This neglect not only rendered the expedition abortive in its principal object, but most materially affected the condition of each particular ship, and none so fatally as the Wager, who being an old Indiaman, bought into the service upon this occasion, was now fitted out as a man of war: But being made to serve as a store-ship, was deeply laden with all kinds of careening geer, military, and other stores, for the use of the other ships; and what is more, crowded, with bale-goods, and incumbered with merchandize. A ship of this quality and condition could not be expected to work with that readiness and ease which was necessary for her security and preservation in those heavy seas which she was to encounter. Her crew consisted of men pressed from long voyages to be sent upon a distant and hazardous service; on the other hand, all her land-forces were no more than a poor detachment of infirm and decrepid invalids from Chelsea hospital, desponding under the apprehensions of a long voyage. It is not then to be wondered, that Captain Kid, under whose command this ship sailed out of the port, should in his last moments presage her ill success, though nothing very material happened during his command.
At his death he was succeeded by Captain Cheap, who still, without any accident, kept company with the squadron till we had almost gained the southernmost mouth of Straits Le Maire; when, being the sternmost ship, we were, by the sudden shifting of the wind to the southward, and the turn of the tide, very near being wrecked upon the rocks of Staten Land; which, notwithstanding, having weathered, contrary to the expectation of the rest of the squadron, we endeavoured all in our power to make up our lost way, and regain our station. This we effected, and proceeded in our voyage, keeping company with the rest of the ships for some time, when by a great roll of a hollow sea we carried away our mizen-mast, all the chain-plates to windward being broken. Soon after, hard gales at west coming on with a prodigious swell, there broke a heavy sea in upon the ship, which stove our boats, and filled us for some time.
These accidents were the more disheartening, as our carpenter was on board the Gloucester, and detained there by the incessant tempestuous weather, and a sea impracticable for boats. In a few days he returned, and supplied the loss of a mizen-mast by a lower studding-sail boom; but this expedient, together with the patching up of our rigging, was a poor temporary relief to us. We were soon obliged to cut away our best bower-anchor to ease the fore-mast, the shrouds and chain-plates of which were all broken, and the ship in all parts in a most crazy condition.