Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

taken by the mariner. The entrance to the harbour is three-quarters of a mile in width between Tower Rock on the port-side, and Breaker Point on the starboard-hand, with soundings of thirty-six fathoms. A little more than one mile from Breaker Point on the starboard-hand to Goat Island on the port-hand we open out the inner harbour, which extends one mile west at a breadth of 3000 feet abreast of Goat Island, to 1100 feet at the head of the bay. Carrying soundings from eighteen fathoms to six fathoms at the head of the bay, the reefs which skirt the shores are from 300 feet to 500 feet wide, and almost a wash at low sea. They have at their edge from four fathoms to five, six, and eight, and deeper in the middle of the harbour. The hills rise abruptly round this bay from 800 to 1000 feet in height. They are covered from base to summit with a luxuriant growth of evergreen foliage ; the little valleys which nestle at their bases, and the narrow belt of land which skirts the shore, is densely covered with cocoa-nut groves, bread-fruit, banana, orange, pine-apple, lime-trees, and a variety of tropical plants. The different streams of fresh water which pour into the placid waters of the bay, dotted with canoes, some of which are capable of carrying three hundred people, complete a most interesting picture. The island of Tutuila is seventeen miles in length by five in breadth. There is nothing to prevent a steamer, night or day, from proceeding to her wharf. About half-way from Breaker Point to Goat Island, and near mid-channel, is Whale Rock, with eight feet of water over it at low sea.

It has a circumference of about fifty feet, and breaks fre

quently. A buoy obviates danger. The services of a pilot can never be required by anyone who has visited this port before, as the trade-winds from eastsouth-east carry a vessel from near Breaker Point with a free sheet on a north-north-west course into the harbour.

1 Mr. Powell, a missionary, who has been resident in this place twenty-two years, says that he never knew of a longer detention than nine days to any ships in that time, and of but one gale, which came from the eastward, and unroofed a wing of his kitchen. The trade-winds are frequently liable to haul from east-south-east to east-north-east, giving a ship a chance to get out with a leading wind. At the ditferent quarters of the moon the tide rises four and a half feet. The temperature was at 82°, and the water 78° during our stay. The passing showers of rain keep the ground moist and the air cool.'

Pango-Pango harbour is distant from the following places as under :

.

Auckland, N.Z.
Vavau, Friendly Islands
Levuka, Fiji
Tongatabu
Tahiti
New Caledonia
Sydney
Melbourne
Honolulu

MILES.
1577
380
630
475
1250
1445
2410
2864
2283

.

The climate of the Samoan Group is mild and agreeable, though in the rainy season it rains a great deal more than in Fiji, and perhaps more than in any other part of the Pacific, especially in Pango-Pango and Apia. The temperature generally ranges from 70° to 80°, but, as in Fiji, there is a constant seabreeze. The average for two years has been found to be 80°. Mr. Whitmee tells me it was never down to 70° more than a few times in the year, and then early in the morning The south-east trades blow steadily from April to October, being strongest in June and July. From November to March westerly winds frequently blow, but not for any length of time.

A blow' may be looked for in January, but it often happens that a year passes without a gale of any severity. February is as a rule fine, but a very severe “blow' occurred in the February of 1865, when a barque was wrecked in the harbour of Apia, and the island of Manono laid almost bare as the effect of the hurricane. March is considered the most boisterous month in the year, though there are frequent exceptions to the rule. Rain falls copiously from December to March. June and July are the coolest, and September and October the hottest months ; but there is really little variation of temperature. The · blows' which do so much damage to the unencircled groups of the Pacific, rarely affect Samoa. Thus in 1840 there was a severe gale, but nothing approaching to a hurricane. In 1850 a 'hurricane did occur, and two ships and a schooner were wrecked at Apia ; and for fifteen years afterwards the islands were entirely free from anything worse than strong gales. Sometimes these are very local ; for instance, in the January of 1870 a veritable cyclone passed over Tutuila, but did not touch the other islands.

The number of European or American residents may be set down at about three hundred ; the great majority of whom are British subjects ; but the States and Germany are well represented.

There are few diseases indigenous to Samoa, which is one of the healthiest places on earth. European ladies have better health in Samoa than even in Fiji, where (perhaps only at Levuka) they suffer occasionally from lassitude. The children of white parents are robust, rosy, and vigorous.

The only drawback which the Samoan Group possesses is the presence of elephantiasis, from which disease the foreign residents are not exempt. It is confined almost entirely to settlers of twelve years and upwards. Quinine is said to be an excellent remedy for it.

Elephantiasis is most prevalent in low-lying districts. In the little island of Aunu'u the inhabitants are entirely free from this scourge. Excessive kavadrinking aggravates it, and it may be safely said that, , with the exception of elephantiasis and its incipient febrile symptoms, all the few diseases which obtain in the Pacific are due in great measure to over-indulgence in intoxicating stimulants of inferior manufacture, or to the native grog. Dysentery is a common sequel to excess in this regard, and for whites, the late Dr. Mayo told me Dr. Collis-Browne's Chlorodyne is a certain preventive of serious consequences. I know it cured a fellow-traveller of mine.

I do not know any part of the world where the

malformations caused by elephantiasis assume such tremendous proportions as in Samoa. Dr. Turner is, I understand, engaged in a work on this topic, and he is well qualified for the task, having successfully operated on some of his suffering neighbours during his long residence in the islands. Some photographs I have seen of recent severe cases would task the credulity of anyone who had not been face to face with the reality.

On the other hand, the temperature of the islands is so mild, considering that it is within 15° of the equator, that Europeans are, as in Fiji, at all seasons of the year able to perform outdoor work without damage to their constitution. The great age to which some of the 'beach-combers' have arrived is a clear proof of the suitability of the climate to the European constitution, in addition to the fact that smiths, carpenters, timber-cutters, and men engaged in hard outdoor labour, pursue their daily tasks with perfect health. Wood-sawyers, English and American, toil in their saw-pits all day without shade of any

kind, and never complain of the temperature. These men at any rate show little of the so-called enervating influences of Polynesia.

Flies and mosquitoes are as troublesome in Samoa as in Fiji. I fancy they are worse in Apia than even Suva ; but when wider clearings are made in the dense vegetation that everywhere surrounds the towns and villages, they will in all probability disappear to a great extent, as they have disappeared from Levuka.

« ForrigeFortsæt »