On Monday the 14th, we anchored off Prince’s Island, and began to take in wood and water. The next morning, the natives came in with turtle, poultry, and hog-deer, which we bought at a reasonable price. We continued here, fitting the ship for the sea, till the 19th, during which time many of the people began to complain of intermitting disorders, something like an ague. At six o’clock the next morning, having completed our wood, and taken on board seventy-six tons of water, we made sail.
While we lay here, one of the seamen fell from the mainyard into the barge, which lay along-side the ship. His body was dreadfully bruised, and many of his bones were broken: It happened also, that in his fall he struck two other men, one of whom was so much hurt that he continued speechless till the 24th, and then died, though the other had only one of his toes broken. We had now no less than sixteen upon the sick list, and by the 1st of January, the number was increased to forty; we had buried three, among whom was the quarter-master, George Lewis, who was a diligent, sober man, and the more useful, as he spoke both the Spanish and Portuguese languages. The diseases by which we suffered, were fluxes, and fevers of the putrid kind, which are always contagious, and, for that reason alone, would be more fatal on board a ship than any other. The surgeon’s mate was very soon laid up, and those who were appointed to attend the sick, were always taken ill in a day or two after they had been upon that service. To remedy this evil, as much as it was in my power, I made a very large birth for the sick, by removing a great number of people from below to the half deck, which I hung with painted canvas, keeping it constantly clean, and directing it to be washed with vinegar, and fumigated once or twice a day. Our water was well tasted, and was kept constantly ventilated; a large piece of iron, also, used for the melting of tar, and called a loggerhead, was heated red-hot, and quenched in it before it was given out to be drank. The sick had also wine instead of grog, and salep or sago every morning for breakfast: Two days in a week they had mutton broth, and had a fowl or two given them on the intermediate days; they had, besides, plenty of rice and sugar, and frequently malt meshed; so that perhaps people in a sickly ship had never so many refreshments before: The surgeon also was indefatigable; yet, with all these advantages, the sickness on board gained ground. In the mean time, to aggravate our misfortune, the ship made more than three feet water in a watch; and all her upper works were very open and loose.
By the 10th of January, the sickness began, in some degree, to abate, but more than half the company were so feeble, that they could scarcely crawl about. On this day, being in latitude 22 deg. 41’ S., longitude, by account, 300 deg. 47’ W. we saw many tropic birds about the ship.
On the 17th, being in latitude 27 deg. 32’ S., longitude 310 deg. 36’ W., we saw several albatrosses, and caught some bonettas. The ship was this day ten miles to the southward of her account.