The Queen sailed early in the month with an officer and a detachment of the New South Wales corps, some convicts, stores and provisions, for Norfolk Island. The Salamander sailed at the same time on her fishing voyage.
From her intended trial of the whale-fishery on the coast the Britannia arrived on the 10th, and was followed the next day by the Mary Ann. Mr. Melvill killed, in company with the William and Ann, the day after he went out, seven spermaceti whales, two only of which they were able to secure from the bad weather which immediately succeeded. From the whale which fell to the Britannia’s share, although but a small one, thirteen barrels of oil were procured; and in the opinion of Mr. Melvill, the oil, from its containing a greater proportion of that valuable part of the fish called by the whalers the head-matter, was worth ten pounds more per ton than that of the fish of any other part of the world he had been in. He thought that a most advantageous voyage might be made upon this coast, as he was confident upwards of fifteen thousand whales were seen in the first ten days that he was absent, the greater number of which were observed off this harbour; and he was prevented from filling his ship by bad weather alone, having met with only one day since he sailed in which he could lower down a boat.
The success and report of the master of the Mary Ann were very different; he had been as far to the southward as the latitude of 45 degrees without seeing a whale; and in a gale of wind shipped a sea that stove two of his boats, and washed down the vessels for boiling the oil, which were fixed in brick-work, and to repair which he came into this harbour.
The Matilda came in a few days afterwards from Jervis Bay, in latitude 35 degrees 6 minutes S and longitude 152 degrees 0 minutes E, where she had anchored for some days, being leaky. The master of this ship, Mr. Matthew Weatherhead, saw many whales, but was prevented from killing any by the badness of the weather.
The William and Ann came in soon after, confirming the report of the great numbers of fish which were to be seen upon the coast, and the difficulty of getting at them. She had killed only one fish, and came in to repair and shorten her main-mast.
A difference of opinion prevailed among the masters of the ships which had been out respecting the establishing a whale-fishery upon this coast. In one particular, however, they all agreed, which was, that the coast abounded with fish; but the major part of them thought that the currents and bad weather prevailing at this season of the year, and which appeared to be also the season of the fish, would prevent any ships from meeting with that success, of which on their setting out they themselves had had such sanguine hopes. One of them thought that the others, in giving this opinion, were premature, and that they were not sufficiently acquainted with the weather on the coast to form any judgment of the advantage to be derived from future attempts. They were determined, nevertheless, to give it another trial, on the failure of which they meant to prosecute their voyage to the coast of Peru. Having set up their rigging, they went out again toward the latter end of the month.