From the private log of T. BECKFORD SIMPSON, master of the brig Freak,* giving an account of her proceedings when employed in searching for the papers, etc., connected with the late Mr. Kennedy’s exploring party.
(Footnote. Under contract with the Colonial Government to call (on her way to Port Essington) at Shelburne Bay and Escape River, to ascertain, if possible, the fate of the three men left at the former place, and recover the papers of Mr. Kennedy secreted by Jackey-Jackey, who went in the Freak to point out the localities.)
Wednesday, May 2, 1849.
In the night fresh breezes from North-East with rain; at daylight weighed and made sail, the Harbinger in company; shaped a course to pass between Cape Direction and the low sandy island which lies off it; passed close to the latter; I observed the reef extending from the North-East end further than laid down on the chart; after passing it, and giving Cape Direction a good berth, shaped a course for Restoration Island. At 9 A.M. dense masses of rain-clouds to the east and north-east. The weather became thick and rainy, shortened sail to the topsails. At 10.30 A.M., the weather clearing a little, saw Restoration and Cape Weymouth; when close to the former we had heavy squalls with rain, which prevented our seeing the land; hove-to with the vessel’s head to the North-East; shortly after the weather clearing a little so as to enable us to see the land, bore up and stood in for Weymouth Bay. The rain now descended in torrents, lowered topsails on the cap, feeling our way cautiously with the lead; finding the water shoaling, anchored in twelve fathoms; at 0.30 P.M., the weather clearing a little, saw Restoration, bearing South-South-East 1/2 East, and a small island distant about a mile west.
At 3.30 P.M. fine, and finding we were a long distance out, weighed and ran in under the jib, the Harbinger following our example; as we approached the bottom of the bay the water shoaled gradually, and when the haze lifted Jackey pointed out the hill at the foot of which was the camp where Mr. Kennedy had left eight of the party, and from whence Carron and Goddard had been rescued. We stood into five fathoms, and at 5 P.M. anchored about 1 1/2 miles from the shore; the Harbinger brought up close to us. Made up my mind to visit the camp in the morning, and endeavour to find if there were any papers which might have been left and not destroyed.
Thursday, May 3.
During the night moderate breeze from the south with light showers. At five A.M., Captain Sampson came alongside, he wishing to join our party, and visit the camp. Having well manned and armed the large whaleboat, pulled on shore, and landed at the entrance of a small river, on a little sand patch, the place having been pointed out by Jackey; it was the only clear landing-place I saw. A dense mangrove swamp extended some distance beyond high-water mark. We had no sooner landed than the rain fell in torrents, and continued for three hours, so much so that we could not load our guns. It was about high-water when we landed, and in the mangrove scrub through which we had to go, the water was nearly up to our waists. We had, therefore, no alternative but to remain patiently until the tide fell, and the rain ceased.