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Voyages in the Southern Hemisphere, Vol. IVoyaging Accounts
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Plymouth to Madeira and the Streight of Magellan


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Plymouth to Madeira and the Streight of Magellan (continued)

On Wednesday the 15th, at about four o'clock in the morning, after surmounting many dangers and difficulties, we once more got abreast of Cape Pillar, with a light breeze at S.E. and a great swell. Between five and fix o'clock, just as we opened Cape Deseada, the wind suddenly shifted to S. and S. by W. and blew so hard that it was with great difficulty we could carry the reefed top-sails: the sudden changing of the wind, and its excessive violence, produced a sea so dreadfully hollow, that great quantities of water were thrown in upon our deck, so that we were in the utmost danger of foundering; yet we did not dare to shorten sail, it being necessary to carry all we could spread, in order to weather the rocky islands, which Sir John Narborough has called the Islands of Direction, for we could not now run back again into the Streight, without falling down among the broken land, and incurring the dangers of the northern shore, which was to leeward; towards this broken land, however, and lee shore, the ship settled very fast, notwithstanding our utmost efforts: in this pressing emergency we were obliged to stave all the water-casks upon the deck, and between decks, to clear the vessel, and to make her carry better sail, and at length happily escaped the danger which threatened us. After we got clear of these islands, and drew off from the Streight's mouth and the land, we found the sea run more regularly from the S.W. and the wind soon after coming from S.S.W. to S.S.E. we had by noon got a pretty good offing, about nine leagues from Cape Victory, which is on the north shore. Thus we cleared the western entrance of this Streight, which, in my opinion, is too dangerous for navigation; a deliverance which happened in the very crisis of our fate, for almost immediately afterwards the wind came again to the S.W. and if it had continued in that quarter, our destruction would have been inevitable.

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© Derived from Volume I of the London 1773 Edition: National Library of Australia call no. FERG 7243, page 535, 2004
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