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Historical Records of New Zealand

Rev. S. Marsden to Commissioner Bigge

page 493

Rev. S. Marsden to Commissioner Bigge.

On Board H.M.S. Dromedary, Bay of Islands. April 26th, 1820.

Honoured Sir,—

You will have learned of the American vessel sent to Port Jackson by Captain Skinner that the Dromedary was in the Bay of Islands. We arrived here on the 27th of February. In a few days I went over with Mr. Morley, the second master, and Mr. Mart, the carpenter, to the Gambier River on the western side—the former to examine the harbour and the bar and the latter to see the timber. Mr. Mart very much approved of the spars on the banks of the river: they are very abundant, and fit for all naval purposes. Mr. Morley, after examining the harbour and the entrance, was of opinion the Dromedary could get into the river. In consequence of the report made by these officers on our return Captain Skinner went round with the Dromedary. We lay off the harbour mouth about four days, during which period a more accurate survey was made of the bar and entrance. After Captain Skinner had made his observations he made up his mind to go in, if he had a leading wind, but he was afraid to venture without the wind was favourable, in consequence of the Dromedary drawing so much water, and there not been sufficient room to work so long a ship in the channel during the time we were there. The wind was continually varying, and at length the weather threatened to blow hard, which induced Captain Skinner to bear away for the North Cape, and we once more anchored in the Bay of Islands, to the great mortification of all persons on board. Had we been able to get into the harbour, the Dromedary would have been soon laden with the finest spars, and we should probably now have been on our way, or nearly so, for Port Jackson. There are plenty of spars in the Bay of Islands such as we wanted as to length and thickness; but they are not equal in quality to those at the Gambier. I am sorry that the Dromedary is detained longer than what was expected from our disappointment in the Gambier. Vessels of 600 or 800 tons may enter the harbour with safety, according to the opinion of the officers, and the Dromedary probably might have got in, but as there was not a leading wind, it was thought more prudent to give up the attempt.

I am very anxious to get home again, but as the Captain intends to visit the River Thames he wishes me to remain till he has been there, and has written to Governor Macquarie on the subject. There has been no misunderstanding between the natives and the Europeans, and I have reason to believe there will be none. I am fully convinced that New Zealand will supply His Majesty’s navy with spars of every kind that can possibly page 494 be wanted, and of the best kind, when the country is a little more known by the Europeans. Gambier River will furnish spars for many years, if ships that draw less water than the Dromedary are sent for them. I shall embrace the first good opportunity to return, should any offer after the Dromedary has been at the River Thames. There have been four whalers in the harbour since we came in—three from England and one full ship, which is gone Home. I beg my respectful compliments to Mr. Scott, and have the honor to be, &c.,

Saml. Marsden.

The Honourable Commissioner of Enquiry.