We were ranging along the coast with the aid of a fine breeze, when the boy Perrault, who had mounted the fore-rigging to enjoy the scenery, lost his hold, and being to windward where the shrouds were taut, rebounded from them like a ball some twenty feet from the ship’s side into the ocean. We perceived his fall and threw over to him chairs, barrels, benches, hen-coops, in a word everything we could lay hands on; then the captain gave the orders to heave to; in the twinkling of an eye the lashings of one of the quarter-boats were cut apart, the boat lowered and manned: by this time the boy was considerably a-stern. He would have been lost undoubtedly but for a wide pair of canvass overalls full of tar and grease, which operated like a life-preserver. His head, however, was under when he was picked up, and he was brought on board lifeless, about a quarter of an hour after he fell into the sea. We succeeded, notwithstanding, in a short time, in bringing him to, and in a few hours he was able to run upon the deck.
The coast of the island, viewed from the sea, offers the most picturesque coup d’oeil and the loveliest prospect; from the beach to the mountains the land rises amphitheatrically, all along which is a border of lower country covered with cocoa-trees and bananas, through the thick foliage whereof you perceive the huts of the islanders; the valleys which divide the hills that lie beyond appear well cultivated, and the mountains themselves, though extremely high, are covered with wood to their summits, except those few peaks which glitter with perpetual snow.
As we ran along the coast, some canoes left the beach and came alongside, with vegetables and cocoa-nuts; but as we wished to profit by the breeze to gain the anchorage, we did not think fit to stop. We coasted along during a part of the night; but a calm came on which lasted till the morrow. As we were opposite the bay of Karaka-koua, the natives came out again, in greater numbers, bringing us cabbages, yams, taro, bananas, bread-fruit, water-melons, poultry, &c., for which we traded in the way of exchange. Toward evening, by the aid of a sea breeze that rose as day declined, we got inside the harbor where we anchored on a coral bottom in fourteen fathoms water.
The next day the islanders visited the vessel in great numbers all day long, bringing, as on the day before, fruits, vegetables, and some pigs, in exchange for which we gave them glass beads, iron rings, needles, cotton cloth, &c.
Some of our gentlemen went ashore and were astonished to find a native occupied in building a small sloop of about thirty tons: the tools of which he made use consisted of a half worn-out axe, an adze, about two-inch blade, made out of a paring chisel, a saw, and an iron rod which he heated red hot and made it serve the purpose of an auger. It required no little patience and dexterity to achieve anything with such instruments: he was apparently not deficient in these qualities, for his work was tolerably well advanced. Our people took him on board with them, and we supplied him with suitable tools, for which he appeared extremely grateful.