A Continuation of a Voyage to New Holland/Chapter 6

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A Continuation of a Voyage to New Holland by William Dampier
Chapter 6
Home voyage and loss of ship.

THE AUTHOR CONTINUES IN BATAVIA ROAD TO REFIT, TO GET PROVISIONS.

We found in Batavia Road a great many ships at anchor, most Dutch, and but one English ship named the Fleet frigate, commanded by one Merry. We rode a little without them all. Near the shore lay a stout China junk, and a great many small vessels, namely brigantines, sloops and Malayan proas in abundance. As soon as I anchored I sent my boat aboard the Fleet frigate with orders to make them strike their pennant, which was done soon after the boat went aboard. Then my clerk, whom I sent in the boat, went for the shore, as I had directed him, to see if the government would answer my salute: but it was now near night, and he had only time to speak with the ship-bander, who told him that the government would have answered my salute with the same number of guns if I had fired as soon as I anchored; but that now it was too late. In the evening my boat came aboard and the next morning I myself went ashore, visited the Dutch general, and desired the privilege of buying such provision and stores as I now wanted; which he granted me.

I lay here till the 17th of October following, all which time we had very fair weather, some tornadoes excepted. In the meantime I supplied the carpenter with such stores as were necessary for refitting the ship; which proved more leaky after he had caulked her than she was before: so that I was obliged to careen her, for which purpose I hired vessels to take in our guns, ballast, provision and stores.

ENGLISH SHIPS THEN IN THE ROAD.

The English ships that arrived here from England were first the Liampo, commanded by Captain Monk, bound for China; next the Panther commanded by Captain Robinson; then the Mancel frigate, commanded by Captain Clerk. All these brought good tidings from England. Most of them had been unfortunate in their officers; especially Captain Robinson, who said that some of them had been conspiring to ruin him and his voyage. There came in also several English country vessels; first a sloop from Benjarr, commanded by one Russel, bound to Bengal, next the Monsoon, belonging to Bengal: she had been at Malacca at the same time that His Majesty's ship the Harwich was there: afterwards came in also another small ship from Bengal.

While we stayed here all the forenamed English ships sailed hence; the 2 Bengal ships excepted. Many Dutch ships also came in here, and departed again before us. We had several reports concerning our men-of-war in India, and much talk concerning rovers who had committed several spoils upon the coast and in the Straits of Malacca. I did not hear of any ships sent out to quash them. At my first coming in I was told that 2 ships had been sent from Amboina in quest of me; which was lately confirmed by one of the skippers, whom I by accident met with here. He told me they had 3 protests against me; that they came to Pulo Sabuda on the coast of New Guinea 28 days after my departure thence, and went as far as Schouten's Island and, hearing no further news of me, returned. Something likewise to this purpose Mr. Merry, commander of the Fleet frigate, told me at my first arrival here; and that the general at Batavia had a copy of my commission and instructions; but I looked upon it as a very improbable thing.

While we lay here the Dutch held several consultations about sending some ships for Europe sooner than ordinary: at last the 16th of October was agreed upon for the day of sailing, which is 2 months sooner than usual. They lay ready 2 or 3 days before, and went out on the 10th. Their names were the Ostresteen, bound to Zealand; the Vanheusen, for Enchiehoust; and the 3 Crowns, for Amsterdam, commanded by skipper Jacob Uncright, who was commodore over all the rest. I had by this time finished my business here, namely fitted the ship, recruited myself with provision, filled all my water; and, the time of the year to be going for Europe being now at hand, I prepared to be gone also.

DEPARTURE FROM BATAVIA.

Accordingly on the 17th of October, at half an hour after 6 in the morning, I weighed anchor from Batavia, having a good land-wind at south, and fair weather: and by the 19th at noon came up with the 3 Dutch ships before mentioned. The 29th of November in the morning we saw a small hawk flying about the ship till she was quite tired. Then she rested on the mizzen-topsail-yard, where we caught her. It is probable she was blown off from Madagascar by the violent northerly winds; that being the nighest land to us, though distance near 150 leagues.

1701.

TOUCH AT THE CAPE OF GOOD HOPE.

The 30th December we arrived at the Cape of Good Hope and departed again on the 11th of January, 1701. About the end of the month we saw abundance of weeds or blubber swim by us, for I cannot determine which. It was all of one shape and colour. As they floated on the water they seemed to be of the breadth of the palm of a man's hand, spread out round into many branches about the bigness of a man's finger. They had in the middle a little knob, no bigger than the top of a man's thumb. They were of a smoke-colour; and the branches, by their pliantness in the water, seemed to be more simple than jellies, I have not seen the like before.

AND AT ST. HELENA.

The 2nd of February we anchored in St. Helena Road and set sail again from thence on the 13th.

ARRIVAL AT THE ISLAND OF ASCENSION. A LEAK SPRUNG.

On the 21st we made the island of Ascension and stood in towards it. The 22nd between 8 and 9 o'clock we sprung a leak which increased so that the chain-pump could not keep the ship free. Whereupon I set the hand-pump to work also, and by 10 o'clock sucked her: then wore the ship, and stood to the southward to try if that would ease her; and then the chain-pump just kept her free. At 5 the next morning we made sail and stood in for the bay; and at 9 anchored in 10 and a half fathom, sandy ground. The south point bore south-south-west distance 2 miles, and the north point of the bay north-east half north, distance 2 miles. As soon as we anchored I ordered the gunner to clear his powder-room that we might there search for the leak and endeavour to stop it within board if possible; for we could not heel the ship so low, it being within 4 streaks of the keel; neither was there any convenient place to haul her ashore. I ordered the boatswain to assist the gunner; and by 10 o'clock the powder-room was clear. The carpenter's mate, gunner, and boatswain went down; and soon after I followed them myself and asked them whether they could come at the leak: they said they believed they might, but cutting the ceiling; I told the carpenter's mate (who was the only person in the ship that understood anything of carpenter's work) that if he thought he could come at the leak by cutting the ceiling without weakening the ship he might do it, for he had stopped one leak so before; which though not so big as this, yet, having seen them both, I thought he might as well do this as the other. Wherefore I left him to do his best. The ceiling being cut, they could not come at the leak; for it was against one of the foot-hook-timbers which the carpenter's mate said he must first cut before it could be stopped. I went down again to see it, and found the water to come in very violently. I told them I never had known any such thing as cutting timbers to stop leaks; but if they who ought to be best judges in such cases thought they could do any good I bid them use their utmost care and diligence, promising the carpenter's mate that I would always be a friend to him if he could and would stop it: he said by 4 o'clock in the afternoon he would make all well, it being then about 11 in the forenoon. In the afternoon my men were all employed, pumping with both pumps; except such as assisted the carpenter's mate. About one in the afternoon I went down again and the carpenter's mate was cutting the after-part of the timber over the leak. Some said it was best to cut the timber away at once; I bid them hold their tongue and let the carpenter's mate alone; for he knew best and I hoped he would do his utmost to stop the leak. I desired him to get everything ready for stopping the violence of the water, before he cut any further; for fear it should overpower us at once. I had already ordered the carpenter to bring all the oakum he had, and the boatswain to bring all the waste cloths to stuff in upon occasion; and had for the same purpose sent down my own bedclothes. The carpenter's mate said he should want short stanchions to be placed so that the upper end should touch the deck, and the under-part rest on what was laid over the leak; and presently took a length for them. I asked the master-carpenter what he thought best to be done: he replied till the leak was all open, he could not tell. Then he went away to make a stanchion, but it was too long: I ordered him to make many of several lengths, that we might not want of any size. So once more desiring the carpenter's mate to use his utmost endeavours I went up, leaving the boatswain and some others there. About 5 o'clock the boatswain came to me and told me the leak was increased, and that it was impossible to keep the ship above water; when on the contrary I expected to have had the news of the leak's being stopped. I presently went down and found the timber cut away, but nothing in readiness to stop the force of the water from coming in. I asked them why they would cut the timber before they had got all things in readiness: the carpenter's mate answered they could do nothing till the timber was cut that he might take the dimensions of the place; and that there was a caulk which he had lined out, preparing by the carpenter's boy. I ordered them in the meantime to stop in oakum, and some pieces of beef; which accordingly was done, but all to little purpose: for now the water gashed in with such violence, notwithstanding all our endeavours to check it, that it flew in over the ceiling; and for want of passage out of the room overflowed it above 2 foot deep. I ordered the bulkhead be cut open, to give passage to the water that it might drain out of the room; and withal ordered to clear away abaft the bulkhead, that we might bail: so now we had both pumps going and as many bailing as could; and by this means the water began to decrease; which gave me some hope of saving the ship. I asked the carpenter's mate what he thought of it; he said "Fear not; for by 10 o'clock at night I'll engage to stop the leak." I went from him with a heavy heart; but, putting a good countenance upon the matter, encouraged my men, who pumped and bailed very briskly; and when I saw occasion I gave them some drams to comfort them. About 11 o'clock at night the boatswain came to me and told me that the leak still increased; and that the plank was so rotten it broke away like dirt; and that now it was impossible to save the ship; for they could not come at the leak because the water in the room was got above it. The rest of the night we spent in pumping and bailing. I worked myself to encourage my men, who were very diligent; but the water still increased, and we now thought of nothing but saving our lives. Wherefore I hoisted out the boat that, if the ship should sink, yet we might be saved: and in the morning we weighed our anchor and warped in nearer the shore; yet did but little good.

WHICH BEING IMPOSSIBLE TO BE STOPPED, THE SHIP IS LOST, BUT THE MEN SAVED.

In the afternoon with the help of a seabreeze I ran into 7 fathom and anchored; then carried a small anchor ashore and warped in till I came into 3 fathom and a half. Where having fastened her I made a raft to carry the men's chests and bedding ashore; and before 8 at night most of them were ashore. In the morning I ordered the sails to be unbent, to make tents; and then myself and officers went ashore. I had sent ashore a puncheon and a 36 gallon cask of water with one bag of rice for our common use: but great part of it was stolen away before I came ashore, and many of my books and papers lost.

THEY FIND WATER UPON THE ISLAND.

On the 26th following we, to our great comfort, found a spring of fresh water about 8 miles from our tents, beyond a very high mountain which we must pass over: so that now we were, by God's Providence, in a condition of subsisting some time; having plenty of very good turtle by our tents, and water for the fetching. The next day I went up to see the watering-place, accompanied with most of my officers. We lay by the way all night and next morning early got thither; where we found a very fine spring on the south-east side of the high mountain, about half a mile from its top: but the continual fogs make it so cold here that it is very unwholesome living by the water. Near this place are abundance of goats and land-crabs. About 2 mile south-east from the spring we found 3 or 4 shrubby trees, upon one of which was cut an anchor and cable, and the year 1642. About half a furlong from these we found a convenient place for sheltering men in any weather. Hither many of our men resorted; the hollow rocks affording convenient lodging; the goats, land-crabs, men-of-war-birds and boobies good food; and the air was here exceeding wholesome.

AND ARE BROUGHT BACK TO ENGLAND.

About a week after our coming ashore our men that lived at this new habitation saw two ships making towards the island. Before night they brought me the news; and I ordered them to turn about a score of turtle to be in readiness for their ships if they should touch here: but before morning they were out of sight, and the turtle were released again. Here we continued without seeing any other ship till the second of April; when we saw 11 sail to windward of the island: but they likewise passed by. The day after appeared 4 sail, which came to anchor in this bay. They were His Majesty's ships the Anglesey, Hastings and Lizard; and the Canterbury East India ship. I went on board the Anglesey with about 35 of my men; and the rest were disposed of into the other 2 men-of-war.

We sailed from Ascension the 8th; and continued aboard till the 8th of May: at which time the men-of-war, having missed St. Jago, where they designed to water, bore away for Barbados: but I being desirous to get to England as soon as possible took my passage in the ship Canterbury, accompanied with my master, purser, gunner, and 3 of my superior officers.