The Discovery of an Island called Wateeoo.—Its Coasts examined.—Visits from the Natives on board the Ships.—Mess. Gore, Barney, and Anderson, with Omai, sent on Shore.—Mr Anderson’s Narrative of their Reception.—Omai’s Expedient to prevent their being detained.—His meeting with some of his Countrymen, and their distressful Voyage.—Farther Account of Wateeoo, and of its Inhabitants.
After leaving Mangeea, on the afternoon of the 30th of March, we continued our course northward, all that night, and till noon on the 31st; when we again saw land, in the direction of N.E. by N., distant eight or ten leagues.
Next morning, at eight o’clock, we had got abreast of its north end, within four leagues of it, but to leeward; and could now pronounce it to be an island, nearly of the same appearance and extent with that we had so lately left. At the same time, another island, but much smaller, was seen right ahead. We could have soon reached this; but the largest one had the preference, as most likely to furnish a supply of food for the cattle, of which we began to be in great want.
With this view I determined to work up to it; but as there was but little wind, and that little was unfavourable, we were still two leagues to leeward at eight o’clock the following morning. Soon after, I sent two armed boats from the Resolution, and one from the Discovery, under the command of Lieutenant Gore, to look for anchoring-ground, and a landing-place. In the mean time, we plyed up under the island with the ships.
Just as the boats were putting off, we observed several single canoes coming from the shore. They went first to the Discovery, she being the nearest ship. It was not long after, when three of these canoes came along-side of the Resolution, each conducted by one man. They are long and narrow, and supported by outriggers. The stern is elevated about three or four feet, something like a ship’s stern-post. The head is flat above, but prow-like below, and turns down at the extremity, like the end of a violin. Some knives, beads, and other trifles were conveyed to our visitors; and they gave us a few cocoa-nuts, upon our asking for them. But they did not part with them by way of exchange for what they had received from us. For they seemed to have no idea of bartering; nor did they appear to estimate any of our presents at a high rate.
With a little persuasion, one of them made his canoe fast to the ship, and came on board; and the other two, encouraged by his example, soon followed him. Their whole behaviour marked that they were quite at their ease, and felt no sort of apprehension of our detaining, or using them ill.
After their departure, another canoe arrived, conducted by a man who brought a bunch of plantains as a present to me; asking for me by name, having learnt it from Omai, who was sent before us in the boat with Mr Gore. In return for this civility, I gave him an axe, and a piece of red cloth; and he paddled back to the shore well satisfied. I afterward understood from Omai, that this present had been sent from the king, or principal chief of the island.