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

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 681 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 11.

On the 21st December, being in lat. 40 deg..  S. they were assailed by a hurricane, attended with thunder and lightning, during which storm the Tienhoven parted company, and did not rejoin till three months afterwards.  The extreme violence of this hurricane only lasted about four hours, during which they every moment expected to have been swallowed up by the waves, which ran mountain-high.  These hurricanes are extremely dangerous, and are far more frequent in the American seas than in the East Indies.  They usually happen at that season of the year when the west monsoon reigns, which is from the 20th July to the 15th October, for which reason ships usually remain then in port till they think the danger is over.  Yet as storms of this kind are not exactly periodical, ships that trust to such calculations are often caught, as there are some years in which there are no hurricanes, and others in which they are more frequent and violent, and at unusual periods.  The ordinary, or at least the surest sign of an approaching hurricane, is very fair weather, and so dead a calm that not even a wrinkle is to be seen on the surface of the sea.  A very dark cloud is then seen to rise in the air, not larger than a man’s hand, and in a very little time the whole sky becomes overcast.  The wind then begins to blow from the west, and in a short space of time, whirls round the compass, swelling the sea to a dreadful height; and as the wind blows now on one side and then on the other, the contrary waves beat so forcibly on the ships that they seldom escape foundering or shipwreck.  On first perceiving the before-mentioned small cloud, the best thing a ship can do is to stand out to sea.  It is remarkable that the hurricanes are less frequent as we approach the higher latitudes in either hemisphere, so that they are not to be feared beyond the lat. of 55 deg. either S. or N. It is also remarked, that hurricanes rarely happen in the middle of the wide ocean, but chiefly on the coasts of such countries as abound with minerals, and off the mouths of large rivers.  Another surprising phenomenon at sea is what is called a whirlwind water-spout, or syphon, which often carries up high into the air whatever comes within the circle of its force, as fish, grasshoppers, and other things, where they appear like a thick vapour or cloud.  The English fire at a water-spout or whirlwind, and often succeed in stopping its progress; the circular motion ceasing, and all that it had taken up falling immediately down, when the sea becomes presently calm.

On the cessation of the hurricane, the commodore and his remaining consort, the African galley, continued their course to the S.S.W. till in the height of the Straits of Magellan.  They here fell in with an island of near 200 leagues in circumference, and about 14 leagues from the mainland of America, and seeing no smoke, nor any boat, or other kind of embarkation, they concluded that it was uninhabited.  The west coast of this island was discovered by a French privateer, and named the Island of St Lewis; but being seen afterwards by the Dutch, who fancied its many capes to be distinct islands, they called it New Islands.  Considering that, if ever it should be inhabited, its inhabitants would be the antipodes of the Dutch, Roggewein gave it the name of Belgia Australis.  It is in the lat. of 52 deg.  S. and long. of 95 deg.  W.[1]

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