CHAPTER IV. Narrative of Captain Cook's second Voyage round the World.
On the 13th of July, Captain Cook sailed from Plymouth, and on the 29th of the same month anchored in Funchiale Road, in the island of Madeira. Having obtained a supply of water, wine, and other necessaries at that island, he left it on the 1st of August, and sailed to the southward. As he proceeded in his voyage, he made three puncheons of beer of the inspissated juice of malt; and the liquor produced was very brisk and drinkable. The heat of the weather, and the agitation of the ship, had hitherto withstood all the endeavours of our people to prevent this juice from being in a high state of fermentation. If it could be kept from fermenting, it would be a most valuable article at sea.
The captain, having found that his stock of water would not last to the Cape of Good Hope, without putting his men to a scanty allowance, resolved to stop at St. Jago, one of the Cape de Verd islands, for a supply. At Port Praya, in this island, he anchored on the 10th of August, and by the 14th had completed his water, and procured some other refreshments; upon which he set sail and prosecuted his course. He embraced the occasion, which his touching at St. Jago afforded him, of giving such a delineation and description of Port Praya, and of the supplies there to be obtained, as might be of service to future navigators.
On the 20th of the month, the rain poured down upon our voyagers, not in drops but in streams; and the wind at the same time being variable and rough, the people were obliged to attend so constantly upon the decks, that few of them escaped being completely soaked. This circumstance is mentioned, to show the method that was taken by Captain Cook to preserve his men from the evil consequences of the wet to which they had been exposed. He had every thing to fear from the rain, which is a great promoter of sickness in hot climates. But to guard against this effect, he pursued some hints that had been suggested to him by Sir Hugh Palliser and Captain Campbell, and took care that the ship should be aired and dried with fires made between the decks, and that the damp places of the vessel should be smoked; beside which the people were ordered to air their bedding and to wash and dry their clothes, whenever there was an opportunity. The result of these precautions was, that there was not one sick person on board the Resolution.
Captain Cook, on the 8th of September, crossed the line in the longitude of 8 west, and proceeded, without meeting anything remarkable, till the 11th of October. When at 6h. 24m. 12s. by Mr. Kendal's watch, the moon rose about four digits eclipsed; soon after which the gentlemen prepared to observe the end of the eclipse. The observers were, the captain himself, and Mr. Forster, Mr. Wales, Mr. Pickersgill, Mr. Gilbert, and Mr. Harvey.
Our commander had been informed, before he left England, that he sailed at an improper season of the year, and that he should meet with much calm weather, near and under the line. But though such weather may happen in some years, it is not always, or even generally to be expected. So far was it from being the case with Captain Cook, that he had a brisk south-west wind in those very latitudes where the calms had been predicted: nor was he exposed to any of the tornadoes, which are so much spoken of by other navigators. On the 29th of the month, between eight and nine o'clock at night, when our voyagers were near the Cape of Good Hope, the whole sea, within the compass of their sight, became at once, as it were, illuminated. The captain had been formerly convinced, by Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander, that such appearances in the ocean were occasioned by insects. Mr. Forster, however, seemed disposed to adopt a different opinion. To determine the question, our commander ordered some buckets of water to be drawn up from alongside the ship, which were found full of an innumerable quantity of small globular insects, about the size of a common pin's head, and quite transparent. Though no life was perceived in them, there could be no doubt of their being living animals, when in their own proper element: and Mr. Forster became now well satisfied that they were the cause of the sea's illumination.
On the 30th, the Resolution and Adventure anchored in Table Bay; soon after which Captain Cook went on shore, and, accompanied by Captain Furneaux, and the two Mr. Forsters, waited on Baron Plettenberg, the governor of the Cape of Good Hope, who received the gentlemen with great politeness, and promised them every assistance the place could afford. From him our commander learned, that two French ships from the Mauritius, about eight months before, had discovered land in the latitude of 48 south, along which they sailed forty miles, till they came to a bay, into which they were upon the point of entering, when they were driven off, and separated in a hard gale of wind. Previously to this misfortune, they had lost some of their boats and people, that had been sent to sound the bay. Captain Cook was also informed by Baron Plettenberg, that in the month of March, two other ships from the island of Mauritius, had touched at the Cape in their way to the South Pacific Ocean; where they were going to make discoveries, under the command of M. Marion.
From the healthy condition of the crews, both of the Resolution and Adventure, it was imagined by the captain that his stay at the Cape would be very short. But the necessity of waiting till the requisite provisions could be prepared and collected, kept him more than three weeks at this place; which time was improved by him in ordering both the ships to be caulked and painted, and in taking care that, in every respect, their condition should be as good as when they left England.