, to make the rendezvous with Krusenstern at Macao. While passing to the west of the Sandwich Islands on the night of October 15, the Neva grounded on a coral reef. By throwing the guns overboard, the ship was floated off into deep water. In the morning, a small, low island was observed close at hand, and a sudden squall drove the Neva onto another part of the reef. This time anchors and cables were discarded and the ship was floated off. Fortunately, the weather was calm and Lisiansky landed on the island. He saw redwood logs, which must have drifted from California, and a small calabash with a round hole cut in it. The island, though of no economic value, was important because of its danger to navigation if not properly charted. This new discovery, which was named Lisiansky Island, is one of a number of islets which run northwest from the Hawaiian Islands.

Lisiansky did not call at St. Helena on his return journey, because he had ample provisions and water and his crewmen were in good health. He called at Portsmouth on June 28, and anchored at Kronstadt on August 4, 1806. He received a great ovation from the Russians, and honors and presents were poured upon him and his officers and crew. The Neva was a faster sailer than the Nadeshda, and one cannot help feeling that Lisiansky deliberately avoided St. Helena so as to be the first home. However, Krusenstern planned and obtained the support for the project and to him is due the credit of Russia's first round-the-globe voyage.