A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 13 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 687 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 13.

Having now given the best description that I can of the island in its present state, and of the people, with their customs and manners, language and arts, I shall only add a few general observations, which may be of use to future navigators, if any of the ships of Great Britain should receive orders to visit it.  As it produces nothing that appears to be convertible into an article of trade, and can be used only by affording refreshments to shipping in their passage through these seas, it might be made to answer this purpose in a much greater degree, by transporting thither sheep, goats, and horned cattle, with European garden stuff, and other useful vegetables, which there is the greatest reason to suppose will flourish in so fine a climate, and so rich a soil.

Though this and the neighbouring islands lie within the tropic of Capricorn, yet the heat is not troublesome, nor did the winds blow constantly from the east.  We had frequently a fresh gale from the S.W. for two or three days, and sometimes, though very seldom, from the N.W.  Tupia reported, that south-westerly winds prevail in October, November, and December, and we have no doubt of the fact.  When the winds are variable, they are always accompanied by a swell from the S.W. or W.S.W.; there is also a swell from the same points when it is calm, and the atmosphere loaded with clouds, which is a sure indication that the winds are variable, or westerly out at sea, for with the settled trade-wind the weather is clear.

The meeting with westerly winds, within the general limits of the eastern trade, has induced some navigators to suppose that they were near some large tract of land, of which, however, I think they are no indication.

It has been found, both by us and the Dolphin, that the trade-wind, in these parts, does not extend farther to the south than twenty degrees, beyond which, we generally found a gale from the westward; and it is reasonable to suppose, that when these winds blow strong, they will drive back the easterly wind, and consequently encroach upon the limits within which they constantly blow, and thus necessarily produce variable winds, as either happens to prevail, and a south-westerly swell.  This supposition is the more probable, as it is well known that the trade-winds blow but faintly for some distance within their limits, and therefore may be more easily stopped or repelled by a wind in the contrary direction:  It is also well known, that the limits of the trade-winds vary not only at different seasons of the year, but sometimes at the same season, in different years.

There is therefore no reason to suppose that south-westerly winds, within these limits, are caused by the vicinity of large tracts of land, especially as they are always accompanied with a large swell, in the same direction in which they blow; and we find a much greater surf beating upon the shores of the south-west side of the islands that are situated just within the limits of the trade-wind, than upon any other part of them.

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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 13 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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