New Zealand 1826-1827: From the French of Dumont D'Urville
V Journey From Houa-Houa [Tolaga] Bay to our Departure from Wangari Bay
V Journey From Houa-Houa [Tolaga] Bay to our Departure from Wangari Bay
1827, 6th February—We had little else but slight winds from the N. and N.E. with calms between, which did not allow us to make much headway. And so, at three o'clock in the afternoon, a big canoe which had been coming towards us for a long time, reached us at last. The most important man came on board, and greeted me with an ease and even a graciousness, which convinced me that he was accustomed to dealing with Europeans. He told me that he was called Oroua, and that he was rangatira rahi [chief and priest] of the Toko-Malou pa, presumably Cook's Tegadou. This chief knew from tradition of the time spent in his country by the explorer at Houa-Houa and Taone Roa.
I invited Oroua to dine with me and he seemed highly flattered by this favour and behaved perfectly correctly. At my request, he repeated the second half of the Pihe to me quite perfectly. We talked at length of the different chiefs of the Bay of Islands, and he appeared to be well acquainted with the wars which divide the peoples of the north. After the meal, he asked me, indeed begged me, to anchor at least twenty-four hours in his waters. To persuade me to do so he went so far as to offer me two fine pigs free of charge. I thanked him politely and saw that they were paid for out of the ship's account. His canoe held more than twenty of these animals; but as we had just bought as many as we could carry from the Houa-Houa natives, no one came forward to buy them. However, Oroua's companions were so anxious to dispose of them, so as not to have to take them back again, that in the end they gave them in exchange for knives.
On this occasion I was able to see how grasping and unreasonable a sailor's disposition can become. I had been watching for a moment one of the petty officers hanging to the side of the ship and engaged in a violent argument with a native about the purchase of a pig. The petty officer held in his hand two little knives, a new one worth a copper or two and another which was nothing but an old blade stuck on to a bit of wood, at the most fit to scrape the mud off shoes. In exchange for these two articles, the savage †page 125was offering him a pig weighing sixty to seventy pounds, but the petty officer raged at him, insulting him in his provengal dialect, which fortunately the other man didn't understand. Surprised to see the fellow's anger, I asked him if he was not satisfied with the transaction. "No, Sir," he replied, as he showed me a pig weighing eighty to one hundred pounds, "that's the pig I want, and the rogue won't give me any but this one which is too small." Then, seeing that the native was not going to give up the big pig, he went off grumbling, and kept his two knives, for which he probably only got an egg later on.
The savages proved more difficult pver their cloaks, for they would only accept cloth or blankets in exchange, and they were quite right.
At seven o'clock, Oroua, seeing that I would not yield to his requests, followed my advice and set off to reach his home, after begging and obtaining a few sheets of paper and some bullets, for he added that the inhabitants of this coast were exposed to frequent and sanguinary fighting. He had expressed a wish to spend the night on board, but I had learnt a lesson from what had happened with our travellers from Tera-Witi and, having no desire to risk having to carry and feed a score of these natives, I refused firmly and sent him off home. For ourselves, after running five or six miles to the N.E. by N., we hove to in fifty or sixty fathoms, mud.
As soon as daylight came and allowed us to see the coast, we calculated that we were eight or nine miles out to sea off Toko Malou Bay [Tokomaru] and we took advantage of a slight wind W.N.W. and W.S.W. to go forward in the direction of East Cape or Wai-Apou.
The coast, which from Houa-Houa Bay had been lofty and mountainous, drops after Toko-Malou Bay and slopes gently down to the sea. The surrounding country offers to the gaze of the navigator smiling woods, lovely valleys, and two or three pas of some considerable size. One of them, especially, situated about a league from the sea, a white patch in the middle of a space cleared of trees, with its regular lines of huts forming an amphitheatre, reminded me somewhat of the little towns in the Greek Archipelago. This spontaneous comparison of the cradle of the highest European civilization with these wild shores in our antipodes, induced in my mind a flood of reflections on the destinies of peoples and the unforeseen causes which can suddenly bring them out of obscurity to play, each in turn, a brilliant role on the stage of the world. I thought of the Gauls, bandits looked upon with page 126such scorn by the organized Greeks; of the Britons, savage creatures whom Rome did not deign to conquer in the most brilliant periods of her empire: twenty centuries have sufficed to raise them to the first rank among the nations. The first have just made Europe tremble at the sound of their arms, and today the latter dominate the whole world by the influence of their wealth and the overwhelming power of their ships. Still more recently, the Russians, who less than two centuries ago had scarcely been heard of, have emerged as if by a miracle from the obscurity in which they were plunged; and have they not already become a formidable power? And what of the North Americans, freed from the yoke of Albion, proud and happy men who came into existence as a nation scarcely a half century ago! If only they preserve their simple way of life, their wisdom and their industry, will they not before many years have run, be able to challenge the English rule of the seas?
If, as everything leads one to think, Australia is destined to become the seat of a great empire, it is inconceivable that New Zealand should not follow her impetus, and her children, civilized and intermingled with the posterity of England, will themselves become a powerful and formidable people. Everything seems to point to their playing an important part at sea. Like Great Britain, New Zealand, while surrounded on every side by ocean waters, and provided with excellent harbours, also possesses forests which could supply the finest timber for masts and shipbuilding generally, plants yielding fibre suitable for the manufacture of the best rope and cordage and a soil that would lend itself to the cultivation of all the products of temperate regions. It cannot, therefore, be questioned that its inhabitants will make very rapid progress towards a civilized life, as soon as Europeans or Australians are willing to assume responsibility for the task, or perhaps from the moment that from among themselves there emerges a genius of extraordinary powers, capable of becoming a lawgiver to his fellows and of uniting them in one national body.
Then these shores, at present without human habitation, except for a few isolated pas, will be alive with flourishing cities; these bays of unbroken silence, crossed occasionally by frail canoes, will be highways for ships of every type. And a few centuries hence, were it not that henceforth printing will record by its indestructible means the deeds and discoveries of modern times, future members of the Academy of New Zealand would page 127not fail to question or at least to argue laboriously about the narratives of the earliest explorers, when they found them speaking of the wilderness lands and the savages of their country, and most of all, the total absence of any of the animals that are useful to man on this great globe.
Beyond the range which runs along this part of the coast, about twelve miles inland, and a veritable giant among the lesser mountains that surround it, rises Mount Ikou-Rangui [Hikurangi] whose soaring peak dominates the whole of this part of New Zealand. We continued to see it throughout several days and from every side of East Cape. Once we saw it distinctly at a distance of over twenty leagues, and it is an excellent landmark for this part of the coast. In spite of its height, which must be prodigious, it did not seem to show any snow, a fact due, no doubt, to its isolation.
Towards East Cape, the coast has a fine beach of sand; but there must be very few inhabitants in this region, for in spite of fine weather, an absolutely calm sea, and our own proximity to land we did not see a single canoe afloat. We hove to at a quarter past three, in twenty-six fathoms, sand and mud, one league to the south of East Island, the real name of which is Houana-Hokeno. Situated not more than a mile from the cape, it is simply a rounded mass of no great extent, very steep all round, and apparently linked with the cape by a chain of partly submerged reefs, so that the channel between the two cannot be navigable. The cape itself is merely a bluff, in form like a flattened cone, three hundred to three hundred and sixty feet high, which moreover is only joined to the rest of the mainland by a tongue of lowlying land; from a certain distance, therefore, it too could be taken for an island. Finally, to the right and to the left, the ground is covered with trees and holds promise of excellent vegetation.
We had scarcely rounded the cape when the sea, perfectly calm until that moment, seemed to be troubled by a fairly strong swell from the west, enough to counteract to a great extent the little speed that we should have gained from a weak west wind that continued to blow all night. At sunset, the land was enveloped in a thick mist which lasted only a short time. At ten o'clock in the evening the sounding gave eighty fathoms, mud, after which the lead could not find bottom.
8th February—Throughout the day, amid enchanting weather, light squalls followed by calm intervals kept us about ten or twelve miles to the north of East Cape, without it being possible for us to get nearer to land. At page 128noon we began to catch sight of two big canoes coming towards us, and at two o'clock one of them, manned by twenty-one natives, came alongside, the men exhausted by the long distance that they had just come. The savages were on the whole ugly, very dark men, and the sea water, which had swept right over them a great many times, in evaporating, had left their skin with a salt, white powdery layer that made them look like lepers. They brought a few pigs and sweet potatoes; but they stubbornly refused to accept anything but guns in exchange and they would not even tie up alongside. This distrust surprised us, and as we really did not need anything, we soon ceased to take any notice of them.
The sailmaker killed a light-brown-headed gannet and two kingfishers; a boat was let down to pick them up. Ever since we had been near East Cape, gannets had fluttered the whole time round the corvette, and this morning, in spite of the fine weather, a crowd of stormy petrels appeared in our wake, although we had not seen a single one in the preceding days. We smiled and wondered whether, in a region so far away from Europe, these birds, appearing in this way, would justify the vulgar idea common among sailors.
At this point a second canoe arrived and acted in the same way as the first; but in a third, close behind, a chief of fine physique and wearing a woollen blanket drew alongside the corvette without any hesitation and came on board. Having immediately inquired who was the rangatira rahi, he saluted me with a certain ease, explaining at once that he was Shaki, the son of Pomare, and chief of Wai-Tepori, and that he had brought pigs to barter for guns and powder. I told him that he was welcome, that he should have some powder, but not any guns, as we needed them for self-defence. This seemed to annoy him, but he made up his mind at once and lively bargaining soon began. Several new cloaks were bought. M. Sainson got five beauties for an old shooting gun, and M. Bertrand secured one for a pistol, or rather for the remains of a pistol. I bought six pigs, two medium and four tiny ones, for three pounds of powder. Here the wish of the natives to obtain wool coverlets (which they call para-iket, a corruption of the English blanket) in exchange for their goods was much more clearly expressed than anywhere else; unfortunately, no one had a supply of things of this kind.
It should be noted in passing that all the natives whom we have seen so page 129far on the coast of New Zealand are at one in pronouncing Astrolabe Ateramou and d'Urville Touini. Under these new forms it would indeed be difficult to recognize the original names.
Shaki of Wai-Tepori confirmed the names of Wai-Apou and Houana-Hokeno for East Cape and the island of the same name. The cape which follows immediately to the west is Wareka-Heka; then comes the bay Wai-Tepori, then the one that Cook called Hick's Bay. Finally, the point that projects most to the north, between East Cape and Cape Runaway, is the one that should bear the name of Wanga-Parawa.
Nor did this chief spare supplications or promises to persuade me to anchor in Wai-Tepori, near his pa, affirming that we should find plenty of pigs, potatoes, cloaks, and women at our disposal. I believe that, in fact, we should have been well received, and there is no doubt that at the present time a ship would find far more resources on this part of the coast than in the districts farther north, ruined by the recurring wars among the inhabitants, or drained by the frequent visits of English or American whalers.
Shaki did not leave the boat till four o'clock, when he had sold all his pigs. His example decided those in the other two canoes and in the end they also parted with their animals in exchange for powder.
At five o'clock, I took advantage of the long calm to send the thermo-metrograph down to three hundred and sixty fathoms, vertical depth. The result of this experiment was that the temperature of the sea water which was 19.6°C. at the surface, was only 7.7°C. at this depth.
The calm had lasted all day, but at nine o'clock a N.W. wind sprang up, got gradually stronger and at half past ten it forced us to reef the topsails a second time.
9th February—From four o'clock in the morning a strong wind was blowing with violent squalls. The sea had got rough very quickly with short steep waves that were very straining to the ship. We had to take in everything, and remain hove to with nothing but the forestaysail, for fear of seeing any other sail carried off by the wind, so furious had it become. From four o'clock to eight o'clock it blew in whirlwinds, and the surface of the water looked exactly like a sheet of white powder. The corvette was tossed about terribly by the swell and every wave that broke against the sides of the ship threatened to carry off the whaleboat.page 130
Afterwards the wind veered to W.S.W. and the lengthening waves also became less dangerous. However, the wind blew all day long just as strongly. The sky remained clear, and for a long time we could still see the districts to the south and south-west. But the drift was taking us N.E., and the mist which rose finally hid the coast from our sight.
At sunset the sky clouded over, and the storm abated. At ten o'clock fine rain caused the wind to drop at last. But the swell which remained very heavy continued to toss us horribly.
10th February—The wind did not give us much respite. From two o'clock in the morning it again turned to the S.W. with renewed violence, and, moreover, brought squalls of rain at intervals. At midday the sky suddenly darkened, especially in the south where thunder was rolling in the distance; half an hour later the wind suddenly shifted right round to this quarter, continuing to rage with squalls and whirlwinds. A frightful sea got up in that direction, and its waves, meeting those from the preceding day at right angles, caused breakers and eddies which wore the corvette more severely than any seas had done so far. It seemed as if she were starting in every part of her, and a few places in the stern having given way, the cupboards in my room were flooded, which caused considerable damage to my books and effects as well as to the maps of the expedition.
No doubt by coming on with winds astern and running before the waves, we should have avoided a great deal of trouble. But I was determined not to abandon the investigation that I had begun; and for that purpose I had to remain athwart the wind, and stay as close as possible to shore. We only carried the forestaysail while on this course, and the fury of the storm was such that, in some of the squalls, the ship, though naturally making little progress, was griping under this one sail, and sometimes made as much as five knots.
The tempests and rainy squalls continued until three o'clock in the afternoon. Then the sky cleared a little, and the wind dropped towards the end of the day. The sea, however, was still extremely rough.
11th February—By daybreak the wind had dropped considerably, and at eight o'clock it was only blowing moderately from the south, with very fine weather. Unfortunately, a very heavy sea, lashing in every direction, drove straight on to our bow, deadening the ship's way and preventing us from making more than two knots. At noon, our observations revealed that, page 131in spite of all our efforts, in the space of seventy-two hours the current and the drift had driven us more than one hundred miles to the N.N.E.
12th February—The wind which had gone round to the west again during the evening began at midnight to blow strongly from that quarter with very troublesome cross-swells. However, I tacked in such a way as to put myself into position to double Cape Wanga-Parawa the moment the wind turned a shade to the north. Instead of that, at half past three in the afternoon, a tempest began to rise from the W.N.W. with squalls and an excessively rough, heavy sea. We saw ourselves forced to heave to again under the inner jib and the forestaysail. Throughout the night the sea rose more and more, and sometimes waves of enormous height made the ship take a frightful list. Today I am filled with admiration when I recall how our small boats, hanging from the sides of the vessel, were not carried away by those enormous sheets of water.
13th February—It was not till the morning of the following day that this storm abated. For a moment, round about five o'clock, we saw the summit Ikou-Rangui once more quite distinctly; it must have been at least sixty to seventy miles away then.
At seven-forty the wind, which was still blowing strongly, suddenly dropped, to be followed by a slight wind from the S.E., which came up in such a way as to make us fear a new storm from that quarter. This time we escaped with nothing worse than a fright; then this very wind dropped to a point at which it could not help us to steer through the swells that tossed us about mercilessly. However, the sky then cleared altogether and we enjoyed the most perfect weather.
We had again lost more than thirty-six miles to the E.S.E. in the last twenty-four hours and I realized with sorrow that with continually strong contrary winds, counter-currents, and such a rough sea, it would be impossible for us to continue our survey. In spite of the acute regret which I felt, I was greatly tempted to abandon our work on East Cape and to take advantage of the first favourable breath of wind to go to the Bay of Islands.
Already my companions and I had learnt by painful experience what an enormous difference there is between carrying out easy expeditions like those of the Uranie and the Coquille'† across open seas without any detailed investigation, without a single hydrographic observation; and on the other hand, page 132working all the time at a geographical survey of dangerous and often unknown shores, and struggling against hostile elements in an endeavour to fulfil the purpose of one's instructions. Unfortunately, merit of this kind is little known, and, as a rule, little appreciated; but it is at least proof against the ravages of time and the caprice of men, as is the achievement which renders the highest service to navigation and geography.
The night was fine, and I hugged the wind to starboard as far as I could, given the everlasting swells from the west, which were joined little by little by an enormous wave from the north, the sight of which astonished me quite as much as it worried me. At half past three in the morning, calculating that I was not more than ten to twelve miles from Cape Wanga-Parawa, I hove to, to wait for the day.
14th February—When it came, I was more than a little disappointed to see that I was still a considerable distance to the east of Cape Wai-Apou. The current had almost exactly destroyed all the headway we had made in the night; as the wind continued all the morning feeble and variable from W. to S.W. and to S., far from gaining, we simply lost more and more.
Tired at last of being against us, at eleven o'clock the wind steadied in the S.E., and soon began to rise and to drive us on eight or nine miles. It was not long before we had come back to Cape Wai-Apou; then we skirted the whole of that part of the coast lying between this point and Cape Runaway, keeping two or three miles out to sea. Hicks Bay, which is deep, should afford good shelter against any wind except those from the N.E.; its N.W. corner has a line of rocks just at the surface. At twenty minutes past three in the afternoon, we hove to, two miles to the north of this corner and we did not find any bottom at eighty fathoms.
As a general rule all this stretch of coast is lofty, mountainous, and covered in forest; yet along the shore it has a belt that is habitable and no doubt inhabited, although we only noticed one or two fires.
Immediately to the south of Cape Runaway, the coast forms a fairly deep bay, but it would only prove useful in a case of necessity against winds from north to south by east. Cape Runaway itself is simply a rounded detached bluff, only connected with the shore by a very narrow isthmus. After that the coast runs away to the south-west to form one of the shores of Cook's vast Bay of Plenty.
At seven o'clock in the evening we had just sighted White Island, which page 133only appeared at intervals to the west through the clouds of smoke which enveloped it. We attributed these to the natives' fires, and it was only when we reached the Bay of Islands that we heard from the missionaries that this island, known to the natives as Pouhia-I-Wakadi, is nothing but a small volcano in perpetual eruption. If I had been aware of this fact earlier, I should have changed the course so as to make a closer survey of White Island and even to visit it if time had permitted. This delay might have spared us one of the most terrible experiences that threatened the Astrolabe during the whole of her voyage.
At a quarter past seven in the evening we hove to in ninety fathoms, mud, seven miles to the west of Cape Runaway. The wind continued to blow during the night in the north-east; it was fresh, with squalls and an enormous swell from the north. This extraordinary swell was a bad sign in my opinion. However, I decided to pursue my investigations. I could not bring myself to interrupt such an important piece of work; besides I hoped that the wind would stay long enough in the east to allow me to leave the Bay of Plenty before it began to change.
15th February—Consequently, at four o'clock in the morning, in order not to lose any time, I turned quickly to the south. At five o'clock we were able to chart all the details of the coast, although it was completely enveloped in mist. We left White Island four or five leagues to starboard. The sky was getting darker and darker and as the swell persisted, I cut straight towards Motou-Hora [Whale Island]. The whole eastern shore of the Bay of Plenty is lofty and pretty level. At the distance at which we passed, there was no indication that one might find any sort of good anchorage.
In the inner part of the bay, from this coast to a slightly higher headland that runs out toward Motou-Hora, the shore is almost on a level with the water, the land rising in ridges one after the other to the mountains of the interior.
At noon, we were only two or three miles to the S.E. of Motou-Hora, It is a very lofty island although less than two miles long and a mile wide. The south-eastern portion rises in a huge cone of extremely regular shape, which is well wooded and very impressive. Like Cook, we found that the channel which separates it from the mainland, was from five to six miles wide. It showed a depth of thirty-seven and thirty-three fathoms, sand and mud.page 134
The sky grew darker and darker, a fine rain fell, and the mist made us lose sight of Mt. Edgecumbe, another cone like Motou-Hora, probably twelve hundred feet high and particularly remarkable for its isolated position in the middle of a very flat region, a feature very seldom found in New Zealand.
We were unable to find our latitude and this was the first time it had happened since Cape Palliser. We heard the sea breaking with frightful fury along the sandy beach which forms the foreshore in front of Mt. Edgecumbe.
After midday the wind which all the morning had been feeble and variable in the S.E. and E.S.E., shifted to E.N.E. and freshened up. At the same time the rain fell more heavily, so that from one o'clock it poured all the time and seriously hindered M. Lottin's operations. In spite of it he continued all his observations, and I did not wish to abandon our exploration yet.
We entered the channel between Motou-Hora and the mainland. Five or six miles to the west of this island we checked the position of the islets and reefs noted by Cook, which make the navigation of this coast very dangerous. It became doubly dangerous for us, because of our particular circumstances.
Here Cook's map is defective and I regretted acutely that such bad weather made it impossible for me to correct it as accurately as I could wish. I ran along shore for two miles at the most, as much in order to keep it in sight as to avoid going too near the reefs which lie parallel with it. Beyond Mt. Edgecumbe, for about six to eight miles, the coast is very flat, then it rises abruptly into steep cliffs, of moderate height, with a narrow strip of shingle at the base, on which the sea was breaking fiercely.
From four to six o'clock I skirted this lonely beach, a mile and a half at most out to sea, crowding on sail in spite of the bad weather, in the hope of being able to sight Cook's Plate Island before it was dark. In that case I could have ascertained our position, and our course could have become more certain. But just after six o'clock in the evening, not having discovered anything and the sky becoming more and more threatening, I saw that if I was to have any regard for caution, I must sail out to sea without delay. After ordering the mainsail to be furled and the topsails to be close reefed I hugged the wind on the starboard tack in order to get quickly away from land.page 135
Indeed, our position on this inhospitable shore was really critical; if the wind had jumped to the north, we should almost inevitably have been lost. Although the breakers coming from the N.E. were prodigiously high, and we caught them almost head-on, the corvette behaved splendidly and continued to make five knots until eight o'clock, when the squalls became very heavy, bringing a deluge of rain and an ever-worsening sea. Prudence forced me to take in the foresail, the small staysail, and the mizen-topmast-staysail, so as to remain hove to under nothing but the main topsail and the fore-staysail. We passed the night under these sails, although I had every reason to fear that I should not be able to double the island, which could not be far away from us under the lee. But as we should inevitably be caught on Cook's Plate Island, on the reefs of Motou-Hora, or on the shore on the other side, I preferred to keep on the side that at least offered some chance of safety.
16th February—At daybreak, that is to say about five o'clock in the morning, I expected to sight High Island, that we should have passed two or three miles at the most on the east, or at any rate Mayor Island, which lies more to the N.N.W. But the weather was so bad and the squalls so full of rain and mist, that we could not see farther than a cable-length from the corvette.
However, at six o'clock our position grew still worse. The wind shifted to the N.E. and N.N.E., coming in real whirlwinds, and the sea was frightful. I estimated that we were very near Mayor Island and I wanted at any rate to get on to the other tack before it became impossible to handle the ship. Even during this operation the wind continued to veer to the north, increasing in violence the whole time. Very soon it became a raging tempest, the waves rose to a terrific height, while at the same time they remained fairly short and for that very reason were still more dangerous. Standing quite still for a long time and unresponsive to her helm, the ship remained in irons exposed like a rock to the full fury of the waves, although the foresail was kept shivering and the jib was hauled out to windward. At last a still heavier sea sent her over on her beam ends, when the sheet of the jib was torn out of the hands of the men holding it, and the sail, although an absolutely new one, was slashed immediately. Nevertheless, they managed to haul it down and to save it. The Astrolabe continued her evolution, came round on the port tack and fell into the trough of the sea, under nothing but the main topsail with the helm hard down. A perilous situation if ever there was one, as we page 136might roll under at any moment, without a sail capable of steadying the vessel, and probably, in that case, we should not have been able to rise.
At once I tried to run up a corner of the forestaysail and made every endeavour to furl the foresail. At that very instant the two sheet blocks gave way altogether, the foot rope was torn, and there was such a violent shiver that I thought the mast was down.
The storm, which raged in whirlwinds from the N. to N.E., and the fury of the waves threatened us every minute with this catastrophe. I hesitated therefore to send out sailors on to the yards and to risk their lives in such imminent danger; but excited by the peril itself, and urged on by their officers, they sprang up the masts with great courage, managed to reef the main foresail in some sort of fashion, and replaced the torn jib by another, although they were completely overwhelmed when the seas came and broke over the bowsprit.
From that moment I had no further anxiety about the masts; but the loss of the corvette was no less certain, if the bad weather continued even for a day. In that case the only thing I could do was to exert all my powers to put off the fatal moment and act in such a way that the corvette should be thrown on to the lower beaches in the east of the Bay of Plenty and clear of the steep cliffs on its western shore. This plan offered at least some hope of saving the lives of some of our people, and at that moment such a hope meant a great deal. Those of our company who escaped from the wreck would be able to give evidence of what we had achieved until that moment and thus a few friends of science might have praised our efforts and pitied our fate.
For four whole hours this frightful cataclysm of nature left us in a desperate situation. The violence of the wind, the fury of the waves, and the darkness which enveloped us reduced us to the most miserable inactivity and to the most complete ignorance as to our position. All we knew was that we were surrounded by dangers on every side and we felt that it only needed a few still more violent shivers to bring down our masts.
At last, just before half past ten, the clouds which the storm was driving straight across the sky began to break, the zenith cleared little by little, the wind, having steadied, no longer brought those gusts against which no sort of precaution could be of the slightest use. In a word, hope returned to rouse my courage, which had been almost destroyed, and I began to think page 137that we should be able to escape from all the dangers that had threatened us, once the wind and the sea allowed us to increase sail and steer a course; above all, once I had been able to ascertain my position.
At half past eleven, on the horizon, but nowhere else, there was a curtain of impenetrable fog to a height of twenty or thirty degrees, while a very strong wind in the N.N.W. was blowing fairly steadily. Then I went down to my cabin where I spent eight to ten minutes changing my clothes and giving a glance at the map. At that moment my calculation placed me at some distance from any land. On returning on deck and looking hastily round the ship, I was amazed to discover a frightful reef, not more than a mile away, which looked as if it filled the whole strip to leeward.
The fog had hidden it from us till this moment and no one had noticed it so far. My first care was to ask if the reef did not run out ahead of us; if so, I was ready to wear the ship;† but I felt that this slow uncertain movement could leave us scarcely any hope of safety. The lookout answered that the reef only stretched two or three points on the lee-quarter; at the same moment I noticed abeam, and not more than a cable away, a spur of reef that we scarcely cleared. We could not have been in more imminent danger and there was not a moment to lose. In spite of the force of the wind and at the risk of sinking the ship under too much sail, I ordered every bit of possible sail to be unfurled. This order was carried out with admirable speed. Thanks to the work of the officers and crew, in a few moments, instead of one miserable corner of the staysail, the corvette carried the two lower sails, the mizenstaysail, the forestaysail, and the two topsails close reefed.
It is true that from time to time this vast expanse of sail, caught by a sudden wind, gave the ship a terrifying list; hanging on the edge of a steep wave, she plunged her gunwale into the water, while the keel on the contrary could be seen entirely above the waves. However our good ship came through this new ordeal with honour. She did not suffer the slightest damage; and it was just noon as we left behind us the terrible reefs, which might have been the grave of the Astrolabe, if the horizon had been a few minutes later in clearing.
Such a sight as this, horrible for us at this critical moment, would no doubt have been wonderful for an onlooker not exposed to its dangers. The reef consisted of rocks not very far below the surface of the sea. The page 138waves, rushing down from the crest of their great moving masses, came crashing against these threatening spikes, broke into great bursts of foam, to surge up the next moment in rounded columns of dazzling whiteness, which sometimes reached forty to fifty feet in height. On either side a vast stretch of water rose and fell with a slow rhythm in splendid majesty.
At the very moment when we were passing so near this reef, the discolouration of the waters and their irregular motion convinced me that we were in shallow water and that at any moment a fatal crash might decide our fate. But I kept this observation to myself and would not even send down the line. It would have been a useless precaution and would only have served to increase the terror of the crew, who were already frightened enough.
As I have already said, it was exactly noon when we escaped from this peril, without any doubt one of the greatest that a ship has ever met. However, we were not yet without anxiety, and our situation was fated to become most threatening, if, as some of the officers thought, these rocks were the same as those that we had seen the day before near Motou-Hora. In that case, we must be scarcely six or seven miles from the coast and in a few hours we should inevitably be thrown on to it.
But I was not of this opinion; I was sure that I had gone up farther to the north, and I persisted in thinking that during the night we must have passed to windward of High Island. Indeed my assumption was very quickly confirmed by our sighting soon afterwards Mayor Island to the N.W. and High Island to the south. Nevertheless, as a precaution, I continued to carry as much sail as ever I could and to keep the wind as closely as possible to larboard.
In the afternoon, the wind and the sea had grown perceptibly calmer. By four o'clock the wind had moderated, the now less violent waves had ceased to break over us, and the corvette rode easily on the crest.
At last, at six o'clock in the evening, we could see both White Island and Mayor Island perfectly. Our bearings by the compass, taken in conjunction with the readings of latitude and longitude, put an end to my long period of anxiety, and satisfied me that we were out of danger. M. Jacquinot, indefatigable in pursuing the astronomical observations that had become his special concern, had in fact procured at noon and at three o'clock in the afternoon, heights of the sun which had enabled him to calculate our position at noon. But the height of the waves and the violence of the roll seriously reduced the page 139confidence that I could feel in these results; it was not till I saw the two islands that I have just named that I was completely reassured.
If the conditions under which we had navigated for thirty-six hours are taken into consideration, it will also be realized that our work concerning the Bay of Plenty will not merit the same confidence as that on the other parts of New Zealand. Yesterday at noon we had no latitude and we were forced to resort to that given by Cook for Motou-Hora. Further, the frightful weather that we had had since yesterday evening had not allowed us to make any regular observations.
In spite of the care that M. Lottin has taken to be as accurate as possible in this section of his map, it must be regarded as somewhat hypothetical, and a further survey will be necessary to bring it up to the standard of the other parts of this great work. Although I am very much inclined to think that we must have spent last night quite close to windward of High Island, I admit that I have no proof of that fact. Thus the position on our map of Plate Island and High Island and the corresponding part of the coast is only theoretical. Even the reef, which very nearly proved so fatal to the Astrolabe, is only indicated by an approximation.
During the furious wind that we have just experienced, the barometer reading once again proved useless. The mercury dropped, it is true, but only at the height of the storm, and it would have been a little late then to take the necessary precautions. The enormous silent wave, observed nearly forty-eight hours earlier, was a much surer sign and in future I shall not fail to take note of it. In fact these frightful squalls from the N.N.E. are well known by the natives, who call them Marangai-Noui. They dread the effect of them, and to escape, they take refuge in their caves or huddle in their huts. It is also to avoid seeing their huts carried away by these terrible whirlwinds that they take care to give them so little height, and to place them as far as possible in the shelter of rocks or trees found in the neighbourhood.
Reassured as to our position at the moment, at seven o'clock in the evening I settled the amount of sail for the night and went and threw myself on my bunk. Worn out with fatigue, I was in the utmost need of rest and I very soon closed my eyes. I had been dosing for scarcely a quarter of an hour when I was wakened by a messenger from M. Guilbert, who sent to tell me that yet another reef about four or five miles to windward of the ship had page 140been discovered. Although this news was very perturbing, I did nothing more than advise M. Guilbert not to come close to the wind from the N.N.W. and to be specially vigilant. I really felt so worn out that I had not the courage to go up on deck. I thought also that this being my condition, my presence there would not be of any use. Very soon they lost sight of this, in my opinion, apparent danger, for everything leads me to think that it was really nothing more than an effect of light reflected on the waves of the sea which made them look like rocks, as indeed frequently happens.
17th February—In Sydney, Mr. Marsden, when talking to me of his travels on the Thames, told me that from the top of the Moe Hae Mountains which separate this gulf from the Bay of Plenty, he had sighted, in a line with Mercury Bay and forty miles out to sea, a volcanic island, which he had been able to see clearly belching out flames and smoke. Further, what the natives had told him had confirmed the existence of this volcano standing alone in the waters of the ocean. Intent on ascertaining its geographical position, I spent a long time in the morning running to the N.N.E., in the hope of coming on it in the region that was indicated. My search was fruitless. I then thought that this statement of Mr. Marsden had no basis in fact and simply owed its origin to some tale told by, the savages. It was only when I learnt a month later in the Bay of Islands from the missionaries at Pahia, that Pouhia-I-Wakadi (Cook's White Island) was a real volcano, that ! I realized the truth of Mr. Marsden's story. The only mistake was in the distance of this island from the coast, which was in fact almost twice as far; but the island is very lofty and Mr. Marsden was himself on a very high mountain, which explains what happened.
At about a quarter past eight in the morning, the sounding line, sent down to one hundred and seventy fathoms, did not touch bottom. The thermometro-graph dropped in this reading from 18.6°C, which it registered at the surface of the sea, to 10.4°C. at that depth.
It was a fine day; but the wind, set in the west, forced us to take tacks to get near to the shore of Mercury Bay. At noon, we sailed south and at sundown we saw distinctly the peak of Touhoua Island [Mayor Island] in the S.S.W. about eight to ten leagues away. Beyond that and right on the horizon, like a line of light mist, the lofty mountains of the coast were also visible.
Today I have had sad proof of how little confidence I could place in the page 141sailors of the Astrolabe, if unavoidable circumstances or unforeseen misfortunes put me in a position where I could not supply their normal rations. Our last dealings with the natives had secured fresh pork and an abundant supply of excellent potatoes. For the last eight days the sailors had received fresh meat morning and evening, and taking into account the low price at which it had been bought, I had increased the ration. Today, to economize other vegetables (as I did not know where I should be able to procure any further supply), they had been given, by my orders, potatoes at the rate of three hundred grams per head instead of one hundred and twenty grams of other vegetables. What was the result? Widespread complaints. I was not surprised and as it was not absolutely necessary, I gave up this measure of precaution. But I found it painful to see what a poor attitude our sailors showed. I am now facing the unhappy consequences of the indifference which was shown at the port over the selection of the crew. Oh! Bougain- ville, la Perouse, d'Entrecasteaux, how much better off you were! The sailors given to you showed themselves worthy to take part in such undertakings; they endured the severest privations with courage; they were men. But it is an evil that nothing can remedy and to which it is better to shut one's eyes. Besides, the officers are excellent, the petty officers seem to be good, and among the hands, we can count five or six reliable men. With these and with perseverance, a commander can still achieve a great deal.
18th February—As soon as daylight appeared, we recognized Touhoua island and also the two chief islands of the Alderman Group. Calms and unsteady west winds continued to oppose our advance. However, at six o'clock in the evening, we had reached the meridian of the eastern tip of Touhoua and were ten miles to the east of the Alderman Group. These are nothing but a dozen arid, bare rocks, two or three scarcely worthy of the name of islets at all, huddled together in confusion.
The heights of Ika-Na-Mawi are seen at a distance of seven or eight leagues in the form of a lofty range almost level along the top, its regular line only broken by a few sharply rising peaks.
The thermometrograph, sent down again at about one p.m., in a depth of one hundred and fifty fathoms, did not reach bottom and this time the mercury only dropped 5.3°C. It had registered 19.5°C. at the surface of the sea.
19th February—The west winds persisted and we continued to beat about. page 142By the reading of the morning altitude at about half past eight, we took the bearings of the Aldermen, about eighteen miles to the south. At that distance, the most easterly of these little islands appears in the curious form of a very pointed compass needle strongly deflected.
We continued to run as close as possible to larboard, and at about noon we passed within three leagues of a group of islands facing Mercury Bay (Witi-Anga) the entrance to which we could only see very imperfectly. Nevertheless M. Lottin drew with great care the map of the islands lying along the coast of these parts; one whole group left unnamed by Cook later received the name of Haussez, in recognition of the interest which that minister showed in the labours of the Astrolabe.
Opposed by the everlasting west wind, and pressed for time, I gave up all idea of anchoring at Witi-Anga and turned the corvette towards the river Thames (Shouraki Bay) [Hauraki Gulf]. Fearing to lose even a moment, I also decided to round the lle de la Barrière (Otea) on the east, which would, in fact, make our investigations more complete.
For the rest, the temperature, although somewhat cool (the thermometer standing between seventeen and eighteen degrees) is delightful, the sea is as smooth as the surface of a pond, and navigation is easy. The crew, too, no longer reports a single man sick and anyone would scarcely believe that the Astrolabe is sailing in the antipodes of the Straits of Gibraltar.
20th February—At daybreak the land, which had been in sight all through the night, appeared very clearly less than two miles to windward, and the whole island of Otea emerged in its full extent. It consists of a chain of lofty mountains, cut through by deep ravines, in which, as a rule, nothing grows. A little island lying off the N.E. portion of Otea, which we passed at less than two and a half miles, has this bare appearance in the highest degree. On the entire coast of Otea we saw no trace of inhabitants or of dwellings; there was not even any smoke to mark the presence of a being belonging to the human race.
At noon, we were due east of and less than a league from the northern point of Otea. On this side the island tapers off in a peninsula of a brownish hue, stripped of any verdure; its sides, beaten by the sea, look somewhat forbidding and majestic. Also round it lie a few pointed rocks that have taken the most curious shapes, among them some tapering off towards the top. This is why we called this part of Otea Pointe des Aiguilles [The page 143Needles]. At that moment the sounding showed seventy-five fathoms, hard yellow mud.
As we got beyond The Needles, we discovered one by one the many islands scattered across the entrance to Shouraki Bay, a view that produced the most picturesque, vivid impression. Here again Cook's work was very inaccurate and a new survey was indispensable.
With the prevailing wind W.N.W., I was already counting on doubling the northern tip of Otea and entering Shouraki Bay by the channel formed by the islands of Otea and Shoutourou. A rather black squall that gathered in the S.W. prevented me and I returned to larboard. At half past one the squall broke with force, but it did not last long. Soon the sky cleared again, but the wind had now settled in the S.S.W.; I was forced to stand out from the islands after having sighted the Hen and Chicks before nightfall. At eleven o'clock in the evening, a very luminous meteor shone brilliantly in the east for a few seconds.
21st February—When it was day, we soon recognized all the land seen the day before and we also discovered that the current had carried us eight to ten miles to the north. And so we soon began to get glimpses of the Tawiti-Rahi Islands (Cook's Poor Knights) and the jagged peaks of Tewara (Bream Head) although they are about twenty-five miles apart.
At noon we passed six miles to the north of the apparently uninhabited little islands of Moko-Hinou. The wind having shifted to the S.E. and even to the E.S.E., I steered the corvette under full sail towards the haven of Wangari [Whangarei], where I meant to drop anchor before nightfall. Unfortunately, just as we reached the meridian of the easterly point of the Moro-Tiri Group (and it was already half past four), the wind dropped a great deal and scarcely allowed us to advance more than a mile. It was impossible for me to put out to sea and I decided to reach the Wangari anchorage by some means or other, taking soundings all the time. We ran along the narrow grim chain of the Moro-Tiri islands only half a league away from them. On their deserted shores one heard nothing but the monotonous sound of the waves breaking on the beach and the terror stricken cries of a few sea birds.
Until midnight we found forty-eight, forty-five, thirty-eight, thirty-five, thirty-two, and thirty fathoms in that order, gravel and shell. We had to tack every minute to take advantage of the slightest breeze and not to run page 144too close to the shore in the cramped position in which we were. At midnight the depth decreased progressively to twenty-nine, twenty-six, and twenty-two fathoms. At half past four in the morning, with seventeen fathoms, I hove to with the main topsail aback; and at six o'clock, having sighted the coast less than three miles away, I set sail to make a course towards Cape Rodney. Soon the sky, which had been fairly clear till then, became very lowering in the east, a strong swell got up in that direction and seemed to promise a full return of bad weather. Having learned from a previous experience, I did not think it wise to expose myself to the fury of the wind on an open shore with no shelter at all; it seemed more prudent to wait in an anchorage where I should have protection.
I therefore steered towards the head of Wangari Bay where I meant to put the Astrolabe under the shelter of Tewara Cape. Unfortunately, we had already dropped too much to leeward; a sand bank lay across our path and we were obliged to drop anchor in the open bay at a spot almost without any shelter from the prevailing wind.
We were scarcely anchored, when the whole sky clouded over, the wind blew very strongly from the S.E., bringing heavy rain and a strong swell. Nevertheless, after a few minutes we saw a long war canoe, which had come out from the head of the bay and was approaching us with all the vigour of the men who manned it, for they managed it with the greatest skill. It was really interesting to see this long frail craft alternately rise and disappear as it came through a rough sea. All the natives wore the national costume of New Zealand, viz.—more or less roughly-made flax cloaks (Phormium tenax) with the exception of one solitary individual correctly dressed in English garments. At first I took him for a deserter who had settled among the natives, especially as he came close to the corvette without any hesitation, came on board, asked for the rangatira rahi, and came towards me in a most assured manner. It was only when I heard him speak and examined his half-tattooed face more closely, that I knew him to be a true native.
Soon, by speaking a mixture of English and New Zealand, often helped out by expressive gestures, I came to understand that our guest was called Rangui. He was a son of Tekoke, the leading chief of the Pahia tribe on the Bay of Islands, whom I had visited four years earlier. He proudly claimed to be one of Pomare's companions, and, although he made every effort to sup-page 145press part of the truth, I soon suspected that he was still at that moment engaged in some armed expedition against the small tribes of Shouraki Bay.
One of his lieutenants, named Natai, adorned with a fairly regular tattoo, attracted our attention; M. de Sainson's clever brush faithfully reproduced the features, the moko (tattoo design), and the facial expression of this Zealand warrior,
Rangui explained to me that he had lived for some time at Port Jackson where he had acquired his semi-European style. In order to leave me in no doubt whatever, he unfolded with great solemnity a scrap of paper, that at first I took to be a whaling captain's certificate. And, in fact, it was a certificate but only signed by two individuals who stated that they had lodged Rangui for a few days in their homes, adding that he had promised to send them spears, shells, and other curious native articles in return. These two gentlemen accordingly invited any captain into whose hands this paper happened to fall, to remind the bearer seriously of his promise. This amusing invitation tickled me very much, and I reflected that anyone who saw it would think of making use of it to his own advantage rather than of helping the two fellows in Port Jackson. However, I solemnly handed his paper back to Rangui, as if its contents had given me valuable information about him and he seemed very pleased.
After spending a moment examining the weather, our ship and our anchorage with the air of the most experienced pilot, he pointed out to me that we were very badly placed, that the weather was going to be very rough and that our ship would certainly be lost if we did not change our position. At the same time he showed me the head of the bay, assuring me that there we should be in perfect safety and he used all his eloquence to persuade me to go there. I knew Only too well that he was right; and I could have wished, more strongly than he, to be able to take the corvette into the shelter of the Tewara peninsula; but in that weather it was impossible to attempt any movement. Te Rangui, who could not understand my reasons, did his utmost to demonstrate to me that I must leave this anchorage and added the strongest possible threats of speedy destruction. When at last he saw that he could not persuade me, he sent his canoe and men back to land and was the only one to remain with me. In response to my request, he very kindly and intelligently gave me the native names of all the land and neighbouring islands, and, as usual, I substituted these for Cook's. On coasts inhabitated by a page 146people so highly endowed, and who had not left an islet, a rock, a corner of the land without assigning a name to it, it seemed strange to the navigator to see nothing but English names noted, and these often in rather poor taste. It is much more interesting to him to discover the names used by the natives. At least he is then certain of being understood by them and of being able to get them to show him the spot to which he wishes to take his ship, the tribe whom he wishes to visit. It is, of course, his sacred duty to respect the names given by the first discoverer to uninhabited places, but everywhere else, I think that the names used by the natives should be given preference the moment they become known. Moreover, there comes a time when these j names are all that remains to the country of the language spoken by its earliest inhabitants.
As soon as the anchor dropped, I sent M. Paris to take soundings all round the ship from the N.W. to the S.W. and to find out the five fathom limit. The result of this operation was to show that there was a depth of water almost up to the shore. As we were more than two miles away, this knowledge reassured me, as it meant that in the event of trouble we should have plenty of sea room.
The weather grew more and more threatening; at eleven o'clock I tried to get underway so as to go a little farther forward into the bay; but our capstan, never wholly satisfactory, let the messenger† slip at each violent shiver that the wave brought to it. I was afraid that any movement, instead of being to our advantage, might be fatal to us; so I decided to stay where we were, especially as the anchor had held, although so far we had only forty fathoms of chain in the water.
As the weather had improved a little towards three o'clock, I sent M. Lottin towards the head of the bay to survey it. He came back about half past five, having noted an excellent anchorage at the entrance to a splendid channel which must be the mouth of the Wangari river.
Te Rangui spent the day happily on board and has now decided to spend the night too. But nothing could persuade him to go with us to the head of Shouraki Bay. Just the idea of having any communication with the people of this district seemed to send him into a state of abject terror. Neither prayers nor promises could conquer his unwillingness; not even the offer page 147of a gun, such a powerful bribe to the mind of a New Zealander. He informed me that Temarangai, a distinguished chief of these provinces, lived on the banks of the Wangari. He added that he would tell him of our arrival and ask him to bring pigs, if only we could wait three or four days for him.
23rd February—Throughout the night, the swell was very strong, the wind cold and variable, the sky threatening. The Astrolabe rolled from rail to rail, but without wearing too much. At five o'clcok in the morning, seeing 'that I could not get underway with the wind and the swell, I wanted to make good use of this forced delay by investigating the bay, the mouth of the river and Rangui's settlement. Followed by Messrs. Quoy, Lottin, and Lauvergne, and Rangui, I went in the whaleboat towards the sandy headland lying N.N.W. of our anchorage.
On our way, we met Rangui's three canoes coming to the ship. The largest, adorned at the prow and the stern with feathers and tufts of fur, displayed along its gunwale a series of carvings in bas relief, painted red, and often enhanced with inlaid mother-of-pearl; the whole thing carried out in the best style of New Zealand art. Rangui said a few words to his warriors; then he insisted on coming with me on my excursion, in spite of the offer I made him to put him into one of his canoes. A good-sized bank which runs about a mile out from the sandy beach reduces the entrance to Wangari Bay leaving it only half a mile wide. Once inside, there is excellent anchorage, sheltered on every side, and the south wind, which is the only one that can penetrate there, cannot raise a swell because of the configuration of the land all round. Along the high land towards the north, there are ten to twelve fathoms of water close to the shore.
The mouth of the river itself is half a mile across, and spreads out afterwards into a vast basin two or three miles broad, where ships liks ours could no doubt enter. We left the boat near the northerly point and with M. Lottin I climbed to the top of a little bluff that overlooked both the outer and the inner basins. From this point my eyes could wander at will over the wooded heights of Tewara, from which rise bleak peaks often looking like the fingers of the hand; then over the low sandy beaches that line the opposite shore of the channel lying at my feet; and especially over the immense calm basin of the waters of the Wangari, surrounded on every side by flourishing page 148verdure. Smiling islands rise above its surface, and the river disappears in its course through the mountains situated to the west.
It is probable that, like all those that have been surveyed so far in these islands, this river, in spite of the impressiveness of its mouth, is nothing more than a broad salt water creek running up to a larger or smaller stream, which in hot weather and at low tide is often reduced to a mere trickle. This characteristic of the New Zealand rivers, reminding one so strongly of what happens in New Holland, is, in my opinion, due to a totally different cause in this country. In New Zealand I should attribute it quite naturally to the extreme irregularity of the soil, the height of the mountains, and above all, to the fact that the islands which form this country are so narrow, that the rivers cannot acquire any considerable volume before flowing into the sea. There is no need to point out that the same explanation could not apply to the Australian continent.
While I was admiring the beauty of the scene all round us and its flourishing vegetation, I was astonished by the silence that reigned on all sides and the absence of any human being on such fertile soil. But I recalled the warlike habits of the Zealanders and particularly the wars of extermination that the peoples of the north wage every year against the unfortunate tribes of Shouraki Bay. In fact, while prowling about in the neighbourhood, I soon discovered, under the rough growth that covered the soil, the scattered remains of many huts. A village had once stood on this hill and its inhabitants had been wiped out or had fled into the interior, in order to escape the fury of the tribes from the Bay of Islands, led successively by Koro-Koro, Pomare, Shongui, etc.
Here, in spite of the most favourable conditions for entomological research, viz., strong sunshine after prolonged rain, I had occasion to notice once again the curious absence of various kinds of insects on the soil of New Zealand. No Coleoptera, no Lepidoptera, only a few Orthoptera, Hemiptera and Diptera, like locusts, crickets, bugs, and flies, etc. Birds were more numerous but very shy. The rocks were covered with excellent oysters, and broad Fucaceae [brown seaweed] covered the spaces between the rocks at the bottom of the sea near the shore.
As soon as M. Lottin had completed his work, which took about an hour, I walked towards Rangui's camp which had been set up on a little piece of flat land right under the slopes of Tewara peninsula and sheltered from page 149any of the winds. I threw a rapid glance over his settlement and was at once convinced that it was only a temporary affair; it was merely an encampment in which the chief had established himself with his followers, as scouts, while waiting for the rest of the army. Two or three huts made from branches to serve as tents; a great many baskets filled with fern roots (nga doua); a lot of fish hanging up to dry, most of it half rotten, giving off a foul stench; some stacked spears and a few guns covered with mats; such was the equipment of these adventurers. No pigs, no sign of cultivated land, just one handsome cock, that I purchased.
As they had nearly all gone out to the ship, there only remained to guard the camp one man, two or three women, and a few children.
When I questioned Rangui more particularly, after a few evasive replies, he finally admitted that in fact he was at the head of the advance guard of the military expedition undertaken that year by the tribes of the Bay of Islands against those of Waikato, whom they had sworn to destroy. He was waiting for the arrival, expected any day now, of other chiefs, his allies, to advance southwards. He was delighted to hear that I was hoping to anchor at Paroa; his eyes filled with tears when I said that I should see his father Tekoke, and he expressed his delight by all sorts of expressions of friendship. What a strange mixture in these savages of such tender affection and the most brutal customs!
As I judged that the weather would make it possible for me to set sail, I dissuaded Rangui from coming back with us and bade him farewell. Halfway back, I met the three canoes which were returning to land. I was congratulating myself on being free from these guests, who are so unwelcome when getting a ship underway, when, on reaching the ship, I was quite annoyed to find that six of them had stayed on board. Immediately I put them into the whaleboat to be landed at the nearest possible point. Even this business caused a delay of fully two hours, and it was exactly noon when we got underway.page 150
† d'Urville, Volume II, Chapter XIV.
† Under de Freycinet and Duperrey respectively.
† That is, to bring the ship about by putting down the helm.
† The Messenger is an endless chain passing round the capstan and two rollers in the manger.— —Nares, Seamanship, 1882. N.E.D.