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On both my voyages I found the weather fine near Atcheen: the monsoon here being so near the equator, was not nearly so severe as in the neighbourhood of the coast of Orissa, or at the sandheads of Bengal, After passing the latitude of the Andemans, I have always found the southwest monsoon moderate and fair. And another advantage in adopting this route is, that if a ship sails from the pilot with what may be termed a fair wind, there is no occasion to tack until you get to leeward of the Andemans; and if it be then necessary it is in smooth water, under the lee of these islands; so that by adopting this route, à ship which sails fair can cross the line from the time of leaving the Bengal pilot in twenty or twenty-three days at the most.
Not a year has passed since my first arrival in India but ships have been injured by making the passage in the south-west monsoon, along the coast of Orissa. Invariably some have returned damaged, and others were never heard of. On the contrary, I have not known one instance of serious injury having occurred to ships in making the passage to the east of the islands, although there is a considerable trade to the eastward by ships going at this season of the year to China, Penang, Malacca, Singapore, Batavia, Manilla, Atcheen, Bencoolen, and the pepper ports on the west coast of Sumatra.
I have hitherto omitted to mention, that early
in June 1820, my ship, the St. Michael, sailed from the pilot up the east side of the bay, and out by the way of Atcheen, after touching at one of the Nicobar islands, where some hogs, poultry, and water were procured; and she made the passage to the line in twenty-seven days, under the command of my former chief mate, Mr. Marsh.
It was, I understand, the intention of the commander of the Mary Anne, to proceed by the old route, along the coast of Orissa. On reaching the line, therefore, I determined to notice what progress she had made on that passage, and not to trouble my readers with the uninteresting occurrences of a sea-voyage.
June 29th.--This day at noon the latitude observed was three miles south of the equator, and the longitude 93° east; so that we have been from the pilot to this place forty days. We were for ten days beating off the coast near Coringa, between latitude of 16° and 17° north, some days gaining a few miles, and other days losing. The commander finding it impossible to make headway along the coast to the southward, determined to try his luck in the middle of the bay.
The wind continued mostly from the southwest from the time we lost sight of the coast until we reached the third degree of north. lati. tude, between which and the line we were de
tained nearly a week by light variable winds and calms. We are now in expectation of getting the south-east trade immediately, and by its assistance to make up for lost time.
The only aquatic animals which we saw since leaving the pilot, were occasionally some whales, porpoises, and now and then a few tropic birds.
July 13th.—Cloudy weather, with rain, for the most part since we crossed the line. The wind, extraordinary to relate, prevailed from the westward up to this date. The latitude, by account, was 10° 50' S.; longitude, 87° 30 E.; when the wind appeared to settle to the southeast-ward, which I suppose to be the commencement of the true trade.
In August 1822, I crossed the line, on or about the 22d of that month, and was accompanied with north-west and westwardly winds until I reached the ninth degree of south latitude. In September 1819, I crossed the line, bound to the south-eastward, and got the trades in 3° south latitude. Under these circumstances, I fear little can be said as to the steadiness of the trades in the Indian Ocean, between the equator and the 10° south latitude, at any season of the
year. 22d.—At nine o'clock this morning the island of Roderigue was visible from the deck, bearing north about twenty miles. The geographical position assigned to this island in Horsburgh's
Directory for 1817, is latitude 19° 41' south, longitude 63° 10 east.
26th.—This morning the wind shifted to the S.S.W., where it appeared to settle.
Aug. 6th.-On Friday last there was a strange sail in sight, visible from the mast-head, bearing N.N.E. At four o'clock in the afternoon of Saturday, the vessel came within hail, and proved to be the Ontario of Liverpool, from the Calcutta pilot on the 2d day of June last, twelve days later than ourselves.
7th.—This morning we had the coast of Africa in sight from the deck : its distance off •was five or six leagues. At noon the first point of Natal bore west six or seven leagues. Our latitude at noon was 29° 50' S., and longitude 29° 51' E. The winds from the 27th ultimo up to this period were from the eastward.
The coast appears never to have been properly surveyed, as in the charts on board, soundings, &c. differ widely from what we have experienced. A ship running for this coast at night by the Nautical charts for 1812, might easily get on shore. Soundings are there laid down of eighty fathoms, at a distance of half a degree from the land. But when we sounded this morning with a hundred fathoms of line, there was no bottom, although we were not more than five or six leagues from the beach. 31st.-Nothing worth noticing occurred on
board since my last remarks. For two days after passing the Cape of Good Hope we had the wind strong from the south-east; it then shifted to the north-west, where it continued for five or six days, and shifted round again to south-eastward.
This morning at daylight the island of St. Helena was in sight from the deck, at a distance of two leagues. Having made the lee-side of it, we had to stand round that way to James Town, where we anchored at 2 P. M. intimated to the passengers, that the ship was to sail next evening.
I have travelled a great deal, but never met with any thing half so sterile in appearance as the external view which St. Helena presents to the eye. The island of Cape Barren, in Bass' Straits, is a garden of Eden compared with this place. Its bleak and dismal aspect conveys something awful to the feelings of the spectators, especially to those who may be obliged by their duty to reside there for a length of time. I landed on the public wharf, and proceeded to a lodging house situated in the corner of a small garden on the land-side of the governor's house. The bed-chamber assigned to me was that in which the Duke of Wellington had slept on his return from India, and the one in which the exEmperor Napoleon reposed the first night he landed on the isle of his captivity.