[Footnote 270: These must have been some species of palm, having palmatad leaves resembling ferns.—E.]
Seals and sea-lions also abound; called lobos de la mar by the Spaniards, from their resemblance to wolves. They have a fine iron-grey fur, and when full grown are as big as a large mastiff. They are naturally surly, and snarl at the approach of any one. Instead of tails, they have two fins behind, with which they make shift to get on much faster than the sea-lions, which are large unwieldy creatures, and prodigiously full of oil.
Farther Proceedings in the South Sea, after leaving Juan Fernandez.
We departed from Juan Fernandez on the evening of the 6th October, having nothing to subsist upon except the smoked congers, one of which was allowed to each man for twenty-four hours; together with one cask of beef, four live hogs, which had fed all the time we were ashore on the putrid carcases of seals, and three or four bushels of cassada meal. We were upwards of forty men, crowded together, and lying on the bundles of eels, with no means of keeping ourselves clean, so that all our senses were offended as greatly as possible. The only way we had of procuring water, was by sucking it from the cask with a gun-barrel, used promiscuously by every one. The little unsavoury morsels we daily eat, created incessant quarrels, every one contending for the frying-pan; and our only convenience for a fire, was a tub half filled with earth, which made cooking so tedious, that we had the continual noise of frying from morning to night. I proposed that we should stand for the Bay of Conception, as being the nearest to us; and we were hard put to it every day, while the sea-breeze continued; for, not having above sixteen inches free board, and our bark tumbling prodigiously, the water ran over us perpetually; and having only a grating deck, and no tarpaulin to cover it but the top-sail of our bark, our pomps were barely sufficient to keep us free.
At four in the morning of the 10th, we fell in with a large ship, and I could see by moon-light that she was Europe-built. Our case being desperate, we stood towards her, and being rigged after the fashion of the South Seas, they did not regard us till day-light. Not being then quite up with her, they suspected us by the brownness of our canvas, wore ship, hauled close upon the wind, fired a gun, and crowded sail away from us, leaving us at a great rate. It fell calm two hours after, when we had recourse to our oars, and neared her with tolerable speed. In the mean time, we overhauled our arms, which we found in bad condition, a third of them wanting flints, and we had only three cutlasses, so that we were by no means prepared for boarding, which yet was the only means we had of taking the ship. We had only one small cannon, which we could not mount, and were therefore obliged to fire it as it lay along the deck;