CHAPTER 13. 1772 TO 1774. SECOND VOYAGE.
On 17th February a display of the Aurora Australis was reported to Cook, who speaks of it as something quite new to him, although Banks noted a display during the voyage of the Endeavour between Timor and Batavia. The present one is described as having a spiral motion, the direction not strongly defined, and at times strong flashes of light. A second display was seen on the 25th, but not so marked. On this day, too, some of the ship's boats engaged in watering from a small iceberg, had a narrow escape from destruction as the berg turned completely over whilst they were at work.
The weather becoming very unsettled the Resolution was obliged to make to the north, and on 8th March, the finest day they had experienced since leaving the Cape, they were able to fix their position by observation as 59 degrees 44 minutes South, 121 degrees 9 minutes East, the thermometer registering 40 degrees. Of course this pleasant break was followed by a heavy gale, with a tremendously heavy sea, and the ship ran before it for New Zealand. Cook's wish was to touch at Van Diemen's Land, so as to satisfy himself as to its forming a part of New Holland, but the wind kept obstinately between west and north, having shifted after the gale, and he thought it would occupy a longer time than he could spare, so he bore up for the South Island. It was soon found that a few degrees of latitude made a great difference in the temperature, "which we felt with an agreeable satisfaction."
On 25th March at 10 A.M., New Zealand was sighted, and Cook steered in to the land with the intention of putting in to the first port that appeared suitable, but as the weather became very hazy, he thought it safer to stand off again. He had picked up the land at a point which he had only seen from a distance on his previous visit, and "now saw it under so many disadvantageous circumstances, that the less I say about it, the fewer mistakes I shall make."
The following day they got safely into Dusky Bay, finding forty-four fathoms at the entrance and a sandy bottom. In about a couple of leagues they found a good anchorage in fifty fathoms, a hawser's length or so from the shore. This was found to be rather inconvenient, but another one was soon found by Lieutenant Pickersgill, and received in consequence the name Pickersgill Harbour. Here the observatory, forge, and tents were set up. Spruce beer was brewed, to which molasses and some of their inspissated malt juice was added, fish caught, and, in fact, everything possible for the comfort of the crew for a short time, was done. They had been a hundred and seventeen days at sea, had sailed 3,600 leagues without a sight of land, and had arrived with only one man sick with the scurvy, "occasioned, chiefly, by a bad habit of body and a complication of other disorders."
One day, passing an island whilst out surveying, Cook was called by a Maori and landed to meet him. The native was accompanied by two women, and after an attempt at conversation, presented Cook with a piece of native cloth, asking, as far as could be understood, for a boat-cloak in return. One was made for him out of red baize, and gave so much satisfaction that he presented Cook with his pattou, a sort of short flat club made of stone. He visited the ship, and took great interest in all that was going on, particularly with the saw pit. After watching the men some time, he intimated his desire to try his hand in the pit, but found the work not quite so easy as it looked, and soon required very little persuasion to relinquish his task.
Cook speaks very favourably of Dusky Bay, a good anchorage, plenty of good water, game, fish, and easy to enter. The timber he describes as the best he had seen in New Zealand, with the exception of that at the Thames. There was but little edible herbage, but he tried to remedy this by planting a quantity of European seeds, and he also left, in a place where he hoped they might be undisturbed, a pair of geese. Whilst here Cook was for a time confined to his cabin by what he describes as a slight cold, but Mr. Forster says was a severe attack of rheumatism. After several unsuccessful attempts, owing to contrary winds, they left Dusky Bay on 11th May, and on the 17th, when near Cape Stephens, fell in with six water-spouts, one of which came within fifty yards of the ship, and Cook regretted he had not fired a gun at it, as he had heard that course recommended. He says he had one ready, but was so busy noting the phenomena that he did not think of it in time. On the other hand, Forster says that one "was ordered to be got ready, but our people being, as usual, very desultory about it, the danger was passed before we could try the experiment."