Historical Records of New Zealand Vol. II.
JOURNAL OF THE “BRITANNIA.”
JOURNAL OF THE “BRITANNIA.”
Extract from the Journal of a Voyage from England to Port Jackson, New So. Wales in the Years 1792, 1793, 1794, and 1795, in the Ship Britannia, Mr. W. Raven, Commr., by Rt. Murry.
[Copied from the Original in the Essex Institute, Salem, Mass., U.S.A., by the Editor.]
Sept. 8th.  the ship was hauled out of the cove—and on the 10th we worked her down to Bradley's Pt where we anchored, wind bound. — during our stay here, we were chartered by 10 Officers of the Civil and Military, to proceed to the Cape of Good Hope, by way of Cape Horn and Sta Catherina, leave being granted us, to stop on our way at Duskey Bay in New Zealand, to leave a number of hands to collect Seal skins for the China Markets while we performed our voyage.
At 2 A.M. we made the snowey summits of New Zeeland bearing E. ½ N., 15 or 16 miles distant. We continued to stand on untill 3, when we tacked and stood off 'till 5—at which time we put about and made sail for the Land; at seven it began to blow very hard, and rained excessive heavy, which obliged us to shorten sail and haul off: The entrance of Duskey Bay page 510 then bore N.E. and the So. pt. E.S.E. about 6 Leags from us. At noon Pt. 5 fingers bore N.E. 13 or 14 Miles.
The wind, this afternoon, abated greatly, but the weather became thick and hazy; which did not prevent us from using our utmost efforts to gain the bay, but they proved ineffectual; for at 4 it fell calm and the swell set us directly in for the Land the greatest supposed distance of which was not more than 2 miles; however, at 5 P.M. we got a light air from the South-ward with which we stood out to sea. In the evening the wind freshened, and grew squally. At 7 the entrance of the Bay bore N.E. and Cape Wt. E.N.E., with these bearings we had a remarkable white cliff, to the South of Cape West bearing E.S.E. ¼ S. At 2 in the morning it moderated, when we tacked, made sail, and stood on. We kept plying to windward, in order to gain the bay; but at noon it blew so strong from the N.E. that we again were under the necessity of hauling to the wested. At noon Anchor Id. N.E. b E. 5 Miles.
It continued blowing very strong, and we had to encounter an irregular sea; at 4 P.M. we reefed the Foresail. 12 it moderated, made sail, tack'd, and stood to the eastward. 3 A.M. the wind was excessive strong and came in heavy squalls, we handed the topsails. Six A.M. it was moderate weather and the wind came round from the N.E. to WNW.; we then made sail at noon the white cliff bore Et. distant 6 miles. Our Latd. obsd. 45 56 So.
There were but little hopes, at present, of getting into Port, for we had an incessant rain, with heavy squalls at N.E., and found it necessary, at 2 P.M. to strike Top Gt. Masts. At 4 we had less wind, we then made sail in shore, at 8 we tacked to the westward, and at midnight stood in for the Land. At 1 a breeze blew from the WNW. when we shaped our course for the bay. 4 We made more sail, and steered for Pt. 5 Fingers; which at this time bore N.E. the distance 5 or 6 Le. We had a thick rainy morning, so much so, that it was with difficulty we cou'd keep sight of Pt. 5 fingers, which at 9 we passed, and at 10 moored in the No Cove of Facile Harbour in five fathoms.
After having secured the ship and dined, Capt. Raven went to look at the other parts of the Harbour, and at some of the adjacent Coves. At the head of Cormorant Cove is an awful Cascade which rolls down in very heavy torrents from the mountains, thither they went and shot several ducks. At 6 in the evening they returned on board. Early in the morning he went with the boats to examine the Seal Islands and found the weather so boisterous that he could not explore them equal to his desire.page 511
About three P.M. we made the best of our way for Pickersgill Harbour which we reached at 5, and pulled up a small creek at the head of which is a run of fine water on the starboard side, going into the creek there is a point of land that appears to have been the spot upon which Mr. Wales had his observatory. We found several trees down, which were on the ground, they were on the outside entirely rotten; and in the heart, decayed, tho' hard, there being any part good is a proof that the wood is of great durability. It has lain since the early part of the Year 1773.* We found some stumps of trees, which appeared to have been newly cut down.† After dining we pull'd for the ship, and got on board about 7 in the Evening.
In the morning the Chief Mate went to the Seal Ids. the Carpenter was well empd. in falling trees for Spars and plank for the Ships use. This afternoon I went with Capt. Raven to get some altitudes for the Time Keeper, to a bight which lies on the Starbd. side of the entrance of the Cove; We found a considerable spot cleared of trees which had been recently felled.‡ In the evening the Mate returned and gave a very good account of the Islands. In the morning the Mates went again to the seal Isles. At 8 A.M. it came on to rain very heavily which continued until the conclusion of the twenty-four hours.
In the evening the mates returned from the Seal Islands and gave Capt. Raven so good an account of them that It henceforth was determined to leave a party here to collect Skins for the China Market.
The weather was very moderate, with a fine breeze from the Southward, we were employed occasionally. In the morning it rained hard, and was attended by the heaviest gusts of wind, from the mountains, I ever recollect to have felt, which put a stop to our different operations.
At one P.M. it fell calm. We weighed our Stream anchor and moored with the two Bowers. In the Morning we set out for Breaksea Island, on our passage we pull'd to the head of Duck Cove, where we breakfasted. I saw only two Ducks who both took wing immediately on the approach of the boat. After leaving the Cove we made the best of our way for Breaksea; but the wind blew right in our teeth, and it rained hard, so that we did not get on equal to our wishes.
* From 27th March to 29th April, 1773.
We got to Breaksea Isld. in the evening and there saw great numbers of seals. We made the best of our way back for the cove, where we had dined: we arrived late, but the fire was alight, which we soon increased to a large one, and made a very good supper of mussells and biscuit. It rained hard untill day break, we then departed, and arrived on board the Ship at seven in the morning, it was fair weather all this forenoon and we were empd. cutting wood, spars & plank for the Ship.
The afternoon continued fair and the people were empd. as before mentd. at 6 A.M. the Capt, & party set off for Luncheon Cove to build an house for the Sealing party.
Empd. as above, the Captain's gang returned at 7 P.M. and set off early the following morning.
From this time untill Saturday, Dec. 1st, we were employed building the dwelling and another House and getting the Ship ready for Sea. On this day we unmoored, weighed and warped the ship out of the north Cove, soon after it fell calm, we therefore anchored in 16 fms, under a small Island. After dinner the Captn. took his last trip to Luncheon Cove, and we, during his absence, having a light breeze from the Nd. weighed, and made sail out of Facile Harbour.
What we in the following days work supposed to be a shoal, we afterwards found from our peoples information, was the Shock of an Earthquake, it was felt in a more violent manner by the people at the House, its being felt in the boat strengthens the supposition.
[Tabular matter omitted.—The Editor.]
* Facile Harbour.
N.B. five fingers pt. 45. 42 S. 166 9.
3rd. 4 P.M. Saw Land. S.E. ¼ I 8 or 9 L. 8 P.M. the Isles which we suppose to be a new discovery bore from E b S b S.E. b E. dist. 5 Leagues. we called them Sunday they are in Lattd. 48.7 S. Long. 166 20′ E. not a tree to be seen on them, the height of the northern one about as high as the Lizard.
The same Isles were seen by Capt. Vancover H.M.S. Discovery, prior to our discovery, he named them the Snares and makes their Long. the same as us, but differ'd to us in Latt.
[This latter paragraph was inserted in the journal at a later date, as the writing, when examined, shows. This ends the first visit of the “Britannia” to Dusky.
On the return of the “Britannia” from the Cape of Good Hope to Sydney the journal is again continued, on 25th June, 1793, when Raven is helping to launch the “Francis,” which was afterwards to accompany the “Britannia” to Dusky, to relieve the sealing gang left there.—The Editor.]
During our stay at Port Jackson we have been employed delivering the cargo and rigging and refitting the ship.
A schooner which had been on the stocks a long time, was now ready to launch, and the whole strength of the colony being insufficient, the Comr. of the Britannia was ordered to compass this mighty point, we therefore slipped our cable and warped over to the Hospital Wharf, where we made the ship fast, rove a luff takle purchase and hove her off at highwater. She was called the Francis, in honor of the Major's Son. — and his honor, gave the ships company an hog of 232lbs. weight for the trouble thay had been at with her. Captn. Raven was then ordered to superintend the fitting her for sea which he did, and when he gave his report of her readiness, &c., He was ordered to take her under his care to Duskey Bay; in New Zeeland to send by her, accts. of the productions of that country, from New Zeeland he was ordered to proceed to Calcutta for a cargo of Salt Provisions for the use of the Colony —and was allowed 14/6 pr Ton pr Month for 300 Tons.—untill he arrived at Port Jackson again.page 514
6 a.m. Unmoored. 7. weighed and made sail. Empd turning down the Harbour—the Francis, in company.”
[Table taken from the Log, from 8th to 24th September, 1793, showing the daily position of the “Britannia,” with comments upon the “Francis.” The lat. is in all cases S. and long. E.—The Editor.]
|8th. “Francis in Company.”|
|Lat. 35° 12′ Long.||153° 10′||9th.|
|34° 42′||153° 10′||10th. “The Schooner in Company.'|
|34° 7′||154° 35′||11th. “At dawn the francis could only be seen from the mast head, 9. veered to westwd. Noon bore up and ran to leward to join the Schooner.”|
|34° 35′||155° 50′||12th.|
|36° 7′||157° 22′||13th. “Francis in Company.”|
|37° 47||158° 18′||14th. “Francis astern.”|
|38° 7′||159° 16′||15th. “Schooner in Company.”|
|38° 25′||159° 36′||16th. “Francis in Company.”|
|40° 27′||160° 40′||17th. “Francis in Company.”|
|42° 3′||161° 17′||18th. “Francis in Company.”|
|42° 37′||161° 17′||19th. “Schooner in Company.”|
|43° 48′||162° 3′||20th. “Francis in Company.”|
|45° 38′||163° 15′||21st. “Francis in company. Shortened sail for the schooner.”|
|45° 49′||165° 43′||22nd. “Francis astern.”|
|45° 49′||165° 48′||23rd. “4 P.M. Sch to Westwd “5 P.M. the schooner was about 3 miles to leward—veered to join her—8 P.M. no sight of the schooner.” “A.M. 11. The Schooner was not seen from the mast Head.”|
|46° 17′||165° 48′||24th.|
The journal then proceeds:—
4 P.M. the So Extr. of Duskey Bay N.E. 7 or 8 Legs.
5 A.M. Pt. five fingers E N E 6 Ls.
10 A.M. we were off Pt. Five Fingers, we then fired six Guns. We kept standing on for Anchor Island Harbour, and we were impatiently looking out for the boat, which at 11 we page 515 saw pulling round the So. pt. of Anchor Isld. at Noon brot up in Anchor Isld Harbour.—Mr. Leith* and five others came on board—who informed us that all the rest were well—which gave us no small satisfaction.
* The second mate left in charg of the sealing party at Luncheon Cove the previous year.