At day-break on the 16th, we bore away N.E., with a light breeze at west, which, at noon, was succeeded by a calm and fair weather. Our latitude at this time was 55 deg. 26’ S., longitude 5 deg. 52’ E., in which situation we had a great swell from the southward, but no ice in sight. At one o’clock in the p.m., a breeze springing up at E.N.E., we stood to S.E. till six, then tacked, and stood to the north, under double-reefed top-sails and courses, having a very fresh gale attended with snow and sleet, which fixed to the masts and rigging as it fell, and coated the whole with ice.
On the 17th the wind continued veering, by little and little, to the south, till midnight, when it fixed at S.W. Being at this time in the latitude of 54 deg. 20’ S., longitude 6 deg. 33’ east, I steered east, having a prodigious high sea from the south, which assured us no land was near in that direction.
In the morning of the 18th, it ceased to snow; the weather became fair and clear; and we found the variation to be 18 deg. 44’ west. At noon we were in the latitude of 54 deg. 25’, longitude 8 deg. 46’ east. I thought this a good latitude to keep in, to look for Cape Circumcision; because, if the land had ever so little extent in the direction of north and south, we could not miss seeing it, as the northern point is said to lie in 54 deg.. We had yet a great swell from the south, so that I was now well assured it could only be an island, and it was of no consequence which side we fell in with. In the evening Mr Wales made several observations of the moon, and stars Regulus and Spica; the mean results, at four o’clock when the observations were made, for finding the time by the watch, gave 9 deg. 15’ 20” east longitude. The watch at the same time gave 9 deg. 36’ 45”. Soon after the variation was found to be 13 deg. 10’ west. It is nearly in this situation that Mr Bouvet had 1 deg. east. I cannot suppose that the variation has altered so much since that time; but rather think he had made some mistake in his observations. That there could be none in ours was certain, from the uniformity for some time past. Besides, we found 12 deg. 8’ west, variation, nearly under this meridian, in January 1773. During the night the wind veered round by the N.W. to N.N.E. and blew a fresh gale.
At eight in the morning of the 19th, we saw the appearance of land in the direction of E. by S., or that of our course; but it proved a mere fog-bank, and soon after dispersed. We continued to steer E. by S. and S.E., till seven o’clock in the evening, when being in the latitude of 54 deg. 42’ S., longitude 13 deg. 3’ E., and the wind having veered to N.E., we tacked and stood to N.W. under close-reefed topsails and courses; having a very strong gale attended with snow-showers.
At four o’clock next morning, being in the latitude of 54 deg. 30’ S., longitude 12 deg. 33’. east, we tacked and stretched to N.E. with a fresh gale at S.W., attended with snow-showers and sleet. At noon, being in the latitude of 54 deg. 8’ S., longitude 12 deg. 59’ E., with a fresh gale at W. by N., and tolerably clear weather, we steered east till ten o’clock in the evening, when we brought-to, lest we might pass any land in the night, of which we however had not the least signs.