On Sunday the 16th, at six in the morning, we saw the island of St Helena, bearing W. by N. at the distance of about sixteen leagues, and about noon, a large ship, which shewed French colours. We pursued our course, and a few days afterwards, as we were sailing with a fine gale, and at a great distance from land, the ship suddenly received a rude shock, as if she had struck the ground: This instantly brought all who were below upon the deck in great consternation, and upon looking out we saw the water to a very large extent, tinged with blood; this put an end to our fears, and we concluded that we must have struck either a whale or a grampus, from which the ship was not likely to receive much damage, nor in fact did she receive any. About this time also we had the misfortune to bury our carpenter’s mate, a very ingenious and diligent young man, who had never been well after our leaving Batavia.
[Footnote 47: “By the tenderness and care of the Honourable Mr Byron, our excellent commodore, in causing the crews to be served with portable soup, and with the greatest humanity distributing provisions to the sick from his own table, that dreadful disease the sea-scurvy was rendered less inveterate and fatal, and we lost a less number of men, than any other ship in such a voyage: For, to the honour of that humane commander, let it be known to posterity, that under him the Dolphin and Tamar encompassed the earth, and in so long a voyage through various seas and climates, and after sailing several thousand leagues under the torrid zone, lost six men only out of each ship, including those that were drowned: A number so inconsiderable, that it is highly probable more of them would have died had they staid on shore.”]
On the 25th, we crossed the equator, in longitude 17 deg. 10’ W. and the next morning, Captain Cumming came on board, and informed me that the Tamer’s three lower rudder-braces on the stem were broken off, which rendered the rudder unserviceable. I immediately sent the carpenter on board, who found the condition of the braces even worse than had been reported, so that the rudder could not possibly be new hung; he therefore went to work upon a machine, like that which had been fixed to the Ipswich, and by which she was steered home: This machine in about five days he completed, and with some little alterations of his own, it was an excellent piece of work. The Tamar steered very well with it, but thinking that it might not be sufficient to secure her in bad weather, or upon a lee-shore, I ordered Captain Cumming to run down to Antigua, that he might there heave the ship down, and get the rudder new hung, with a fresh set of braces which he had with him for that purpose; for the braces with which the ship went out, being of iron, were not expected to last as long as ours, the lower ones, with the sheathing, being of copper.