In the afternoon, the weather became gloomy, and the gusts of wind, that blew off the land, were so violent, as to make it necessary to take in all the sails, and bring-to, under the mizen stay-sail. All the canoes left us, at the beginning of the gale; and Mr Bligh, on his return, had the satisfaction of saving an old woman, and two men, whose canoe had been overset by the violence of the wind, as they were endeavouring to gain the shore. Besides these distressed people, we had a great many women on board, whom the natives had left behind, in their hurry to shift for themselves.
The master reported to Captain Cook, that he had landed at the only village he saw, on the north side of the bay, where he was directed to some wells of water; but found they would by no means answer our purpose; that he afterward proceeded farther into the bay, which runs inland to a great depth, and stretches toward the foot of a very conspicuous high mountain, situated on the north-west end of the island; but that, instead of meeting with safe anchorage, as Britannee had taught him to expect, he found the shores low and rocky, and a flat bed of coral rocks running along the coast, and extending upward of a mile from the land; on the outside of which the depth of water was twenty fathoms, over a sandy bottom; and that, in the mean time, Britannee had contrived to slip away, being afraid of returning, as we imagined, because his information had not proved true and successful.
In the evening, the weather being more moderate, we again made sail; but, about midnight, it blew so violently, as to split both the fore and main topsails. On the morning of the 7th, we bent fresh sails, and had fair weather, and a light breeze. At noon, the latitude, by observation, was 20 deg. 1’ N., the W. point of the island bearing S., 7 deg. E., and the N.W. point N., 38 deg. E. As we were, at this time, four or five leagues from the shore, and the weather very unsettled, none of the canoes would venture out, so that our guests were obliged to remain with us, much, indeed, to their dissatisfaction; for they were all sea-sick, and many of them had left young children behind them.
In the afternoon, though the weather was still squally, we stood in for the land, and being about three leagues from it, we saw a canoe, with two men paddling towards us, which we immediately conjectured had been driven off the shore by the late boisterous weather; and therefore stopped the ship’s way, in order to take them in. These poor wretches were so entirely exhausted with fatigue, that had not one of the natives on board, observing their weakness, jumped into the canoe to their assistance, they would scarcely have been able to fasten it to the rope we had thrown out for that purpose. It was with difficulty we got them up the ship’s side, together with a child, about four years old, which they had lashed under the thwarts of the canoe, where it had lain with only its head above water. They told us, they had left the shore the morning before, and had been from that time without food or water. The usual precautions were taken in giving them victuals; and the child being committed to the care of one of the women, we found them all next morning perfectly recovered.