Next morning at six o’clock, the fog clearing away, so that we could see three or four miles, I took the opportunity to steer again to the west, with the wind at east, a fresh breeze; but two hours after, a thick fog once more obliged us to haul the wind to the south. At eleven o’clock, a short interval of clear weather gave us view of three or four rocky islets extending from S.E. to E.N.E., two or three miles distant; but we did not see the Sugar-Loaf Peak beforementioned. Indeed, two or three miles was the extent of our horizon.
We were well assured that this was the land we had seen before, which we had now been quite round; and therefore it could be no more than a few detached rocks, receptacles for birds, of which we now saw vast numbers, especially shags, who gave us notice of the vicinity of land before we saw it. These rocks lie in the latitude of 55 deg. S., and S. 75 deg. E., distant twelve leagues from Cooper’s Isle.
The interval of clear weather was of very short duration, before we had as thick a fog as ever, attended with rain, on which we tacked in sixty fathoms water, and stood to the north. Thus we spent our time, involved in a continual thick mist; and, for aught we knew, surrounded by dangerous rocks. The shags and soundings were our best pilots; for after we had stood a few miles to the north, we got out of soundings, and saw no more shags. The succeeding day and night we spent in making short boards; and at eight o’clock on the 24th, judging ourselves not far from the rocks by some straggling shags which came about us, we sounded in sixty fathoms water, the bottom stones and broken shells. Soon after, we saw the rocks bearing S.S.W. 1/2 W., four miles distant, but still we did not see the peak. It was, no doubt, beyond our horizon, which was limited to a short distance; and, indeed, we had but a transient sight of the other rocks, before they were again lost in the fog.
With a light air of wind at north, and a great swell from N.E., we were able to clear the rocks to the west; and, at four in the p.m., judging ourselves to be three or four leagues east and west of them, I steered south, being quite tired with cruizing about them in a thick fog; nor was it worth my while to spend any more time in waiting for clear weather, only for the sake of having a good sight of a few straggling rocks. At seven o’clock, we had at intervals a clear sky to the west, which gave us a sight of the mountains of the isle of Georgia, bearing W.N.W., about eight leagues distant. At eight o’clock we steered S.E. by S., and at ten S.E. by E., with a fresh breeze at north, attended with a very thick fog; but we were, in some measure, acquainted with the sea over which we were running. The rocks above-mentioned obtained the name of Clerke’s Rocks, after my second officer, he being the first who saw them.