Proceedings in the South Sea, till Ship-wrecked on the Island of Juan Fernandez.
At length, on the 14th November at noon, our spirits were cheared by seeing the coast of Chili; yet here we found ourselves under very great difficulties. Our tedious passage and extraordinary consumption of provisions, had so reduced our wood and water, and even our food, that it was necessary to repair to some place where our wants might be supplied; but it was difficult to resolve where that might be done. We first tried Narborough island, but finding the road unsafe, sailed for the mouth of St Domingo river on the continent, where we had twenty-eight fathoms, shoaling as we advanced from eighteen to less than five as fast as a man could heave the lead. Finding this place too hazardous, we stood out to sea, and were blown farther north than we designed. Being greatly at a loss where to procure wood and water, one Joseph de la Fontaine, a Frenchman, proposed going to the island of Chiloe, assuring us that the towns of Chaiao and Calibuco, the former on the island and the latter on the continent, were rich places, where we could not fail of procuring whatever we wanted. Cliacao was, he said, the usual residence of the governor, and at Calibuco was a wealthy college of Jesuits, having considerable magazines, always well stocked with provisions of all kinds. This person at the same time insinuated among the people, that our expedition would probably turn out unfortunate, if we passed this place, as Captain Clipperton must by this time have alarmed the coast, in consequence of which there would be an embargo on all ships trading to leeward.
My chief inducement for making an attempt on Chiloe was to procure such additional supply of provisions, as might enable us, in case the coast were already alarmed, to retire to some unfrequented island, to remain till the Spaniards should suppose we had abandoned the South Sea; after which we could resume our cruize, when they were under no apprehensions of being molested. Accordingly, on the 30th November, we entered the channel which divides the island of Chiloe from the main land of Chili, and stood in for the harbour of Chacao under French colours, intending to have attacked the towns of Chacao and Calibuco by surprise. Our pilot, however, seemed as much a stranger to the navigation here as I was, and as the wind began to blow fresh with thick weather, I came to anchor in thirteen fathoms, at ten in the morning, between the point of Carelampo and the small island of Pedro Nunez. Soon after coming to anchor, the tide made outwards with prodigious rapidity, and the wind increased greatly, between which the sea became very boisterous, all the channel in which we lay appearing one continued breach or surf. Our ship consequently made a vast strain on her cable, which parted at two in the afternoon, and we could have no hopes to recover