« PředchozíPokračovat »
Susui lies next to Vanua-valavo, and between it and Munia. It is divided into three parts, of which the easternmost is low, and covered with thick shrubbery and groves of cocoa-nuts; the western portion rises in broken basaltic peaks, several hundred feet high, and is thickly wooded. On this island are several villages, and the number of inhabitants is one hundred and fifty. The ground is much better cultivated than is usual, the patches of taro and yams being kept remarkably neat. Good water may be obtained on the northwest side, running from the cliff. On the northwest side, Lieutenant-Commandant Ringgold discovered a beautiful harbour, secure from all winds, whence an extensive valley runs back, thickly covered with bananas, cocoa-nuts, &c., with a small stream running through it. They landed on the smooth sandy beach, accompanied by Tubou and Corodowdow, and took the road to the village, under the guidance of several of the natives. The soil of the plain consisted of a rich loam. After ascending some distance, they reached a settlement surrounded by large banana and other fruit trees. Passing on further, they arrived at a second plantation, pitched on an eminence, where they found the women all at work making native cloth. Quantities of fossil shells were lying about in every direction, and were seen exposed in the strata on the hill-sides. Sugar-cane was growing in great perfection.
The southern side of the island is in close proximity to the reef that surrounds the cluster.
Malatta is the next island. It lies near Susui, and is of smaller size than it. It is divided from Vanua-valavo by a narrow passage. The southern part of the latter island is called Lomo-lomo; its northern is called Avia; it has a good harbour on its east side, opposite Susui, protected by a small islet. On the west side of the island are two openings in the reef, a spacious harbour, and large stream of water.
There is a large village at the head of the bay. The population of
It has a few natives residing upon it.
On the southern side of the great reef, are two small uninhabited islands.
These Exploring Islands are well situated for the resort of vessels. The anchorages are very safe and easily reached. They afford an abundance of fruit and vegetables. There are five openings in the large reef, two at the east end, two on the west, and one on the north side; all safe. Vessels wishing to anchor on the western side must enter one of the western passages, as the near approach of Vanua-valavo to the large reef does not admit of a passage for vessels between them.
On the 8th, the Porpoise sailed from the Exploring Isles, and continued the surveys of Okimbo and Naitamba, with the surrounding reefs, both attached and separate. The former is made up of three small isles, enclosed in the same reef, four miles east and west, by three miles north and south, which are seven miles to the north of the northwest point of Vanua-valavo. The detached reefs are from one to four miles in length; they are awash and dangerous. Okimbo is desolate, and affords nothing but turtles in the season, and some biche de mar.
Naitamba is high and rugged ; it is of a circular form, one mile and a half in diameter. The reef does not extend beyond half a mile from it, and has no openings. It has few inhabitants.
The time having now arrived for our meeting at Somu-somu, Lieutenant-Commandant Ringgold bore up for that place, passing through Tasman's Straits, which lie between the islands of Kamia and Vuna. Both of these have many reefs projecting from their shores. This passage should not be attempted except in favourable weather, and the best time is during the morning hours, when the sun is to the eastward of the meridian. The currents are strong, and calms are very frequent under the highlands of Kamia and Lauthala. In passing through these straits, although they had a careful look-out at the masthead, they were close to a coral knoll before it was seen, and passed within a few feet of it. It had no more than eight feet of water on it. At noon they rounded the north point of Vuna, entering the Straits of Somu-somu, and at two o'clock P. M. they reached the anchorage off the town of Somu-somu.
Having finished all my business at Somu-somu on the 10th of June, at ten o'clock at night, I determined, notwithstanding the lateness of the hour, to get under way with the tender, in order that I might take up the survey of the south side of Vanua-levu, beginning at Tokanova Point, early the next morning. We accordingly weighed anchor, and stood out of the Straits of Somu-somu.
In rounding Goat Island we did not give it a sufficient berth, and grounded on a sunken patch of coral, an accident which hurt the feelings of Poor Tom the pilot more than it injured the tender. We remained on this shoal about an hour, and after getting off we drifted through the strait, and by daylight found ourselves in a position to begin the survey.
At an early hour, Lieutenant Case, Passed Midshipman Harrison, and myself, took our boats and entered the reef. Mr. Sinclair was left in the tender, with orders to follow the reef close aboard, and directions to enter Fawn Harbour ; but having in our progress along the reef discovered an opening, I made signal for the tender to enter.
This entrance appears to be unknown, and leads to a harbour which I called Baino, after a town that Tubou informed me was near by. It offers good anchorage, being protected by the coral reef, which extends off some distance. After the tender had fired guns for fixing our base line, a signal was made for her to get under way and proceed to Fawn Harbour, four miles to leeward, and anchor at sunset. We joined her there, having brought up our work. This has been called Fawn Harbour after the name of an American brig, which was wrecked on the reef. In attempting to beat out, she missed stays and went ashore.
Tubou and Corodowdow requested permission to go on shore and spend the night, which I readily gave them, and proposed to Tubou to accompany them. On consultation, they said they did not think it safe for me to do this, for the people were wild and savage, and " there were no gentlemen there.” The town is called Tuconreva; it is situated in a pretty cocoa-nut grove, and has a stream of water near it.
In the morning early we surveyed this small harbour; and the two chiefs having returned on board, we started on our surveys of the coast. From the appearance of Tubou and Corodowdow, I thought I could perceive the reason why they did not wish my company : they evidently had been carousing. The tender at the commencement gave us our base by sound, and we proceeded on our survey, leaving her to get under way, with orders to anchor at Savu-savu. We continued our work all day, and passed only one opening in the reef, which is near the small islet of Rativa, and offers little accommodation for any class of vessels. It is opposite the town of Nabouni. Lieutenant Case and myself stopped for an hour or two to obtain our latitude, on one of the small islets, where we found the natives building a canoe. They at first seemned uneasy at our presence, but soon became more familiar, and finally were disposed to take liberties. I had taken the precaution to keep two of the men under arms on guard, and would not permit the savages to approach near the boats.
In the afternoon I observed for chronometer sights on the small island of Rativa. Two miles beyond this, the reef joined the shore. Mr. Sinclair having conjectured that I had received erroneous information respecting the distance to Savu-savu, returned to this point to pick us up before dark, and finding an opening in the reef sufficient for small vessels, we took advantage of it to join the tender. I at first intended to anchor in this little harbour for the night; but when I reflected how necessary it was for me to return to Levuka, I determined, after getting on board, to take advantage of the strong breeze, and push direct for Ovolau, and at ten o'clock the next morning anchored at Levuka, where I found all well.
The Starling had sailed for Rewa with the rudder-pintles of the Peacock, which Lieutenant Underwood had succeeded in getting; and having heard that Captain Belcher was still at Rewa, I determined to visit it, for the double purpose of seeing if we could afford him any further facility, and getting observations for latitude and meridian distance, as well as effecting a comparison with my intensity needles.
Having transferred Lieutenant Case to the Vincennes, AssistantSurgeon Fox and Midshipman Henry joined the tender, and at noon we were again under way for Rewa, where we anchored at 9 P. M. I had the pleasure of finding Captain Belchër there. He was on the eve of sailing, having nearly completed the repairs of his ship, and was making his last series of observations. We had many agreeable topics to converse upon.
The Starling had sailed for Mbenga a few days before, whither the Sulphur was to go to join her. Captain Belcher sailed the next evening; and the following day the tender was hauled in close to the beach of the island of Nukalau, in order to protect the spot where we were observing throughout the day, and guard against surprise upon us by the chiefs of Rewa, which place was but a few miles from us The Rev. Mr. Hunt went to Rewa, and I had the pleasure of a visit from the Rev. Messrs. Cargill and Jagger, the missionaries.
I was not a little amused at Captain Belcher's account of the effect of the regulations as operating upon his vessel. The chiefs required him to pay port-charges, and in default thereof refused to give him any supplies. In drawing up the Rules and Regulations for the trade, it had never occurred to me to mention men-of-war as being free, feeling assured that they would all very readily give five times the amount of the articles required in presents. But it appears that Captain Belcher did not think proper to make the customary present, and the chiefs refused to allow any supplies to go to his vessel until he should comply with the rules. This incensed the captain, and caused him to take offence at the missionaries, who he supposed prevented the supplies from being sent. I well knew, however, that they were guiltless. He likewise broke out into strong invectives against the chiefs, declaring that it was impossible they could understand the rules, &c., although the whole proceeding showed they were not only conversant with their meaning, but also with the power they had in their hands of compelling the visiter to pay. The following native letter to the missionary, received a few days before from Tui Ndraketi, king of Rewa, by the Rev. Mr. Cargill, will show the character of this people, and the light in which they viewed the visit of H. B. M. ship Sulphur.
The king of Rewa, it is necessary to say, is a heathen, and has been much opposed to the missionaries making proselytes. The messenger presented Mr. Cargill with three reeds of different lengths, the longest of which signified that he thought the Feejee fashions and customs bad; the second, that it was wrong to injure white men, and that any Feejee man who did so hereafter should be punished; the third, that Captain Belcher was a wrongheaded and bad man; that he did not wish to see his ship there again, or have any thing to do with him, as he only came to make trouble, and look at the sun, and consequently they believed him to be a foolish fellow. The letter was to condole with the missionary, Mr. Cargill, whom he supposed the captain had maltreated.
After finishing my observations, we returned to the schooner, and a chief of Rewa brought us a present of pigs, for which he received an ample return. We saw but few natives, and they all behaved civilly.
Nukalau is a low, sandy island, well covered with wood. On the eastern side it has an extensive coral reef; but the western is clear, and may be approached closely. There is a pool of water on the island, but no one could water a ship there without the risk of causing sickness on board. During the night we were awakened by a great noise on deck, and some alarm was experienced. It proved, however, to be the chief's pigs that had jumped overboard, and the look-out endeavouring to take them; and before steps could be taken to recapture them, they had reached the island and effected their escape.
The Rev. Mr. Hunt here left us for Rewa, and in the morning, before daylight, we got under way, on our return to Ovolau. The day having proved calm, we were at sunset yet some distance from the island. I concluded, therefore, to lay under Ambatiki for the night, and by 10 A. M. on the 18th, we again anchored at Levuka.
The night of the 17th, during my absence at Rewa, there was a report that the observatory was to be attacked. Thirty men were, in consequence, landed by Lieutenant Carr, and double guards placed. The alarm arose from six war-canoes having anchored behind the point nearest to the ship, where they were concealed from view. The people of the small town of Vi Tonga left their town with all their moveable property and fled to the mountains, so apprehensive were they of an attack. Natives were seen during the night passing to and from the point, who were believed to be spies; nothing, however, occurred. In the morning these war-canoes made their appearance, when it was given out that it was Seru, with a war-party, on his way to attack Goro. His real intention, it was thought, was an attack upon the observatory, as he must have known that the usual vigilance