On the 4th of July, I rejoined the Minerva at the Palm Trees, and on the 5th we weighed and passed the bar of the Rio Pongo, steering our course for the Isles de Loss; and on the 6th came to an anchor off Factory Island.
The Isles de Loss, in the Portuguese language meaning Islands of Idols, are so called from the idolatrous customs of the natives, and are seven in number; Tammara, Crawford’s, Factory, Temba, White’s, Goat, and Kid islands. Tammara is the largest, but very difficult of approach, and has few inhabitants; Crawford’s has two factories for trade, belonging to gentlemen formerly in the service of the Sierra Leone Company; and Factory Island has an American establishment, conducted by a Mr. Fisk, These are the principal (the others being little more than barren rocks), and they abound in vegetation and natural productions. Squilly, or the sea onion, to which great medicinal qualities are ascribed, grows in great abundance in these islands, and might be procured in almost any quantity. Dr. Lewis, in the Materia Medica, or Edinburgh Dispensary, describes the peculiar qualities of this root.
The positions of these islands are excellent for trade, but exposed to the predatory excursions of the enemy, who have frequently pillaged the factories established in Crawford’s Island.
On the 9th we again got under weigh, steering our course for the entrance into the river Scarcies. The night was attended by tremendous peals of thunder, lightning, and torrents of rain: we continued off and on until the 12th, when we arrived outside Mattacont Island, bearing E. by S. and the Isles de Loss in sight. At 2 P.M. I accompanied Captain Brown, with five hands, in the pinnace, with the intention of running into the Scarcies river. We sailed with a fresh breeze in expectation of gaining the entrance by the approach of night; but we were obliged to anchor in the open sea, amidst the most awful peals of thunder, while the whole heaven displayed nothing but vivid flashes of lightning. Amidst this tremendous scene, exposed to the mercy of the waves, with the prospect of being deluged by rain, we secured our little bark and ourselves, in the best manner our circumstances would admit, and committed ourselves to the all protecting care and disposal of Providence. The mantle of night was soon spread around us, the scene was grand and solemn, and we were at length hushed to rest by the jar of elements, and the murmurs of the ocean. We awoke to contemplate an azure sky, and the all-bountiful mercy of the Creator, in preserving us from such imminent danger, to pursue our destination through breakers, shoals, and sands.