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Historical Records of New Zealand

Captain Bligh To Secretary Stephens

Captain Bligh To Secretary Stephens.

Bounty, Cape of Good Hope, False Bay, May 24th, 1788.


You will please to acquaint the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty that, after experiencing the worst of weather for thirty days between the latd. of 58° 00′ So. and 61° 00′ by constant gales of wind from S.W. to N.W. off Cape Horn, I have been under the absolute necessity of bearing away for this place, as I found it totally impracticable to get round the land and make the passage to Otaheite, agreeable to their Lordships’ first orders.

I hope their Lordships will observe that it was not possible to make more of the season than I have done. I left Spithead on the 23d of December; Tenariff on the 10th Jan’y; doubled Staten Land on the 23d of March, from which time the weather was exceedingly tempestuous, particularly the last three weeks, when the snowstorms became so violent we were scarce ever doing better than lying to and drifting before the wind. In this situation my people at last began to be affected with severe rheumatisms, and I had three accidents from the violent motion of the ship—two men fell and dislocated their shoulders, and one broke a rib. The ship began to be leaky, but in all other respects as good a vessel as could possibly be; this increased our labour, and seeing no prospect of success, I conceived it would be hazarding the object of the voyage, and my conduct reprehensible under the discretionary orders I was honored with, to persist any longer, as I had not a moment’s time to spare to proceed and refit at the Cape of Good Hope, and to be in time to pass the intricate parts of the voyage and to secure a completion of it. From these considerations I bore away on the 22d of April, repassed Staten Land on the 23d, and, without ever being in any port from the time of leaving Tenariff, I arrived here this day, with every man and officer in as good health as when they left England, notwithstanding for these last three months we have never been able to have our hatches open for six hours together.

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I shall refit with the utmost despatch, and proceed on the voyage by New Holland and New Zealan

I have informed their Lordships by letter of this date of my proceedings by a Dutch ship; and an opportunity offering by a French packett, Havre de Grace, I thought it my duty to take that conveyance also [to] send a duplicate of my first letter.

I have, &c.,

Wm. Bligh.