After passing Footooha, we met with a reef of rocks; and, as there was but little wind, it cost us some trouble to keep clear of them. This reef lies between Footooha and Neeneeva, which is a small low isle, in the direction of E.N.E. from Footooha, at the distance of seven or eight miles. Footooha is a small island, of middling height, and bounded all round by a steep rock. It lies S. 67 deg. E., distant six leagues from Kao, and three leagues from Kotoo, in the direction of N. 33 deg. E. Being past the reef of rocks just mentioned, we hauled up for Neeneeva, in hopes of finding anchorage; but were again disappointed, and obliged to spend the night, making short boards. For, although we had land in every direction, the sea was unfathomable.
In the course of this night, we could plainly see flames issuing from the volcano upon Toofoa, though to no great height.
At day-break in the morning of the 16th, with a gentle breeze at S.E., we steered N.E. for Hepaee, which was now in sight; and we could judge it to be low land, from the trees only appearing above the water. About nine o’clock we could see it plainly forming three islands, nearly of an equal size; and soon after, a fourth to the southward of these, as large as the others. Each seemed to be about six or seven miles long, and of a similar height and appearance. The northernmost of them is called Haanno, the next Foa, the third Lefooga, and the southernmost Hoolaiva; but all four are included, by the natives, under the general name Hepaee.
The wind scanting upon us, we could not fetch the land, so that we were forced to ply to windward. In doing this, we once passed over some coral rocks, on which we had only six fathoms water; but the moment we were over them, found no ground with eighty-fathoms of line. At this time, the isles of Hepaee bore, from N., 50 deg. E., to S., 9 W. We got up with the northernmost of these isles by sunset; and there found ourselves in the very same distress, for want of anchorage, that we had experienced the two preceding evenings; so that we had another night to spend under sail, with land and breakers in every direction. Toward the evening, Feenou, who had been on board all day, went forward to Hepaee, and took Omai in the canoe with him. He did not forget our disagreeable situation; and kept up a good fire, all night, by way of a land-mark.
As soon as the day-light returned, being then close in with Foa, we saw it was joined to Haanno, by a reef running even with the surface of the sea, from the one island to the other. I now dispatched a boat to look for anchorage. A proper place was soon found; and we came-to, abreast of a reef, being that which joins Lefooga to Foa (in the same manner that Foa is joined to Haanno), having twenty-four fathoms depth of water; the bottom coral sand. In this station, the northern point of Hepaee, or the north end of Haanno, bore N., 16 deg. E. The southern point of Hepaee, or the south end of Hoolaiva, S., 29 deg. W.; and the north end of Lefooga, S., 65 deg. E. Two ledges of rocks lay without us; the one bearing S., 50 deg. W.; and the other W. by N. 1/2 N., distant two or three miles. We lay before a creek in the reef, which made it convenient landing at all times; and we were not above three quarters of a mile from the shore.