It plainly appeared that there was no possibility of preserving the Gloucester any longer, as her leaks were irreparable, and the united hands on board both ships capable of working would not be able to free her, even if our own ship should not employ any part of them. The only step to be taken was the saving the lives of the few that remained on board the Gloucester, and getting out of her as much as was possible before she was destroyed; and therefore the Commodore immediately sent an order to Captain Mitchel, as the weather was now calm and favourable, to send his people on board the Centurion as expeditiously as he could and to take out such stores as he could get at whilst the ship could be kept above water. And as our leak required less attention whilst the present easy weather continued, we sent our boats, with as many men as we could spare, to Captain Mitchel’s assistance.
It was the 15th of August, in the evening, before the Gloucester was cleared of everything that was proposed to be removed; and though the hold was now almost full of water, yet as the carpenters were of opinion that she might still swim for some time if the calm should continue and the water become smooth, she was set on fire; for we knew not how near we might now be to the island of Guam, which was in the possession of our enemies, and the wreck of such a ship would have been to them no contemptible acquisition. When she was set on fire Captain Mitchel and his officers left her and came on board the Centurion, and we immediately stood from the wreck, not without some apprehensions (as we had now only a light breeze) that, if she blew up soon, the concussion of the air might damage our rigging; but she fortunately burned, though very fiercel, the whole night, her guns firing successively as the flames reached them. And it was six in the morning, when we were about four leagues distant, before she blew up. The report she made upon this occasion was but a small one, but there was an exceeding black pillar of smoke, which shot up into the air to a very considerable height. Thus perished His Majesty’s ship the Gloucester.
The 23rd, at daybreak, we were cheered with the discovery of two islands in the western board. This gave us all great joy, and raised our drooping spirits, for before this a universal dejection had seized us, and we almost despaired of ever seeing land again. The nearest of these islands we afterwards found to be Anatacan. The other was the island of Serigan, and had rather the appearance of a high rock than a place we could hope to anchor at. We were extremely impatient to get in with the nearest island, where we expected to meet with anchoring ground and an opportunity of refreshing our sick; but the wind proved so variable all day, and there was so little of it, that we advanced towards it but slowly. However, by the next morning