At five in the afternoon we saw two small islands bearing W., about four leagues distant. Our pilots called the one Hoonga Hapaee, and the other Hoonga Tonga. They lie in the latitude of 20 deg. 36’, and ten or eleven leagues from the W. point of Annamooka, in the direction of S. 46 deg. W. According to the account of the islanders on board, only five men reside upon Hoonga Hapaee, and Hoonga Tonga is uninhabited; but both of them abound with sea-fowl.
We continued the same course till two o’clock next morning, when, seeing some lights ahead, and not knowing whether they were on shore, or on board the canoes, we hauled the wind, and made a short trip each way till daybreak. We then resumed our course to the S. by W.; and presently after saw several small islands before us, and Eooa and Tongataboo beyond them. We had, at this time, twenty-five fathoms water, over a bottom of broken coral and sand. The depth gradually decreased as we drew near the isles above mentioned, which lie ranged along the N.E. side of Tongataboo. By the direction of our pilots we steered for the middle of it, and for the widest space between the small isles which we were to pass, having our boats ahead employed in sounding. We were insensibly drawn upon a large flat, upon which lay innumerable coral rocks, of different depths, below the surface of the water. Notwithstanding all our care and attention to keep the ship clear of them, we could not prevent her from striking on one of these rocks. Nor did the Discovery, though behind us, escape any better. Fortunately, neither of the ships stuck fast, nor received any damage. We could not get back without increasing the danger, as we had come almost before the wind. Nor could we cast anchor, but with the certainty of having our cables instantly cut in two by the rocks. We had no other resource but to proceed. To this, indeed, we were encouraged, not only by being told, but by seeing, that there was deeper water between us and the shore. However, that we might be better informed, the moment we found a spot where we could drop the anchor, clear of rocks, we came-to, and sent the masters with the boats to sound.
Soon after we had anchored, which was about noon, several of the inhabitants of Tongataboo came off in their canoes to the ships. These, as well as our pilots, assured us that we should find deep water farther in, and a bottom free from rocks. They were not mistaken; for about four o’clock the boats made the signal for having found good anchorage. Upon this we weighed, and stood in till dark, and then anchored in nine fathoms, having a fine, clear, sandy bottom.
During the night we had some showers of rain, but toward the morning the wind shifted to the S. and S.E., and brought on fair weather. At day-break we weighed, and, working in to the shore, met with no obstructions, but such as were visible and easily avoided.