MARCH 1769

1769 March 1.

Fine weather and very pleasant, began the new month by pulling off an under waistcoat.

1769 March 2.

Rather squally this morn and had been so all night: it did not however blow up to a gale tho the ship had a good deal of motion, indeed I began to hope that we were now so near the peacefull part of the Pacifick ocean that we may almost cease to fear any more gales.

1769 March 3.

Calm: went in the boat and killd Procellaria velox, 2 velificans, 3 sordida, 4 melanopus, 5 lugens, agilis and Diomedaea exulans. The Albatross very brown exactly the same as the first I killd, which if I mistake not was nearly in the same latitude on the other side of the continent. Caught Holothuria obtusata, Phillodoce velella exactly the same as those taken on the other side of the continent except in size, which in these did not exceed that of an English sixpence. Also Dagysa vitrea the same as that taken off Rio de Janeiro; now however we had an opportunity of seeing its ext[r]ordinary manner of breeding which is better to be understood from the drawing than any description I can give; suffice it therefore to say that the whole progeny 15 or 20 in number hung in a chain from one end of the mother, the oldest only or the largest adhering to her and rest to each other.

While in the boat among a large quantity of birds I had killd, 69 in all, caught 2 Hippoboscas forest flies, both of one species different from any described. More than probably these belongd to the birds and came off with them from the land. I found also this day a large Sepia cuttle fish laying on the water just dead but so pulld to peices by the birds that his Species could not be determind; only this I know that of him was made one of the best soups I ever eat. He was very large, differd from the Europaeans in that his arms instead of being (like them) furnished with suckers were armd with a double row of very sharp talons, resembling in shape those of a cat and like them retractable into a sheath of skin from whence they might be thrust at pleasure.

The weather is now become pleasan[t]ly warm and the Barnacles upon the ships bottom seemd to be regenerate, very few only of the old ones remaining alive but young ones without number scarce bigger than Lentils.

1769 March 4.

Fine weather, the ship goes 5 knotts without rowling or pitching which she has not done this great while; this we attribute to the empty water cask[s] in the fore hold having been filld with salt water yesterday.

There were several bonitos about the ship or at least fish something like them.

1769 March 5.

Fine weather but foul wind, it now begins to be very hot. Therm. 70 and damp, with prodigious dews at night greater than any I have felt, this renews our uncomfortably damp situation, every thing beginning to mould as it did about the aequinoctial line in the Atlantick.

1769 March 6.

Weather wind and heat continued, dew to night as strong as ever.

1769 March 7.

Wind weather heat and dew as yesterday. No Albatrosses have been seen since the 4th, and for some days before that we had only now and then a single one in sight so conclude we have parted with them for good and all.

1769 March 8.

Rains today with uncommonly large and heavy drops, accompanied with calms and small puffs of wind all round the Compass; in the Evening a SE wind took the ship aback and before night blew brisk.

1769 March 9.

Fine weather wind right aft. A tropick bird was seen by some of the people but myself did not see him.

1769 March 10.

Fine weather continued, wind aft and very pleasant.

1769 March 11.

Wind and weather much the same as yesterday. Tho it had blown a steady breeze of wind these three days no sea at all was up, from whence we began to conclude that we pass'd the Line drawn between the Great South Sea and the Pacifick ocean by the Council of the Royal Society, notwithstanding we are not yet within the tropicks.

1769 March 12.

Wind continued fair but in the even flaggd a little; we began to imagine that it must be the trade, at least if it continues we resolv'd [to] call it so.

1769 March 13.

Almost calm to day tho not quite enough for going out in the boat. I saw a tropick bird for the first time hovering over the ship but flying very high; if my eyes did not deceive me it differd from that describd by Linnaeus, Phaeton aethereus, in having the long feathers of his tail red and his crissum black.

Towards even set the servants to work with a dipping net who took Mimus volutator and Phyllodoce velella, both exactly the same as those we have seen in the Atlantick ocean. Lat. 30.45, Long. 126.23.45.

1769 March 14.

Very light winds today shifting from South to East: at noon an alarm of Land being seen which proved at night to be no more than a fog bank tho it certainly remaind many hours without any change in its appearance.

The tropick birds this Evening made a noise as they flew over the ship not unlike some gulls.

1769 March 15.

All but calm all this day: many tropick birds were about the ship. The sea today was remarkably quiet so that the ship had little or no motion.

This night happend an occultation of Saturn by the moon, which Mr Green observ'd but was unlucky in having the weather so cloudy that the observation was good for little or nothing.

1769 March 16.

Calm almost, but the ship stole through this remarkably smooth water so that I do not think it worth while to have a boat hoisted out; by observation to day they find that she has gone these two days much faster than the log which they tell me is very often the case in light winds when the ship goes before them.

Our water which was taken aboard at Terra del Fuego has remaind till this time perfectly good without the least change, an instance which I am told is very rare, especialy as in our case when water is brought from a cold climate into a hot one. This however has stood it without any damage and now drinks as brisk and pleasant as when first taken on board, or better, for the red colour it had at first is subsided and it is now as clear as any English spring water.

1769 March 17.

Most of this day as yesterday almost calm, at night a small breeze came on from ENE so that the ship went 4 knotts.

1769 March 18.

Squally weather all night with heavy rain: this morn much the same, the rain so heavy that the Cabbin was twice baild of more than a bucket full at a time, all which came in at the crevises of the weather quarter window, for there was no leak of any consequence in any other part of the cabbin. The Wind was at N and brought with it a hot damp air which affected (I may safely say) every man in the ship more or less; towards even however it shifted towards the west and was much dryer.

1769 March 19.

Pleasant breeze, ship went N by W. Some flying fish were seen this morn and several procellarias cheifly of the brown sorts as sordida.

1769 March 20.

Very fine as yesterday: many tropick birds were about the ship, as indeed there has been every day since I first mentiond them but still more of them as the weather was finer. Lat. today [] . Long. [] . When I look on the charts of these Seas and see our course, which has been Near a streight one at NW since we left Cape Horne, I cannot help wondering that we have not yet seen land. It is however some pleasure to be able to disprove that which does not exist but in the opinions of Theoretical writers, of which sort most are who have wrote any thing about these seas without having themselves been in them. They have generaly supposd that every foot of sea which they beleivd no ship had passd over to be land, tho they had little or nothing to support that opinion but vague reports, many of them mentiond only as such by the very authors who first publishd them, as for instance the Orange Tree one of the Nassau fleet who being separated from her Companions and drove to the westward reported on her joining them again that she had twice seen the Southern continent; both which places are laid down by Mr Dalrymple many degrees to the eastward of our track, tho it is probable that he has put them down as far to the westward as he thought it possible that she could go.

To streng[t]hen these weak arguments another Theory has been started which says that it is Nescessary that so much of the South sea as the authors of it call land should be so, otherwise this wor[l]d would not be properly bal[a]nc'd as the quantity of Earth known to be situated in the Northern hemisphere would not have a counterpoise in this. The number of square degrees of their land which we have already chang'd into water sufficiently disproves this, and teaches me at least that till we know how this globe is fixd in that place which has been since its creation assignd to it in the general system, we need not be anxious to give reasons how any one part of it counterbalances the rest.

1769 March 21.

Calm this morn: went out in the boat and shot Tropick bird Phaeton erubescens, and Procellaria atrata, velox and sordida. Took Turbo fluitans floating upon the water in the same manner as Helix Janthina, Medusa Porpita exactly like those taken on the other side of the continent, and a small Cimex? which also was taken before but appears to be a larva, if so probably of some animal that lives under water, as I saw many but none that appeard perfect tho they were enough so to propagate their species or copulate at least. In examining the Phaetons found that what appeard to me a black crissus as they flew was no other than their black feet; on them was plenty of a very curious kind of acarus Phaetintis which either was or appeard to be viviparous.

Besides what was shot today there were seen Man of war birds pelecanus aquilus, and a small bird of the Sterna? kind calld by the seamen egg birds, which were white with red beaks about the size of sterna hirundo. Of these I saw several just at night fall who flew very high and followd one another all standing towards the NNW; probably there is land on that point as we were now not far from the Lat and Longitude in which Quiros saw his southermost Islands Incarnation and St Jno Baptist.

1769 March 22.

Fresh breeze of wind today, the ship layd no better than west so we were forcd to give over our hopes on the NNW point. Many man of war birds were about the ship today and some egg birds, I shot 3 of the first but none of them fell onboard the ship. All today the weather very hot and damp, Thermometer 80, which it never was at sea before except in the calms under the line.

1769 March 23.

Most troublesome weather, calms and squalls with very heavy rain but the wind will not stirr. Many Egg birds seen today and some few Tropick.

1769 March 24.

Blew fresh still, wind as foul as ever. The officer of the watch reported that in the middle watch the water from being roughish became on a sudden as smooth as a mill pond, so that the ship from going only 4 knotts at once increasd to six, tho there was little or no more wind than before this, and a log of wood which was seen to pass by the ship by several people made them beleive that there was land to windward.

At 8 when I came on deck the signs were all gone, I saw however two birds which seemed to be of the sterna? kind both very small, one quite white and another quite black who from their appearance probably could not venture far from Land.

Today by our reckoning we crossed the tropick.

1769 March 25.

Wind continued much the same but more moderate, few or no birds were about the ship but some sea weed was seen by some of the people, only one bed.

This even one of our marines threw himself overboard and was not miss'd till it was much too late even to attempt to recover him. He was a very young man scarce 21 years of age, remarkably quiet and industrious, and to make his exit the more melancholy was drove to the rash resolution by an accident so trifling that it must appear incredible to every body who is not well accquainted with the powerfull effects that shame can work upon young minds.

This day at noon he was sentry at the Cabbin door and while he was on that duty one of the Capts servants being calld away in a hurry left a peice of seal skin in his charge, which it seems he was going to cut up to make tobacco pouches some of which he had promisd to several of the men; the poor young fellow it seems had several times askd him for one, and when refus'd had told him that since he refusd him so trifling a thing he would if he could steal one from him, this he put in practise as soon as the skin was given into his charge and was of course found out immediately as the other returnd, who was angry and took the peice he had cut off from him but declard he would not complain to the officers for so trifling a cause.

In the mean time the fact came to the ears of his fellow soldiers, who stood up for the honour of their Core 13 in number so highly that before night, for this hapned at noon, they drove the young fellow almost mad by representing his crime in the blackest coulours as a breach of trust of the worst consequence: a theft committed by a sentry upon duty they made him think an inexcusable crime, especialy when the thing stole was given into his charge: the Sargeant particularly declard that if the person acgreivd would not complain he would, for people should not suffer scandal from the ill behaviour of one. This affected the young fellow much, he went to his hammock, soon after the Sargeant went to him calld him and told him to follow him upon deck. He got up and slipping the Sargeant went forward, it was dusk and the people thought he was gone to the head and were not convincd that he was gone over till half an hour after it hapned.

1769 March 26.

This whole day calms succeeded by hard squalls with much rain, which weather the seamen call trolly lollys; the wind went more than once round the Compass which made us hope that we were near the trade at least. Few or no birds and no tropick birds.

1769 March 27.

Weather much like yesterday, no birds, at night a little more setled.

1769 March 28.

Calm today: one tropick bird was seen this morn. After dinner a Shark came the first we had seen in these seas, he greedily took the bait but the line being old broke, very soon he however returnd with the hook and chain hanging out of his mouth but would not take the second bait.

1769 March 29.

Calm again. Bent a new shark line in the even a shark alongside took the bait but broke the new line just as we were going to hoist him in, I am told by the people that common fishing line will never last above a year if ever so much care is taken of it.

1769 March 30.

Some birds and bonitos seen this morn but none after I came upon deck.

1769 March 31.

Pleasant breeze of wind which is the trade: some few tropick birds seen this morn. Myself not quite well a little inflammation in my throat and swelling of the glands.