A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 14 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 822 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 14.

At day-break we found ourselves not more than half a league from the reef.  The breeze now began to fail us, and at last fell to a calm.  This made it necessary to hoist out our boats to tow the ships off; but all their efforts were not sufficient to keep them from being carried near the reef.  A number of the inhabitants came off in canoes from different parts, bringing with them a little fish, a few cocoa-nuts, and other fruits, which they exchanged for nails, beads, &c.  The most of them knew me again, and many enquired for Mr Banks and others who were with me before; but not one asked for Tupia.  As the calm continued, our situation became still more dangerous.  We were, however, not without hopes of getting round the western point of the reef and into the bay, till about two o’clock in the afternoon, when we came before an opening or break in the reef, through which I hoped to get with the ships.  But on sending to examine it, I found there was not a sufficient depth of water; though it caused such an in-draught of the tide of flood through it, as was very near proving fatal to the Resolution; for as soon as the ships got into the stream, they were carried with great impetuosity towards the reef.  The moment I perceived this, I ordered one of the warping machines, which we had in readiness, to be carried out with about four hundred fathoms of rope; but it had not the least effect.  The horrors of shipwreck now stared us in the face.  We were not more than two cables length from the breakers; and yet we could find no bottom to anchor, the only probable means we had left to save the ships.  We, however, dropt an anchor; but, before it took hold, and brought us up, the ship was in less than three fathom water, and struck at every fall of the sea, which broke close under our stem in a dreadful surf, and threatened us every moment with shipwreck.  The Adventure, very luckily, brought up close upon our bow without striking.

We presently carried out two kedge-anchors, with hawsers to each; these found ground a little without the bower, but in what depth we never knew.  By heaving upon them, and cutting away the bower-anchor, we got the ship a-float, where we lay some time in the greatest anxiety, expecting every minute that either the kedges would come home, or the hawsers be cut in two by the rocks.  At length the tide ceased to act in the same direction.  I ordered all the boats to try to tow off the Resolution; and when I saw this was practicable, we hove up the two kedges.  At that moment, a light air came off from the land, which so much assisted the boats, that we soon got clear of all danger.  Then I ordered all the boats to assist the Adventure, but before they reached her, she was under sail with the land-breeze, and soon after joined us, leaving behind her three anchors, her coasting cable, and two hawsers, which were never recovered.  Thus we were once more safe at sea, after narrowly escaping being wrecked on the very island we but a few days before so ardently wished to be at.  The calm, after bringing us into this dangerous situation, very fortunately continued; for, had the sea-breeze, as is usual, set in, the Resolution must inevitably have been lost, and probably the Adventure too.

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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 14 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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