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Explorers of the Pacific: European and American Discoveries in Polynesia

Frederick Debell Bennett

Frederick Debell Bennett

1833 to 1836

Frederick Debell Bennett, a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, sailed on a whaling cruise round the globe to obtain some knowledge of the anatomy and habits of southern whales and the mode of conducting a sperm whale fishery, to make observations on Polynesia and other lands, and to collect natural history specimens. The ship was the Tuscan, 300 tons, commanded by T. R. Stavers.

The Tuscan sailed on October 17, 1833, and took three missionaries and their wives as passengers. She rounded Cape Horn on January 19, 1834, and reached Pitcairn on March 7. The Society Islands were visited, and the ship sailed from Raiatea on April 17 with her deck covered with pigs and poultry. However, a few days later, the crew petitioned for a return to salt beef as they were tired of fresh meat. Caroline and Stavers Islands were passed and Oahu was reached on May 15. After a week's stay, the ship cruised north in search of sperm whales.

After great success, the ship returned to Maui on October 2. Refreshed, she sailed for the Marquesas on October 20, with three Marquesans who had been left by an American whaler. After whaling on the way, Hoods Island in the Marquesas was reached on February 27, 1835. A short stay was made at Resolution Bay, Santa Christina (Tahuata), and the three Marquesans were returned to their home island. Sail was set for Raiatea, where the ship arrived on March 18. She sailed north on April 14, took on a supply of yams at Maurua, and passed the equatorial islands of Caroline, Christmas, and Jarvis, After further success in whaling, the ship anchored off Honolulu, Oahu, on October 4 where she stayed a month. Further operations were conducted to the southeast, and the ship called for refreshments at the Marquesas on February 19, 1836. The Society Islands were visited in March and April, and the ship sailed from Tahiti on May 2. She took a northwest course, and then west, between the parallels of 2° and 3° N., whaling on the way. The high lands of New Guinea, Gilolo, and Timor were seen on the way to the Cape of Good Hope. Finally, on November 27, the Tuscan dropped anchor at Gravesend, after a voyage of three years and twenty-four days without a single loss from accident or disease.