The Expedition to Botany Bay, by Watkin Tench

CHAPTER IV.

The Passage from Teneriffe to Rio de Janeiro, in the Brazils.

In sailing from Teneriffe to the south-east, the various and picturesque appearances of the Peak are beautiful to the highest degree. The stupendous height, which before was lost on the traveller, now strikes him with awe and admiration, the whole island appearing one vast mountain with a pyramidal top. As we proceeded with light winds, at an easy rate, we saw it distinctly for three days after our departure, and should have continued to see it longer, had not the haziness of the atmosphere interrupted our view. The good people of Santa Cruz tell some stories of the wonderful extent of space to be seen from the summit of it, that would not disgrace the memoirs of the ever-memorable Baron Munchausen.

On the 18th of June we saw the most northerly of the Cape de Verd Islands, at which time the Commodore gave the fleet to understand, by signal, that his intention was to touch at some of them. The following day we made St. Jago, and stood in to gain an anchorage in Port Praya Bay. But the baffling winds and lee current rendering it a matter of doubt whether or not the ships would be able to fetch, the signal for anchoring was hauled down, and the fleet bore up before the wind. In passing along them we were enabled to ascertain the south end of the Isle of Sal to be in 16 deg 40 min north latitude, and 23 deg 5 min west longitude. The south end of Bonavista to be in 15 deg 57 min north, 23 deg 8 min west. The south end of the Isle of May in 15 deg 11 min north, 23 deg 26 min west; and the longitude of the fort, in the town of Port Praya, to be 23 deg 36 1/2 min west of Greenwich.

By this time the weather, from the sun being so far advanced in the northern tropic, was become intolerably hot, which, joined to the heavy rains that soon after came on, made us very apprehensive for the health of the fleet. Contrary, however, to expectation, the number of sick in the ship I was embarked on was surprisingly small, and the rest of the fleet were nearly as healthy. Frequent explosions of gunpowder, lighting fires between decks, and a liberal use of that admirable antiseptic, oil of tar, were the preventives we made use of against impure air; and above all things we were careful to keep the men’s bedding and wearing apparel dry. As we advanced towards the Line, the weather grew gradually better and more pleasant. On the 14th of July we passed the Equator, at which time the atmosphere was as serene, and the temperature of the air not hotter than in a bright summer day in England. From this period, until our arrival on the American coast, the heats, the calms, and the rains by which we had been so much incommoded, were succeeded by a series of weather as delightful as it was unlooked for. At three o’clock in the afternoon of the 2nd of August, the ‘Supply’, which had been previously sent a-head on purpose, made the signal for seeing the land, which was visible to the whole fleet before sunset, and proved to be Cape Frio, in latitude 23 deg 5 min south, longitude 41 deg 40 1/4 min west.

Owing to light airs we did not get a-breast of the city of St. Sebastian, in the harbour of Rio de Janeiro, until the 7th of the month, when we anchored about three quarters of a mile from the shore.

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 20:04