Journal of A Cruise
Made to the Pacific Ocean …

David Porter

Bibliography Texts
I [Chapter Excerpt] Crew list at the time of departure (opens in small pop-up window)
V Run Down the Coast of Chili and Peru; Arrive at the Gallipagos Islands.
VI The Gallipagos Islands; Prizes.
VIIGallipagos Islands; Fishery.
VIIIArrival at Tumbez; Return to the Gallipagos.
IX James's Island; Port Rendezvous.
X Gallipagos Islands; Departure for Washington Islands.

Galápagos Chapters, with text from all editions as indicated here.

Google Earth 3D view of place cited by Porter. (more to follow)

Hover over any text to display Chapter number and title.


On the morning of the 25th [March], at daylight, discovered a sail to the northeast, to which we gave chase and soon came up with. She proved to be the American whale-ship Charles, capt. Gardner, belonging to Nantucket, and had been about four months from Lima, where she had been sent for adjudication by a privateer belonging to that port, and had been liberated after paying costs. …

•   •   •

I /now/ shaped my course for the Gallipagos Islands, directing the Barclay to steer W. N. W. by compass, in order that we might fall in with the latitude to the eastward of them, intimating to her commander that I should, from time to time, so vary from this course as to look over as much ground in our way as possible. This method we put in practice until we made Chatham Island, which was on the morning of the 17th [April]. During our run we had no opportunity of correcting our dead reckoning by lunar observations, nor have we had a chance of ascertaining the rate of the chronometer since leaving St. Catharines. We were enabled to discover by our latitude that we had a current of fifteen miles per twenty-four hours, setting to the northward; and from the violent ripples we frequently met with, were induced to believe that its rate was much greater, and concluded it to set also [westerly; and, on]/{Westerly. On} our making the land, found we had, since taking our departure from Payta, been set two degrees ahead of our reckoning. We employed ourselves during our passage in getting the magazine in good order for service, as we had been led to expect some resistance from the heavy armed letters of marque that we hoped to meet among the Gallipagos, employed in the whale-fishery. Having understood that calms were very prevalent there, we prepared our boats in the best manner for attacking them, selecting crews for them in addition to their oarsmen; and laid down plans of attack, and established signals for them. The whole, amounting to seven boats, carrying seventy men, were placed under the command of lieutenant Downes.

I discovered that we should meet with great delays from the prevalence of calms; and as I could form no plans for future operations until my arrival at the general rendezvous of the whalers, I considered it adviseable to put the crew on two quarts of water per day. This reduction was now severely felt, as the weather was extremely hot; but all seemed reconciled to bear every privation without a murmur. The health of the crew had improved in a remarkable manner since leaving Valparaiso, and at this time we had but two men on the sick list, one affected by chronic debility, the other by a pain in the muscles of the neck, but neither disabled from coming to their quarters. Doctor Miller, the surgeon of the ship, a very infirm man, who was in a deep consumption when he joined the ship, and whose health had not improved on board here, requested permission to go with his servant on board the Barclay, and there remain, as he believed that a change of water, pure air, and greater tranquillity, would render his situation more tolerable. As the extreme debility of the gentleman prevented him from doing his duty on board, and as he was constantly complaining of his sufferings from the confined air of this ship, I was happy he had fallen on an expedient to render his existence more supportable, and took the first opportunity of sending him on board the Barclay, where he soon found himself more comfortably situated than amidst the noise and confusion of a man of war, for which his low state of health entirely unsuited him.

Gallapagos Islands map by Neele & Son appears here in the British edition.


On our first making Chatham Island, which bore, on the morning of the 17th [April], northwest by north, distant about thirty-five miles, I supposed it to be Hood's Island, a common stopping-place for whalers. As this was one of the islands I was desirous of examining for them, I hauled in for it, making a signal for the Barclay to do the same; but shortly afterwards discovered Hood's Island bearing west, and bore away for it. At seven o'clock in the evening, we were abreast the anchorage place on the northwest part of the island, which is a good shelter from the prevalent winds; and a small island which lies off forms a secure bay, where vessels lie at anchor in twelve fathoms water, clear white sandy bottom.§

§ The modern Islote Gardner, which is actually off the north-central part of the island, as may in fact be seen in the Neele & Son map cited above.

Here wood is to be obtained, and land tortoises in great numbers, which are highly esteemed for their excellence, and are remarkable for their size, weighing from three to four hundred weight each. Vessels on whaling voyages among these islands generally take on board from two to three hundred of these animals, and stow them in the hold, where, strange as it may appear, they have been known to live for a year, without food or water, and, when killed at the expiration of that time, found greatly improved in fatness and flavour. Into this bay I sent lieutenant Downes with a whale-boat (I had purchased from captain Randall) properly armed, to reconnoitre, and directed him to make a signal on discovering vessels, in order that we might send in our other boats; but at ten o'clock he returned, after having sounded the bay without seeing any. We had entertained strong hopes of meeting enemy's vessels here, but bore the disappointment better than might be expected, considering the length of time that has elapsed since we have seen one of that description. We now hauled off toward Chatham Island, and lay to for the night, as I did not think it prudent to run for Charles' Island, the next place I intended to visit, until I could have daylight, as a reef is said to exist about two leagues to the W. N. W. of Hood's Island, and one is known to lie about nine leagues to the west of it, both said to be very dangerous.§ What is calculated to render them the more so, is the violent and irregular currents, that baffle all attempts at calculation in this part of the world.

§ Arrecife Macgowen and Banco Hancock, respectively.

In the morning I stood to the westward, with a pleasant breeze from the east, which run us, by two P. M., as far as the harbour of Charles' Island. On arriving opposite to it /On arriving opposite to Charles' Island/, we could perceive no vessels; but understanding that vessels which stopped there for refreshments, such as turtle and land tortoise, and for wood, were in the practice of depositing letters in a box placed for the purpose near the landing-place, (which is a small beach sheltered by rocks, about the middle of the bay,) I despatched lieutenant Downes to ascertain if any vessels had been lately there, and to bring off such letters as might be of use to us, if he should find any. He returned in about three hours, with several papers, taken from a box which he found nailed to a post, over which was a black sign, on which was painted Hathaway's Postoffice. There were none of them of a late date, but they were satisfactory, inasmuch as they confirmed the information we had already received, both as respected the practice of vessels touching there, and cruising among the other islands for whales. From those papers I obtained information, that, in June last, the following British whale-ships had put in there, on their way to the island of Albemarle, where they generally cruise for a year at a time, and some for even a longer period, to wit:

Ship Governor Dodswell, Captain B. Gardner with 170 tons sperm oil.

Charlton,Haleran, 120 bbls.
Nimrod, Parray, 250 bbls.
Hector, Richards,220 bbls.
Atlantic,Wyer, 1000 bbls.
Cyrus, West, § 600 bbls.

§ See Captain West's Ship's Log: Whaleship Cyrus for his account of Patrick Watkins (mentioned by Porter below).

There were letters also from their commanders, giving information that the American ships Perseveranda, Paddock,§ and the Sukey, Macey, the first with two hundred, the latter with one hundred and fifty barrels of sperm oil, had touched there. Considering Captain Macey's letter as a rare specimen of [literature]{orthography}, I hope I shall be pardoned for giving an exact copy of it.

June 14th 1812.    

Ship Sukey John Macy 7½ Months out 150 Barrels 75 days from Lima No oil Since Leaving that Port. Spanyards Very Savage Lost on the Braziel Bank John Sealin Apprentice to Capt Benjamin Worth Fell from the fore top sail Yard in A Gale of Wind. Left Diana Capt Paddock § 14 day Since 250 Barrels I Leave this port this Day With 250 Turpen 8 Boat Load Wood Yesterday Went Up to Patts Landing East Side. to the Starboard hand of the Landing 1½ Miles Saw 100 Turpen 20 Rods A part Road Very Bad

Yours Forevir


§ Porter refers to letters by Captains Paddock and Macey [sic, Macy] on the American ships Perseveranda and Sukey. In John Macy's letter, Paddock is on the ship Diana. Presumably this is the same Captain Paddock that Pat “Fatherless Oberlus” Watkins complained about. In later years, Macy's fourth son, Rowland Hussey Macy, founded a New York City department store; R. H. Macy's.

Charles' Island affords the same inducements for vessels to touch at as Hood's Island, except that the harbour is not so good. It is formed on the northwest part by a projecting point, off which lies a remarkably high, black, ragged rock, which, from its appearance, I have been induced to call Rock Dismal. Shipping lie in twelve fathoms, beyond the small reef which shelters the landing; the bottom is sandy, but vessels have had their cables cut by scattering rocks. The landing here is very good; and, at the time lieutenant Downes was on shore, a torrent of very fine water, many feet deep, discharged itself near the beach; but as it was raining constantly while he was on shore, and the mmountainswere completely capt with the clouds, added to which, as the banks of the deep ravine, worn away by the stream, clearly showed that the torrent had subsided ten feet within a very short period, it was evident to us, that this stream owed its existence to temporary rains alone. This opinion was not only confirmed by those on board the Essex who had been here before, but by some person who had bountifully left on the island, near the postoffice, several articles for such persons as might be there in distress, among which was a cask of water. It is known that in the centre of the island is a small spring of water, which a stranger might not be acquainted with, or, if he had a knowledge of it, might not have strength to reach; but if the stream in question existed constantly, where would be the necessity of leaving this case of water along side of it?

This island is mountainous, (as are the whole group,) and is covered with trees from fifteen to twenty feet in height, scattered with considerable regularity, as to distance and appearance, on the sides of the hills, which all have evident marks of volcanic origin; but what seems remarkable is, that every tree on the island, at least all that could be approached by the boat's crew on shore, and such as we could perceive by means of our perspectives, was dead and withered. This must have been occasioned by the prevalence of an excessive drought, which entirely deprived them of the necessary moisture. As this island is not of so great an elevation as many others, which has probably been the cause of its suffering more than the larger and higher ones, though they all seem more or less affected from the same cause; and as all the trees on the islands I have yet seen, appear much of the same size, not excepting those in the most flourishing state, it seems not improbable, that the drought has not only been recent, but that it has affected the whole at the same time. As the whole group is destitute of trees of a large size, it seems reasonable to believe, that their vegetation may be checked at different periods by very dry seasons. To this cause may be owing their being deprived of streams of water; for although it seldom rains on shore, and never at sea here, yet the tops of the mountains are almost constantly covered with thick clouds, great part of the moisture from which, instead of being soaked up by the light and spongy soil of the mountains, would find its way in running streams to the sea, were the island sufficiently furnished with trees to condense more constantly the atmosphere, and interlace their roots to prevent its escape into the bowels of the mountains.

These islands are all evidently of volcanic production; every mountain and hill is the crater of an extinguished volcano; and thousands of smaller fissures, which have burst from their sides, give them the most dreary, desolate, and inhospitable appearance imaginable. The description of one island will answer for all I have yet seen; they appear unsuited for the residence of man, or any other animal that cannot, like the tortoises, live without food, or draw its subsistence entirely from the sea.

Lieutenant Downes saw on the rocks with which the bay was in many parts skirted, several seals and pelicans, some of which he killed; but, on searching diligently the shore, was unable to find any land tortoises, though they no doubt abound in other parts of the islands. Doves were seen in great numbers, and were so easily approached, that several of them were knocked over with stones. While our boat was on shore, captain Randall sent his boat to a small beach in the same bay, about a mile from where our boat landed, and in a short time she returned loaded with fine green turtle, two of which he sent us, and we found them excellent. It may be seen by captain Macy's letter, that on the east side of the island there is another landing, which he calls Pat's landing; and this place will probably immortalize an Irishman, named Patrick Watkins, who some years since left an English ship, and took up his abode on this island, and built himself a miserable hut, about a mile from the landing called after him, in a valley containing about two acres of ground capable of cultivation, and perhaps the only spot on the island which affords sufficient moisture for the purpose. Here he succeeded in raising potatoes and pumpkins in considerable quantities, which he generally exchanged for rum, or sold for cash. The appearance of this man, from the accounts I have received of him, was the most dreadful that can be imagined; ragged clothes, scarce sufficient to cover his nakedness, and covered with vermin; his red hair and beard matted, his skin much burnt, from constant exposure to the sun, and so wild and savage in his manner and appearance, that he struck every one with horror. For several years this wretched being lived by himself on this desolate spot, without any apparent desire than that of procuring rum in sufficient quantities to keep himself intoxicated, and, at such times, after an absence from his hut of several days, he would be found in a state of perfect insensibility, rolling among the rocks of the mountains. He appeared to be reduced to the lowest grade of which human nature is capable, and seemed to have no desire beyond the tortoises and other animals of the island, except that of getting drunk. But this man, wretched and miserable as he may have appeared, was neither destitute of ambition, nor incapable of undertaking an enterprise that would have appalled the heart of any other man; nor was he devoid of the talent of rousing others to second his hardihood.

He by some means became possessed of an old musket, and a few charges of powder and ball; and the possession of this weapon probably first stimulated his ambition. He felt himself strong as the sovereign of the island, and was desirous of proving his strength on the first human being that fell in his way, which happened to be a negro, who was left in charge of a boat belonging to an American ship that had touched there for refreshments. Patrick came down to the beach where the boat lay, armed with his musket, now become his constant companion, directed the negro, in an authoritative manner, to follow him, and on his refusal, snapped his musket at him twice, which luckily missed fire. The negro, however, became intimidated, and followed him. Patrick now shouldered his musket, marched off before, and on his way up the mountains exultingly informed the negro he was henceforth to work for him, and become his slave, and that his good or bad treatment would depend on his future conduct. On arriving at a narrow defile, and perceiving Patrick off his guard, the negro seized the moment, grasped him in his arms, threw him down, tied his hands behind, shouldered him, and carried him to his boat, and when the crew had arrived he was taken on board the ship. An English smuggler was lying in the harbour at the same time, the captain of which sentenced Patrick to be severely whipped on board both vessels, which was put in execution, and he was afterwards taken on shore handcuffed by the Englishmen, who compelled him to make known where he had concealed the few dollars he had been enabled to accumulate from the sale of his potatoes and pumpkins, which they took from him. But while they were busy in destroying his hut and garden, the wretched being made his escape, and concealed himself among the rocks in the interior of the island, until the ship had sailed, when he ventured from his hiding-place, and by means of an old file, which he drove into a tree, freed himself from the handcuffs. He now meditated a severe revenge, but concealed his intentions. Vessels continued to touch there, and Patrick, as usual, to furnish them with vegetables; but from time to time he was enabled, by administering potent draughts of his darling liquor to some of the men of their crews, and getting them so drunk that they were rendered insensible, to conceal them until the ship had sailed; when finding themselves entirely dependent on him, they willingly enlisted under his banner, became his slaves, and he the most absolute of tyrants. By this means he had augmented the number to five, including himself, and every means was used by him to endeavour to procure arms for them, but without effect. It is supposed that his object was to have surprised some vessel, massacred her crew, and taken her off. While Patrick was meditating his plans, two ships, an American and an English vessel, touched there, and applied to Patrick for vegetables. He promised them the greatest abundance, provided they would send their boats to his landing, and their people to bring them from his garden, informing them that his rascals had become so indolent of late, that he could not get them to work. This arrangement was agreed to; two boats were sent from each vessel, and hauled on the beach. Their crew all went to Patrick's habitation, but neither he nor any of his people were to be found; and, after waiting until their patience was exhausted, they returned to the beach, where they found only the wreck of their boats, which were broken to pieces, and the fourth one missing. They succeeded, however, after much difficulty, in getting around to the bay opposite to their ships, where other boats were sent to their relief; and the commanders of the ships, apprehensive of some other trick, saw no security except in a flight from the island, leaving Patrick and his gang in quiet possession of the boat. But before they sailed, they put a letter in a keg, giving intelligence of the affair, and moored it in the bay, where it was found by captain Randall, but not until he had sent his boat to Patrick's landing, for the purpose of procuring refreshments; and, as may be easily supposed, he felt no little inquietude until her return, when she brought him a letter from Patrick to the following purport, which was found in his hut.

I have made repeated applications to captains of vessels to sell me a boat, or to take me from this place, but in every instance met with a refusal. An opportunity presented itself to possess myself of one, and I took advantage of it. I have been a long time endeavouring, by hard labour and suffering, to accumulate wherewith to make myself comfortable, but at different times have been robbed and maltreated, and in a late instance by captain Paddock, whose conduct in punishing me, and robbing me of about 500 dollars, in cash and other articles, neither agrees with the principles he professes nor is it such as his sleek coat would lead one to expect.*
On the 29th May, 1809, I sail from the enchanted island in the Black Prince, bound to the Marquesas.
Do not kill the old hen; she is now sitting, and will soon have chickens.


* Captain Paddock was of the society of friends[, commonly called quakers].

Compare Porter's account with Melville's.

Compare Porter's account with whaleship Cyrus log.

Patrick arrived alone at Guyaquil [sic] in his open boat, the rest who sailed with him having perished for want of water, or, as is generally supposed, were put to death by him on his finding the water to grow scarce From thence he proceeded to Payta, where he wound himself into the affection of a tawny damsel, and prevailed on her to consent to accompany him back to his enchanted island, the beauties of which he no doubt painted in glowing colours; but, from his savage appearance, he was there considered by the police as a suspicious person, and being found under the keel of a small vessel then ready to be launched, and suspected of some improper intentions, he was confined in Payta gaol § /in 1810./ , where he now remains; and probably owing to this circumstance Charles' Island, as well as the rest of the Gallipagos, may remain unpopulated for many ages to come. This reflection may naturally lead us to a consideration of the question concerning the population of the other islands scattered about the Pacific ocean, respecting which so many conjectures have been hazarded. I shall only hazard one, which is briefly this: that former ages may have produced men equally as bold and as daring at Pat, and women as willing as his tender one to accompany them in their adventurous voyages. And when we consider the issue which might be produced from an union between a red-haired wild Irishman, and a copper-coloured mixt-blooded squaw, we need not be any longer surprised at the different varieties of human nature.

§ Watkins left Galápagos in 1809, several years before Porter's arrival, and therefore the description of his imprisonment is presumably based on information received from Captain Randall or others. Compare Porter's account with those of James Coulter and Herman Melville's subsequent treatment of the legend.

If Patrick should be liberated from durance, and should arrive with his love at this enchanting spot, perhaps (when neither Pat nor the Gallipagos are any longer remembered) some future navigator may surprise the world by discovery of them, and his accounts of the strange people with which they may probably be inhabited; and from the source from which they shall have sprung, it does not seem unlikely that they will have one trait in their character, which is common to the natives of all the islands in the Pacific, a disposition to appropriate to themselves the property of others; and from this circumstance future speculators may confound their origin with that of all the rest.

We were little prepared to meet our second disappointment, in not finding vessels at Charles' Island, but consoled ourselves with the reflection, that we should now soon arrive at Albemarle, and that in Banks' Bay, the general rendezvous, we should find an ample reward for all our loss of time, sufferings, and disappointments; and as we had a fine breeze from the east, I made all sail, steering west from Charles' Island, to make the south head of the island of Albemarle, which was distant from us about 45 miles, and in the morning found ourselves nearly up with it. When we had arrived within eight or nine miles of a point, which I have named Point Essex, projecting to the S.W., and lying between Point Christopher and Cape Rose, the wind died away, and I took my boat and proceeded for the aforesaid point, where I arrived in about two hours after leaving the ship, and found in a small bay, behind some rocks which terminate the point, very good landing, where we went on shore, and, to our great surprise, and no little alarm, on entering the bushes, found myriads of guanas, of an enormous size and the most hideous appearance imaginable; the rocks forming the cover were also covered with them, and, from their taking to the water very readily, we were induced to believe them a distinct species from those found among the keys of the West Indies. In some spots a half acre of ground would be so completely covered with them, as to appear as though it was impossible for another to get in the space; they would all keep their eyes fixed constantly on us, and we at first supposed them prepared to attack us. We soon however discovered them to be the most timid of animals, and in a few moments knocked down hundreds of them with our clubs, some of which we brought on board, and found to be excellent eating, and many preferred them greatly to the turtle.

We found on the beach a few seals, and one fine large green turtle; but as the boat was small, and the distance to row very great, I concluded on leaving it, as I did not wish to encumber her with its weight. Several of the seals were killed by our men, and proved of that kind which do not produce the fur. Nothing can be more sluggish or more inactive than this animal while on the sand; it appears incapable of making any exertions whatever to escape those in pursuit of it, and quietly waits the blow which terminates its existence. A small blow on the nose will kill them in an instant, but when they are in the water, or even on the rocks, nothing can exceed their activity: they seem then to be a different animal altogether; shy, cunning, and very alert in pursuit of their prey, and in avoiding pursuit, they are then very difficult to take. We also found a number of birds called shags, which did not appear alarmed in the slightest degree at our approach, and numbers of them were knocked down by our people with clubs, and taken on board; these, with the exception of some other aaquaticbirds, and some large lizards with red heads, and a species of crab, were the only animals we found on this spot. After trying in vain to catch some fish, we left the cove, and proceeded along the shore to the northward, with the expectation of finding another landing-place, but were much disappointed; for, after rowing as far as Point Christopher, a distance of 15 miles, we found the shore every where bound with craggy rocks, against which the sea broke with inconceivable violence. The rocks were every where covered with seals, penguins, guanas, and pelicans, and the sea filled with green turtle, which might have been taken with the greatest ease, had we been enabled to have taken them into our boat; for we sometimes rowed right against them, without their making an exertion to get out of our way. Multitudes of enormous sharks were swimming about us, and from time to time caused us no little uneasiness, from the ferocious manner in which they came at the boat and snapped at our oars; for she was of the lightest construction, with remarkably thin plank, and a gripe from one of those would have torn them from her timbers; but we guarded as much as lay in our power against the evil, by thrusting boarding pikes into them as they came up [to us].

As we proceeded along shore, and when we had arrived at a black gravelly beach, within about five miles of Point Christopher, we saw the shore covered with the wreck of some vessel, which, from the number of pieces, apparently staves, among them, I am induced to believe was that of a whaler; but as the surf beat so high, that we could not land without risking the safety of the boat, we were unable to determine whether her construction was American or British. From the appearance of the wreck, I should suppose she had not been lost more than two or three years; we could not, however, form any correct opinion on the subject, as the whole wreck consisted of a multitude of fragments, no part of the body of the vessel standing. She appears to have gone entirely to pieces, and some of her copper, &c. has been thrown a great distance among the rocks, by the violence of the sea.

The water is very bold all along this coast, and the largest ship may sail within a stone's throw of it, without the least risk of touching the bottom; but yet it is not safe to approach too near the shore, as calms are very frequent here, the currents violent and irregular, and a heavy swell constantly heaving on shore; and it would be almost impossible to bring a vessel up by her anchors, before she would strike against the sides of the rocks which skirt the shore, on account of the extreme depth of the water.

Where we landed, the shore was moderately low, the soil apparently rich and moist, and the vegetation luxuriant, many of the trees being thirty feet in height, the underwood very thick, and pushing forth vigorously, and the grass as high as a man's middle. The rain appeared to be falling in torrents on the high lands, but we could see nothing that indicated the neighbourhood of a stream of water. From the landing to Point Christopher, the shores are bounded by precipices of several hundred feet in height, which are as regularly formed of strata of stones and earth, as if they had been laid by the most expert mason. The strata of stones and earth are each about two feet in thickness, and from the base to the summit of the precipice are laid with surprising regularity, in lines perfectly straight and parallel.

Perceiving a breeze springing up, I hastened on board (for I had objects in view of more importance than examining the rocky coast of this dreary place, or catching guanas and seals), where, on my arrival, I caused all sail to be made, and shaped my course for Narborough Island, which now began to show itself open with Point Christopher, and in its appearance bears some resemblance to a turtle's back. I was in hopes that the breeze would carry us clear of the northern point of that island before daylight, in order that we might have the whole of the next day for securing our prizes in Banks' Bay, which lies between Narborough and the south head of Albemarle, Cape Berkley; for the island of Albemarle is formed something like a crescent, the convex [sic, concave] side lying to the west; and Narborough Island, which is nearly round, lies in the bend, forming Banks' Bay on the north and Elizabeth Bay on the south, leaving a safe passage inside from one bay to the other. To Banks' Bay the fishermen resort every year, between March and July, to take the whale, which come in there in great numbers at that season, in pursuit of the squid or cuttle fish, which are brought into the eddy formed there by the rapid currents which prevail. In this bay vessels are enabled to keep their stations, notwithstanding the currents and calms which prevail, and frequently lie for months between what is called the Turtle's Nose of Narborough and the North Head, without once being swept out; but should it so happen that they are drifted out beyond the projecting points, and fall into the northern currents, they are sometimes a month, and even more, before they can recover their stations; and it sometimes happens that the whole fleet, which generally consists of fifteen or twenty sail, are driven as far north as the latitude of 2°, and are unable to return until the current changes. A knowledge of this now caused great uneasiness in my mind. I had formed the most sanguine expectations of meeting with great success here, and every thing seemed to justify them, but still I could not resist those anxious feelings, which cannot be repelled at such moments. We had all along calculated on reaping a rich harvest from the enemy at the Gallipagos Islands; it was the constant subject of our conversation and solicitude, and every scheme was adopted that could prove likely to secure to us every vessel in the bay, and we did not calculate on a number less that ten or twelve; indeed we calculated on making more prizes there than we could man, and hoped to be thus indemnified for all loss of time, fatigues, and anxieties. For my own part, I felt the utmost desire to know the result of our visit to the Gallipagos, and at the same time a dread of disappointment, which, although possible, I did not believe probable; however, the anxiety to know as soon as possible our success or disappointment, induced me to dispatch lieutenant Downes to take a look around the point of Narborough, and reconnoitre the bay; for the ships had been swept by the current, during the night, into Elizabeth Bay; and, as the wind was very light, we made very little head way: but in the course of the day, it sprung up a breeze from the southward, with which we endeavoured to beat around Narborough against a strong current; but toward night it died away, and in a few hours we lost as much ground as we had gained through the day.

At one o'clock in the morning, lieutenant Downes returned to the ship, which he was enabled to find by means of flashes made from time to time by us, and reported that he did not arrive at the north point of Narborough or Turtle's Nose, until near sundown, and that he could perceive no vessels in the bay; but observed, at the same time, that the weather was hazy, and as the bay is about thirty-five miles from side to side, and about the same depth, it was possible for vessels to have been there without his being able to observe them. We did not wish to believe that the bay was destitute of vessels; and while there was room to build a hope of meeting the enemy, we kept our spirits up with the expectation of finding them, either in the bay, or at anchor in a cove called the Basin, on the Albemarle side of the passage between Elizabeth and Banks' Bay, where the whalers frequently go to refit and wood, and get tortoises, and where, at times, a small quantity of fresh water may be obtained, but never more than sixty gallons per day, and seldom so large a quantity, and this only after heavy rains. Lieutenant Downes brought with him several turtle of a very large size, and different in their appearance either from the green, hawks-bill, loggerhead, or trunk turtle; they were shaped much like the green turtle, but were of a black, disagreeable appearance and smell; and as I was apprehensive they might produce unpleasant consequences should they be eaten by the crew, I directed them to be thrown overboard, though many contended that they were as good and as innocent as any others.

The winds continued light and ahead, and the current strong against us, and it was not till the afternoon of the 23rd that we were enabled to weather Narborough; but during this interval every person was anxiously looking out day and night, with the momentary expectations of seeing vessels; and so fully was I of the belief that I should fall in with a force that would offer some resistance, that I considered it most prudent to clear away the guns every night, and keep the hammocks stowed in the nettings, so as to be prepared for any force that might be assembled. On doubling the point of Narborough, our yards were completely manned by seamen and officers, whose anxiety had taken them aloft, all examining strictly every part of the Bay, but could discover no vessels; at length the cry of sail ho! and shortly afterwards another, seemed to electrify every man on board, and it seemed now as if all our hopes and expectations were to be realized; but in a few minutes those illusory prospects vanished, and as a sudden dejection, proceeding from disappointment, took place; for the proposed sails proved to be only white appearances on the shore. Still, however, we did not despair; we had not yet examined the basin; perhaps it might contain some vessels; and, as we were now only about five miles from it, Lieutenant Downes was dispatched to reconnoitre, as well as to see if it was a suitable situation for us to refit the ship in and fill up our wood, and ascertain what quantity of water could there be obtained. He did not get in until after sundown, and returned to the ship at one o'clock in the morning; and, to complete our disappointment, reported they had seen no vessels. The account he gave of the basin was such as to induce me to believe it would be a secure harbor for the ship, as he made a favorable report of the depth of water and anchorage; but as it was night, he could form but an imperfect notion of the form of the harbor, nor could he give me any account of the watering place, as he was not able to find it. He was equally uninformed whether we should there be enabled to get wood; I therefore, to remove all doubts in my own mind, determined to visit it myself; and, as the moon was now rising, directed my boat to be prepared, and started from the ship, arriving at the basin at sunrise, which [sic, where] I found everything that could be designed to afford perfect security for a ship of the largest size. The art of man could not have formed a more beautiful basin, which is at the entrance about three cables' length over, and gradually enlarges to five cables' length, terminating in a round bottom.§ The whole is surrounded by high cliffs, except at the very bottom, where is the only landing for boats, and a small ravine, having three fathoms water alongside of the rocks, which, from every side to the middle, gradually deepens to twelve fathoms, and has everywhere a clear, dark, sandy bottom, free from rocks and every other danger. Vessels should moor here head and stern, and when bound in should keep mid-channel, and choose their distance from the shore and depth of water; but as they may be liable to be deceived, from the great height of the hills, it would be advisable to send in a boat to anchor a buoy at the spot where the ship should let go her anchor. We saw here an abundance of fish and green turtle, and on landing found both the sea and land guanas, lizards, a small gray snake, and a considerable variety of birds; also trees of a considerable size, which would afford wood for shipping, and among them a species from which oozed a resinous substance, in very large quantities, dripping from the trunk and every limb. This tree produces a fruit nearly as large as a cherry; but it was then green, and had a very aromatic smell and taste. From the basin we proceeded to the South, in search of the watering-place, and after rowing close along a rocky shore, about two miles, without discovering it, concluded to return, and land in every place where there was the least possibility of finding it, although I was satisfied in my own mind, that, had one existed, it would have been impracticable to water at it, in consequence of the violence of the surf, which beats with such force against the rocks as to endanger the safety of the boat, although the sea appeared unusually calm. On our return we perceived a little moisture on a flat rock about half a mile from the mouth of the basin, and with much difficulty I succeeded in landing[, which] {This} I found to be the watering-place we were in search of. In this rock I found four holes, each about fourteen inches square, and from six to seven deep, which had apparently been cut by some person with a pickaxe, for the purpose of catching the water as it dripped from the rocks above.

§ Although no date is given, in context it appears the basin was seen in late April; a few days later, Porter mentions being roused from his cot on April 29th. See Dating a Lava Flow at Beagle Crater for more details on this basin.

At this time they contained only a little stinking water, as salt as brine, which had been thrown in by the sea. I caused them to be cleared out, but could not perceive, during the hour that I remained there, that any water whatever flowed into them, and I am persuaded that no water can ever be found there, except after heavy rains, and then only in small quantities, for the /The/ whole island is a light and thirsty soil, composed entirely of volcanic matter, and probably owes its origin to no distant period, for the volcanic cinders and other appearances lying on every part of the surface, as well as the innumerable craters, and hills composed of ashes and lava, all apparently fresh, and in most parts destitute of verdure, sufficiently prove that they have not long been thrown from the bowels of the ocean. These thirsty mountains, like a sponge, soak from the passing clouds the moisture which serves to keep alive the scanty vegetation scattered over their sides; but they permit nothing to escape in springs or streams of water, for the support of animal life. On the side of a rock at this watering-place, we found the names of several English and American ships cut, whose crews had been there; and but a short distance from thence was erected a hut, built of loose stones, but destitute of a roof;§ and in the neighborhood of it were scattered in considerable quantities the bones and shells of land and sea tortoises. This I afterwards understood was the work of a wretched English sailor, who had been landed there by his captain, destitute of every thing, for having used some insulting language to him. Here he existed near a year on land tortoises and guanas, and his sole dependence for water was on the precarious supply he could get from the drippings of the rocks; at length, finding that no one was likely to come to take him from thence, and fearful of perishing for the want of water, he formed a determination to attempt at all hazards getting into Banks' Bay, where ships cruise for whales, and with this view provided himself with two seal skins, with which, blown up, he formed a float; and, after hazarding destruction from the sharks, which frequently attacked his vessel, and which he kept off with a stick that served him as a paddle, he succeeded at length in getting along side an American ship early in the morning, where his unexpected arrival not only surprised but alarmed the crew; for his appearance was scarcely human; clothed in the skin of seals, his countenance haggard, thin, and emaciated, his beard and hair long and matted, they supposed him a being from another world. The commander of the vessel where he arrived felt a great sympathy for his sufferings, and determined for the moment to bring to punishment the villain who had, by thus cruelly exposing the life of a fellow-being, violated every principle of humanity; but from some cause or other he was prevented from carrying into effect his laudable intentions, and to this day the poor sailor has not had justice done him.

§ Possibly, the same structure described and photographed by Greg Estes and K. Thalia Grant in the latter's Writing on Walls.

At the landing-place at the head of the basin, we found a bag, which, from its appearance, had been there but a very short time; also a fresh turtle shell and bones, as well as those of fish, and fresh ashes, where a fire had been kindled. From these traces we knew that some persons had been there but a short time before us; and in searching about, we found the leaf of an English political pamphlet, from which we were led to suppose they had been English. We were in hopes of finding also a bottle containing letters, as it is a frequent practice for vessels engaged in the whale trade to leave them at their stopping-places; but, after the most diligent search, we were unable to find any. In the neighborhood of this place we killed an enormous sea-lion, and several seals, and in the course of half an hour caught as many fish as the boat could conveniently carry; and in the same time every boat belonging to the ship, had it been properly provided with books and lines, might have been loaded. There were great variety, and all proved to be of an excellent quality. The sharks proved troublesome to us in taking away hooks, and sometimes snatching the fish from the lines; but on the whole we were well compensated for the time we spent, and the few hooks we lost, by the excellent repast they afforded.

Proceeding along shore to the northward of the basin, on a small sandy beach, among some rocks, we saw a number of turtle, which we turned on their backs; and a short distance further to the north, in a small and shallow cove near some mangrove trees, we found a great many more, and succeeded in turning upwards of thirty of them, all of that species called the green turtle, and most of them upwards of three hundred weight. At both these places I caused large fires to be made, and on my return to the ship, where I did not arrive until dark, I dispatched two boats to bring them off; the fires guided them to the spot; but on their arrival on board next morning they brought with them only ten, as a sudden rise of the tide (a circumstance we had not sufficiently guarded against) had enabled the rest to make their escape, and even of those that were brought along side, one of the largest among them was lost overboard in getting it on board. We however had enough remaining to give two or three fresh messes to all hands.

As the Barclay had not been enabled to get into the bay, in consequence of the violence of the current, and as we had lost sight of her, I concluded it best to run out and see what had become of her; and at twelve o'clock discovered her standing in for the bay, under a press of canvas, with a fresh breeze from the westward, while we had it from the eastward. I had not yet made up my mind whether to remain in the bay a few days to await the arrival of vessels there, or to look around the other islands for them. One great object with me now was to find a convenient place for watering my ship; none such was to be found at Albemarle, and I had but little hopes of being able to find any at the other islands; but as I had understood that some fresh water was to be had at times at James' Island, which lies at a short distance from Albemarle, I believed it would be advisable to proceed to that place, which is said to be much frequented by English whalers and smugglers, who resort there for wood and land tortoises; and considering the time I had been from the United States, during which period many of my crew had not been on shore, I considered it necessary, on account of their health, to take them where they could have an opportunity of getting on shore among the trees, the odor arising from which is said to be the most powerful antiscorbutic known. I determined, however, before I adopted any plan for future operations, to obtain from Capt. Randall his opinion respecting the cause of this unexpected absence of British ships from Banks Bay, for I could not imagine any reason for it but one, which was, that they had, on the first news of war, captured all the American vessels they had found in the bay, and gone off with them; and yet it appeared to me extraordinary that none others should have arrived since, particularly as some have sailed at a late period from Lima for that station. But while the Barclay was running into the bay, I stood over for the north head of Albemarle; and as I had no doubt, from what I had already seen, that every part of the bay abounded with fish, I sent three boats to endeavor to catch some, and shortly afterwards followed them myself. We proceeded to the foot of a remarkably black precipice, of a great height evidently the half of a crater, which has been rent asunder by some violent convulsion of nature, or has been undermined by the slow but constant operation of the currents, and has gradually crumbled into the ocean; this, with a point or peninsula that projects to the southward, forms a bay, which may probably afford shelter and anchorage for vessels; but having but a short time to spare, we devoted it entirely to the object for which we came, and in less than half an hour we loaded all our boats with as many fish as they could carry, and returned to the ship. On the east side of the point before mentioned, is a remarkable cavern, formed by the beating of the sea, which has caused the rock to fall in, until it has formed what the French call a trombe dans l'angle, and excavated nearly the whole point or peninsula, leaving merely a support for the arch. Under this place we caught our fish, and all the boats of the ship might have been loaded the same time. The moment the hook was in the water, hundreds of them were seen rushing towards it, and many of them of a size which made it very difficult to haul in with our largest lines. They were chiefly the black, yellow, and red grouper, and a fish greatly resembling the sheeps-head, all of an excellent quality; and so abundant were they, that they were frequently caught with the boat hooks while swimming about the boats. They afforded not only a pleasant amusement to those who caught them, but a plentiful repast to the crew of the Essex, as well as to that of the Barclay; and our supply was so much greater than we wanted for immediate consumption, that after salting many of them, large quantities were thrown overboard, to keep them from spoiling on our hands. We also caught one of that description of black turtle formally mentioned; and as many were desirous of tasting its qualities, it was brought on board, and found to be superior to any we had yet tasted; after supplying my own table and that of the officers of the ward-room, it furnished an abundant meal to six messes of the ship's company, consisting of 48 men. We here also caught a number of shags and Penguins, and killed some pelicans and other aquatic birds.

In the morning I stood out of the bay with the land breeze, which, since we have been here, has constantly sprung up at sunrise, and continued to blow until about ten o'clock, when, after a calm of an hour or two, a sea breeze has set in from the westward, which continued until sundown; the rest of the twenty-four hours has been perfectly calm. I made the signal to speak the Barclay; and, on Capt. Randall's coming on board, he assured me that the English Whalers were somewhere to the north, where they had been unavoidably swept by the current; but this I could hardly credit, when we had found such difficulty in getting into the bay from the southward; but he assured me, that, notwithstanding the southerly current we had to contend with to the south of the bay, I should find it to the north running equally strong northerly; and, strange as it may appear, I found it absolutely the case, for in standing a little more out of the bay, and to the north of North Head, or Cape Berkley, we experienced a current setting northerly, which carried us with great rapidity. As we approached Point Albemarle (which is the northernmost extremity of the island of that name, and off which lies a reef of rocks, extending about two miles), the weather became hazy; and while searching around the horizon with my perspective, I was at length cheered with the sight of what I believed to be a sail: numbers of others on board were under the same illusion; all hands were called to make sail; and a few minutes another was discovered. We now began to believe that fortune had become tired of the trying our patience, and began already to make some estimation of their probable value, and form some plan of disposing of them; but to our mortification the illusion soon vanished, and it appeared we had been cheated by two sandbanks, whose appearance had been so strangely altered by the intervention of the fog, as to assume precisely the appearance of ships under their top-gallant sails. The spirits of the crew had been highly excited by the prospect of making prizes, and the disappointment had occasioned no trifling degree of dejection and despondency among them; but they did not murmur; they were sensible that, if we were not successful, we had not ourselves to accuse, as we had not avoided the enemy by remaining in port; nor had we been neglectful in our search for him. There were few on board the ship who did not now despair of making any captures about the Gallipagos Islands; and I believe that many began to think that the information we had received respecting the practice of British vessels frequenting these islands, as well as the flattering expectations which this information had given rise to, had been altogether deception; but I could not so lightly lay down my opinions, which had caused me to visit these islands, and which had been formed on information that could not be doubted; and I determined not to leave the Gallipagos so long as there remained a hope of finding a British vessel among them. The current continued to carry us with great rapidity to the northwest, and light and baffling winds, but more frequently calms, only served to increase our impatience, and dampen all our hopes of recovering our lost ground; for we had, by the 28th April, been drifted as far to the north as 1°8', notwithstanding every exertion we could make to get to the southward, by keeping on the most advantageous tacks. Our wood and our water, two articles of the highest importance to us, began to grow short, and there scarcely remained a hope of finding any of the latter article at any of the islands, unless it could be had at James'; and on this I had my doubts, although it has been asserted by some, that it furnishes it in considerable quantities. I however determined to visit, not with an expectation of procuring water, but with a hope of finding there some English vessels, which I thought it not improbable that they might have put in there to take on board wood and tortoises, and while waiting for a change of current to enable them to reach Banks' Bay. Under every circumstance, I considered it advisable to endeavor to reach James' Island, and should I prove unsuccessful there, determined to extend my search among the group; for I could not be persuaded that they were entirely abandoned by the whalers.

At daylight on the morning of the 29th [April], I was roused from my cot, where I passed a sleepless and anxious night, by the cry of “sail ho!” “sail ho!” which was re-echoed through the ship, and in a moment all hands were on deck. The strange sail proved to be a large ship, bearing west, to which we gave chase; and in an hour afterwards we discovered two others, bearing southwest, equally large in their appearance. I had no doubts of their being British whale-ships; and as I was certain that toward mid-day, as usual, it would fall calm, I felt confident we should succeed in taking the whole of them. I continued my pursuit of the first discovered vessel, and at nine o'clock spoke here under British colours. She proved to be the British whale-ship Montezuma, captain Baxter, with one thousand four hundred barrels of sperm{eceti} oil [on board]. I invited the captain on board; and while he was in my cabin, giving me such information as was in his power respecting the other whale-ships about the Gallipagos, I took his crew on board the Essex, put an officer and crew on board the Montezuma, and continued in pursuit of the other vessels, which made all exertions to get from us. At eleven A.M., according to my expectation, it fell calm; we were then at the distance of eight miles from them. I had reason, from the information obtained, to believe them to be the British armed whale-ships Georgiana, of six eighteen-pounders, and the Policy, of ten six-pounders, the one having on board thirty-five and the other twenty-six men; but that they were British ships there could not be a doubt, and we were determined to have them at all hazards. Thick and hazy weather is prevalent here, and, as there was every indication of it, I was fearful that, in the event of a breeze, one or the other of them might make its escape from us, as I had understood that they were reputed fast sailers; I therefore thought it advisable to attempt them in our boats, and with this view had them prepared for the purpose, and in a few minutes they departed in two divisions: lieutenant Downes, in the whale-boat, commanded the first division, consisting of the third cutter, lieutenant M'Knight, jolly boat, sailing-master Cowell, and second cutter, midshipman Isaacs; and lieutenant Wilmer, in the pinnace, commanding the second division, consisting of the first cutter, lieutenant Wilson, and gig, lieutenant Gamble of the marines. The heavy-rowing boats ooccasionedconsiderable delay to the whole, as I had given the most positive orders that the boats should be brought into action altogether, and that no officer should take advantage of the fleetness of his boat to proceed ahead of the rest, believing that some of the officers, from their extreme anxiety to join with the enemy, might be so imprudent as to do so. At two o'clock, the boats were about a mile from the vessels (which were about a quarter of a mile apart,) when they hoisted English colours, and fired several guns. The boats now formed in one division, and pulled for the largest ship, which, as they approached, kept her guns trained on them. The signal was made for boarding; and, when lieutenant Downes arrived within a few yards of her gangway, and directed them to surrender, the colours were hauled down. They now proceeded for the other vessel, after leaving an officer and some men on board, and as soon as she was hailed she followed the example of the first, by striking her colours. Shortly afterwards a breeze sprung up; the prizes bore down for us, and we welcomed the safe return of our shipmates with three hearty cheers. The captured vessels proved to be, as I had expected, the Georgiana, captain Pitts, of two hundred and eighty tons, and the Policy, of two hundred and seventy-five tons; and these three vessels, which we had taken with so little trouble, were estimated to be worth in England upwards of half a million of dollars. The ease with which the last vessels were taken by our open boats, gave us but a poor opinion of British valour; and the satisfaction which the possession of these valuable vessels gave us, made us forget for a moment the hardships of Cape Horn, and the time we had spent without seeing an enemy; and it also afforded us a useful lesson, as it convinced us we ought not to despair of success under any circumstances, however unfortunate they may appear; and that, although the patient and persevering may for a time meet with disappointments, fortune will at length most commonly enable them to rise superior to every adversity. Slight murmurings had on one or two occasions been heard from some of the crew, occasioned by our want of success heretofore, and with a view of preventing it in future, I considered it advisable to inculcate this maxim by the following note:


Fortune has at length smiled on us, because we deserved her smiles, and the first time she enabled us to display free trade and sailor's rights, assisted by your good conduct, she put in our possession near half a million of the enemy's property.

Continue to be zealous, eenterprising and patient, and we will yet render the name of the Essex as terrible to the enemy as that of any other vessel, before we return to the United States. My plans shall be made known to you at a suitable period.

(Signed)            D. PORTER.     

April 30, 1813.

The possession of these vessels, besides the great satisfaction it produced, was attended by another advantage of no less importance, as it relieved all our wants except one, to wit, the want of water. From them we obtained an abundant supply of cordage, canvas, paints, tar, and every other article necessary for the ship, of all of which she stood in great need, as our slender stock brought from America had now become worn out and useless; and besides the articles necessary for the ship, we became supplied with a stock of provisions, of a quality and quantity that removed all apprehensions of our suffering for the want of them for many months, as those vessels, when they sailed from England, were provided with provisions and stores for upwards of three years, and had not yet consumed half their stock; all were of the best quality; and, were it only for the supplying our immediate wants, the prizes were of the greatest importance to us. We found on board of them, also, wherewith to furnish our crew with several delicious meals. They had been in at James' Island, and had supplied themselves abundantly with those extraordinary animals the tortoises of the Gallipagos, which properly deserve the name of the elephant tortoise. Many of them were of a size to weigh upwards of three hundred weight; and nothing, perhaps, can be more disagreeable or clumsy then they are in their external appearance. Their motion resembles strongly that of the elephant; their steps slow, regular, and heavy; they carry their body about a foot from the ground, and their legs and feet bear no slight resemblance to the animal to which I have likened them; their neck is from eighteen inches to two feet in length, and very slender; their head is proportioned to it, and strongly resembles that of a serpent; but, hideous and disgusting as is their appearance, no animal can possibly afford a more wholesome, luscious, and delicate food than they do; the finest green turtle is no more to be compared to them, in point of excellence, than the coarsest beef is to the finest veal; and after once tasting the Gallipagos tortoises, every other animal food fell greatly in our estimation. These animals are so fat as to require neither butter nor lard to cook them, and this fat does not possess that cloying quality, common to that of most other animals; and when tried out, it furnishes an oil superior in taste to that of the olive. The meat of this animal is the easiest of digestion, and a quantity of it, exceeding that of any other food, can be eaten, without experiencing the slightest inconvenience. But what seems the most extraordinary in this animal, is the length of time that it can exist without food; for I have been well assured, that they have been piled away among the cases in the hold of a ship, where they have been kept eighteen months, and, when killed at the expiration of that time, were found to have suffered no ddiminutionin fatness or excellence. They carry with them a constant supply of water, in a bag at the root of the neck, which contains about two gallons; and on tasting that found in those we killed on board, it proved perfectly fresh and sweet. They are very restless when exposed to the light and heat of the sun, but will lie in the dark from one year's end to the other without moving; in the day-time, they appear remarkably quick-sighted and timid, drawing their head into their shell on the slightest motion of any object; but they are entirely destitute of hearing, as the loudest noise, even the firing of a gun, does not seem to alarm them in the slightest degree, and at night, or in the dark, they appear perfectly blind. After our tasting the flesh of these animals, we regretted that numbers of them had been thrown overboard by the crews of the vessels before their capture, to clear them for action; but a few days afterwards, at daylight in the morning, we were so fortunate as to find ourselves surrounded by about fifty of them, which were picked up and brought on board, as they had been lying in the same place where they had been thrown over, incapable of any exertion in that element, except that of stretching out their long necks.

I had merely placed a temporary crew on board the prizes, but took the first opportunity to make them permanent, putting midshipman Odenheimer in charge of the Montezuma, and midshipman Cowan on the Policy, giving them the necessary directions for clearing their decks of the lumber of oil casks and other articles, to bend all their light sails, and reave their running rigging, which had all been unbent and unrove, as unnecessary while fishing, and to preserve them from injury; I also furnished them with the necessary signals, and appointed the island of Plata, and the bay of Tumbez, as rendezvous in case of separation, directing them to use the utmost economy in the expenditure of their provisions, stores, and water, ordering all hands to be put on the same allowance as the crew of the Essex.

On examining the Georgiana, I found her not only a noble ship, but well calculated for a cruiser, as she sailed well, and had been built for the service of the British East India Company, and had been employed as a packet until this voyage. I therefore determined to equip and arm her completely, and mounted on her the ten guns of the Policy, making her whole number now sixteen, to which were added two swivels, and a number of heavy blunderbusses mounted on swivels, as well as all the muskets, pistols, cutlasses, and other military equipments we could find on board the other vessels; by these means rendering her as formidable, in point of armament, as any of the British letters of marque I could hear of in this ocean; but this I did not undertake until I was well satisfied she could be well manned, without reducing too much my own crew. A number of seamen captured in the prizes had already proffered their services to us; and on inquiry I found many of them to be Americans. They volunteered their services in equipping the Georgiana, and freeing her from much of the lumber on board, consisting of empty casks and other cumbrous articles, which were sent on board the other prizes; and the heavy brick-work and large iron boilers used for trying out the oil, were taken down, to give more room on her decks, and relieve her from the great weight, which was found greatly to improve her sailing. The command of this vessel, now completely equipped for war, I gave to lieutenant Downes, with a crew consisting of thirty-six of our old crew, and five of the men who had entered from prizes, making her number altogether forty-one men; the remainder I kept on board the Essex, whose crew now amounted to two hundred and sixty-four men, including officers and those on board the Barclay. I appointed midshipman Haddaway as acting lieutenant on board the Georgiana, and sent Mr. Miller (my former gunner) there to do duty, as well as Kingsbury as boatswain, and two quarter-masters. The equipping and manning of this vessel also enabled me to make some promotions on board my own ship from some of the most deserving of my crew, to fill up the vacancies occasioned by the petty officers sent on board her; and we now considered the sloop of war Georgiana, as she was styled, no trifling augmentation to our own force; but, taken in another view, she was of the utmost importance to our safety; for in the event of any accident happening to the Essex, a circumstance to which she was every moment liable, while cruising in a sea with which we were little acquainted, we could calculate on relief from the Georgiana; added to which, she doubled the chance of annoying the enemy, and might serve as an excellent decoy, as we were particularly careful not to change in the slightest degree her appearance as a whaler. On the 8th, she hoisted the American ensign and pendant, and saluted the Essex with seventeen guns, which was returned by our crew with three cheers.

The light baffling winds and strong westerly currents prevented me now from laying any plans for my future operations; my whole attention was turned to getting up to the islands again, as I had intelligence of several other British vessels being in the neighborhood and expected there, and among others the Perseverance, the Rose, and the New Zealand, three fine vessels, with nearly full cargoes. I felt anxious to get into port to recruit my stock of water and wood, the only articles we now stood in want of, as was the case with my prizes, which were all short of water; but still was desirous of looking once more into Banks' Bay, where I confidently expected, on a change of current, to make as many prizes as I could conveniently man.

The weather being remarkably pleasant, I took advantage of it to put our rigging in order, by overhauling and tarring it, and painting the ship inside [,and as] {. As} we had been enabled to procure an abundance of small spars, planks, timber, and nails, I set the carpenters to work, making many repairs, which we had not heretofore been enable to do for the want of the necessary materials; for although we had had it in our power to supply ourselves at Valparaiso, I did not procure them there, confidently believing that the enemy would, in due time, furnish us with what we wanted.

Doctor Miller, about this time, became dissatisfied with his new situation on the Barclay, and expressed a desire to remove to the Policy, where the accommodations, he had understood, were equal to those of the Barclay. To this wish I assented; as the captain of the Policy was in very low health, I had been induced to let him remain on board his ship; and as he was a man of considerable loquacity, and some intelligence, I believed that the doctor would find himself agreeably situated, if it were possible to make him so, as to comfort and society.

Gallapagos Islands map by William Hooker appears here in Porter's second edition.
Among other things, the map shows Porter's original location for Bainbridge Rocks.


On the 9th May, we were, by lunar observation, in the longitude of 89° 12' W.; and on the meridian of the same day in latitude 1° 18' 27" N. I found we were daily losing ground by the violence of the N. W. currents, and believed we should make more head-way by taking the dullest sailer, the Montezuma, in tow; but after getting a hawser fast to her, we found that the best sailers, with all the canvas they could spread, could not keep way with us, and we were frequently obliged to shorten sail for them to come up.

As the weather was yet fine, I continued putting the ship in a good state for service; and on examining the breechings of the guns, I found them entirely rotten and unserviceable. This gave me great uneasiness, for fear that I should not be enabled to remedy the evil; but, on searching among our prizes, we found suitable rope to answer the purpose.

At four o'clock on the evening of the 12th, we very unexpectedly discovered land ahead, and on the weather bow; the wind continuing light and baffling during the night, we kept plying to the southward, and in our endeavours we were greatly assisted by a strong current. In the morning we were about four leagues distant from an island of considerable height, in the middle gradually sloping off every way to long low points, and bounded on every part (within sight) by fine long sandy beaches. The island appeared covered with verdure, and had a very agreeable and inviting appearance. I at first supposed it to be James' Island, as did all the prisoners who were acquainted with its appearance; but they all declared, that although it had some resemblance to that island, they could not recollect the sandy beaches and fine bays with which this appeared indented; and as I could not find any correspondence between the position of this and other islands in sight, with those laid down on Colnet's [sic, Colnett's] chart, the only one which had been drawn of the Gallipagos, I felt myself much staggered in the belief of this being James', but thought it not unlikely that the want of correspondence might be owing to the general incorrectness of the chart, as we have found it filled with errors, none of the islands being laid down agreeable to their true position; nor are the shores of any of them correctly traced; and there are also many islands in this group not noticed in his chart: but it is not to be wondered that captain Colnet did not make a correct chart of the Gallipagos, as he merely sailed around the group, without passing through it; and had he even passed, as we have done, twice through them, strong currents and foggy weather would have tended greatly to mislead his judgment, and baffle all calculation as to distance.§

§ Judging by numerous referrals to Colnett in this and other chapters, including page-number citations, Porter apparently had his Voyage to the South Atlantic … on hand. The book contains a Chart of the Galapagos engraved in 1798 by T. (Thomas) Foot for Aaron Arrowsmith, presumably derived from drawings made by Colnett. In Chapter IX, Porter has kinder words for Colnett.

Having my doubts as to this being James' Island, although its great extent appeared to justify the belief, I made a signal for the Georgiana to proceed ahead, while we ran through the passage between that and a smaller island off the larboard bow, which to me had much the appearance of Barrington Island; but as all declared it to be Norfolk Island, I must acknowledge that I felt myself at a loss to know what part of the cluster I had gotten into. I did not, however, believe the large island to be James'; and as a fine breeze sprang up from the northward, and a strong current set from the same quarter, I determined to give up the idea of making any further examination, with a view of getting to the southward, with the dull-sailing vessels under my care, hoping to reach Hood's Island, to get on board some terrapins, as a refreshment for the crew. I consequently made a signal for a boat to be sent from the Georgiana, and sent to lieutenant Downes the following orders:

United States frigate Essex, at sea, Chatham Island
bearing southeast, 12th May, 1813.


You will proceed to Albemarle, searching Charles' or James' Island, whichever is most convenient, in your way. I shall endeavour to get into the harbour at Hood's Island, where I should wish you to join me, if practicable; from thence I shall proceed to the continent to take in water, probably to Tumbez, where you will proceed if you should not find me at Hood's Island, or if on your arrival you should not receive different instructions from me. From Tumbez I shall beat up the coast ttowardsLima; and when I shall have taken as many prizes as will render my return to port necessary, I shall proceed to Conception, previous to my going to Valparaiso, with a view of gaining intelligence of the British cruisers on the coast. Should you not fall in with me at Hood's Island, or at Tumbez, you will follow me in my route; and if you should touch at Coquimbo, enquire for letters for me, and open them, and do the same at Conception. Should you not hear of me at Conception or Valparaiso, you will endeavour to dispose of the whole or part of the cargo of the Georgiana, and will continue to make short cruises in the neighborhood of the place, until my arrival, increasing your crew as circumstances may render expedient and necessary, and securing your prizes under the protection of the batteries, unless you can dispose of them to advantage; and if this can be done, you will please to consult the consul-general as to the most proper person to be employed as agent, and do whatever may to you seem expedient to the good of all concerned.

Near some conspicuous tree or object which I shall mark, not far from the landing-place at Hood's Island, I shall bury a bottle containing further instructions. I shall do the same at Massafuero, should I touch there; and prior to my departure from Tumbez, if I should conclude on changing my route from thence and proceeding along the coast of Mexico, I shall intimate my intentions of so doing, by presenting the governor or principal person there with a rifle. Should you be certain of my having done this you will proceed to Quibo, and, near the watering-place marked A in the chart, I shall leave further instructions in a bottle, at the root of a marked tree. It is possible that I may leave a letter for you, directed to the commander of the Georgiana, at Tumbez. I calculate on cruising off Cape Blanco some time before and after going into Tumbez, so that I think it highly probable that you will find me there, an event very much desired by me. It is even possible that I may stop at the island of Plata; should it be in your way, look in there, and search the landing for marked trees, and a bottle containing a letter.

If, on your way back to Albemarle, you can conveniently touch at Charles' Island, do so, and search there for letters.

I have the honour to be, respectfully, your obedient servant

(Signed)           D. PORTER.

Lieutenant John Downes, commanding the
armed prize-ship Georgiana.

Lieutenant Downes made sail to double the south point of the large island, and I proceeded with my other prizes and the Barclay to the S. S. E. At meridian the weather cleared up, and, to my great surprise, I discovered first Gardner's Island, and a few minutes afterwards Charles' Island, the latter bearing S. S. W. We now perceived that we had passed between Barrington Island and a fine large island, which occupies the place given to Duncan's and James' Islands on Colnet's chart, § and we were now convinced that no reliance whatever should be placed on Colnet's survey, which has been drawn only from fancy or the incorrect information of others; for no such islands as Duncan's and James' exist where he has placed them, nor has he any where traced an island bearing the slightest resemblance to the one in question.

§ Aaron Arrowsmith's 1798 Chart of the Galapagos in Colnett's book.

I now bore away for Charles' Island, where I anchored at four P.M., in eight fathoms water, at the distance of one and a half miles of the long sandy beach within the reef, the Devil's Rock, or Rock Dismal, bearing E. N. E., and the west point of the island S. W. by {W.} [S.]; the bottom, however, appeared rocky, and on a closer examination of the harbour I found we should have lain in deeper water, with much better shelter and bottom, closer in shore; the prizes and Barclay followed us in, and anchored between us and the beach. As soon as the ship was moored, I went on shore to examine the letter-box, but found no new papers in it; I however saw unquestionable evidence of a vessel's having been in the harbour since we had left it, for the cask of water, and the barrel of bread, and other articles, had been carried off, and no part of either remained but the hoops of the cask; fresh tracks of men were plainly to be seen from the beach to the post-office, where the articles were placed; and an impression was made in the sand, as though a bag had been set down, near which were some whale-line yarns, part of which had been used, no doubt, for the purpose of tying it; all of which circumstances left no doubts on our minds of their having been carried off by some whale-ship; and, on comparing the yarns with those we had got from on board our prizes, they were known to be English. I now felt great regret that I had not kept the Georgiana with me until our arrival, that I could have dispatched her direct for Albemarle in search of the stranger, as I could have no doubt of her having gone direct for that place, as this is the common touching-place for vessels bound there, both from a high southern latitude, and from Tumbez, on the continent, where they generally go for water; and I was in hopes she was from the latter place, with a good stock of that article, of which we now stood more in need than any other; and although I was almost induced to consider her as our own (for I had no doubts that lieutenant Downes would fall in with her), yet, as I was not certain that he would be enabled to join me here, I had no strong expectation of receiving any immediate advantage from the supplies she might bring, and determined to make every exertion in my power to procure, if possible, a supply from the island. I had heard of a spring in the interior, which could be approached from a beach on the west side, about six miles distant from the ship; to this place I proceeded next morning, taking with me two ten-gallon kegs to make the experiment with, in order to estimate the quantity we could procure from there daily. We found the spring at the distance of three miles from the beach, and the water, after clearing it out, proved excellent; but it was found to be extremely laborious work getting it to the beach, as our stoutest men were exhausted after taking down one keg each; and it was found that each man could not carry any more than three kegs in twenty-four hours, owing to the distance, the badness of the roads, and the excessive heat on shore. I concluded, however, on attempting to get some water to answer our present purpose, notwithstanding the difficulties which opposed us, and with this view returned to the ship to make the necessary arrangements, and on my way loaded my boat with some excellent fish.

On landing at the beach leading to the spring, we found fresh embers, and a tortoise, which had not been killed apparently more than two days; and on our way to the spring we found innumerable testimonies of persons having been recently there: there was also on the beach a pair of mockasons, made of English canvas, and a tortoise shell containing about two quarts of English barley.

This part of the island abounds with tortoises, which frequent the springs for the sake of the water, and upwards of thirty of them were turned on their backs by us, as they came down to drink, during the short time we remained there, which was not more than an hour and a half; but we enabled to bring down but one, and he was selected more for his antiquated appearance than for his size or supposed excellence. His weight was exactly one hundred and ninety seven pounds, but he was far from being considered a large size.

As I returned from the spring, I could not help reflecting on the extraordinary scheme that I was about attempting to procure water, and was almost appalled by the obstacles which presented themselves; for, in addition to the difficulties of getting it down to the beach, it would be necessary there to put it into large casks, and from thence raft it to the ship, a distance of six miles, through a high sea, and sometimes against rapid currents; and to these evils must be added the danger and inconvenience of having one half of my crew at least separated from the ship, thus leaving not only her but our prizes exposed, in a defenseless state, to the attacks of an enemy. As water was to be procured in that part of the island, I thought it not unlikely that it might be found near the bay in which we lay; and well knowing the roving disposition of seamen, I determined to let a party go on shore to amuse themselves, confidently believing, if water was to be found within two or three miles of us, it would be discovered by them; and on their return at night I was not disappointed, for they informed me that they had found upwards of forty or fifty barrels of water lodged in the different hollows of the rocks, about a mile and a half from the shore; that the difficulties of getting to it were very great, but they did not doubt that each man would be enabled to bring down, in ten-gallon kegs, forty gallons per day. I immediately caused casks to be landed, and, by sending parties on shore daily, procured while we lay here two thousand gallons, much of it, to be sure, of a filthy appearance, having a bad taste and smell, and filled abundantly with slime and insects; but to us it was a treasure too precious to lose, and the greatest industry was used to save every drop of it, for fear that the sun, which was evaporating it rapidly, should cheat us of our prize.

In order that no means should be left untried to procure a large supply of water, I caused two wells to be dug in the most likely places for finding it; but, after digging a considerable depth, salt water flowed in, and disappointed our hopes. I also sent on shore a wooding party, which soon procured us as large a supply of fuel as we stood in need of.

Early in the morning of the third day of our arrival, a sail was discovered to the westward, standing in for the island. I immediately caused preparation to be made for sending the boats after her, as the wind was very light; but on her nearer approach, when she made her private signal, discovered it to be the Georgiana. Her arrival, although unexpected, gave me much pleasure; and on lieutenant Downes coming on board, he informed me, that, on doubling the southwest part of the island which we had supposed to be James', he had discovered several other small islands, and had experienced rapid currents, which had put the safety of his ship in jeopardy, as they had swept him very near to a high rock, which lies in a passage of about two miles wide, formed by the southwest part of the island and another smaller island. He had felt the same embarrassments as myself with respect to the island, and it was with no little difficulty that he extricated himself from the dangers of rocks and breakers, with which he was environed in this unknown navigation; but, after getting clear of them, and finding himself in the neighborhood of Charles' Island, he had determined to look in there before going to Albemarle, in hopes of meeting a prize, little expecting to find me there at anchor.

After lieutenant Downes had been with me a short time, I dispatched him to Albemarle, in pursuit of the stranger who had touched at the island before us, directing him to stop at Charles' Island as soon afterwards as possible, and, should he not find me there, to search at the foot of the stake to which the letter-box is attached, where I should bury a bottle containing instructions for him.

After the Georgiana left us, I proposed to Mr. Adams that he should take two boats and proceed to the large island, for the purpose of making an accurate survey of it, and examining the resources it would afford us. Mr. Adams (whose zeal for promoting geographical and mathematical knowledge does him great honour) grasped at the proposal with avidity, and at four P.M. of the same day (supplied with a week's provisions, and every necessary for the same period), he sailed on his voyage of discovery, in a whale-boat belonging to the Essex, and accompanied by midshipman Odenheimer in another belonging to the Montezuma. I directed them to be back to the ship between the fifth and sixth day from their departure, and during this interval we occupied ourselves in painting our ship's bends and upperworks, keeping parties every day on shore bringing down to the beach tortoises for the ship's company, of which they succeeded in getting on board between four and five hundred; and although the parties on this employment (which were selected every day, to give all an opportunity of going on shore) indulged themselves in the most ample manner in tortoise meat (which by them was called Gallipagos mutton), yet their relish for this food did not seem in the least abated, or their exertions to get them on board in the least relaxed, for every one appeared desirous of securing as large a stock of this provision as possible for the cruise; and although they were brought the distance of from three to four miles, through thorns and over sharp rocks, yet it was no uncommon thing from them to make three and four trips a day, each with tortoises weighing from fifty to a hundred weight. We were enabled to procure here also, in large quantities, an herb in taste much resembling spinage, and so called by our people; likewise various other pot-herbs, and prickly pears in great abundance, which were not only of an excellent flavour, but a sovereign antiscorbutic; and it afforded me much pleasure to observe that they were much relished by our people.

The cotton plant was found growing spontaneously, and a tree of a very aromatic flavour and taste, and indeed was no other then the one formerly mentioned, found on the island of Albemarle, and producing in large quantities a resinous substance. This Mr. Adams declared was the alcornoque, so famous for the cure of consumptions, and is probably the same as that mentioned by Colnet, and called by him the algarrooa.

The only quadrapeds found on the island were tortoises, lizards, and a few sea guanas; the land guana was not to be found. Doves peculiar to those islands, of a small size, and very beautiful plumage, were very numerous, and afforded great amusement to the younger part of the crew in killing them with sticks and stones, which was no ways difficult, as they were very tame. The English mocking-bird was also found in great numbers, and a small black bird, with a remarkable short and strong bill, and a shrill note; those were the only birds except aquatic found here; the latter were not numerous, and consisted of teal, which frequented a lagoon on the east part of the bay, pelicans, boobies, and other birds common to all the islands of those seas; sea turtles and seals were scarce and shy.

That every person might be employed to the most advantage, I directed that those having charge of prizes should paint them, and otherwise put them in good order, as to appearance, in the expectation that they would bring a higher price among the Spaniards, to whom I intended offering them for sale the first opportunity. They were noble ships, and a little paint added greatly to the beauty of their appearance. I also recommended to captain Randall to change as much as possible the paint and appearance of his ship, in order that we might not be traced by her, as she was well known on this coast. The appearance of the Essex had been so frequently changed, that I had but little apprehensions of her being known again by those who had seen her before, or from any description that could be given of her. While we lay here, I permitted all the prisoners to go on shore whenever they wished it, as many of them were affected with the scurvy; but one in particular was so bad with it as to be scarcely able to move; but on getting him on shore, where he could procure a kind of sorrel and the prickly pear, and burying his legs in the earth every day, he was so far recovered before our departure, as scarcely to complain of his disease, and could walk as briskly as any among us, assisting frequently in bringing down water and tortoises from the rocks and mountains.

We here found the tomb of a seaman, who had been buried five years before, from a ship called the Georgiana, commanded by captain Pitts[, the captain of one of our prizes of the same name; and over] {. Over} it was erected a white board, bearing an inscription, neatly executed, showing his age, &c., and terminating with the following epitaph, which I insert more on account of the extreme simplicity of the verse, and its powerful and flattering appeal to the feelings, than for its elegance, or the correctness of the composition:

Gentle reader, as you pass by,
As you are now, so wonce was I;
As now my body is in the dust,
I hope in heaven my soul to rest.

Compare Porter's account with Melville's.

The spot where his remains were deposited was shaded by two lofty thorn-bushes, which afforded an agreeable shade and fragrance, and became the favourite resort of our men at their meals; the pile of stones (which had been piously placed over the grave by his ship-mates) serving them both for table and seat, where they indulged themselves amply in their favourite food, and quaffed many a can of grog to his poor soul's rest!

On the 20th May, in the morning, discovered the two whale-boats returning with Mr. Adams from the island they had been sent to survey; and as I was apprehensive that they had exhausted their stock of water, I dispatched a boat with a supply, which proved very acceptable, as they had been eighteen hours without any. Mr. Adams informed me, that he had made a complete survey of the island, and had determined the latitude and longitude of the principal points; but that, on the most careful examination, he had not been able to find either good anchorage or fresh water; but stated that it abounded in wood, and that land-tortoises and green turtle were in the greatest abundance, the former generally of an enormous size, one of which measured five feet and a half long, four feet and a half wide, and three feet thick, and others were found by some of the seamen of a larger size; from /From/ this island, James', Albemarle, Norfolk§, Barrington, Crossman's, Charles', and many others were to be seen; but he could perceive none that bore the slightest resemblance, in position or appearance, to those called by captain Colnet Duncan's and Jarvis' Islands; and as this island was now destitute of a name, and he could perceive no traces of its having been visited before, he highly complimented me, by giving it the name of Porter's Island.

§ One hopes Mr. Adams was more proficient as chaplain than as surveyor. The island he named in honor of Captain Porter is in fact, Norfolk (the present Isla Santa Cruz), so the island he thought was Norfolk may have been the present Isla Pinzón. The matter is not clarified by the William Hooker map in Porter's 1822 edition. It shows Isla Santa Cruz labeled as Porter's, Pinzón as Downes, but no island with the Norfolk name on it.

The southwest landing of this island is in latitude 0° 42' 14" south, longitude 90° 27' 9" west.

The northwest landing is in latitude 0° 32' 40" south, longitude 90° 23' 54" west.

The northeast landing is in latitude 0° 31' 12" south, longitude 90° 12' 45" west.

Having now got on board as much wood as we stood in need of, and all the water that could be procured, as well as a stock of salt provisions from the prizes, and a supply of tortoises, we had nothing to detain us longer at Charles' Island; I therefore made the signal to prepare to weigh, and at nine o'clock on the morning of the 21st, weighed our anchor, and, in company with our prizes, stood to the southwest, with a view of getting an offing sufficient to enable us to weather Charles' Island on the other tack, which I had reason to hope we could do without much difficulty, as I perceived we had a current setting to the southward. We found our stream-cable a little chafed by the rocks, but less so than I had apprehended, from the quality of the bottom we had anchored in.

I should have mentioned before, that Mr. Adams, on the night of his return from Porters's Island, fell in with a ship, which he passed at the distance of gun-shot from her; she bore much the appearance of an English vessel, had a tier of guns, and was bound toward Albemarle; in consequence of which, I determined to run down for Banks' Bay to look for her, should the current have proved against our getting to the southward; for I not only hoped, by so doing, to secure a valuable prize, but expected to be enabled to get a supply of water from her, which was what we now stood more in need of than any other article whatever.

On obtaining the above information from Mr. Adams, I believed it probable that we should be enabled to see the stranger from some one of the adjacent hills; under this expectation I landed on the western point of the bay, and, in company with lieutenant Gamble of the marines, and Mr. Shaw, purser, proceeded to ascend a high and rugged mountain there situated, which did not appear to us to be a difficult task to attempt; but we were soon convinced of our error, for it was not without great labour and fatigue, and at the risk of our lives, that we succeeded in reaching the top of it, after crawling through thorn-bushes, wounding ourselves by the prickly-pear trees, and scrambling over the loose lava, which tore our shoes, and was every moment giving way under us. We at length, however, arrived, exhausted with thirst, heat, and fatigue, at the summit, where we had an extensive view of the islands, but could perceive no vessels in the offing. Our descent was no less hazardous; and on our way back we found a large tortoise, which we opened with some difficulty, with the hope of finding some water to allay our thirst; but we were disappointed in only finding a few gills, of a disagreeable-tasted liquid [, but little better than urine; this] {.This} our stomachs revolted at; we therefore had recourse to sucking the leaf of the prickly pear, which we found to serve our purpose.

Prior to my departure, I left the following letter for Mr. Downes, buried in a bottle at the foot of the stake to which the letter-box was attached.

May 20th, 1813.


I sail from this place to-morrow, and shall shape my course for Tumbez. Mr. Adams has surveyed the large island, but it affords no fresh water, nor good shelter; I have succeeded in getting two thousand gallons here, which perhaps will enable me to cruise a short time before going in. A ship was seen last night by Mr. Adams, on his return; he passed not more than a mile from her; she was bound down to the Bay or James' Island, and, from the description he gives of her, there is scarcely a doubt of its being the Charlton, mounting ten guns. The prizes are a great encumbrance to me. I feel much confidence in your success, and am anxious to meet as soon as circumstances will admit. It is not improbable that I shall look again into the Bay before leaving the islands.

With much respect and esteem,
              D. PORTER.

Lieutenant John Downes.

And in the box I put the following note:

Will sail from here to-morrow, the Montezuma, Baxter, and Policy, Bowman, on a whale cruise. At the foot of this will be found the quantity of oil each ship has on board.

S. X.  

Montezuma,1300 bbls. sperm oil; 20 ditto black fish.
Policy,1500 bbls. sperm oil; 20 ditto ditto.

Plenty of turpen at the springs, and some at Pat's landing.

On the 23d, I tacked to the eastward, and on the 24th discovered Hood's Island, bearing northwest, distant ten leagues, and, as we now had a good breeze from the southward, I determined to look in there, with the hope of meeting one of the enemy's vessels, and consequently bore away, with the vessels in company, but, toward evening, the wind grew light and baffling, and a strong current setting directly on the southeast point of the island, we had great difficulty in preventing our ships from being drifted on shore, even after we had succeeded in getting them on the other tack. We made every exertion all night to keep to windward, but without effect; for in the morning Gardner's Island bore west, about three leagues distant. Charles' Island was plain in sight, and, to add to the mortification, the Montezuma (which we had discontinued towing during the night, on account of our own safety) was as far to leeward as we could see her. I found it was in vain to struggle against this eternal current with such dull sailers, and saw no hopes of holding our own but at anchor; our want of water was very pressing, and I saw no prospect of getting into the continent to procure a supply; I therefore determined to bear away, look into the harbour of Charles' Island, and proceed from thence to the island of Cocos, looking into Banks' Bay in my way there. I had also some hopes of meeting the Georgiana, or hearing from her, at Charles' Island. I was the more strongly induced to bear away, as captain Randall informed me, the preceding evening, that he had discovered some of the garbage of whales floating on the surface of the water near Hood's Island, a certain indication of whalers having been lately there; and as I believed there were now a greater number about Albemarle than could be managed by lieutenant Downes, I thought it most advisable to proceed there, entertaining, at the same time, a hope, that by their capture we should be enabled to procure a supply of water. Shortly after we had bore away, with the Montezuma in tow, a signal was made from the Policy to speak with me. I felt a conviction in my own mind, that it was caused by the death of that poor unhappy man, doctor Miller; and on the arrival of the boat along-side, it proved to be the case; he had died a few minutes before the signal was made, and it was supposed that the danger we were in of going on shore the preceding night, as well as the disappointment occasioned by our not being able to get clear of the islands, tended greatly to hasten his death. I directed a coffin to be made for him, with an intention of burying him on one of the islands, if it should be in my power, and requested Mr. Shaw to go on board to make arrangements for his funeral.

I now appointed doctor Hoffman acting surgeon of the Essex, with the pay and emoluments of surgeon. The indefatigable attention of this gentleman to the sick, merits the highest encomiums, and to his providential care may be attributed in a great measure the extraordinary health we have all to this period enjoyed.

I ran close in for Charles' Island, and sent the boat on shore with the following note, to be left in the bottle, and on her return bore away for Albemarle.

May 25th, 1813.      

After vain attempts to get to the continent, I am again brought back by the current to Charles' Island. I shall make the best of my way to Banks' Bay, and shall there look around Rodando [sic] and the Culpeppers;§ and from thence (to make sure work of it) I shall proceed for the island of Cocos, as our want of water makes this absolutely necessary. If, however, it should so happen that the current should change, and the wind should favour us in an uncommon degree, I shall proceed agreeably to my original intentions; but should wish you to touch at Cocos, where it is likely you may find me, or at all events you will know if I have been there; and if it is attended with no other advantage, you will be enabled to fill your water. Should you not hear of me at Cocos, you may naturally conclude that I have gone to the appointed rendezvous on the continent.

§ Porter may have meant that he would look around Culpepper on the way to Banks' Bay from Charles. Once at Banks' Bay, he would have been too far removed from Culpepper to investigate it.

We have fallen in with the garbage of whales near Hood's Island; whalers have been about there lately.

I shall anchor in Chatham Bay, in the Isle of Cocos; but for fear of mistake, search both bays; they are but a few miles apart.

(Signed)            D. P.

Lieutenant Downes had not been there, as every thing remained as we had left it; nor were there any traces of any other person's having been there since we had left the island. Next day I went on board the Policy, accompanied by most of the officers; and, after the funeral service of the church had been read by Mr. Adams, the body of doctor Miller was committed to the deep.

On the 27th [May] we were abreast Cape Essex, or the south head of Albemarle; and as I intended now to go over the cruising-ground of whalers with great care, in order that none should escape me, I caused the prizes to spread off in different directions, keeping at signal-distance, and there to keep a good lookout, with orders to make a signal to me in the event of their discovering any strange vessel, but ordered them to close in with the Essex at night, to guard against separation.

Benjamin Geers on this day departed this life, after an illness of about two hours. He complained of a violent pain in his breast, was constantly calling for water, and died in violent convulsions, frothing very much at the mouth. His death could not be well accounted for; many were of the opinion, and myself among others, that he had taken arsenic; and yet we could assign no reason for his doing so, as he always appeared perfectly happy and contented. He was a valuable man on board the ship, and his death was much regretted.

On the afternoon of the 28th [May], as we were standing to the northward with the Montezuma in tow, the Barclay looking out on our starboard, and the Policy on our larboard quarter, the men on the lookout on board the Essex discovered a sail right ahead, and immediately the Montezuma was cast off, and all sail made in chase. At sunset we could see her plainly from deck, and, as she was standing from us with all the sail she could crowd, I entertained no hopes of coming up with her in the night, as I had no doubts of her altering her course, and thus eluding us. I continued, however, to carry all the sail the ship would bear, in hopes of nearing him as much as possible; and, being well aware of the prevalence of calms in this quarter, I had strong hopes that, as usual, it would fall calm before morning, and keep us in sight of each other; but as the wind continued fresh, and believing he would change his course as soon as it grew dark, I hove to, at nine o'clock, for the other vessels to come up, when I directed the Montezuma to run northwest (which was his bearing when we last saw him) seven miles, and then heave to, the Barclay to run the same distance to the east, and I intended sending the Policy to the southwest, but she did not come up in time. This arrangement I hoped would enable one or the other of the vessels to get sight of the chase in the morning, and I was not disappointed; for next day the Montezuma made a signal for a sail to the northward, and at the same time we bore away in pursuit of her with all the sail we could carry, and it was not until two hours after we had given chase to her that we could discover her from our masts' heads. About meridian the wind began to die away; I had now sight of the stranger from deck, and had no doubt of his being an enemy. The Montezuma was still between us and him, and distant from us about six miles. I determined now that he should not again escape us, for I was fully convinced this was the same vessel we had chased the day before. I directed three of the fastest rowing boats to be manned with as many men as they could carry, and armed, and to proceed, under the command of lieutenant Wilmer, to the Montezuma, with orders to take three of that ship's boats, and before night to proceed to take his station astern of the stranger, so that he could keep sight of him, placing the other in a line astern of him, so that a communication could be had by signal from the headmost boat to the Montezuma, and from thence to the Essex; and by this arrangement I hoped to be guided by flashes in my pursuit of the enemy, and prevent the probability of his escaping. I directed lieutenant Wilmer not to make any attack on her, unless it should prove perfectly calm, and then to row up with muffled oars, and board him by surprise; and to prevent any other mode of attack being made, I allowed them no other arms than a pistol, cutlass, and boarding-axe each.

After the boats had left us, a breeze sprung up, which enabled us to continue the chase; and, as we soon passed the boats, I made a signal for the Montezuma to heave to and pick them up. As we approached the chase, she hauled close on a wind to the eastward, and shortly afterwards hove about to stand for us; and, from her warlike appearance, and the signals made by her, I supposed her to be an English sloop of war, as she wore both the English ensign and pendant. I now made such preparations for actions as my weak crew would admit of, directing the marines and top-men to lay by their muskets, and for them, as well as the bracemen and all others on board, to take their stations at the guns. All my officers were away from the ship, but still I could not perceive that the small remains of my men had in time of need lost any of their wonted energy and zeal.

We were soon along side of him, when I hoisted English colours, and directed her commander to come on board, which order was soon complied with, when at this instant another strange sail was descried from the mast head. A few men were taken out of our prize, which proved to be the British letter of marque ship Atlantic, Obadiah Weir master, employed in whaling, and mounting six guns (eighteen pounders). As soon as the Montezuma came up, I threw some men on board the Atlantic, with lieutenant M'Knight, and sent her in pursuit of the other stranger to the northwest, while I steered more northerly; for, as the Atlantic was reputed the fastest sailer in those seas, I had no doubt, by this means, of rendering her capture certain. We were soon convinced that the Atlantic deserved her character for sailing, as during the chase we had very little advantage of her, notwithstanding we had all the sail we could carry, and she the whole time without her studding-sails, as she had none bent. Night was now fast approaching; we were doubtful whether we were near enough to keep sight of our new chase, which our prisoners informed us was another British letter of marque; and, as it grew dark, we once lost sight of her; but we soon discovered her again by means or our night glasses, and on her heaving about to elude us (on the supposition that we could no longer see her), we soon got along side of her, and on firing a shot at her, she hove to. I directed her commander to repair on board, which he refused to do, until he knew who we were. I now perceived by his lights that he was prepared for action, and fired one shot between his masts to intimidate him, threatening him with a broadside if he did not repair on board immediately; and this had the desired effect, as he soon came on board, prepared to meet in us an enemy. This vessel proved to be the British letter of marque Greenwich, of ten guns, a prime sailer, employed in the whale fishery. Her captain had taken a good stock of Dutch courage, and, from the preparations that were made on board his vessel, there could be no doubt of his intentions to have fired into us, had he not been intimidated by the shot we fired between his masts. He expressed great regret that the Atlantic and his ship had not joined one another before their capture, as he believed they would then have been more than a match for us; and, indeed, considering the then weakened state of the crew, and the absence of every officer (except the chaplain, the clerk, and the boatswain, from whom I received every assistance in their power), it seems not unlikely (as they were in every respect well prepared for action) that they would have given us some trouble, and have rendered the capture of one of them at least doubtful.

I must here observe, that the captain of the Atlantic (an American from Nantucket, where he has a wife and family), on his first coming on board the Essex, expressed his extreme pleasure on finding (as he supposed we were) an English frigate in those seas. He informed me that he had sailed from England under convoy of the Java frigate, and had put into port Praya a few days after the Essex, an American frigate, had left here; and that the Java had sailed immediately in pursuit of her, and that it was the general belief the Essex had gone around the Cape of Good Hope. He parted with the Java after crossing the line, and on his arrival at Conception heard she had been sunk off Bahia by the American frigate Constitution. On enquiry respecting the American vessels in the South Seas, he informed me that about Conception was the best place to cruise for them, for he had left at that place nine of them in an unprotected and defenseless state, and entirely at a loss what to do with themselves; that they were almost daily arriving there, and that he had no doubt, by going off there, we should be enabled to take the most of them. I asked him how he reconciled it to himself to sail from England under the British flag, and in an armed ship, after hostilities had taken place between the two countries. He said he found no difficulty in reconciling it to himself, for, although he was born in America, he was an Englishman at heart. This man appeared the polished gentleman in his manners, but evidently possessed a corrupt heart, and, like all renegadoes, was desirous of doing his native country all the injury in his power, with the hope of thereby ingratiating himself with his new friends. I permitted him to remain in his error some time, but at length introduced to him the captains of the Montezuma and the Georgiana, who soon undeceived him with respect to our being an English frigate. I had felt great pity for these two lastgentlemenn, and had made the evils of war bear as light on them as possible, by purchasing of them, for the use of the crew, their private adventures, consisting of slop-clothing, tobacco, and spirits, for which they were sincerely grateful; but to this man I could not feel the same favourable disposition, nor could I conceal my indignation at his conduct; he endeavoured to apologize away the impression his conduct had made, by artfully putting the case to myself; and, with a view of rendering him easy, as I did not wish to triumph over the wretch, I informed him that I was willing to make some allowances for his conduct.

After the capture of the Greenwich, I informed her commander, John Shuttleworth, as well as Obadiah Wier, of the Atlantic, that I felt every disposition to act most generously toward them. Shuttleworth was however so much intoxicated, and his language so insulting, that it was with difficulty I could refrain from turning him out of my cabin. Wier was more reserved during my presence there; but, duty requiring me on deck, he, in the presence of some of the officers, used the most bitter invectives against the government of the United States; and he, as well as Shuttleworth, consoled themselves with the pleasing hope, that British frigates would soon be sent to chastise us for our temerity in venturing so far from home. They were at length, however, shown to the apartmentallottedd them, and feeling, in some measure, restraint removed, they gave full vent to their anger, and indulged in the most abusive language against our government, the ship and her officers, lavishing on me in particular the most scurrilous epithets, and gave me appellations that would have suited a buccanier. They really appeared to have forgotten they were prisoners and in my power, and that it would be more to their advantage to trust entirely to my generosity, than to irritate me by such unprovoked abuse. However, I determined next day to make them sensible of the impropriety of their conduct, and did so without violating either the principles of humanity or the rules of war. I let them feel that they were dependent entirely on my generosity, was more generous than they either deserved or expected, and this haughty Englishman, who would wish to have terrified us with the name of a Briton, and this renegado, who would have sacrificed the interests of his country, were now so humbled by a sense of their own conduct, and of what they merited, that they would have licked the dust from my feet had it been required of them to do so.

The whole of the next day was occupied in arranging the crews of our new prizes, and getting the baggage of the prisoners out of them; and it afforded me no small degree of pleasure to discover, that the Atlantic had on board about one hundred tons of water, an article of more value to us than any thing else she could have had; for we scarcely had water remaining on board our own ship, to take us even to the island of Cocos, and some of our prizes were very far short of the necessary supply; and none others having more than sufficient to answer their purpose; it was also a consolation to find, that by these two last vessels we had obtained the most abundant supply of provisions of every description, and naval stores, such as cordage, canvas, paints, tar, &c. &c., more than we required; also seamen's clothing in considerable quantities, and of a superior quality, for our people; and as these vessels had been only a few days from James' Island, we found on board them eight hundred tortoises of a very large size, and sufficient to furnish all the ships with fresh provisions for one month.

Our fleet now consisted of six sail of vessels, without including the Georgiana. On board of the last captured vessels I put a sufficient number of men to fight their guns, giving lieutenant M'Knight charge of the Atlantic, and, for want of sea-officers, I put lieutenant Gamble of the marines in charge of the Greenwich. I had much confidence in the discretion of this gentleman; and, to make up for his want of nautical knowledge, I put two expert seamen with his as mates, one of whom was a good navigator.

Volunteers continued to offer from the captured vessels, and my whole effective force in those seas now consisted of

TheEssex, mounting46 guns, and245 men,
 Georgiana16 do.  42 do.
 Atlantic  6 do.  12 do.
 Greenwich10 do.  14 do.
 Montezuma  2 do.  10 do.
 Policy   10 do.
Making in all,80 guns,333 men;

together with one midshipman and six men on board the Barclay. My prisoners amounted in number to 80; but as I had divided them among the different ships, giving them full allowance of provisions, on condition of their giving assistance in working, we found them as useful as our own men in navigating the prizes; so that our whole number, including the prisoners, amounted to 420, and all in good health, with the exception of some of the prisoners, who were slightly affected with the scurvy.

The capture of those vessels, in consequence of the supply of water they afforded, induced me to change my intentions of going to the island of Cocos for a stock; as they were such prime sailers, I hoped that, by their taking in tow the Barclay and Policy, while I took care of the Montezuma, we should be enabled to get to windward of the islands, so as to fall in with the track of vessels bound from the continent to the Gallipagos, or, at all events, to reach Charles' Island, where I hoped to join the Georgiana, or, if she should not have arrived there, to leave different instructions for her commander; and as we had been swept by the current, for the two last days, considerably to the southward, I believed we should be greatly assisted thereby, and succeed in executing my intentions without much difficulty. The dull-sailing vessels were therefore taken in tow, and every exertion made to get to windward, with the hope of weathering the south point of Albemarle; but although the wind favoured us on every tack, we found it impossible to get around it, as the current, which (until we had brought it to bear east) had favoured us, now left us, and an adverse current, equally strong, rendered all our exertions to get to the southward ineffectual. Nothing was left for us but to bear away, and endeavour to get around to the northward of the islands; and during the calms which succeeded the light and variable winds we had for the three last days experienced, I took the opportunity of getting an anchor and cable, and three thousand five hundred gallons of water, from the Atlantic and Greenwich, as well as a supply of tortoises, and such other articles as we stood immediately in want of.

The Greenwich proved to be the vessel that had been seen by Mr. Adams, and the Atlantic the one that had taken from Charles' Island the barrel of water and bread, which the captain informed me was done with a view of preventing his men from deserting, a circumstance which he greatly apprehended, while they could be certain of finding a supply of those articles on the island.

It seems somewhat extraordinary, that British seamen should carry with them this propensity to desert even into merchant vessels, sailing under the flag of their nation, and under circumstances so terrifying; but yet I am informed, that their desertion which at Charles' Island has been very common, even when there was no prospect whatever of obtaining water but from the bowels of the tortoises. This can only be attributed to that tyranny, so prevalent on board their ships of war, which has crept into their merchant vessels, and is there aped by their commanders. Now mark the difference. While the Essex lay at Charles' Island, one-fourth of her crew was every day on shore, and all the prisoners who chose to go; and I even lent the latter boats, whenever they wished it, to go for their amusement to the other side of the island. No one attempted to desert or to make their escape; whenever a gun was fired, every man repaired to the beach, and no one was ever missing when the signal was made.

On the 6th June, we were abreast the island of Narborough, and in the afternoon saw a thick column of smoke, rising rapidly as from its centre, ascending to a great height in the air, where it spread off in large white curls, and presented us a grand and majestic spectacle. We soon discovered that one of the numerous volcanoes had burst forth; but there were various opinions as to its situation. Some supposed it to be on Narborough, others to the east of Narborough, and on the island of Albemarle. I was of the latter opinion, and was confirmed in it next day, when we had changed our position. At night the whole atmosphere was illuminated by it; and yet we could perceive neither flames nor sparks thrown out by the crater; and I am induced to believe the irruption was of short continuance, as, on the night of the 7th, I could perceive no appearance of it, although our distance, I should have supposed, would have admitted of our seeing it, had it not become extinct. §

§ At the Smithsonian Institution Global Volcanism Program website, the Eruptive History tab for Cerro Darwin reports a June 6, 1813 eruption, which agrees with Porter's account. This may have been the event in which lava flowed into the Beagle Crater, as described in Dating a Lava Flow at Beagle Crater.

The winds now began to freshen from the southeast, and gave us at length some hopes of getting from those islands, where we had been so long and unexpectedly delayed by calms and currents. The Spaniards call them the Enchanted Islands, probably, from the great difficulty vessels have found in getting from among them. The title seems well applied, and is such a one as I should have felt disposed to give them, had they been destitute of a name. We have been since the 18th April among them, § and the greatest part of the time making every effort in our power to get clear of them; and although good fortune in making prizes has well rewarded us for the time we have spent, still I think it not unlikely we should have been equally successful on the coast of Peru, had we been enabled to return there.

§ In Chapter V and Chapter VI, Porter stated they arrived “on the morning of the 17th” [of April, 1813].

On the 8th, we passed to the northward of Abington Island, with a fresh breeze, and all the dull-sailing vessels in tow; but before I bid adieu to the Gallipagos, I shall offer a few hints to those who may hereafter visit them, either with pursuits similar to mine, or in search of whales.

In the first place, I would recommend to those who may come in search of whalers, to make Hood's Island and Charles' Island, both of which places I would advise them to search carefully for vessels and traces of their having been there; from thence they should proceed to Albemarle, looking into both Elizabeth and Banks' Bay; and, should they find none at either of these places, let them proceed in sight of Rock Rodondo, which lies off the north head of Albemarle. Here they will be sure of meeting with whalers, if they are about the Gallipagos; for this is the position they always attempt to keep, as whales most abound there. They, to be sure, get swept sometimes to the northward and westward, and sometimes, but less frequently, to the southward, by the rapid currents; but they make every exertion to get back again to their favourite spot; and although the British whalers have, during their wars with Spain, been frequently captured here by Spanish cruisers sent out for the purpose, and have, even in times of peace, been seized here by the Spaniards, on suspicion of having contraband goods, and sent in for adjudication, still they continue to resort here, and will, no doubt, so long as spermaceti whales are to be found; and I confidently believe, that in any future war between America and England, and indeed during the present war, an American cruiser may be certain of finding as many prizes as she can man, and all fine ships, well supplied, and equipped in a superior manner. Should she at any time need refreshments, none can be better than the tortoises, turtle, and fish, with which the islands and sea abounds; wood can be had in the greatest abundance; and at certain seasons, no doubt, water can be obtained without difficulty; and it is not unlikely that some of the islands furnish running streams, where ships may always get a supply; but they are but little known, and I have to regret that my pursuits did not admit of my giving them a more thorough examination. I have no doubt but the spring formerly mentioned at Charles' Island is a never-failing one, where water may at all times be had; the distance from the sea, to be sure, is great, and but few would attempt to water a ship of war from it; it may, however, be of use to those who are really suffering for water. Colnet and others mention streams of water at James' and Chatham Islands, but I am induced to believe, from what I have learnt from my prisoners, that they owe their existence to temporary rains, and are similar to the place I visited near the basin in Albemarle, where it is said water has been obtained formerly. Supplies from them, however, are too precarious to place any dependence on, and it is advisable for every vessel visiting the Gallipagos, to lay in a good stock of that necessary article, as they may not be so fortunate as myself in capturing vessels with a large quantity on board, which, although contained in the oily casks of a whale-ship, and from them, it may be supposed, derived no very agreeablee taste or smell, but, on the contrary, produced nausea when drunk; yet we considered it the most valuable part of our prize to us. It is not improbable, that, after heavy rains, vessels may be enabled to procure, as we did, a supply from the hollows of the rocks at Charles' Island; therefore it may not be unnecessary to describe the place, in order that it may be found with more ease.

At each end of the longest beach, or landing-place, opposite the anchorage, in Essex Bay, is a deep ravine, formed by the torrents of water which come, during the heavy rains, from the mountains, and are bedded with a hard and porous kind of rock or lava. We ascended each of those, to the distance of from one and a half to two miles, where we found small hollows, containing, some half a barrel, and others more, but seldom any that contained more than six or seven barrels; but, as incredible as it may appear to those who may hereafter visit this island, and see the difficulties of approaching this strange watering-place, we took from thence to the ship, in three days, about seventy barrels of water, besides a considerable quantity in kegs and jugs belonging to individuals, and considered as a private stock, amounting in all, perhaps, to ten ortwelvee barrels more.

It may also be necessary to describe more particularly the route to the spring, in order that it may be found by those who have not been there before. On the west part of the island, about six miles from Essex Bay, is a dark sandy beach, called by the whalers, by way of distinction, the Black Beach, opposite to which is an anchorage for vessels, though much exposed to the prevalent winds, and to a heavy swell which is setting in there, and I have reason to believe the bottom is foul, therefore do not consider it by any means a safe anchorage. From the aforesaid beach is a pathway, much trodden, which leads directly to the springs; and this pathway once found, there can be no difficulty in finding the springs, which are about three miles distant from the shore, and where an abundance of water was to be had when we were there. The road here is the best in the island, though in many places steep and difficult.

The hints already given, intended chiefly for those who may be in pursuit of whalers, may also be of some service to whalers themselves; but as my transactions about these island have put me in possession of much information respecting the best situations for catching spermaceti whales, the practices of those who follow that business, and the importance of the southern whale-fishery, I hope I may be pardoned for enlarging a little on that subject, for the advantage of those who are strangers to the Pacific Ocean.

First, as respects the best place for finding spermaceti whales, I should recommend cruising a short time off the island of Mocha; indeed some vessels have filled up their cargoes at this place, and even farther south; but, as they are here subject to a great deal of tempestuous weather, it is found too harassing for their people, and soon brings on the scurvy and other diseases. From thence angle the coast as far down as Conception, keeping the land in sight; and, after cruising here a short time, put into Conception for wood, water, and refreshments, if you have not already obtained them at Mocha. From thence work down along the coast of Chili and Peru, keeping at the distance of from twenty to eighty leagues from the land; make the land in the latitude of 14° or 15° south, and from thence down to the Lobos de Mar, keeping at the distance of from twenty to forty leagues from the land. Cruise close in with the Lobos Islands, as the spermaceti whales resort much to this place, and are frequently taken within two leagues of the [land]{shore}. From the Lobos Islands proceed to cruise in about the latitude of 5° south, angling down the coast, and inclining off shore towards the Gallipagos Islands, about the whole of which spermaceti whales may be found, but in the greatest abundance near Rock Rodondo. To go over the ground I have already marked out, and to examine it with care, will require from three to four months; and it should be so arranged, if possible, that your arrival among the Gallipagos should be in the month of May, June, or July. By this means you will escape the most tempestuous seasons of the coast of Chili. After cruising here two or three months, it is likely that it will be necessary to go into port, on account of the health of your people, as not even the tortoises of those islands will prevent their having the scurvy. Proceed now for Tumbez, on the coast of Peru; here you may, if necessary, renew your stock of water and wood, and lay in a supply of vegetables. From Tumbez stretch off to the southward and westward, keeping on that tack until you can make Juan Ferndandez or Massafuero; then stretch in for Mocha, and go over the same ground again, if you have not already filled your vessel, and it is likely you will not have done so, unless you have had extraordinary success.

On running down the coast of Chili and Peru, you will frequently observe streaks of coloured water, from ten to twenty leagues from the land, on the outer edge of which is considered good whaling ground, as the squid, their principal food, keep about those places; and it must be observed, that where soundings are to be had, spermaceti whales are not to be found.

Secondly, respecting the practices of those who follow this business, I shall only touch on the most important articles, as it is not to be supposed that a pursuit of this nature would be engaged in by those entirely unacquainted with it.

Fine vessels, of from two hundred and fifty to four hundred tons burthen, mounting from six to eighteen guns, and manned with twenty-five to thirty-five men, abundantly supplied with whaling geer [sic], casks of a superior quality to contain the oil, large copper tanks, iron boilers, skimmers, tubs, leather hose for starting the oil, spare whale-boats, frames, planks, &c. &c., together with three years supplies of provisions of every description, and of the best kind, as well as clothing for the seamen, and as much water as they can carry conveniently, are dispatched, at an expense of from fifty to seventy thousand dollars, on those voyages. The crews are entered on shares, and, at the expiration of the voyage, receive their proportion of the neat proceed thereof, agreeable to the contract they can make with their owners, the captain generally receiving one-eightieth part of the whole; mates, boat-steerers, harpooners, line-managers, oarsmen, ship-keepers, &c. &c., all being allowed their due proportions. The captains are also pursers for their ships, and make large profits on their supplies of slops, &c., and advances of money to their crews; and as they are allowed to sell on the coast small quantities of merchandise, to defray the expenses of refreshing their ships' companies, they derive also considerable profits therefrom; and, by means of presents or bribes to the governors and others, are enabled to smuggle on shore, and sell at great profits, considerable quantities of dry goods, which are frequently brought out in their oil-casks, for fear of search being made by the Spanish guarda-costas, and other picaroons which infest the coast; for the smugglingbusinesss is monopolized entirely by the governors, they allowing no other person whatever to have any concern in it, unless well paid for granting the privelege.

When the whale is killed, and brought alongside the ship, the separating the head from the body, baling the liquid oil or head matter from the case which contains it, and flinching the whale, or separating the blubber or thick fat from the carcase, as well as trying out the oil, cooling, straining, starting it below, coopering the casks, and frequently wetting and examining them, are all laborious operations, and which it is supposed every one who undertakes to conduct the voyage must be acquainted with, before he engages in the business. If the voyage is successful, every thing that can be made to contain oil is filled with it, even to the buoys of their anchors, jugs, cans, kids, and buckets; and it is no uncommon thing for the oil contained in such small articles to amount to a sum sufficient to pay all the disbursements of a vessel during a voyage of two years. On their arrival in England, their cargoes are worth from one hundred and fifty to two hundred thousand dollars, when oil is at a fair price, which is from one hundred to one hundred and ten pounds sterling the ton. With good management and proper industry, to which all are stimulated by the hopes of gain, these voyages generally turn out to great advantage, and are never known to fail, unless from shipwreck, or some other unavoidable disaster. Vessels which come into this sea for the purpose of taking spermaceti oil, never consider it an object to take other whales, although they are so abundant that they would be enabled, in a very short time, to fill up their cargoes with the oil; but it is, when taken, of but little value when compared with the spermaceti, and a full cargo in England would not defray the expenses of the outfits. To those unacquainted with the business, it seems a mystery how they are enabled to determine the class of whale before they are taken. An expert whaler will, however, by the manner of their spouting (at the greatest distance the spout can be seen), tell in an instant whether it be a hump-back, fin-back, black whale, right whale (or whale producing the whale-bone), or spermaceti whale. The latter is remarkable for throwing the water directly forward, and making a short bushy spout of but a few feet above the surface of the sea; whereas some of the others will throw it the height of thirty feet or more. Their motion is also different, being slow and regular, except when pursued; and their head is remarkable for its length, the nose for its bluntness, and the eye for its smallness, not being larger than that of an ox. The striking of them is attended with more danger than that of any other whale, and they are frequently known to attack and destroy both men and boats.

Thirdly, the fishery is considered by Great Britain of such national importance, that, in the year 1792, that government sent captain James Colnet, of the navy, in the ship Rattler, into the Pacific ocean, for the purpose of discovering such ports for the South Sea whale-fishers, who voyage around Cape Horn, as might afford them the necessary advantages of refreshments and security to refit. This voyage was planned in consequence of a memorial from the merchants of the city of London concerned in the South Sea fisheries, to the Board of Trade, and stated the calamitous situation of ships' crews employed in this trade, from the scurvy and other diseases incident to those who are obliged to keep the seas, from the want of that refreshment which is afforded by intermediate harbours.

The Spaniards about that time had admitted British vessels into their ports, for the purpose of refitting and refreshing, but under so many restrictions as almost to amount to a prohibition, in which it was expected to end. It therefore became an object of great importance to obtain such a situation as the British commerce then required, independent of the Spaniards, as it was expected it would in a great measure lessen their jealousy, and at the same time accomplish the wishes of the British merchants. With this object in view, captain Colnet sailed from England on the 4th January, 1793, and returned on the 1st November, 1794, after having doubled Cape Horn, running along the coast of Chili, Peru, and Mexico touching at the islands of St. Felix and St. Ambrosio, the Gallipagos, Cocos, the isles of Santo Berto, Rocca Partido, Soccoro, and Quibo, and cruising in the Gulf of California. In the course of this voyage, which occupied twenty-two months, it does not appear that he made either any new discoveries, or accomplished the object for which he was sent out. It was found necessary, therefore, to stimulate seamen to the undertaking voyages of such length and importance (where their sufferings were like to be so great), by every motive of interest, and to this end, on the 22d June, 1795, the British parliament passed an act for further encouraging and regulating the southern whale-fisheries, in which it is enacted, that for eight whale ships or vessels which shall sail from England on the last day of December of every year, for three years, and proceed into the Pacific, either by the way of the Streights of Magellan, or around Cape Horn, and shall not return in less then sixteen calendar months, nor be absent longer than two years, premiums shall be allowed as follows:

The ship bringing the greatest quantity of oil and head-matter, provided it exceeds thirty tons, is entitled to six hundred pounds: and each of the other seven ships (provided the oil and head-matter exceeds thirty tons) is entitled to five hundred pounds. And on the 25th May, 1811, it was enacted, that premiums should be paid for the three succeeding years to ten ships, under the conditions aforesaid.

It was also further enacted (with a view of extending the whale-fisheries, and giving encouragement to foreigners to establish themselves in England, and particularly Americans, who were supposed to be the most skilful in that pursuit), that forty families of foreigners, who had carried on that business, might establish themselves at the port of Milford, in the county of Pembroke, bringing with them twenty ships, with their crews, on giving bond, that they will reside in the kingdom of Great Britain during three years, and that they will not absent themselves during that time, without the consent of his majesty, except it be on a whaling-voyage. Those ships, on their first arrival, and afterwards, were allowed to import cargoes of oil, on paying the same duties as are paid on oil imported in British vessels, provided the owner should have taken the oath of allegiance to his majesty, in which case he enjoyed the same privileges and advantages as a British subject, and was entitle to all the bounties and premiums granted to any British ship employed in the whale-fishery, but subject to the same regulations and penalties. An enterprising quaker, named Benjamin Rotch, who had long conducted the whaling-business at Nantucket, embraced the liberal offers of the British government (the object of which was no doubt the destruction of our fisheries), and established himself, with several families, at the port of Milford, taking with him a number of ships, where he carried on business to great advantage. One of his ships (the Montezuma), with a British register, fell into my hands; and this, it seems, is the only misfortune which has been known to happen to any of his vessels, since he established himself in England.

It is supposed there are not less than sixty ships employed in the southern sperm whale-fishery, including those off New Zealand, Tiane, and about the Cape of Good Hope, which, with their outfits on leaving England, may be estimated at three millions, and on their arrival with their cargoes to twelve millions of dollars. These ships are bound, under certain penalties, to have on board an apprentice for every fifty tons burthen, who, as well as the rest of their crews, is protected from impressment into his majesty's service. They are all permitted to arm and sail without convoy, but on their return from their voyages always touch at St. Helena to join the homeward bound fleets, as their cargoes are then too valuable to trust to the paltry defense which they could make with their few men and guns.