At midnight, a gale of wind came on, which obliged us to double reef the topsails, and get down the top-gallant yards. On the 8th, at day-break, we found that the foremast had again given way, the fishes, which were put on the head, in King George’s, or Nootka Sound, on the coast of America, being sprung, and the parts so very defective, as to make it absolutely necessary to replace them, and, of course, to unstep the mast. In this difficulty, Captain Cook was for some time in doubt, whether he should run the chance of meeting with a harbour in the islands to leeward, or return to Karakakooa. That bay was not so remarkably commodious, in any respect, but that a better might probably be expected, both for the purpose of repairing the masts, and for procuring refreshments, of which, it was imagined, that the neighbourhood of Karakakooa had been already pretty well drained. On the other hand, it was considered as too great a risk to leave a place that was tolerably sheltered, and which, once left, could not be regained, for the mere hopes of meeting with a better; the failure of which might, perhaps, have left us without resource.
We, therefore, continued standing on toward the land, in order to give the natives an opportunity of releasing their friends on board from their confinement; and at noon, being within a mile of the shore, a few canoes came off to us, but so crowded with people, that there was not room in them for any of our guests; we therefore hoisted out the pinnace to carry them on shore; and the master, who went with them, had directions to examine the south coasts of the bay for water; but returned, without finding any.
The winds being variable, and a current setting strong to the northward, we made but little progress in our return; and at eight o’clock in the evening of the 9th, it began to blow very hard from the south-east, which obliged us to close reef the topsails; and at two in the morning of the 10th, in a heavy squall, we found ourselves close in with the breakers, that lie to the northward of the west point of Owhyhee. We had just room to haul off, and avoid them, and fired several guns to apprise the Discovery of the danger.
In the forenoon the weather was more moderate, and a few canoes came off to us; from which we learnt that the late storms had done much mischief, and that several large canoes had been lost. During the remainder of the day we kept beating to windward; and, before night, we were within a mile of the bay; but, not choosing to run on while it was dark, we stood off and on till day-light next morning, when we dropt anchor nearly in the same place as before.