At seven o’clock in the evening on the 18th, the calm was succeeded by a breeze at east, which the next day increasing and veering to and fixing at N.E., we stretched to N.W. with our tacks on board. We made no doubt that we had now got the N.E. trade-wind, as it was attended with fair weather, except now and then some light showers of rain; and as we advanced to the north the wind increased, and blew a fresh top-gallant gale.
On the 21st, I ordered the still to be fitted to the largest copper, which held about sixty-four gallons. The fire was lighted at four o’clock in the morning, and at six the still began to run. It was continued till six o’clock in the evening; in which time we obtained thirty-two gallons of fresh water, at the expence of one bushel and a half of coals; which was about three-fourths of a bushel more than was necessary to have boiled the ship’s company’s victuals only; but the expence of fuel was no object with me. The victuals were dressed in the small copper, the other being applied wholly to the still; and every method was made use of to obtain from it the greatest quantity of fresh water possible; as this was my sole motive for setting it to work. The mercury in the thermometer at noon was eighty-four and a half, and higher it is seldom found at sea. Had it been lower, more water, under the same circumstances, would undoubtedly have been produced; for the colder the air is, the cooler you can keep the still, which will condense the steam the faster. Upon the whole, this is an useful invention; but I would advise no man to trust wholly to it. For although you may, provided you have plenty of fuel and good coppers, obtain as much water as will support life, you cannot, with all your efforts, obtain sufficient to support health, in hot climates especially, where it is the most wanting: For I am well convinced, that nothing contributes more to the health of seamen, than having plenty of water.
The wind now remained invariably fixed at N.E. and E.N.E., and blew fresh with squalls, attended with showers of rain, and the sky for the most part cloudy. On the 25th, in the latitude of 16 deg. 12’ N., longitude 37 deg. 20’ W., seeing a ship to windward steering down upon us, we shortened sail in order to speak with her; but finding she was Dutch by her colours, we made sail again and left her to pursue her course, which we supposed was to some of the Dutch settlements in the West Indies. In the latitude of 20 deg. N., longitude 39 deg. 45’ W., the wind began to veer to E. by N. and E.; but the weather remained the same; that is, we continued to have it clear and cloudy by turns, with light squalls and showers. Our track was between N.W. by N. and N.N.W., till noon on the 28th, after which our course made good was N. by W., being at this time in the latitude of 21 deg. 21’ N., longitude 40 deg. 6’ W. Afterwards, the wind began to blow a little more steady, and was attended with fair and clear weather. At two o’clock in the morning of the 30th, being in the latitude of 24 deg. 20’ N., longitude 40 deg. 47’ W., a ship, steering to the westward, passed us within hail. We judged her to be English, as they answered us in that language; but we could not understand what they said, and they were presently out of sight.