The longitude, when calculated by either altitudes of the sun, for the time-piece (of Kendal’s constructing, which was sent out by the Board of Longitude), or by the means of several sets of lunar observations, which were taken by Captain Hunter, Lieutenant Bradley, and Lieutenant Dawes, was constantly shown to the convoy, for which purpose the signal was made for the whole to pass under the stern of the Sirius, when a board was set up in some conspicuous part of the ship with the longitude marked on it to that day at noon.
A good look-out (to make use of the sea-phrase usual on these occasions) was kept for an island, not very well known or described, which was laid down in some charts, nearly in the track which we were to cross, but it was not seen by any of the ships of the fleet; nor was implicit credit given to its existence, although named (the island of Ascension) and a latitude and longitude assigned to it. It was conjectured, that the islands of Martin Vas and Trinidada, lying within about five leagues of each other, had given rise to the idea of a new island, and that Ascension was in reality one or other of those islands.
Only two accidents happened during the passage to the Brazils. A seaman belonging to the Alexander was so unfortunate as to fall overboard, and could not be recovered—and a female convict on board the Prince of Wales was so much bruised by the falling of a boat from off the booms (which, owing to the violent motion of the ship, had got loose) that she died the following day, notwithstanding the professional skill and humane attention of the principal surgeon; for as the boat in launching forward fell upon the neck and crushed the vertebrae and spine, all the aid he could render her was of no avail.
August.] On Thursday the 2nd of August we had the coast of South America in sight; and the head-land, named Cape Frio, was distinctly seen before the evening closed in. Our time-piece had given us notice when to look out for it, and the land was made precisely to the hour in which it had taught us to expect it. It was not, however, until the evening of the 4th that we anchored within the islands at the entrance of the harbour of Rio de Janeiro.
At day-break the next morning an officer was dispatched from the Sirius to inform the viceroy of the arrival of the fleet; and he most readily and politely promised us every assistance in his power. A ship bound to Lisbon passing us about noon, that opportunity was taken of sending an account to England of the fortunate progress which we had so far made in the long voyage before us; soon after which the port-officer, or harbour-master, came on board, and, the seabreeze beginning to blow, the fleet got under sail. About five in the afternoon we crossed the bar, and soon after passing the fort of Santa Cruz, saluted it with thirteen guns, which were returned by an equal number of guns from the fort. While saluting, it fell calm; but by the assistance of a light breeze which afterwards sprung up, and the tide of flood, the Sirius was enabled to reach far enough in by seven o’clock to come to an anchor in the harbour of Rio de Janeiro; the convoy also anchored as they came up, at the distance of about a mile and a half from the landing-place, which was found very commodious.