The wind had not remained many hours at S., before it veered to S.E. and E.; and, with this, we stood to the N., till the 28th at noon. Being then in the latitude of 41 deg. 17’, and in the longitude of 177 deg. 17’ E., we tacked and stood to the S.E., with a gentle breeze at E.N.E. It afterward freshened, and came about to N.E.; in which quarter it continued two days, and sometimes blew a fresh gale with squalls, accompanied with showers of rain.
On the 2d of March at noon, being in the latitude of 42 deg. 35’ 30”, longitude 180 deg. 8’ E., the wind shifted to N.W.; afterward to S.W.; and between this point and north it continued to blow, sometimes a strong gale with hard squalls, and at other times very moderate. With this wind we steered N.E. by E. and E., under all the sail we could carry, till the 11th at noon, at which time we were in the latitude of 39 deg. 29’, longitude 196 deg. 4’ E.
The wind now veered to N.E. and S.E., and I stood to the N., and to the N.E., as the wind would admit, till one o’clock in the morning on the 16th, when having a more favourable gale from the north, I tacked and stood to the east; the latitude being 33 deg. 40’, and the longitude 198 deg. 50’ E. We had light airs and calms by turns, till noon the next day, when the wind began to freshen at E.S.E., and I again stood to the N.E. But as the wind often veered to E. and E.N.E., we frequently made no better than a northerly course; nay sometimes to the westward of north. But the hopes of the wind coming more southerly, or of meeting with it from the westward, a little without the Tropic, as I had experienced in my former visits to this ocean, encouraged me to continue this course. Indeed it was necessary that I should run all risks, as my proceeding to the north this year, in prosecution of the principal object of the voyage, depended entirely on my making a quick passage to Otaheite, or the Society Islands.
The wind continued invariably fixed at E.S.E., or seldom shifting above two points on either side. It also blew very faint, so that it was the 27th before we crossed the Tropic, and then we were only in the longitude of 201 deg. 25’ E., which was nine degrees to the westward of our intended port. In all this run we saw nothing, except now and then a Tropic bird, that could induce us to think that we had sailed near any land. In the latitude of 34 deg. 20’, longitude 199 deg. we passed the trunk of a large tree, which was covered with barnacles; a sign that it had been long at sea.
On the 29th, at ten in the morning, as we were standing to the N.E., the Discovery made the signal of seeing land. We saw it from the mast-head almost the same moment, bearing N.E. by E. by compass. We soon discovered it to be an island of no great extent, and stood for it till sunset, when it bore N.N.E., distant about two or three leagues.
The night was spent in standing off and on, and at daybreak the next morning, I bore up for the lee or west side of the island, as neither anchorage nor landing appeared to be practicable on the south side, on account of a great surf, which broke every where with violence against the shore, or against the reef that surrounded it.