CHAPTER IV. Narrative of Captain Cook's second Voyage round the World.
It was the 6th of August before the ships had the advantage of the trade wind. This they got at southeast, being at that time in the latitude of 19 36' south, and the longitude of 131 32' west. As Captain Cook had obtained the south east trade wind, he directed his course to the west-north-west; not only with a view of keeping in with the strength of the wind, but also to get to the north of the islands discovered in his former voyage, that he might have a chance of meeting with any other islands which might lie in the way. It was in the track which had been pursued by M. de Bougainville that our commander now proceeded. He was sorry that he could not spare time to sail to the north of this track; but at present, on account of the sickly state of the Adventure's crew, the arriving at a place where refreshments could be procured was an object superior to that of discovery. To four of the islands which were passed by Captain Cook, he gave the names of Resolution Island, Doubtful Island, Furneaux Island, and Adventure Island. They are supposed to be the same that were seen by M. de Bougainville; and these with several others, which constitute a cluster of low and half-drowned isles, that gentleman distinguished by the appellation of the Dangerous Archipelago. The smoothness of the sea sufficiently convinced our navigators, that they were surrounded by them, and that it was highly necessary to proceed with the utmost caution, especially in the night.
Early in the morning, on the 15th of August, the ships came within sight of Osnaburg Island, or Maitea, which had been discovered by Captain Wallis. Soon after, Captain Cook acquainted Captain Furneaux, that it was his intention to put into Oaiti-piha Bay, near the south-east end of Otaheite, for the purpose of procuring what refreshments he could from that part of the island, before he went down to Matavai. At six to the evening the island was seen bearing west; and our people continued to advance towards it till midnight, when they brought to, till four o'clock in the morning; after which, they sailed in for the land with a fine breeze at east. At day-break, they found themselves within the distance of half a league from the reef; and, at the same time, the breeze began to fail them, and was at last succeeded by a calm. It now became necessary for the boats to be hoisted out, in order to tow off the ships; but all the efforts of our voyagers, to keep them from being carried near the reef, were insufficient for the purpose. As the calm continued, the situation of the vessels became still more dangerous. Captain Cook, however, entertained hopes of getting round the western point of the reef and into the bay. But, about two o'clock in the afternoon, when he came before an opening or break of the reef, through which he had flattered himself that he might get with the ships, he found, on sending to examine it, that there was not a sufficient depth of water. Nevertheless, this opening caused such an indraught of the tide of flood through it, as was very near proving fatal to the Resolution; for as soon as the vessels got into the stream, they were carried towards the reef with great impetuosity. The moment the captain perceived this, he ordered one of the warping machines, which was held in readiness, to be carried out with about four hundred fathoms of rope; but it did not produce the least effect: and our navigators had now in prospect the horrors of shipwreck. They were not more than two cables' length from the breakers; and, though it was the only probable method which was left of saving the ships, they could find no bottom to anchor. An anchor, however, they did drop; but before it took hold, and brought them up, the Resolution was in less than three fathom water and struck at every fall of the sea, which broke close under her stern in a dreadful surf, and threatened her crew every moment with destruction. Happily the Adventure brought up without striking. Presently, the Resolution's people carried out two kedge-anchors, with hawsers to each; and these found ground a little without the bower. By heaving upon them, and cutting away the bower anchor, the ship was gotten afloat, where Captain Cook and his men lay for some time in the greatest anxiety, expecting every minute that either the kedges would come home, or the hawsers be cut in two by the rocks. At length, the tide ceased to act in the same direction: upon which the captain ordered all the boats to try to tow off the vessel. Having found this to be practicable, the two kedges were hove up; and at that moment a light air came off from the land, by which the boats were so much assisted, that the Resolution soon got clear of all danger. Our commander then ordered all the boats to assist the Adventure; but before they reached her, she was under sail with the land breeze, and in a little time joined her companion, leaving behind her three anchors, her coasting cable, and two hawsers, which were never recovered. Thus were our voyagers once more safe at sea, after narrowly escaping being wrecked on the very island, at which, but a few days before, they had most ardently wished to arrive. It was a peculiarly happy circumstance, that the calm continued, after bringing the ships into so dangerous a state; for if the sea breeze, as is usually the ease, had set, in, the Resolution must inevitably have been lost, and probably the Adventure likewise. During the time in which the English were in this critical situation, a number of the natives were either on board or near the vessel in their canoes. Nevertheless, they seemed to be insensible of our people's danger, shewing not the least surprise, joy, or fear, when the ships were striking; and they went away a little before sunset, quite unconcerned. Though most of them knew Captain Cook again, and many inquired for Mr. Banks and others who had been with the captain before, it was remarkable that not one of them asked for Tupia.