Being now enabled to converse with the Russians, by the aid of our interpreter, with tolerable facility, our first enquiries were directed to the means of procuring a supply of fresh provisions and naval stores; from the want of which latter article, in particular, we had been for some time in great distress. On enquiry, it appeared, that the whole stock of live cattle, which the country about the bay could furnish, amounted only to two heifers; and these the serjeant very readily promised to procure us. Our applications were next made to the merchant, but we found the terms upon which he offered to serve us so exorbitant, that Captain Clerke thought it necessary to send an officer to visit the commander at Bolcheretsk, and to enquire into the price of stores at that place. As soon as this determination was communicated to Mr Port, he dispatched an express to the commander to inform him of our intentions, and at the same time to clear us from the suspicions that were entertained with respect to the designation and purposes of our voyage.
Captain Clerke having thought proper to fix on me for this service, I received orders, together with Mr Webber, who was to accompany me as interpreter, to be ready to set out the next day. It proved, however, too stormy, as did also the 6th, for beginning a journey through so wild and desolate a country; but on the 7th, the weather appearing more favourable, we set out early in the morning in the ship’s boats, with a view to reach the entrance of the Awatska at high water, on account of the shoals with which the mouth of that river abounds; here the country boats were to meet us, and carry us up the stream.
Captain Gore was now added to our party, and we were attended by Messrs Port and Fedositsch, with two cossacks, and were provided by our conductors with warm furred clothing; a precaution which we soon found very necessary, as it began to snow briskly just after we set out. At eight o’clock, being stopped by shoal water, about a mile from the mouth of the river, some small canoes, belonging to the Kamtschadales, took up us and our baggage, and carried us over a spit of sand, which is thrown up by the rapidity of the river, and which they told us was continually shifting. When we had crossed this shoal, the water again deepened, and here we found a commodious boat, built and shaped like a Norway yawl, ready to convey us up the river, together with canoes for our baggage.
The mouth of the Awatska is about a quarter of a mile broad, and, as we advanced, it narrowed very gradually. After we had proceeded a few miles, we passed several branches, which, we were told, emptied themselves into other parts of the bay; and that some of those on the left hand flowed into the Paratounca river. Its general direction from the bay, for the first ten miles, is to the north, after which it turns to the westward; this bend excepted, it preserves for the most part a straight course; and the country through