On Friday the 2d of November, after administering the proper oaths to the lieutenants of both ships, I delivered them their commissions; for till this time they acted only under verbal orders from me, and expected to receive their commissions in India, whither they imagined we were bound. We now began to see a great number of birds about the ship, many of them very large, of which some were brown and white, and some black: There were among them large flocks of pintadoes, which are somewhat larger than a pigeon, and spotted with black and white. On the 4th, we saw a great quantity of rock weed, and several seals: The prevailing winds were westerly, so that being continually driven to the eastward, we foresaw that it would not be easy to get in with the coast of Patagonia. On the 10th, we observed the water to change colour, but we had no ground with one hundred and forty fathom. The next day we stood in for the land till eight in the evening, when we had ground of red sand with forty-five fathom. We steered S.W. by W. all night, and the next morning had fifty-two fathom with the same ground: Our latitude now being 42 deg.34’ S., longitude 58 deg.17’ W., the variation 11 deg.1/4 E.
On Monday the 12th, about four o’clock in the afternoon, as I was walking on the quarter-deck, all the people upon the forecastle called out at once, “Land right a-head;” it was then very black almost round the horizon, and we had had much thunder and lightning; I looked forward under the fore-sail, and upon the lee-bow, and saw what at first appeared to be an island, rising in two rude craggy hills, but upon looking to leeward I saw land joining to it, and running a long way to the south-east: We were then steering S.W. and I sent officers to the mast-head to look out upon the weather-beam, and they called out that they saw land also a great way to the windward. I immediately brought to, and sounded; we had still fifty-two fathom, but I thought that we were embayed, and rather wished than hoped that we should get clear before night. We made sail and steered E.S.E. the land still having the same appearance, and the hills looking blue, as they generally do at a little distance in dark rainy weather, and now many of the people said that they saw the sea break upon the sandy beaches; but having steered out for about an hour, what we had taken for land vanished all at once, and to our astonishment appeared to have been a fog-bank. Though I had been almost continually at sea for seven-and-twenty years, I had never seen such a deception before; others, however, have been equally deceived; for the master of a ship not long since made oath, that he had seen an island between the west end of Ireland and Newfoundland, and even distinguished the trees that grew upon it Yet it is certain that no such island exists, at least it could never be found, though several ships were afterwards sent out on purpose to seek it. And I am sure, that if the weather had not cleared up soon enough for us to see what we had taken for land disappear, every man on board would freely have made oath, that land had been discovered in this situation.