The next day we steered west; it being Captain Clerke’s intention to keep as near as possible in the same parallel of latitude, till we should make the longitude of Awatska Bay, and afterward to steer due north for the harbour of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in that bay, which was also appointed for our rendezvous in case of separation. This track was chosen on account of its being, as far as we knew, unexplored; and we were not without hopes of falling in with some new island on our passage.
We had scarcely seen a bird since our losing sight of Tahoora, till the 18th in the afternoon, when, being in the latitude of 21 deg. 12’, and the longitude of 194 deg. 45’, the appearance of a great many boobies, and some man-of-war birds, made us keep a sharp look-out for land. Toward evening the wind lessened, and the north-east swell, which, on the 16th and 17th, had been so heavy as to make the ships labour exceedingly, was much abated. The next day we saw no appearance of land; and at noon, we steered a point more to the southward, viz. W. by S., in the hopes of finding the trade-winds, (which blew almost invariably from the E. by N.,) fresher as we advanced within the tropic. It is somewhat singular that, though we saw no birds in the forenoon, yet toward evening we had again a number of boobies and man-of-war birds about us. This seemed to indicate that we had passed the land from whence the former flights had come, and that we were approaching some other low island.
The wind continued very moderate, with fine weather, till the 23d, when it freshened from the N.E. by E., and increased to a strong gale, which split some of our old sails, and made the running rigging very frequently give way. This gale lasted twelve hours; it then became more moderate, and continued so till the 25th at noon, when we entirely lost it, and had only a very light air.
On the 26th, in the morning, we thought we saw land to the W.S.W.; but, after running about sixteen leagues in that direction, we found our mistake; and night coming on, we again steered W. Our latitude, at this time, was 19 deg. 45’, which was the greatest southing we made in this run; our longitude was 183 deg., and variation 12 deg. 45’ E. We continued in this course, with little alteration in the wind, till the 29th, when it shifted to the S.E. and S.S.E., and, for a few hours in the night, it was in the W.; the weather being dark and cloudy, with much rain. We had met, for some days past, several turtles, one of which was the smallest I ever saw, not exceeding three inches in length. We were also accompanied by man-of-war birds, and boobies of an unusual kind, being quite white, except the tip of the wing, which was black, and easily mistaken, at first sight, for gannets.