A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 11 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 783 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 11.
so that we every moment expected that our masts, now very slenderly supported, would have come by the board.  We exerted ourselves, however, the best we could, to stirrup our shrouds, to reeve new lanyards, and to mend our sails:  But, while these necessary operations were going on, we ran great risk of being driven ashore on the island of Chiloe, which was not far from us.  In the midst of our peril, the wind happily shifted to the southward, and we steered off the land with the main-sail only; at which time the master and I undertook the management of the helm, while every one else, capable of acting, were busied in securing the masts, and bending the sails as fast as they could be repaired.  This was the last effort of that stormy climate; for, in a day or two after, we got clear of the land, and found the weather more moderate than we had yet experienced since passing the Straits of Le Maire.

Having now cruized in vain, for the other ships of the squadron, during more than a fortnight, it was resolved to take advantage of the present favourable weather, and the offing we had made from this terrible coast, and to make the best of our way for the island of Juan Fernandez.  It is true that our next rendezvous was appointed off Baldivia; yet, as we had seen none of our companions at this first rendezvous, it was not to be supposed that any of them would be found at the second, and indeed we had the greatest reason to suspect that all but ourselves had perished.  Besides, we were now reduced to so low a condition, that, instead of pretending to attack the settlements of the enemy, our utmost hopes could only suggest the possibility of saving the ship, and some part of the remaining crew, by a speedy arrival at Juan Fernandez; as that was the only place, in this part of the world, where there was any probability of recovering our sick or refitting our ship, and consequently our getting thither was the only chance we had left to avoid perishing at sea.

Our deplorable situation allowing no room for deliberation, we stood for the island of Juan Fernandez; and, to save time, which was now extremely precious, as our men were dying by four, five, and six of a day, and likewise to avoid being again engaged on a lee shore, we resolved to endeavour to hit that island upon a meridian.  On the 28th of May, being nearly in the parallel on which it is laid down, we had great expectations of seeing that island; but, not finding it in the position laid down in our charts, we began to fear that we had got too far to the westward; and therefore, though the commodore was strongly persuaded that he saw it in the morning of the 28th, yet his officers believing it to have been only a cloud, to which opinion the haziness of the weather gave some countenance, it was resolved, on consultation, to stand to the eastward in the parallel of the island; as, by this course, we should certainly fall in with the island, if we were already to the westward of it, or should at least make the main land of Chili, whence we could take a new departure, so as not to miss it a second time in running to the westward.

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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 11 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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