We continued our course to the westward, and at six in the evening saw Otaheite bearing west three-quarters south; the island Maitea, then in sight, bearing east half south, eight leagues distant. As there was great probability that we should remain a considerable time at Otaheite, it could not be expected that the intercourse of my people with the natives should be of a very reserved nature: I therefore ordered that every person should be examined by the surgeon, and had the satisfaction to learn from his report that they were all perfectly free from any venereal complaint.
On the 26th at four o’clock in the morning, having run twenty-five leagues from Maitea, we brought to till daylight, when we saw Point Venus bearing south-west by west, distant about four leagues. As we drew near a great number of canoes came off to us. Their first enquiries were if we were tyos, which signifies friends; and whether we came from Pretanie (their pronunciation of Britain) or from Lima: they were no sooner satisfied in this than they crowded on board in vast numbers, notwithstanding our endeavours to prevent it, as we were working the ship in; and in less than ten minutes the deck was so full that I could scarce find my own people. At nine in the forenoon we were obliged to anchor in the outer part of Matavai Bay, in thirteen fathoms, being prevented by light variable winds from placing the ship in a proper berth. In this station the west part of One-tree hill bore south by east half east one mile distant.
This passage of fifty-two days from Van Diemen’s Land may be rated as moderate sailing. We passed New Zealand with the spring equinox and the winds, though strong, were at no time violent. To the southward of 40 degrees 0 minutes south they were variable; between the latitudes of 40 and 33 degrees south the wind kept in the north-west quarter; afterwards till we got into the trade the winds were variable, mostly from the eastward, but light and inclinable to calms. The ship was 3 degrees 22 minutes in longitude to the eastward of the dead reckoning, which the timekeeper almost invariably proved to be owing to a current giving us more easting than the log. Our track was as distant from any course of former ships as I could conveniently make it and, though we made no new discoveries, except the small cluster of islands near New Zealand, yet in other parts of the track, as has been noticed, we met with signs of being in the neighbourhood of land.
It may not be unworthy of remark that the whole distance which the ship had run by the log, in direct and contrary courses, from leaving England to our anchoring at Otaheite, was twenty-seven thousand and eighty-six miles which, on an average, is at the rate of a hundred and eight miles each twenty-four hours.