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had not been kept up there for the last week or ten days. His views, whatever they may have been, were, however, frustrated.
Lieutenant Underwood and Passed Midshipman Sandford, I found had returned from the survey of the islands of Angau, Nairai, and Ambatiki, to the eastward of Ovolau. David Whippy, the Maticum Ambau, had been sent with them as an interpreter, and to hold proper authority over the natives.
The first island which had occupied their attention, was Ambatiki. It is in shape nearly an equilateral triangle, surrounded by a reef, which offers no protection for vessels, and only passages for boats. The island is seven hundred and fifty feet high, of a dome shape, and contains five hundred inhabitants, all subject (or ygali) to Ambau. The people were civil, and gave them taro and yams in plenty, but would not part with any pigs. The reason given for this was, their fear of Tanoa. They live in villages and seem thriving. The island has very little wood on it. The reefs extend one-third of a mile from its shore.
Nairai was the next island visited by them. They first anchored on the west end of the Onoruga Reef, that extends off from the middle of Nairai, five miles in a westerly direction. There is a passage between this and the Mothea, or Eliza Reef, stretching off from the island 10wards the south; and there are also a good passage and harbour between the reef and the island. The Cobu Rock is a good mark for the former passage, when it bears east. It lies a mile south of the south point of Nairai.
The boats anchored in the harbour of Venemole, which may be known by two small islets, joined to Nairai by the reef, which forms a protection against the north winds; and vessels of any draught of water may anchor here in fifteen fathoms, with good bottom, from a quarter to half a mile from the shore. Somewhat farther to the southward is a three-fathom bank, which is the only danger that exists inside the reef towards the Cobu Rock or southwest passage. About a mile to the north is Venemole Bay. It is circular, with a narrow entrance, affording, seemingly, a good harbour; but, on examination, this entrance proved to be quite shallow. The bay had the appearance of having been an old crater; at low water, it may almost be said to become a lake. The officers were much struck with the beauty of the bay. It contains a village of the same name and also another, called Tulailai; but both are small. The natives were quite peaceable.
They anchored at night off the town of Toaloa, which lies in a bight at the north end of the island, and proved the largest town on
the island. Here David Whippy, acting as the “ Maticum Ambau," obtained for them all kinds of provisions, and, by his exertions all night in superintending the cooking, they were prevented from being delayed the next day. Whippy told me that this island held a medium between mbati and ygali to Ambau, being not exactly in that state of servitude that the last would imply, nor yet as free as the first.
Nairai is famous for its manufactures of mats, baskets, &c., a large trade in which is carried on throughout the group by exchanges.
The reef extends from the island four miles northward, and, where it ends, turns for a short distance to the westward. There are a few patches of rock on its western side, but none farther from it than half a mile. This is the reef on which the Flying-Fish struck on entering the group, and where she came near being lost. It does not join the island, but is connected with the Mothea, or Eliza Reef; and there is, between it and the island, a good ship channel, leading to the large bay of Corobamba. On the eastern side of this bay, there is safe anchorage, in thirteen fathoms water, with a white sandy bottom. The reef, extending as it does to the southward for a long distance, protects it from the sea in that direction. A broad passage leads from Corobamba to the southward, and then passes between Cobu and Nairai to the southwest pass through the reef. The only danger is a small coral patch, lying east-southeast, a mile from the south end of the island, and a mile north of Cobu Rock.
The town of Corobamba lies at the bottom of the bay, and is next in size to Toaloa. The Cobu Rock is a singular one. It is inaccessible on three sides, of volcanic formation, and is enclosed by the Mothea Reef, which here spreads to the width of about three miles, and extends four miles farther south, where it forms a rounded point. The eastern side is an unbroken reef, but the western is somewhat irregular and broken, with many openings for boats.
Lieutenant Underwood ascended the Cobu Rock, for the purpose of obtaining angles; and, after observing these with his instrument, turning to take the compass's bearing, discovered a remarkable effect of local attraction. So great was this, as to cause a deviation of thirteen and a quarter points ; Nairai, which was directly to the north, bearing, by compass, southeast-by-south one quarter south, while, what was quite remarkable, at the foot of the rock, near the water, the same compass gave the bearing north, agreeing with that taken from the opposite bearing on Point Musilana.
They next fixed the southern point of Mothea Reef. This has obtained the name of the Eliza Reef, from the loss of the brig of that name in 1809. On that occasion large amount of dollars fell into
the liands of the natives, who fished them up from the water. They were afterwards traded off to the whites, some of whom told me they yet occasionally saw a native wearing one as a kind of medal; but none fell under our notice. This accident brought the notorious rascal Charley Savage among them.
They now steered for the northeast point of Angau, whence the reef extends off one mile and a half, and has no deep water inside of it. It was, therefore, difficult to find a place where they could anchor the boats, but at last they found anchorage off the town of Vione, which is concealed from view by the mangrove bushes that line the shores of this island for several miles. Angau is much larger and higher than either Ambatiki or Nairai.
They found the natives of Angau much more shy than they were at either of the other islands. Whippy landed and chased one of them into the woods, before he could make him understand that he was the great Maticum Ambau of whom they had heard so much. On its becoming known to them, they became reconciled, and took the provisions on shore to cook them.
The reef continues round the east side, close to the island. There are several openings in it, but none that offer a fit place for a vessel to anchor. As the south side is approached, the reef extends off several miles, and the water upon it is so shoal that even the boats were forced to keep on the outside, and, for want of an opening, were obliged to anchor without the reef. In the morning they crossed the reef at high water, and soon got into deep water. The survey of the southern side proved there was safe anchorage, the holding-ground being good in twenty fathoms water in the bay, and opposite the town of Lakemba ; but during a southerly blow, a vessel would be much exposed to the wind and sea. There are several openings and clear passages through the reef on the northwest side, and clear water round to the south, but the bights to the north are full of coral patches.
There are villages every few miles around this island. It is subject to Ambau, and its inhabitants are considered much more savage than those of the other islands in its neighbourhood.
Having completed the surveys, agreeably to his instructions, Lieutenant Underwood returned by the way of Ambatiki, and reached Levuka after an absence of nine days. The men had been at their oars pulling almost constantly for the period of eight days, sleeping in the boats, and seldom allowed to land.
Mr. Knox and Colvocoressis were sent with the tender to complete the surveys of Wakaia, Mokungai, and Mekundranga. All three contain few inhabitants, and have been the scene of the horrid tragedies
often coinmitted by the stronger on the weak tribes of this group. There is a remarkable shelf formed near the centre of the island of Wakaia, which goes by the name of the Chief's or Chieftain's Leap. Near this there is now a small town, at which the former inhabitants for some time defended themselves from their savage enemies, but being hard pressed, and finding they must be taken, they followed their chief's example, threw themselves off the precipice, several hundred feet in height, and were dashed to pieces, to the number of a hundred and more.
Mokungai fell under the displeasure of the Ambau chiefs, and the whole population was exterminated after a bloody battle on the beach of its little harbour. Some of the whites witnessed this transaction, and bear testimony to the bloody scene, and the cannibal feasting for days after, even on those bodies that were far gone to decay. They are both, as I have before said, under the rule of the chief of Levuka.
Wakaia now contains only about thirty inhabitants, whilst Mokungai has onļy one or two families.
While the schooner was at Wakaia, a man by the name of Murray, swam on shore, assisted by one of the air-mattrasses to buoy him up and carry his clothes; it was two or three days before he was taken, which was done by surprising him in the village; he was found surrounded · by a number of the natives, who had not time to conceal themselves. All the villages, or koros, are very desirous to have a white man living with them, and are anxious to procure one if they can.
These islands are in sight from Ovolau, from which they are separated by a strait of ten miles in width. Although several miles apart, they are situated within the same reef. There are several openings leading through the reef near Wakaia, on its eastern side, but they cannot be recommended except for small vessels. I passed through one of them, but found it much blocked up with coral knolls. The entrance on the southwest side, leading to Flying-Fish Harbour, is quite narrow. On the west side of Mokungai there is also a small harbour, formed partly by reefs and partly by the little island of Mekundranga.
Finding, on examination, that there was a reef that had not been surveyed, orders were sent for the tender to return to Levuka, which she did on the following day, and on the next I sent her, with Lieutenant Underwood, to examine the reef off Angau. This reef is called Mumbolithe, and is situated fourteen miles to the south of Lobo Hill, the southeast point of Angau; it is oval in shape, and three-fourths of a mile in length; the sea breaks on it at all times.
In returning from this service, when off Nairai, they had a narrow.
escape from shipwreck, being nearly on the reef, in a dark night, before it was discovered. Any other vessel of the squadron but the Flying-Fish would probably have been lost; but her admirable qualities were well proved in the exploration of this dangerous and unknown group.
Tui Levuka had prepared an exhibition of the native club-dance, which we went on shore, by invitation, on the 24th, to witness. For this purpose, all the chiefs and people of the neighbouring town, under his authority were called upon to assist, and it required three or four days to complete the arrangements. As the day drew near, the bustle of preparation increased, and, previous do our landing, many people were seen running to and fro, to complete the arrangements. We were shown the way to the mbure, the platform or terrace of which, overlooking the whole scene, was assigned to us. The street, if so I may call it, widened and formed a square at the mbure, both sides being enclosed by stone walls; in front, at about thirty paces distance, were seated about one hundred men and boys: these we afterwards ascertained were the musicians. The stone walls in the vicinity were crowded by numbers of natives of both sexes, while beyond then an open space was apparently reserved, and surrounded by numbers of spectators.
We stood in expectation of the opening of the entertainment, and were amused to observe the anxiety manifested by the natives, both old and young. Suddenly we heard shouts of loud laughter in the