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HAVING completed such repairs as were necessary, the Vincennes, with the Porpoise and Flying-Fish in company, sailed from the Bay of Islands on the 6th April, for Tongataboo. I believe that no person in the squadron felt any regret at leaving New Zealand, for there was a want of all means of amusement, as well as of any objects in whose observation we were interested.
We had at first a light breeze from the northward and westward, followed by a calm, after which the wind came round to the southward. The weather was remarkably pleasant.
Cape Brett, according to our observations, is erroneously placed in the charts, which make it forty-two minutes too far to the eastward. We experienced after sailing a current of eight miles to the northward in twenty-four hours. On the 8th April, the current set northeast-bynorth, half a mile per hour.
On the 9th, the sea was very smooth, and the day calm; and we not only tried the current, but the distance below the surface at which a white object was visible. The sun's altitude was observed at the same time. These observations are recorded in Appendix I., and it will be seen that the rate of the current had increased considerably.
I was desirous to pass over the positions of some of the doubtful shoals, and to verify the longitude assigned to Sunday Island, (the Raoul of D'Entrecasteaux.) Had this not been my design, I should have preferred pursuing a more eastern route than I did, which I am satisfied would have shortened our passage to Tongataboo. I do not conceive, however, that there is any difficulty in reaching that island, or any risk of falling to the leeward of it at this season of the year, for westerly winds prevail in its neighbourhood. We had a light wind from northeast to east-northeast.
On the 11th April, we had reached latitude 29° S., longitude 178° W., and had on that day a most beautiful halo. It was formed at first of the segments of two great circles, the chords of which subtended an angle of 54°. These gradually united, and formed a circle around the sun, whose diameter measured 42°. Its appearances, at 2h 40m and at 3 P. M., are represented in the figure.
The parhelia were very distinct, and had spurs on their outer sides; two points in the vertical plane intersecting the sun, were very bright, but did not form parhelia ; the sun's altitude was 29° 20': no decided clouds were to be seen, but the whole sky was hazy, and the wind fresh from the northeast. About two hours after this phenomenon, much lightning occurred, with torrents of rain, but no thunder, and this continued throughout the night. The barometer stood at 29.99 in
thermometer 71° 75'. The weather by six in the morning had cleared and we had the wind light from the westward. The clouds were seen flying rapidly from the northeast.
On the 13th the wind still continued from the southward and westward, but light clouds were still flying from east-northeast, and the sea was rough and uncomfortable. We had passed over the place assigned to the Rosetta Shoal, and I believe I may safely state it does not exist in that place.
On the 14th we made Sunday Island, the Raoul of D'Entrecasteaux. It is high and rugged, and had every appearance of being volcanic; the rocks rise like basaltic columns. The island affords no anchorage, and the wind being light, I was not able to get near enough to send a boat to land and procure specimens; the sea, also, was very rough. Sunday Island, according to our observations, lies in latitude 29° 12' S., and longitude 178° 15' W., which agrees well with its established position; it is said to be inhabited by a few white men, and some of the officers reported that they saw smoke.
On the 15th, we fell in with the Tobacco Plant, American whaler, Swain, master, that left the United States about the same time we did. She had not been very successful. A singular circumstance is connected with this ship during her cruise: H. B. M. ship Herald, Captain Nias, whom we met in Sydney, picked up, several months since, off Java Head, four hundred miles from land, a whale-boat, with six men, who reported to Captain Nias that they had left the ship Tobacco Plant, which had been burnt at sea. They were taken on board the Herald, most kindly treated, brought and landed in New South Wales. The crew of the Herald presented them with £100, and Captain Nias allowed them to sell their boat; besides all this, they were amply supplied with clothes. This report of the loss of the ship seemed placed beyond contradiction, and to meet her afterwards caused us great surprise. A day or two after we had lost sight of the ship, a man whom I had taken on board as a distressed .seaman, confessed that he had deserted from her, and also informed us that the six men had left the ship at sea in an open boat, in consequence of the ill treatment they had received from the captain, and the short allowance of provisions on board. The manner in which they carried on their deception upon Captain Nias, his officers, and crew, was remarkable, and shows how much commiseration all classes of men feel for those in distress, ana how unwilling they are to scrutinize a tale of sorrow, when they have the apparent evidence before them of its truth. These men were upwards of twenty days on board the Herald, and yet I was told that