The tides about these islands are perhaps as inconsiderable as in any part of the world. A south or S. by W. moon makes high water in the bay of Matavai at Otaheite; but the water very seldom rises perpendicularly above ten or twelve inches.
The variation of the compass I found to be 4 deg. 46’ easterly, this being the result of a great number of trials made with four of Dr Knight’s needles, adapted to azimuth compasses. These compasses I thought the best that could be procured, yet when applied to the meridian line, I found them to differ not only one from another, sometimes a degree and a half, but the same needle, half a degree from itself in different trials made on the same day; and I do not remember that I have ever found two needles which exactly agreed at the same time and place, though I have often found the same needle agree with itself, in several trials made one after the other. This imperfection of the needle, however, is of no consequence to navigation, as the variation can always be found to a degree of accuracy, more than sufficient for all nautical purposes.
A Description of several other Islands in the Neighbourhood of Otaheite, with various Incidents; a dramatic Entertainment; and many Particulars relative to the Customs and Manners of the Inhabitants.
[Footnote 38: Several additional particulars respecting the islands here spoken of, are given on the authority of the missionary account, and other works, to which it is unnecessary to refer particularly.—E.]
After parting with our friends, we made an easy sail, with gentle breezes and clear weather, and were informed by Tupia, that four of the neighbouring islands, which he distinguished by the names of Huaheine, Ulietea, Otaha, and Bolabola lay at the distance of between one and two days sail from Otaheite; and that hogs, fowls, and other refreshments, with which we had of late been but sparingly supplied, were there to be procured in great plenty; but having discovered from the hills of Otaheite, an island lying to the northward, which he called Tethuroa, I determined first to stand that way, to take a nearer view of it. It lies N. 1/2 W. distant eight leagues from the northern extremity of Otaheite, upon which we had observed the transit, and to which we had, for that reason, given the name of Point Venus. We found it to be a small low island, and were told by Tupia, that it had no settled inhabitants, but was occasionally visited by the inhabitants of Otaheite, who sometimes went thither for a few days to fish; we therefore determined to spend no more time in a farther examination of it, but to go in search of Huaheine and Ulietea, which he described to be well peopled, and as large as Otaheite.