The maritime commerce of France, being almost annihilated by the revolution, by the wars, and by the mistakes which have survived it, was, at the time of the second restoration, confined within the narrow limits where an implacable rivalry had circumscribed it; and, to aggravate its state of exhaustion, a huge quantity of currency was periodically taken from us, in accordance with the late treaties. Under such circumstances, to undertake an enterprise useful to France was to seek new markets for the national industry; to attempt, by means of our own products, to revive and to nourish our former relations with a country whose productions Europe has not procured, until these latter times, without sacrificing a considerable portion of the precious metals furnished by the New World.
Monsieur Balguerie Junior, of Bordeaux, a merchant whose fortune and honor have withstood the vicissitudes of the revolutions, has acquired double title to the public esteem and gratitude, by fitting out alone, with his own money and at great expense, an expedition to the South Sea and to the Northwest Coast of America. His goal was to acquire objects well in demand in China, and of which the product was to be converted into the merchandise of this country consumed in France, and with which our markets might thus be supplied without the exportation of species, and by the useful employment of the products of our soil and of French industry.
Employed at Bordeaux in May 1816, for the fitting out of the frigate l'Antigone, the friendship of a superior officer in the Royal Navy, and whom I have the honor to serve, designated me to Monsieur Balguerie as qualified to direct the operation he was contemplating. There was no appearance that l'Antigone, fitted out at Bordeaux as only a sea vessel, and for the small crossing to Rochefort, must be equipped to fight a campaign: the state of the peace and the present circumstances were only offering me a hope which was very far from being able to satisfy my expectations aboard the King's vessels, my fondness for the sea and the need I had to be useful to my country. But, on the other side, a voyage around the world had always been in my thoughts and in my plans, even before I entered the Navy; and the expedition was, as much by its goal of high utility as by its scale, outside of the class of purely commercial navigations. The proposal made to me therefore could not fail to be agreeable to me: nevertheless I accepted it only after warning Monsieur Balguerie of the weakness of my knowledge in terms of commerce, having on this important matter only general notions any one likes to have on everything which is connected with the interests of one's country.
The fitting out of the full-rigged ship Le Bordelais, two hundred tons, chosen for this expedition, took place during the summer, and nothing was neglected to render it fit for the voyage. It was provided with spare stores necessary for a two-year campaign, with a long boat as large as could be put on board, with two whale boats, one of which was in pieces, and also with a jolly boat. It was armed with two cannons (four-pounders) and six caronades (eight-pounders), with sufficient numbers of weapons of all kinds for the crew and for the boats. We paid the most scrupulous attention in the the choice and in the preparation of the provisions; finally, among the instruments of navigation with which Le Bordelais was equipped, we had an excellent chronometer, by Breguet, nº 172.
Vice-Admiral de Rosily, director of the Marine depot, had the kindness to send me several books and maps, among which were the map of the Northwest Coast of America and Vancouver's Voyage.
The crew consisted of thirty-four men, including the officers, who were Messieurs Foucault, Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, Briole and Salis, and the surgeon, Monsieur Vimont. We also had on board a foreign sailor, whose name was Sicpky, who knew some of the Great Ocean.
Le Bordelais unmoored from Bordeaux on the 11th of October 1816; I joined it at Pauillac on the 16th, and the next day we dropped anchor in the roadstead of Verdon. On Saturday the 19th, the winds, being passed to the Northeast, being favorable, and with the appearance of continuing, at half past five in the morning, I had the ship leave short in order to get underway and to put to sea. The chain which served as cable broke at 7 fathoms. I was deeply pained by this accident, which, at the beginning of my voyage, gave me the sensation of an important loss since the chain, above all, would have been to me of the greatest usefulness in the multiple anchorages that I was expected to make in waters where I must encounter rocky sea-bottoms, and where we see too often the natives of a country cut the moorings of the ships anchored on their shores. The season being already advanced, I did not want to add to the delays that we had already endured, by awaiting from Bordeaux a cable and an anchor as a replacement. Desiring therefore to take to sea as soon as possible, at half past nine we were out of the shoals. I wrote to Monsieur Balguerie by means of the pilot, to inform him of what had happened to me and the motives which had decided me to continue the voyage.
At noon, the point of departure was determined by the height of the sun and the bearing of Cordouan Tower, which was still in view from astern.
On the 20th [October 1816.]- The hopes I had conceived on the duration of the favorable wind were not late to be deceived: it kept veering all night and the weather became rainy. The darkness hid from us l'Eglantine, a ship destined for Manila, which had left Bordeaux at the same time and which at sunset was more than two leagues ahead. The next day we did not see this vessel anymore: it was commanded by Monsieur Alexandre Guérin, sub-lieutenant, my friend. We had promised to ourselves to journey together to the Tropic of Cancer, if our ships' paces were not too unequal. A leak had obliged him to sail to La Coruña, as I have learned since.
In the morning, we prescribed to the crew the measures of cleanliness that the nature of the voyage rendered necessary. These two days, we had very stiff breezes and a hard sea, which allowed us to judge the ship. I saw with satisfaction that it behaved very well, tired little, and carried the sails superbly; further, it was very solid, and had a good pace for a ship of its class.
On the 22th.- The winds which varied towards the Northwest not allowing us to pass Ortegal by tacking, we were in view of the Spanish land at the height of Vares Cape.
On the 24th to the 29th. - On the 24th, we took our point of departure from Land's End Cape; but strong winds from the Southwest allowed us to sail Southward only on the 29th.
On the 2nd and 3rd of November.- On the 2nd of November, we passed by night the shoals, at the North of Porto Santo, letting them at six leagues on the West, according to the chronometer. The following day, we were in sight of Porto Santo and of Madeira. We were obliged to pass East of theses islands, where we had a squall during which we encountered at very close range a vessel between two waters, of which the masts alone were in view.
The erratic winds obliged us to sail Northward and to come back into view of the Desert Islands and of Porto Santo. The breeze was variable and usually accompanied by very overcast skies and squalls. The slight exactitude of the small number of observations that we were able to make, and the neighborhood of the Desert and Salvage Islands, obliged us to be on the qui vive for several days.
On the 7th and 8th.- Having reached, according to our dead reckoning the median parallel between the Savage Islands and Palma, I sailed Westward all night long, and the following morning we saw this island in the South at four leagues' distance. The trade-winds began to make themselves felt when we saw this island, which we passed on the West.
On the 15th.- At eight in the evening, we were in view of the fires on the Northwest Coast of San-Antonio, at the distance of two leagues.The lusterless horizon that we begin to find in these waters, had not allowed me to see by daylight any part of this island, which is rather elevated. We passed leeward, where we had small varieties from the West.
On the 16th.- My intentions were to take bearings of Brava, in order to multiply the occasions of verifying the proper functioning of the chronometer; but I was impeded in the execution of this project by the winds and the currents. I renounced it as less pain because the regularity of the functioning of this instrument, such as it has been determined in Bordeaux, by Mr Ducum, hydrographer of great merit, had just been confirmed in the most satisfying manner by the observations made in view of Porto-Santo, Palma and San-Antonio. Moreover, the winds which occasioned this little annoyance compensated me plentifully for it, allowing me to sail more to the South.
On the 20th to the 28th.- After having passed Palma, the breeze shifted back to the North-East; but while becoming brisker, it shifted East, from which it varied almost equally two quarters. The weather, although thick and heavy, was always clear and the barometer was almost stationary at change; the thermometer climbed to 26 deg. At 8 deg. N. and 27 deg. 35 min. W., we started to experience the the calms, the black squalls without strength, the ordinary rains and thunderstorms while approaching the line. The winds usually blew from the Southeast, with some variations. The Southeast trade-wind began at O deg. 40 min. N. and 31 deg. 35 min. W. and soon became forceful. We had been carried 50 min. to the North and 32 min. to the West in seven days.
On the 29th.- Before sunrise, we passed Penedo Rock, at 9 leagues West. We saw very few birds in the area. For some time the clouds presented a new aspect; from the black they had been when we entered the the calms area, they had become grey-white and accumulated in masses as big as cotton balls in the wind of Ile de France. I sometimes noticed a rough sea from the Northeast or from the Southwest, although the winds did not blow from these directions. In the evening of the same day we crossed the equatorial line for the first time, by 32 deg. 40 min. W.
On the 13th.- We communicated with the Defensor, from Lisbon, going to San Salvador. Francisco Antoni, the captain, offered his services in the most cordial manner; I took advantage of it to write to my father and to Monsieur Balguerie in the care of the French Consul at San Salvador.
On the 1st of December.- We doubled Fernando de Noronha, 30 miles East, without having tried the strong currents we can often find in these areas.
On the 2nd.- We stopped with the wind on the starboard side, to plug small leaks from three nail holes that we had forgotten to fill.
From this point, I sailed South-Southeast, doubling Cape Saint Augustin, at 25 leagues in the distance.
The route, almost parallel to the bearing of this point and of the Frio Cape, was, with the help of the observations, as direct as the winds allowed it.
On the 3rd.- By crossing the line, we have found the Southeast winds fresher, more constant in force and in direction than in the North. After having passed the Saint Augustin Cape, we arrived in the Northeast winds area which reigned on the shore of Brazil up to 60 leagues in the open sea. Shortly thereafter, the route leading us on the edge of this band, the breeze passed again at the Southeast via the Northwest and the Southwest. It made this revolution on several occasions, always in the same direction, and conserving enough strength to provide 40 to 60 leagues per day. The winds ranging from North to Northeast were always the freshest, and those from South to West were the weakest.
On the 4th.- We distinguished a lunar eclipse, but the circumstances were not favorable for the observation.
With the exception of its rapidity, the journey from the line offered few noticeable incidents. We saw far fewer birds and fish than usual.
Among these latter the sole one that we caught was a dolphin, the most beautiful that I have ever seen.
Although at a distance of more than 60 leagues from the Brazil shore, the Western squalls carried to us quite often butterflies of different shapes, colors and sizes. The weather was generally nice, although often overcast and humid at night.The heat was from 18 to 20 deg.. The barometer, fixed for a long time at 28 p. North of the line, varied from 28 p. 3 lig. to 27 p. 10 lig.
On the 10th.- From the Cape Frio, near which we doubled at 50 leagues, I took the direction of South-Southeast 1/3 West, moving myself away from the shore in order to avoid the River Plate currents.
We took advantage of the good weather to tighten the shrouds and to bend a set of new sails, and to arrange everything in preparation for the bad weather that we must find in the area of the Magellanic Lands.
At the 14th deg., the mists started to appear first slightly dense; the sea was sometimes discolored and often covered with fry of whales. We saw the first whale at 34 deg., as well as the first albatrosses. We found many algae, at first short and forming grapes, and more Southerly, of considerable length and in the class of seawrack.
In the the calms that we found after having cut the Southern tropic, the jolly boat was put into the sea several times to hunt for tortoises which appeared in great number from the 30th to 35th S. We took only three of them, weighing together 200 hundred pounds. One was green and the other two of the species called couane.
We made some tests to determine the current at 30 deg. S. and 46 deg. W. I found it was heading to the Northeast at a speed of only 1/3 of a mile per hour. At 40 deg. S. and 56 deg. W., it seemed not to be moving; at 48 deg. S. and 63 W., the current carried us to East-Northeast by only 1/4 mile.
On the 19th.- The observations putting me near the sandbank seen by Marquez, in front of the mouth of the River Plate, at 33 deg. 50 min. S. and 48 deg. 32 min. W., I sailed Westward on a more Northern parallel for several hours during the night. By crossing the mouth of the River Plate, at 140 leagues in the open sea, we experienced a compass error of 55 min. N. and 70 min. W., at 36 deg. 15 min., in two days. I could not realize the first direction, almost diametrically opposed to that of the river's course, the distance from which we were not allowing us to impute it to a counter-current.
On the 24th.- At 40 deg. S. and 56 deg. W. we found ourselves in the the calms in a sea discolored, greenish and covered with seaweed. We sounded, without finding bottom, at 120 fathoms. That night the force of the winds from the Northwest was enough to have all the sails lowered except the main ones: considering this whipping of the wind as a forecast of rough weather, we lightened the top of the masts from the weight of the riggings of all the minor sails. In effect, we were not long in needing to take in reefs.
On the 26th.- At 47 deg. S. and 61 deg. W., I headed more West on the route in order to sound on the Patagonians' Coast, and to ensure the passage through the Strait of Lemaire, with the Western winds which reigned in these waters.
On the 31st.- At 49 deg, 3 min. S. and 66 deg. 30 min. W., we had the bottom at 72 fathoms, 30 leagues from the shore, with grey and fine sand; I steered at South-Southwest 1/2 W., heading to Cape Sainte Ines at Tierra del Fuego.
On the 1st of January .- The day was magnificent, and I have never seen in any climate one that excelled it in the purity of the atmosphere and the mildness of the temperature. The sea, peaceful like a pool, was rippled slightly by a light Northeastern breeze, which made us speed at 3 or 4 knots, among troops of seals and flocks of penguins and albatrosses which fled only when they were under the bowsprit. The thermometer indicated 60 deg. At noon we were at 5O deg. 13 min. S., at 40 leagues from the Patagonians' Coast and at 35 leagues from the Malvinas Islands. This proximity reminding me that France had once a settlement there which promised considerable growth, I wished to see these islands occupied once again, which could not give, to tell the truth, extremely rich products, but where the agriculture could employ many hands. The interests which one century ago used the principle of domination of the new continent to solicit the evacuation of a position adjacent to it, cannot exist any longer for Spain, on the eve of being excluded from Southern America. As for the power which embraces the world with its colonies and its fleets, its jealousy alone could look unfavorably on the occupation of this savage land. This colony could be useful for fisheries; it could serve us a deportation place: it would be an outlet for our overabundant population; lastly, we would have here, at least, experience in our favor.
The next day, the breeze changed to the West, the sky became overcast, and during the night, the wind was strong enough to take in the reefs. These two days, sounding gave 70 to 84 fathoms, little black and yellow gravel, then fine sand, yellow and white; and the last, the evening of the 2nd, 72 fathoms, fine sand, pebbles, and broken corral.
On the 3rd.- At half past two in the morning, the man at the bow announced land ahead. This false warning obliged us to take Northwatch: we swept round almost immediately, recognizing our mistake.
At daybreak, the clouds had accumulated in the South; at nine, we were in view of Tierra del Fuego to the South at a distance of six leagues. By standing in for the coast, its bearing and its configuration made me recognize the part located between the capes Sainte-Ines and Saint-Paul. At noon, we surveyed these points at Southwest 1/4 W., and at South-Southeast, at the distance of three leagues.Two heights of the upper edge and two of the lower edge of the sun, which was hazy, gave 54 deg. 6 min. S., and 69 deg. 10 min. W. .The bearings put us at 54 deg. 1 min. S., and 69 deg. 10 min. W. The difference since San Antonio Islands, last seen land, was 170 min. N. and 125 min. W. in 48 days. The proportion has been about the same since the line.
The Coast, in this region, is steep and still in many places of unequal height and bordered with hills, of which many have their feet in the sea, which break at diverse points. The interior is very mountainous. The most elevated summits were snow-covered. We saw snow also in some valleys, while other valleys offered quite beautiful vegetation. We did not see any appearance of shoals.
I continued to run along the coast at a distance of three or four leagues. A good fresh wind was blowing from the West; the sky was overcast; the swelling sea with troughs and peaks pushed us at the stern, and we doubled quickly at the rate of seven knots. At three, the sky beginning to clear up, we noticed at the bow considerable lands, bristling with pyramidal mountains, of which the strange jagged peaks presented the most savage aspect. They extended on the starboard side and blended with those we had on a beam. These lands seemed at first to form a huge bay, terminated on the West side by a low point which we were near, and beyond which they extended afar. Believing we had only run a dozen leagues since noon, I could not make my supposed condition coincide with the bearing and the distance of these new discoveries, which I could not have failed to recognize at the Staten Islands, had I not believed ten leagues too far off to see it. I was relieved of this uncertainty at four, when these distant lands, detaching themselves from those we had on the beam, left an open passage which could be none other than the Strait of Lemaire.
I can only attribute to the influence of the currents the error in which I found myself for some time regarding my position; for I cannot have committed so considerable a one in my position at noon, according to the almost exact agreement of the bearing and the height.
With the exception of the comparatively insignificant error in the bearings, from my observations, I reckon that we have made 18 leagues in four hours. From this distance, I attribute eight to the current, having made at most 10 knots by the log. This difference, as extraordinary as it first appears, will not astonish those who know the speed that the currents may reach, when the strength of the tide is augmented by the action of the fresh wind, continuing, for a distance of more than 40 leagues, along a coast without any portions jutting out.
On the 4th.- The weather, although overcast, being without bad signs, I decided to attempt doubling the passage of the Strait of Lemaire during the night. At five, I rounded the Cape Saint-Vincent to enter the canal; but at the entrance, the breeze, already weak, fell almost to the the calms while shifting at the South, and during some times I could only advance with the help of the tide, which was at that moment on this side. Evening was beautiful and the sea was almost calm with the exception of some eddies which were a little violent. We had only to desire a few hours of favorable wind to enable us to double this famous passage. We ran towards States' Island; the breeze, having shifted at the Southeast, made us hope to double the Cape by tacking; but at midnight the wind changed, and we spent the rest of the night as well as the morning maneuvering to enter the strait, among very frequent variations of winds and of currents which were apparent by the agitating waters. We noticed on the Western coast several fires that the natives had lighted according to their custom when they see vessels; but none of their boats appeared. We saw but one whale in the strait that La Pérouse saw full of these fish.
At half past noon, being in the calms at one league from the South coast of Good Success Bay, toward which the current bore us, Monsieur Foucault was sent to survey the anchorage. The breeze having been rising from approximately the Northwest, we made one tack in front of the Bay while firing the cannon. Monsieur Foucault having returned at three, we increased our pace to go out of the strait by running at two miles along the shore between the bay and the cape of Good Success. It is elevated, usually steep, and safe. This entire section is covered by hills, or rather by sharp peaks, most of the sides which are carved as precipices. One of these is remarkable mainly because its sides are cut in sharp angles, and form an indented edge representing the vague picture of a saw. We could see in many places traces of recent rock slides. The Bell Mountain (La Campana) was sometimes visible among the hills above which it raises its head wrapped in clouds. At five we were out of the canal , and steered to double the Cape Horn.
In the evening, we were in view of the New Island, and successively of the other small islands scattered along the Southeastern coast of Tierra del Fuego. The current, of which the effect was sensible, violently pushed East.
On the 5th.- A good, unequal and variable wind kept coming from the Northwest, with rainy weather and banks of fog. The breeze fell at around four, and with it the hope that it had made us conceive to double Cape Horn on the first attempt. At six, this promontory appeared at 6 leagues in the Southwest, rising from the sea in the form of a huge irregular and truncated pyramid. Soon after the breeze passing at the Southwest, we beat windward by increasing our speed. Our attempts were completely unsuccessful and I admitted that the current pushed us constantly to the Northeast, independently from the tides, which probably have an influence on their force but not on their direction. This is the natural effect of the Western winds which reign year round, with the exception of several intervals. The calm having returned after noon, the ship was driven toward the Barnavelt rocks; we were obliged to have it towed by the embarkations to hold it far from the shoals. It was borne toward the rocks twice, and the second time at a distance which was short enough for us to be able to distinguish the shoals in spite of the darkness of the night. Finally the breeze rose from the South-Southwest at ten, and enabled us to escape from this dangerous archipelago. Several hours later, a variation tempted me to double Cape Horn, tacking on the port side; but I renounced it soon when, while approaching, I perceived the same cape from the bow. I ran, hauling aft, South for three days, using all the sails that the wind allowed, which frequently obliged us to take in all the reefs. The weather was sombre, foggy, with heavy storms and much rain; the sea was enormous but regular. The thermometer did not fall below 4 deg.
On the 9th to 11th.- The winds tracked to the Southeast while weakening, we heaved short North at four by 59 deg. 40 min. The second day we were in view of the Diego-Ramirez Islands leeward. After some hours of the calms, during which the current helped us to approach these islands, the wind rose from the Southeast and we sailed off the wind. This favorable variation which lasted 45 hours, carried us 80 leagues to the East. Afterwards the wind shifted at the Northeast, and blew with force.
On the 14th.- We met a whaling ship sailing East-Southeast; he hoisted the English flag: we hoisted ours. In the evening the breeze fell. In less than an hour, we took 13 albatrosses, among which several were very large; one had a wing span of 10 feet.
On the 15th to the 21st.- This lull did not last long, and was followed by a series of gusts of wind in succession with so much strength, during the seven following days, that we could only sail with the storm sails. The weather was almost always sombre and threatening, with furious squalls, accompanied by rain, and hail, and sometimes thunder. The sea rose into mountains, forming swells of huge dimensions, but rather uniform, which rendered them less dangerous, although they broke in lengths triple to that of the length of the ship. The water was churning up as the strong gales approached. The winds, constantly coming from the West, were comparatively moderate when they turned to the South.
In this monstrous sea which assailed it without ceasing, and covered it often, Le Bordelais behaved in an admirable manner; it did not take on water, and had less leeway than any other vessel I have ever seen. Thanks to these excellent qualities and to the precautions we had taken in order to hold and lighten the masts, we did not sustain any damage in this important part. We were equally happy with the sails, although between the desire to take advantage of favorable circumstances and the necessity to yield the force of the winds, we were obliged to maneuver continuously to augment or shorten the sails. We had only the port side washboard sheared: the ribbon of the hull was broken by a sea blast.
At the beginning of one of these tempests, the armorer was taken by a wave while hauling the foresail taut; the sheet saved him.
The spindrifts, which, without mentioning the blasts of the sea, covered the ship at every moment, combined with the rain and the fog, wetted everything on the deck; it was impossible to dry clothes for several days in a row. But the crew were restored by good and warm food, the installation of the iron kitchen that I had had prepared in Bordeaux, allowing us to cook amidst the most stormy weather. The experience gave me the opportunity to congratulate myself for having substituted trisails for the staysails and for the foresail; these new sails, entirely borne by the low masts, consequently tire infinitely less; they give much more furrow. Especially that of the bow, which has the biggest surface, fits with every pace with the exception of the backward wind; with the means of reefs, it can be employed as a heave sail. The best of this kind for Le Bordelais was the stern trisail.
In the course of this stormy weather, the currents bearing constantly towards Tierra del Fuego, I always tacked so as to keep as far from it as possible: yet even with this precaution and the repeated heaves made us come 28 leagues to leeward of Black Cape and 24 leagues of Cape Pilares.
On the 22nd.- We doubled the parallel of this promontory, Western extremity of the Strait of Magellan, having thus rounded Tierra del Fuego, on the eighteenth day since we made land at Cape Saint Ines, and the sixteenth after our exit from the Strait of Lemaire.
According to the chronometer, we had been carried since that time a distance of 105 miles to the North, 47 deg. E., according to our reckoning, and 71 miles to the North, 51 deg. E., from the Diego-Ramirez Islands.
We had constantly sea oceanic birds, most of them petrels of every species; porpoises with a white diamond-shaped mark on their backs, and some whales, were the sole fish which appeared in this part of our journey.
Today almost all vessels bound for the South Sea pass to the East of the Malvinas Islands and Staten Islands, without approaching them. When, at this latitude, they meet with Westerly winds which are so frequent in these waters, they run to the South towards 60 degrees, or thereabouts; there they found variations which permit them to raise to the Northwest.
Without pretending to criticize a practice adopted by most navigators, I will observe that, by passing through he Strait of Lemaire, we sail 20 leagues farther West than those who round the States' Land, an advantage which is not without importance in seas where the great difficulty is to proceed in that direction. If it is difficult to clear the passage, and if we do not wish to wait in the shelter of Tierra del Fuego for favorable winds, which are most common, at the very worst we can double Cape Saint John, Eastern extremity of the States' Island; this require only a few hours.
The navigation around the Magellanic lands has been made for a long time at all seasons, and if it is more painful for the crew in winter than in summer, because of the colds and the long nights, we have the advantage of finding Eastern variations of more frequency and of longer duration than in summer. On the whole, this crossing does not present any difficulties which a good vessel must fear to overcome. We are surprised that the disasters of the Anson and Pizarro fleets were sufficient to give credit to a contrary opinion in the middle of the last century, when we remember that at its beginning, during the war of the Spanish succession, many of our vessels doubled Cape Horn annually. It is still more surprising when we compare the state of nautical science at this time with what it was at the time of Columbus, Gama, and Magellan. We may add that the important progress it has since made, has freed modern navigation from so many shoals and gives so many means to overcome the difficulties which still remain that, in that respect, as well as for the importance of the discoveries, one cannot draw a parallel between the works of the Argonauts of the 15th and 16th centuries, and those of the most famous sailors of these latter times, without excepting even Cook himself.
On the 23rd.- Not having to fear such strong currents, I directed to North 1/4 Northwest to leave these tempestuous areas: but we had to endure yet again a squall that, happily, calmed itself after several hours. The winds shifted at the South West, and we took direct route for Chile.
The sky cleared and the temperature became milder as we proceeded Northward. We were able to open the hatchways, to air and dry out the ship, to caulk the embarkations, and perform the operations necessary for landing. The hope of next putting into port made us forget the hardships and the annoyances we had endured, as they had left no traces on the health of the crew. The only sick person on board was daily recovering: it was the fruit and the reward of the cares we have taken toward this important object, and the preservatives measures of Monsieur Vimont: warm and dry clothes as much as possible, cleanliness, frequent fumigations, varied food and drink, and antiscorbutics; all the available means had been employed. We admit that the crews of the English and American whalers, which neglect most of these precautions, with the exception of cleanliness, and which consume three times as much salted foods as we do, are nevertheless robust and healthy; but they are comprised of men inured to fatigue, which was not the case with the men under my command.
On the 31st.- At 25 leagues West of Santa-Maria Island, we caught sight of two large three-masted vessels, which seemed to be warships with covered batteries. We passed into their waters at three or four miles of distance. I later learned that these vessels were cruising Spanish frigates.
On the 1st of February.- The sea, discolored since the day before, was covered with seaweed and albatrosses: one can also see on the water's surface many flat and white fish, circular shaped, having around one fathom diameter, with a very protruding dorsal fin. The whalers call this species sunfish, because they are hardly ever seen without the sun.
At noon we spotted the Coast of Chile. At four, it appeared more distinctly in view; the mountains stood out one from the other and presented three huge, superimposed masses, forming an immense amphitheater. At seven, we were at two leagues off Saint-Antonio harbor. A very fresh South wind was blowing. The fear of the currents of which Frézier speaks obliged me to put out to sea, in order not to be carried leeward of Valparaiso during the night, from which we were only 10 leagues distant.
On the 2nd.- At midnight, we neared the land. The current not being appreciable, at daylight we found ourselves in approximately the same position as the day before. The wind fell to dead calm, and in spite of everything we could do, the swell drove us to one mile from Piedra-Blanca, a rock very remarkable for its mass and its whiteness, around which there is no bottom. We spent the greatest part of the morning maneuvering, with the help of our embarkations, to draw ourselves away from this disagreeable situation.
The sea was full of whales, of which we remarked the spouts of water in a hundred places at the same time like as many smoke columns. The the calms having lasted until evening, and the swell beating into shore, I anchored in Tunquen Cove, at eight, at 36 fathoms, on a bottom of rock which would have cut the cable if had we not taken the precaution of using a second chain of 16 fathoms adjusted to the anchor. It was calm all the night, which was very beautiful. We had a fire on the top of the main mast until ten; one appeared on the beach to the Southeast, but no embarkation came.
On the 3rd.- We raised anchor very early. The chain was still outside of the haswsehole when the breeze, which until then had been coming very gently from the West, suddenly became fresh, and in few minutes jumped three or four times between North and Northwest. These rapid variations necessitates successive changes in the maneuvers, during which the ship was carried to the inside of the cove, where can be found reefs that we hugged within the distance of one cable length, by turning backwind to catch the breeze from the Northwest, which took us to the open sea. It fell soon after this, and the squalls from the West which succeeded it, accompanied by fog , allowed us to only reach Valparaiso two days after.
On the 5th.- At one in the afternoon the fog disappeared, and we recognized successively the Northern point of the bay and that of Los Angeles, which forms the Western extremity.
At four, one embarkation under Spanish colors came to board with the customs director, the captain of the port and the pilot. Then we headed to the roadstead with the help of the embarkations and at the same time as a Spanish brig seen in the morning. At a quarter past five, we anchored before Valparaiso, three months and seventeen days after our departure from the river Gironde.
After having furled the sails, we fired a 21-gun salute; the fort battery responded with 11. After this, I landed with the ship's papers and some letters of recommendation. I received from Don Jose de Villegas, frigate captain and governor of Valparaiso, the most gracious welcome, accompanied by benevolent testimonies that I attributed in great part to my title of Officer in the Royal Navy, and to the memory of Messieurs Dubouret and De Tilly, frigate captains, whom he had known when they served in Spain and whose letters I had. Not only was I allowed to provide for the needs of the ship, but I also had the promise of having every facility that depended on him.
On the 6th.- The harbor pilot came early and belayed us to our quay; he moored us N. and S. with the large anchor at 16 fathoms, a bottom of sticky vase, and with another cable with the chain, fixed on the quay.
We surveyed the Angels Point at 3 deg. N., the Westernmost extremity of the government battery at 59 deg. O., and the last lands in the North at 30 deg. E..
In the evening, the San-Sacramento, a large merchant ship, sailed for Lima with deportees, some of whom were ecclesiastics and monks.
Don Jose de Villegas expedited to Santiago a package containing a letter I had written to Don Marco del Ponte, President and Governor-General, who had been a prisoner-of-war in France, and another from Monsieur Blandin of Bordeaux, at whose house this general had spent part of his detention.
I was introduced to the principal officers and to the most distinguished private individuals among the Europeans and Creole Spaniards. I had the opportunity to perceive, in the course of my visits, that the spirit of the revolutions had not forgotten this country. The movement which had already changed the face of one part of Southern America has been propagated as far as Chile. After having raised the flag of independence, this country had been subdued, in 1814, by General Osorio, but the revolutionary ferments still existed, and the spirit of partisan politics, which excludes moderation and often justice, reigned on both sides. I also remarked, with very different sentiments, that notwithstanding the misfortunes which an unjust aggression had brought upon their country, the Spaniards, far from considering the French as enemies, had resumed toward us those sentiments of benevolence natural between two nations linked by the tacit but indestructible pact of common interest.
I was dining with Monsieur de Villegas at a merchant's house, when he received a packet, the reading of which sensibly affected him. A corps of troops from Buenos Aires had crossed the Andes, and began with some successes, which, without being decisive, imparted the strongest concerns to the whole assembly, composed of European Spaniards. They did not dissimulate about how much they feared that the enemy would be joined by a large number of malcontents, hitherto contained by fear, but who only awaited a favorable occasion to burst out and shake a second time the yoke of the metropolis. Monsieur de Villegas did not take part in the general consternation; but all his efforts to comfort their spirits, by exposing the great means which the government had at its disposal, made little impression on men already struck by terror.
On the 7th.- A Spanish transport came from Chiloe with recruits. The governor forced me by two summations to provide him with the guns which were on board Le Bordelais ; nevertheless I provided him with only half, and I received from him the strongest assurances that those which he seized would be rendered to me or replaced if the resources of the arsenal of Santiago permitted it; otherwise, they were to be paid for at an advantageous price about which I did not wish to stipulate anything, in order to have more rights to reclaim at the restitution. Besides the cargo destined for the Northwest Coast, Le Bordelais had a quite considerable assortment of merchandise suitable for Southern America. This secondary but important branch of the operation was, like the principal, but an attempt to open new outlets for the products of French industry. With the exception of some particular recommendations, I was not provided with any means to sell them in the Spanish colonies where, without the authorization of the court of Madrid, not a single foreigner had yet been allowed to lawfully trade. These considerations guided my conduct.
However, the news we received daily from the interior announced the progress of the troops from Buenos Aires, the detachments of which, sent to diverse points, roused the country everywhere they appeared. This news only increased the uneasiness and the discouragement of the Spaniards and of the small number of Creoles who were attached to them. It was not even 24 hours after the passage of the mountains by the insurgents was known, and already they prepared to flee. The government officials were the first to embark their property with a scandalous haste: their families, and even some of themselves, slept in the roadstead to be prepared for any event.
On the 9th and 10th.- These movements, added to the reports which were spread about the progresses of the insurrection, fermented the heads of some in the crew, among which were some bad subjects who had embarked only in the hope, excited by absurd reports spread among the rabble at Bordeaux, that the ship was to cruise as a privateer. The dispositions I took early smothered this pernicious leaven, without my being obliged to put into execution the measures of severity with which I had threatened the ill-disposed.
While this was going on, I received a satisfactory reply from the Captain-General to my letter of the 5th; but, in the existing circumstances, I did not think it was appropriate to take advantage of the authorization he granted to me to go to Santiago. The joy of the Creoles and the low spirits of the Spaniards did not make me foreseen anything advantageous for them in the termination of the struggle which had just begun. I therefore wrote to the Captain-General to thank him for his kindness and to warn him that I was preparing to continue my voyage. I added that I awaited with confidence the replacement of the weapons which had been taken from me, or the reimbursement of their value, and that in the case that neither could be accomplished in Chile, I trusted that His Excellency would please to send me the necessary papers to recover the weapons in Peru, or an indemnity which preserved the interests of the expedition.
On the 11th.- Their fears augmenting, although no serious confrontation had yet taken place, all the vessels in the roadstead were anchored far from the piers. We did the same in order to remain master of our movements.
On the 12th.- The day was quite quiet, thanks to false reports of advantages gained by the royal troops. This illusion was destroyed in the evening by the arrival of fugitives from the mountains announcing the complete disbanding of the royalist troops. This news was amply confirmed by other fugitives who appeared one after the other during the course of the night.
On the 13th.- They arrived in band, mostly without commanders and without orders, the officers generally preceding their soldiers. Everyone tried to board the ships in the roadstead, where nothing was disposed for the reception of troops: the disorder reached its height.
On the 14th.- I sent Monsieur Briole ashore early to settle our little account with the supplier and to procure some fresh provisions if possible. This officer found the city in the most dreadful confusion: the inhabitants, emboldened by the terror of those whom they regarded as their oppressors, had seized the government and the batteries, the pieces of which were spiked. One of their detachments, from 40 to 50 men, hidden by the angle of the lower battery, surprised the fugitives, who, arriving scattered, could not fail to fall into their hands, and were immediately taken to prison. In the midst of this disorder, the return of Monsieur Briole was not without difficulty and even without some danger. Pressed by the disbanded soldiers who attacked the embarkation, he was obliged to give up part of the provisions which he had procured and to dodge some bullets, which happily did not wound anybody. During the trip, Monsieur Briole placed on board a Spanish long boat the few of these unfortunate people whom he had been able to welcome into his own jolly boat; he returned on board at seven. From on board Britannia, where he had taken refuge, Brigadier Atero sent to me to ask for our boats for the conveyance of troops; I had already promised them to Monsieur de Villegas, who had come to consult with me. But the report of Monsieur Briole, confirmed by the presence of the officers in the roadstead, the supervision of which might have accelerated the embarkation by preserving order, made me judge that to employ our people would be imprudent. Furthermore, this operation was only rendered by the improvidence and the pusillanimity of the fugitives; it might have been conducted with as much order as tranquility if, rushing to evacuate all the positions and to send out the transports, they had retained possession of the batteries which command the city to hold in awe its inhabitants.
On the sea side, the sole ship the Britannia, with twenty cannons of 9, moored fore and aft to be able to fire point blank to the coast between Valparaiso and Almendral, would have removed any apprehension about the enemy's attacks, until his artillery should arrive. Besides, the victorious troops were still distant, and the Spaniards were harassed by only a small number of citizens who drew their audacity from the terror of their enemies.
Monsieur Heartley, a dispossessed captain of the ship The Will, which the Spaniards had seized, came, accompanied by his wife, and begged hospitality. I had since the day before on board Messieurs Oydors, Caspe, and Pereyra, the son of the latter, three merchants, and some other Spaniards, in addition to servants; it was not possible to admit a greater number, having free only the deck. The officers and I were sharing our living quarters with most of our guests. Many of these gentlemen had a deep concern which nothing could remove as long as Valparaiso was in view. Not having any motive to delay my departure, I sailed at nine, with a good West breeze, all the ships in the roadstead themselves being already prepared to sail. Shortly thereafter, Britannia fired a cannon the ball of which passed above Le Bordelais.At first I had the great sail brailed up; but the Spanish commandant, who had thus steered for the inside of the roadstead, not having any movement, I decided that this angry outburst was merely a misunderstanding, and I kept sailing toward the open sea. At noon we began sailing for Callao.
See the Vocabulary
Tierra del Fuego, or rather all the islands known under this denomination, were so called by the first navigators, who discovered there much fire and smoke. It is a very mountainous country, where we nevertheless find beautiful valleys and prairies watered by an infinitude of streams. Despite extreme cold, men there go without any clothes , and even the women wear only those that their less severe modesty dictates. This land, southernmost in the known world, offers from afar only mountains of huge height, and always covered by snow.
The strait of Lemaire is located between Tierra del Fuego and the States' Islands. A company having obtained from the Dutch the exclusive privilege of going to India through the Strait of Magellan, Lemaire sailed towards Brazil with two vessels he had fitted out at Horn, in the hope of finding a way without passing through this strait, and consequently without infringing on the privilege. Success crowned his hopes, and the discovery of the strait to which Lemaire gave his name immortalized this navigator.
Magellan, Portuguese gentleman in the service of Charles the Fifth, having observed that the continent of the Southern America terminated in a point at the South, as well as did Africa, drew the conclusion that the seas must be open at the southern extremity of Chile, as they are at the Cape of Good Hope.
Imbued with this idea, he left Seville in 1519, with a fleet of five vessels, and after having put in at Tenerife Island, at Green Cape, and in Brazil, he discovered, at approximately 50 leagues from the bay of Saint Julien, a cape to which he gave the name of Désiré; but the crew, by a general acclamation, gave to the strait the name of Magellan, which he has kept. The natives call it Kaika. The length of this strait is 110 leagues; it has in no place less than one league width nor more than four leagues. In winter, the nights are 17 hours long. The air there is so cold that the Spaniards did not stop.
(Translator's note : in English in the text)
Valparaiso is several leagues' distance from Santiago. It was at first only storehouses established to facilitate the unloading and transportation of merchandise from Santiago to Lima. Afterwards, merchants established themselves with their families, and the struggling village grew little by little and became populated by whites and mulattoes.