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Voyages in the Southern Hemisphere, Vol. IVoyaging Accounts
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From Saint George's Channel to Mindanao


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CHAP. VII. The Passage from Saint George's Channel to the Island of Mindanao, with an Account of many Islands that were seen, and Incidents that happened by the Way.

As soon as we had cleared Saint Georges Channel, we steered westward, and the next day we discovered land bearing. W.N.W. and hauled up for it; it proved to be an island of considerable extent, and soon afterwards we saw another to the north east of it, but this appeared to be little more than a large rock above water. As I had here strong currents, and for several days had not been able to get an observation of the sun, I cannot so exactly ascertain the situation of these islands as I might otherwise have done. As we proceeded to the westward, we discovered more land, consisting of many islands lying to the southward of the large one which we had first discovered. As the nights were now moonlight, we kept on till eleven, o'clock, and the Lieutenant, who was then officer of the watch, finding that the course we were steering would carry us among them, and not being willing to awaken me till it was my turn to watch, hauled off S. by E. and S.S.E. I came upon deck about midnight, and at one in the morning, perceiving that we were clear of them, I bore away again to the westward with an easy sail: the islands, however, were not far distant, and about six o'clock, a considerable number of canoes, with several hundred people on board, came, off, and paddled toward the ship: one of them, with seven men on board, came near enough to hail us, and made us several signs which we could not perfectly understand, but repeated, as near as we could, to shew that whatever they meant to us we meant to them; however, the better to bespeak their good-will, and invite them on board, we held up to them several of the few trifles we had: upon this they drew nearer to the ship, and I flattered myself that they were coming on board; but on the contrary, as soon as they came within reach of us they threw their lances, with great force, where we stood thickest upon the deck. As I thought it better to prevent than to repress a general attack, in which, as the number would be more, the mischief would be greater, and having now no doubt of their hostile intentions, I fired some muskets, and one of the swivel guns, upon which, some of them being killed or wounded, they rowed off and joined the other canoes, of which there were twelve or fourteen, with several hundred men on board. I then brought to, waiting for the issue, and had the satisfaction to see, that, after having long consulted together, they made for the shore: that I might still farther intimidate them, and more effectually prevent their return, I fired a round shot from one of my six-pounders, so as to fall into the water beyond them. this seemed to have a good effect, for they not only used their paddles more nimbly, but hoisted sail, still standing towards the shore. Soon after, however, several more canoes put off from another part of the island, and came towards us very fast: they stopped at about the same distance as the other had done, and one of them also in the same manner came forward: to the people on board this vessel we made all the signs of friendship we could devise, shewing them every thing we had which we thought would please them, opening our arms, and inviting them on board: but our rhetoric was to no effect, for as soon as they came within a cast of the ship, they poured in a shower of darts and lances, which, however, did us no harm. We returned the assault by firing some muskets, and one man being killed, the rest precipitately leaped into the sea, and swimming to the others, who waited at a distance, all returned together from whence they came. As soon as the canoe was deserted, we got out our boat and brought it on board: it was full fifty feet long, though one of the smallest that came against us; it was very rudely made out of one tree, but had an outrigger. We found in it six fine fish, and a turtle, some yams, one cocoa-nut, and a bag full of a small kind of apple or plum, of a sweetish taste and farinaceous substance; it had a flattish kernel, and was wholly different from every thing we have seen either before or since: it was eatable raw, but much better boiled, or roasted in the embers: we found also two large earthen pots, shaped somewhat like a jug, with a wide mouth, but without handles, and a considerable quantity of matting, which these people use both for sails and awning, spreading it over bent sticks, much in the same manner as the tilts of the London wherries. From the contents of this vessel we judged that it had been fishing, and we observed that the people had a fire on board, with one of their pots on it, in which they were boiling their provision. When we had satisfied our curiosity by examining it, we cut it up for fire-wood.

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© Derived from Volume I of the London 1773 Edition: National Library of Australia call no. FERG 7243, pages 602 - 604, 2004
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