A sail being discovered in the offing on the 27th December, and not knowing but she might be Spanish, the eighteen-oared boat was manned and armed, and sent under the command of our second lieutenant, to examine her before she got within the protection of the forts. She proved to be a Portuguese brigantine from Rio Grande; and, though our officer behaved with the utmost civility to the master, and even refused to accept a calf which the master pressed him to accept, the governor took great offence at the sending our boat, talking of it in a high strain, as a violation of the peace subsisting between the crowns of Great Britain and Portugal. We thus attributed this blustering to no deeper cause than the natural insolence of Don Jose; but when he charged our officer with behaving rudely, and attempting to take by violence the calf which he had refused as a present, we had reason to suspect that he purposely sought this quarrel, and had more important objects in view than the mere captiousness of his temper. What these motives might be we had then no means of determining, or even guessing at; but we afterwards found, by letters which fell into our hands when in the South-Seas, that he had dispatched an express to Pizarro, who then lay in the Rio Plata, with an account of our arrival at St Catharines, together with a most ample and circumstantial account of our force and condition. We then conceived, that Don Jose had raised this groundless clamour on purpose to prevent us from visiting the brigantine when she should go away again, lest we might have found proofs of his perfidy, and perhaps have discovered the secret of his smuggling correspondence with his neighbouring governors, and with the Spaniards at Buenos Ayres.
It was near a month before the Tryal was refitted; for not only were her lower-masts defective, but her main-topmast and fore-yard were likewise found rotten. While this work was going on, the other ships of the squadron set up new standing-rigging, together with a sufficient number of preventer shrowds to each mast, to secure them in the most effectual manner. Also, in order to render the ships stiffer, to enable them to carry more sail abroad, and to prevent them from straining their upper works in hard gales of wind, the several captains were ordered to put some of their great guns into their holds. These precautions being complied with, and all the ships having taken in as much wood and water as there was room for, the Tryal was at last completed, and the whole squadron was ready for sea: On which the tents on shore were struck, and all the sick removed on board. We had here a melancholy proof how much the healthiness of this place was over-rated by former writers; for, though the Centurion had alone buried no less than twenty-eight of her men since our arrival, yet, in the same interval, the number of her sick had increased from eighty to ninety-six.