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DESCRIPTION OF THE MOUTH OF THE COLUMBIA RIVER -- Capt. Wm. Black (1813)

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H.M.S. Racoon, Capt. Black, enters the mouth of teh Columbia River Nov. 30, 1913 to take possession of Astoria, during the War of 1812 !!.
I transcribed this extraordinary document a decade or so ago, from a photostatic copy held in the collection of the Oregon Historical Society. Apparently there are gaps in the text, or in the imagery of the text, or perhaps I just need to get back in and finish the job??? This is my complete effort at the time, and includes Capt. Black's description of critical repairs to teh Raccoon at at Angel Island, as well as of Mission San Francisco in early 1814, Monterey etc., and rather extensive material on Black's relationship with the Mexican government at the time... A HUGE DOCUMENT, totally underexposed...

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DESCRIPTION OF THE MOUTH OF THE COLUMBIA RIVER -- Capt. Wm. Black (1813)

  1. 1. 1 OHS MMs 1574 (f. 1 of 4) Photocopy of original MS held in London Hydrographic etc. A Description of the Mouth of Columbia River, North West Coast of America ~ The Soundings on the Bar were taken at High Water, there being a Heavy Sea at Low Water, The Bearings are by Compafs _______________________________________________________________________________ The Bar of this River ought never to be attempted but in very fine weather, and then the greatest precaution is necefsary either going in or out, particularly by Strangers, the rapid Tides + very heavy Sea which often breaks with great violence right across the channel makes it very dangerous; during the winter season it is seldom possible to get either in or out _ The best time of tide to enter this River is just before high water, + to get out about the same time or with the very first of the Ebb, as the more the tide falls the higher the seas is on the Bar, + in going in if a Ship does not get over the bar before the Ebb makes strong she will not without a fresh breeze be able to stem the tide ~ I succeeded in entering the River November 30th , 1813 in the Racoon the constant succession of bad weather we experienced while she remained rendered it impofsible for me to make every minute observation I wished, but what I was able to do was done with care by myself + Mr. [Lt.?] Stevens Acting Master, and I hope may prove useful to others who may come here after us ~ I had a copy on a very small scale of Capt. Broughton’s plan of the mouth of the river when he was here in the Chatham + no other document [page 2] whatever for my guidance. Middle Banks by B I found it correct, the Channel between Cape Disappointment + the outer Breakers off point Adams the same, but a new bank has formed since that time, inside the East end [marginal note: Middle Banks by B[lack] ] of which forms a small island with a number of Trees lying on it having been washed there by the Tide: the dry part is about ½ a mile in length nearly in a North + South direction, + bears from Point Adams Nº 20 E about ½ a mile _ The bank stretches from this in a westerly direction, the Shoal Water also runs East from the island for about ½ mile, consequently the channel up the river between this Shoal + the ^ Chehali ^ Spit bank on the north side is little more than a mile wide ~ The old leading mark mentioned by Capt. Broughton Tongue Point which makes like an island on the South side Kept open of[f] Chinooke Pointe which is the Southernmost land insight on the north side, will lead you clear up the River. [ marginal note: This mark will clear the dry bank and spit but crofses the bank lower down in 1 fm.] This mark will clear the dry bank and spit but crofses the bank lower down in 1 fm.
  2. 2. 2 In turning in for Baker’s Bay, when you get near the Cape the water will deepen to 7,8,9,+ 10 fms, carrying 8 + 7 fms in said channel all the way up tp Chinooke Point ~ There is also a Bar or Swashway formed since Capt. Broughton’s Survey [marginal note; this Swashway is very narrow] in the middle bank, between Chinook Point + Gray’s bay, which in my opinion is the best Channel to get to the Establishment formed a few years since on the south side of the River a few miles above Point George by the Americans, but now in possession of the British N.W. Company + called by me Fort George, the anchorage of which is good + safe ~ This Swashway is very narrow I did not go higher up the River in [page 3] the Racoon than Baker’s bay under Cape Disappointment which I consider in time of War the best anchorage for a King’s Ships, here water can be readily procured, + not only Wood, for fuel, but Spars for any purpose in abundance, the whole country seems one entire forest of Pine; there is also oak: higher up the River_ Any Enemy’s Vessel coming into the River being apprized of a Man of War laying at anchor near the ort, and in fine weather get out again unmolested, which could easily be prevented by a Ship being at anchor under the Cape, and a Ship at anchor off the Fort can only get down the River thro’ either of the Channels at high water, + must then have a fair wind or warp as there is no room for beating ~ The watering place is just inside the Cape, where you land our Casks on a sandy beach, + roll them 20 or 30 yards up to a small stream of most excellent water, coming from the top of the Hills, + I am informed is never dry _ at low water spring tides the water alongside in baker’s Bay is only Brackish a few miles higher up it is perfectly fresh ~ The Bight which makes just round the cape inside appears to be filling up fast from the great number of Trees being washed on shore at Spring Tides remaining on the beach and getting buried in the sand: the Beach at present at high water mark or ten feet above it, is at least 6 feet higher, than it is thirty yards farther up on the shore_ The three Islets mentioned by Capt. Broughton can now hardly be called so, as at low water a jolly boat can only pass inside of one of the them, the Bay is so much filled up ~ I [page 4] found the Tide here at full + change t to flow half past one o’clock, as mentioned by Capt. Broughton, greatest rise + fall eight feet, at Fort George thirteen. [ marginal note: Rise at Fort George ] Rise at Fort George The Entrance has entirely changed. [Marginal note: The Entrance has entirely changed.] On getting near the entrance of Columbia you cannot discover the channel until you open the river then bearing E by N. to E.N.E. the course in over the Bar is e. by N. or E.N.E. Keeping Tongue Pt. well open with Cheenooke Pt. The deepest water is nearest the Breakers off Cape Disappointment, where you will have nearly 5 fms at high water spring Tides, near the Breakers off Point Adams little more than 4 fms. The Channel on the bar between the Breakers is about 1 ½ miles wide and in fine weather makes very clear, tho’ in bad weather it cannot be perceived as it breaks right across with great violence, and ought never to be attempted but when perfectly smooth, when the Ebb makes strong the Sea on the Bar rises very high and dangerous_ The Breakers off Point Adams run out into the sea seven miles in a W. by s. direction + those off cape Disappointment S.W. by W. two miles + a half; in bad weather they present a dreadful appearance~
  3. 3. 3 In the Racoon we lay moored in Baker’s Bay from the 30th November to the 31st December: there was only one day during that time we could have attempted to get out, + that was soon after our arrival: constant gales at S.S.E. to S.S.W. with almost constant rain the whole time we lay here; also [gales and rain] some weeks both before us got in + after getting out~ Capt. Black’s anchorage To anchor in Baker’s Bay under Cape Disappointment, which I would advise all strang= [page 5] strangers to do, you must after getting over the Bar, haul close round the Cape to avoid the Spit Bank the west end of which lies E ½ S, not quite a mile from the inner part of the Cape. Tho’ there is not less than 3 fms water on this part of the bank it breaks very heavy at times, in fine weather it does not_ when near the Cape the water will deepen to 6,7,8,9 + 10 fms as before observed_ of the three small Islets one is nearly washed away, but the largest or middle one Kept in one or just open with the inner part of the cape will lead you clear of the spit bank into the Bay, tho’ by a stranger they cannot easily be observed: to Anchor here bring the Cape to bear S. 10º E [marginal note: Capt. Black’s anchorage] Point George S. 70º E + Chenooke Pt S 85º E. here you will have 5 ½ fms at high water + little more than 4 at low, good holding ground muddy bottom. Tho’ I think the anchorage in this bay good, yet there is during the winter months when the wind blows hard from S.S.E. which is the point it always blows from at that time of the year, a very heavy sea sets in from half flood to high water: with the Ebb the water is perfectly smooth inside, when on the Bar it is dreadful_ I hope it ay be very long before the service of any of his majesty’s Ships is wanted in this River at the same season of the year. Should you wish to proceed from Baker’s bay up to Fort George, you must steer from the Anchorage S.E. to avoid the Spit bank until you open Tongue Point with Chenooke having from 10 to y fathoms, then steer E. by N. for Chenooke Pt. until Pt. [page 6] Adams + a large Red or Brown patch of land a little below Chenooke bear from each other S.S.W. and N.N.E. you must then steer S.E. by E. un-til you open a point of land on the north side nearly opposite Tongue Point with Chenooke Pt when you must steer S.S.W. crossing a bar with not more than three fathoms water on it at high water, spring tides, when you deepen your water to 4 ½ or 5 fms having the middle of the dry part of the new bank in one with Cape Disappointment than bearing N. 71º W you must steer E. by S. or direct for Point George carrying 5 ½, 6 + 7 fms until you get within ½ a mile of the shore: then steer up along the land until you are abreast of the Fort where you anchor in 5 fms muddy bottom_ about tow Cables length from the shore at low water_ This Channel will do for Vessels of a light draught of water, but I thin k the upper channel much preferable ~ In proceeding from Baker’s Bay to the an=chorage off Fort George through the North or Upper channel, you must steer the same course to avoid the Spit bank, until you open Tongue Pt. with Chenooke, you then steer E. by N. Keeping the above mark on until you get as high as the large Brown patch, below Chenooke, then haul more to the Northward Keeping pretty close to the shore to avoid the middle Bank part of which is dry at low water_ in running up you will observe a second Red or Brown patch on the North Shore nearly half way between Chenooke + the West Point of Gray’s bay, when you get abreast of it then bearing from you N.N.W. [page 7] in about 7 fms water you must then steer over S.E. by S. or direct for a white stump of an old Tree that has stood many years on the South Side + is close down to the water, there are also two trees on the high land over the stump which stand higher than the other trees near them in one will lead you thro’ a Swashway or over a Bar formed in the middle bank since Capt. Broughton’s survey; it is about ¾ of a mile in width you will have from 3 ½ to 4 fms water on it Spring Tides high water when you deepen your water to 5 or 6 fms or when you get within ½ mile of the South Shore you must then steer down and Anchor off Fort George, as be-fore mentioned~ the Plan will more fully explain these remarks, I must observe altho’ they are from my own observations + great pains taken as to their being
  4. 4. 4 correct, yet I would not advise any one unacquainted with the River to attempt running higher up than Baker’s bay, without first sounding the Channel and laying down Buoys +c. as may seem necefsary. The Tide’s Ebb in particular runs very strong often in the winter during the rainy months in spring Tides 8 Knots per hour in mid-Channel, even in Baker’s bay 5 + 6. The flood at this season of the year can hardly be felt in mid-channel tho’ in Bakers Bay & by the shore it runs 3 + 4 knots-- I was also informed by some of the Canadian Gentlemen who had been of the American Party as settlers here for some years that the Inner banks at times shift during the winter months from the heavy rains causing the Ebb to run so very strong at that season of the year! [page 8] Any Stranger may run into Baker’s Bay with safety by attending to the above directions + only attempting the bar in fine weather when the water is smooth + it is near high water; in fine weather the channel is easily made out as the Surf continually breaks on the Banks both Sides of it tho; in the middle it does not, even in fine weather there is often a heavy swell not only on the bar, but all along the Coast_ In going into the River, from the Southw’d in the Racoon I did not make out the Channel until close to the outer Breakers off Pt. Adams, the river + Channel then opening bearing E by N. to E.N.E. Mount St. Helens which is always covered with snow will also make its appearance in the above direction, which with Mount Hood is a good guide for the mouth of the river. I sent away two boats to sound = lay down Buoys to guide us in, but as the wind blew fresh at S.E. + the flood just done they did not get so fast ahead as I wished, + I was obliged to make sail + run into Baker’s Bay being guided by my own eye and Capt. Broughton’s plan. The Sea at this time did not break on the bar but the swell was very heavy_ The Spit Bank did not break at the time of our entrance but did very soon after; one of the boats we picked up in running in, the Gig did not get on board until we had been two hours at Anchor. While we remained in baker’s bay we were visited by many of the natives who brought some salmon, Geese + Ducks, + now + then a [page 9] Deer or Swan: tho’ not the season for Salmon we found them very acceptable, from the very bad weather we had but a scanty supply, there not being any stock at the Fort, a few Pigs excepted, no cattle or Sheep in this part of the country, tho’ I am informed by the N.W. Company there are plenty of Buffalo some hundred miles up the river. [!] The natives are very fond of Buttons, Beads, + Blankets, buttons having an Anchor on them are preferred, they are very eager to obtain fire-arms, + have a number amongst them which they have obtained in trading with the Americans, who seem to have had the whole trade of this Extensive Country for some years past, to themselves, not only with the Indians but with the Russian Settlers to the Northward_ The Chenooke Tribe are the most numerous, they have two villages at Chenooke Pt. the largest is called Comcomly’s Village, he is their great Chief; the other Stockham’s Village, who is the second Chief: they mostly live in those villages, and on the Northern banks of the River, both Chiefs visited the raccoon + were very proud on being saluted with Guns, they seemed perfectly, with many others, to recollect Capt. Vancouver’s being on the coast, + mentioned Capt. Broughton’s name familiarly; I gave each of them what presents I could, also a 32 lb. shot as a specimen of what hey had to expect if they did not behave well to the English, which they promised to do, + that English Ships should have plenty of Fish, Geese +c, but it must be in Summer as the wea= [ page 10] weather was too bad to procure them in Winter.
  5. 5. 5 The Clatsop Tribe are not as numerous + live about Point Adams + on the southern banks of the river, we saw but very few of them. In the Spring of the years a numerous daring Tribe come from the Northward to trade and fish, they generally live about the Cape + Bay, where they remain while the fishing season lasts during that time the Salmon are in very great plenty + very fine – tho’ Swans, Geese = Ducks in the summer go farther Northward_ The American Traders lately have been obliged to be very much on their guard, as this Tribe has made several attempts to cut them off, + have in some instances succeeded: within these few years they are become more daring since the Spaniards gave up Nootha. The Dress of the Indians have is nothing more than the skin or skins of animals sewn together, not made into any kind of garment, but merely thrown over the Shoulders; the women have a kind of rush petticoat that scarcely reaches the Knees, + a skin over their shoulders; the wives + daughters of the Chiefs have a piece of blue Cloth over their shoulders instead of Skin when they can obtain it, the ladies consider it a great ornament to have thick ankles + tie a string tight round that part of the leg which causes it to swell = is thought to add much to their beauty; the Heads of both Sexes are quite flat from being kept in a kind of Box prefs while infants; the ladies do not pride themselves on Chasitity: for two or three anchor [page 11] Buttons they will grant any favour, + in many instances leave the donor cause to remember them_ I think the Indians about Columbia River the most miserable dirty set of human beings I ever saw in any part of the world~ Their canoes are very neat cut out of large pine Trees well shaped + paddle very fast; a Chief canoe is always distinguished by a row or two of small white shells stuck I the wood a little below the gunwale, if two rows two or three inches a priest ~ The natives seem well inclined to the English, and as they will now be punctually paid for their Time by the North West Company (what they never have been by the American trading Vefsels) they will no doubt soon give a preference to the English, I heard many stories now the Americans treated the Indians for years back about the N.W. Coast, it has been no uncommon thing for then to carry many o the natives from one part of the Coast to ano=ther + sell them for Skins to their enemies: I was also informed at the Sandwich islands, where the Americans are very well- known, many of the trading Vefsels when about to leave the coast invite some of the Chiefs on board, where they keep them until they get their friends on shore to procure skins enough to ransom them, they after take their first without paying for them. The Indians are constantly on the lookout + never fails to take revenge when an opportunity offers ~ By the 18th December we had completed Wooding + watering, also cut what Spars we [page 12] were in want of – weather very bad constant gales with never ceasing rain: the Ebb Tide at Full + Changes of the Moon ran so strong that tho’ it blew a gale of wind right in, we could not prevent the Ship from getting a foul Hawser, at times either with the sails of Kedge Anchor, which harrafsed the people much being obliged to clear it before the Flood set in, in consequence of the Swell. Towards the end of December from the constant bad rainy weather, + having had but very little fresh provisions, the Indians not being able to hunt, our Provisions, Bread and Spirits particularly, growing short, the scurvey in several cases making its appearance, + the Sick list daily increasing, it became absolutely necefsary to get to Sea as soon as possible. The evening of the 30th December being very fine with a light breeze at E.S.E. I was determined to get out in the morning if possible as the wind continued from the eastward I sent Mr. Stevens the acting master away in the morning of 31st December a little before day- break to view the state of the bar + report whether he thought the Ship could go out with
  6. 6. 6 perfect safety, at half past eight he returned + said the channel was perfectly safe, not so much sea as when we got in, that it was quite smooth – as we had unmoored the Ship in his absence, on receiving this report I instantly weigh’d, its being just then high Water made a low short Tack to weather cape Disappointment when we got the Bar [page 13] the Tide having fallen but very little found a very heavy sea which soon increased as the tide made strong, when on the middle of the bar the Sea broke very high + short: tho’ in mid-channel the Ship struck twice, the first time in the heavy, not less than 4 fms water ho’ a fresh Breeze right art even before the Ship struck it was with difficulty her head could be kept the right way- several seas broke over the Forecastle, it was directly after shipping one of them the Ship struck close forward by pitching so deep, I did not think at the time she struck heavy enough to do any damage: the Tide was now running strong + soon drove in over into 7 fms when I soon found the Ship was making a great deal of Water, and that the Leak was close forward about the Scarf of the Stem: got both Chain Pumps to work + soon got the Ship dry from the Leak being close forward it was some time a before the water found its way aft to the well, + not before it had got into the magazines + damaged several barrels of Powder – after getting the Ship quite dry + clearing the Lower Store rooms forward, about the Scarf of the Stem we found the water came in very fast, after doing all we could inside found the Ship to make at least four feet water an hour. The Pinnace had been Kept out with a kedge Anchor and Hawser in her in readiness if wanted in crossing the Bar, with the oars they only Kept-her head to the sea she drove over the bar with the Tide some times before the Ship: it was utterly impossible after we got near the bar to have let go [page 14] our Anchor as in the shoal water the Ship must have gone over it, + in all probability it would have gone through her bottom which would have still been worsed [?] _ After getting the Pinnace in + all as much to rights as possible, finding the Leak to continue the same, the wind blowing fresh off the land, so that it was impossible we could with the strong current setting out of the River regain it, had we tried to do so, I resolved to make the best of our way to St. Francisco in New Albion, where I hoped to be able to repair the Ships ~ January 1st ~ Blowing strong with a very heavy sea, + constant rain, wind S.S. E. both hand pumps, = two good spells with the chain Pumps just held our own, hand pump constantly going _ Horumbe[?] and Spritsail ready for forecrusing [?] when the weather would admit of its being done. January 2nd ~ The weather bad + the Ship laboring much, I ordered all the Provisions casks that had been shook – [spook?] with the Hoops to be hove overboard to lighten the ship, + as much as possible to clean the lower Deck - after getting the foddering sail under the Ship Bows found it to do a great deal good [page 18] * * * St. Francisco.
  7. 7. 7 As I had great reason to think the Leak proceeded form a plank having started, = the more so as two Sandwich island men we had on board after going under the Ship Bows said it was so, I conceived by hauling her on shore on the Beach will shored up we should be able to repair it, clear’d the Ship for the above purpose by getting guns, shot + every thing heavy out of her, + fixing 10 Spores [?shores?] of a side haul’d her on shore in a steep sandy beach below the Presidio, sheltered by a sandy bluff point, being completely land-locked by several points of land. The Ship stood perfectly upright, = I was in full expectation of being able to do the needful, but as the water fell I was much mortified to find the whole of the Gripe from the Scarf of the stem about 6 feet mark downward quite gone with oart of the keep, no—thing but the ends of the outside plank ^ left. I was astonished how the Ship had kept above water during the very bad weather we had since striking on the Bar of Columbia River ~ February 4th The day after hauling the ship on shore a gale came on at S. W. + tho’ the ship was on the weather shore it caused more surf on the beach than I expected which washed the sand Up so high about the bows as to render it impossible to do more than caulk the wooden ends as low down as we could by clearing away as much of the sand as possible_ Being obliged to remain [page 19] on shore until the next spring Tide, + having the Isaac Todd North West Company’s ship had arrived at Monterey 25 leagues to the southward of this, I wrote for her to come to St. Francisco, +in the mean time made the necessary preparations for heaving down the raccoon by her when she should arrive as there was no kind of wharf or vessels here to do so by – 19th – after heaving the Ship off, it now became necessary to find out a proper place to heave down in; as the tides ran a great deal too strong + too much sea to do so off the Presidio_ after two days search in this most spacious port the best place I could find was a small bay on the north side of the isle of Angles, which is a considerable Island lying N.N.E. from the Presidio 6 or 7 miles, several small islets + rocks above water between it + the southern shore: here I found plenty of water with a good channel between it + the Northern shore~ March 2nd the Isaac Todd arrived very late – on the 3rd we got her over + moored in the bay – on the 4th the Racoon alongside of her will in quite out of the Tide which ran very strong twice the Ships length outside of us_ We were detained several days not being able to compleat caulking the ship for heaving down for wand of Pitch until the arrival of our Consort ~ 13th – Hove keel out, with two hand pumps kept the Ship dry with ease tho’ some of the main deck scuppers leaked a good deal, found every other part of the Ship bottom perfectly sound, not a Nail started any where but what was before mentioned [page 20] the Gripe from the Scarf of the Stem about the 6 feet mark quite gone with about 5 feet of the main Keel, as we cut some oaks for the purpose before the arrival of the Isaac Todd, and having made ragg’d Iron Bolts out of the Forecastle Hammock Stantions in three days we completed it, by giving the Ship a new Gripe, tho’ not projecting quite so much as the old one, + also putting the Keel to rights: during these operations the Carpenter + myself were seldom off the stage. Mr. Baker the carpenter deserves my best thanks, he had only two men that were of any use to him who with himself worked very hard _- as the weather was fine+ the Ship quite out of the tide we had no occasion to righten her, + it was well we had not, as I do not think our Falls would have hove her down again, having no rope whatever in the Ship but the Sproud Hawsers for a main purchase fall, + a small Hawser of the Isaac Todd, the only one they had forward _ the ship was very hard to heave out-
  8. 8. 8 16th Finished the Ship, having repaired the damage as our means would allow, no Copper Bolts to be had, or any other materials from the shore but wood + that we cut ourselves and brought from a considerable distance. The Isaac Todd supplied us with some lead, Copper Nails, Pitch, Tar, a small quantity of rope + Canoes [?] and tho’ they charged [the] government a most extravagant price, I was glad to get them on any terms I this part of the world_ Righted the Ship + found her not to make a drop of water. [page 21] The Isaac Todd arrived late on the 2nd + on the 19th she was again moored off the Presidio + left in charge of Capt. Smith to proceed on his Voyage: the time she remained after the 19th in St. Francisco was not owing to the Racoon, held a survey on her after heaving down, by her, the only damage she received was cutting down a little of the Bulwark to allow the Racoon’s mainmast to go lower down, which was properly repaired ~ 20th -- got the Raccoon over + moored in her old berth head +stor[eroom]s ready to take on board the stores + provisions _- The Latitude of the Beach below the Presidio is 37º 48´ N. Longitude 122º: 10´ W, Variation 15º, 30´ E The Tides full + change flow. 12 o’Clock rise + fall 11 feet, they run very strong, the Ebb in particular. The soundings nearer the Anchor are very irregular from 20 to 6 feet, but the ground appears clear of rocks+ good, this is likewise the casein all parts of the Harbor I had opportunity of examining below the Isle of Angles ~ The Harbor runs in a long way up, one branch of it N.E. the other S.E. a considerable river empties itself into it in each of the above directions – the upper part is full of islands, Shoals + mud banks: a launch drawing 4 feet water can get at spring tides within 3 leagues of Sta. Clara which lies 14 leagues S.E. from the Mission of St. Francisco which last is S.E. 6 miles from the Presidio. The Spaniards say a ship cannot go any distance up the Harbor, only a very few miles above where Capt. Vancouver first anchored in the Discovery, tho’ I have no doubt Channels might be found for some distance up if necessary; they [page 22] thought it was impossible for the Racoon to get to the bay where she was Hove down, at least they wished to made me believe so. The Presidio + Mission of St. Francisco seem to be nearly in the same state as when visited by Cpt. Vancouver ~ they do not appear to have improved near so much as might be expected in the time: a few of the old houses pulled down + some new ones built in their stead, with a little more land cultivated seem the only alterations; the house of Senor Sal described by Capt. Vancouver is still the mansion of the governor + a very miserable one it is; however, he has a new one built + was soon to remove into it ~ The present Governor Don Luis Antonio Arguello is a young man about 30 _ a Lieutenant in the Spanish Army + is a Creole of the country he had married a daughter of Senor Sal’s who died during our stay at St. Francisco. We were much indebted to don Luis, the good Fathers at the different missions + all the inhabitants for the great attention then paid us during the three months we remained in this most excellent port. There is no town but merely the Presidio built in the form of a square as mentioned by Capt. Vancouver. The best Fresh Water is in two small bays on the North side of the Harbor a little within the N.E. point, in each bay a stream runs into the sea, the inner bay is the best; there is also water on the South Side, below the Presidio, but it is a considerable distance from the Beach + not easily got at, the ground being soft [page 23] + sandy to roll the barrels; after rain it is hardly possible to roll a full cask ~ I would advise all ships coming her to com pleat both Wood + Water at St. Francisco as the Water at Monterey + the other Ports to the southw’d is not only very bad but difficult to obtain. The Mission lies as before obscured 6 miles in a S.E. direction from the Presidio, the road hilly + sandy, here are two Padres, Franciscans, as are all the Padres at the
  9. 9. 9 different missions in California: there are 1200 Indians who cultivate the land + tend the Cattle, Sheep, Horses +c. which are very numerous: they grow a great deal of Corn tho’ it is but seldom they have any opportunity of disposing of it, no ship having been in this Port for three years before the raccoon entered it: it is said the fathers of the mission are rich, tho’ they do not appear to have he lest use for money yet they seem very fond of it; they have a most excellent garden, plenty of Vegetables, Apples, Beans, peaches +c. in the proper season; the Trees were all in full bloom before our departure; we were liberally supplied with whatever the garden afforded during out stay; they have plenty of potatoes in the season but I do not think from what I saw of them they keep well, or they have not the method of doing so. At all the missions is manufactured a course grey Cloth, such as is worn by the Franciscan Friars; blankets + a still coarser Cloth, which they appropriate to the use of the Indians ~ They do not force and Indians to become Christians, but when they are once baptized [page 24] should they run away, which they often do, they are when caught severely punished: as there are only two padres at each mission they have a great deal to do + in my opinion deserve great credit; they have workmen of all Kinds amongst them who really do better than could be expected; a number of the very young = most tractable are taught music = at some of the missions they can muster twenty with instruments of different kinds, there are no Idlers among them, tho’ they never work had they are always employed. The unmarried women are locked up every night directly after the oration at Sun Set. There is a Corporal + six Privates at each mission, but I never heard of the Indians making any disturbance : the Venereal Disease has made great havoc among the Indians of late years, not only on the coast but in the Interior: it is said many of them come to the Missions get Baptized for the sole purpose of ridding themselves of the dreadful disorder – half of them about the different missions at present are more or less affected; they have not yet been able to find a cure for it among themselves. When the Spaniards get hold of the Indians young, or those who are born at the Missions they have very little trouble with, but when above 20 years of age it is difficult to make any thing of them ~ The Mission of Santa Clara lies 15 leagues S.E. from St. Francisco thro’ a most delightful country, it seems one entire plain for near 30 leagues, that is as far as St. Juan’s which is 15 leagues S. E. of Santa Clara ~ I passed two days at the better place with the Padres Makine and Iodde [sp?] [page 25] very much to my satisfaction, they are two very intelligent men, both from old Spain. There are 1300 Indians who all appear to be perfectly happy. Corn, Cattle, Sheep and Horses are in great plenty; goats are scarce; hogs they have at some of the missions in great numbers, but they are obliged to use them up so the Bears devour them if left straggling about; the Bears are very numerous + often do a great deal of mischief; I expressed a wish to see one or two alive, the Good Fathers sent me out ten Indians [Copy gets very blurry for the next 5-6 lines – bull & bear fight ] Imagined, the Bull certainly having the best of it, tho’ he had conceived the contrary. The Bears had been tied a great part of the night, which might make a difference in favor of the bull, but from what I then saw I think a bull a good match for a bear, + from this I conclude the cattle are so little disturbed by them ~ Wild Geese are very numerous all over the Country during the winter, about the end of April they emigrate + go farther north + return about the 10 October. I was assured by the padres that there is never more than a weeks difference of time in either their going or coming; with a common fowling piece I shot twenty=two very fine geese at six shots, as they are not afraid of a Horse the Padres have one trained for this purpose, + by keeping the horse between the [page 26] Gunner and the Geese he is enabled to get very close, as was the case with me !
  10. 10. 10 April 19th -- Having got the Ship ready for sea (biscuits we made ourselves + succeeded very well with it) the wind at S. W. right in weighed + made sails beat out of the harbour, many of our friends came on board to bid us farewell, made several tacks, sealed the Guns abreast of the Fort; in standing across the channel on the Base [?] by keeping well to the southward had 6 fms water, but on the north side of the channel the water decreased to 4 ½ + 4 fms any stranger may enter this port with out fear, taking care to keep well on the south side of the channel, + when in the Harbour not going too near the shore abreast of the Presidio, as there is a rock lies 2 cables length off the Beach N.E. by E. from the Bluff sandy point where the Racoon was haul’d on shore + is the only Bluff Point there: this Rock shows itself at the low water spring tides, has 18 + 20 fms close round it, + is the only rock I could find in the lower part of the harbor that does not always show itself: tho’ I was told an American Ship struck on a small sunken rock half way across the harbour this rock I searched for but could not find it; I was also told the American himself could not find it after striking on it, nor has any of the inhabitants been able to do so. I therefore think it does not exist ~ The Racoon lay moored for some months, inside the Rock mentioned as showing itself at low water, in 9 fms head + stern in perfect safety ~ [page 27] [First 2-3 lines at top of page blurry and illegible ] Many of the crew remained on land until we were below the Castle, much indebted for this kindness + attention which was constant to the last moment + for which I shall ever feel grateful: as the raccoon entered this port in greater distress they might have retarded our repairing the Ship, or annoyed us in many ways if they had been inclined to do so, but so far from that they gave us every assistance they could + behaved in the most friendly manner. Don Luis had a Launch built by themselves which he lent us at al times when we wanted her ~ The only causes [sic – canoes?] they have are no more than a Bundle of Rushes tied together one end smaller than the other, on one of these three men will cross the Harbour with ease, watching the proper time of Tide, and using poles for paddles. St. Francisco is the best place I ever was at to allow sailors to go ashore on leave as there is no getting drunk, the Inhabitants not having the means; they got plenty of milk + every one had a Horse for the day which they procured for a very small piece of Tobacco; after riding till they were tired, they came on board, at sun set in the most orderly manner; one watch had leave every Sunday after prayers; here we buried three men + lost one, who was on duty in the Launch + employed cutting Wood to repair the Ships, having got into the Woods a short distance from the party we had every reason to believe he was devoured by a Bear of Bears ~ [page 28] We now made the best of our way to Monterey, to get if possible eight men who had deserted from the Isaac Todd while she remained in that Port or Bay ~ 22nd – Beat into the Bay of Monterey – the Presidio of which is in Latitude 36º; 36´. 30´´ N. Longitude 121º: 3´ 15´´ W. Variation 12º: 26 easterly. The River Carmello where the Mission is, lies about 10 miles by water S.W. of this roadstead, the shore is rocky + the sea breaks very high all along the coast between then. Point Pinas which forms the south side of the bay lies nearly North from Carmello 7 of 8 miles; when out [???] round this point coming from the southward you open the Presidio .. The best place to anchor is abreast of the castle or a little higher up in the bay toward the Presidio in 8 or 9 fms water, not more than a quarter of a mile from the Beach or Rocks, as with N. W. wind there is a heavy swell set into the bay. Here Point Pinas will bear N.W. + be nearly in one with point Ano Nuevo, which is 7 leagues off: here the ground is food = little or no tide, tho’ there is a rise = fall of 5 0r 6 feet by the shore; during the few days we remained in this bay we had a strong breeze from the
  11. 11. 11 N.W. which caused more well than I expected, but the Ship made very little strain as there was a strong outrel [?] during the time the breeze lasted, had we been warned the Castle in [is] the proper anchoring place we should not have had near so much sea as we [page 29] anchored ½ miles too far out, not then knowing the proper place_ Here as at St. Francisco there are entry Bullocks, Sheep Pigs, Corn etc.+ tho’ but a little further to the Southward we found the season much farther advanced, to which I ascribe the cause of the Beef + Mutton being so much better here than at St. Francisco. The mission is on the same scale as those already mentioned, but I do not think it is so pleasantly situated as any of them I had seen, being in a low place and very near the Sea. Here the Padre Prefecto generally resides who has the superintendence of all the missions in North California (as New Allbion is now called by the Spaniards) _ fresh Water is very bad here, tho’ the river Carmello is so near the water of which is most excellent, yet it is but seldom a boat can enter it as the water is shoal = at all times a heavy sea at the mouth_ There is neither Spirits, Wine, Cocoa or Sugar to be procured either at St. Francisco or Monterey, nor rope or any Kind of Stores- Bee + Flour , Pork also Peas, in abundance, + salt to cure with; as they never have any meat salted to dispose of, and Ship coming here will have to cure what they want, as I do not think the Spaniards understand it. There are also abundance of very fine Pine spars (small ones) about Monterey fit for top gallant masts, studding sail booms, +c. we cut what we were in want of with the Governor’s leave. At St. Francisco there is plenty of Oak, & a red Kind of Pine, not fit for masts being very brittle ~ [page 30] Though I anchored at Monterey for the sole purpose of getting the Deserters from the Isaac Todd being now a number short of compliment, one of these only was to be found, the others being somewhere in the woods + no doubt supported by the inhabitants. The Governor General of North California Don Joaquin de Arellaga resides at Monterey, he is a very respectable old man + seems particularly anxious I should have the deserters. I settled it with him I should go to sea for 8 or so days + the then call off Monterrey, as by that time I expected they would make their appearance + be secured, but a gale of wind prevented our doing so~ 25th Weighed + made sail but the wind failing us + a heavy swell setting into the bay, we were obliged to anchor again in 9 fms until a breeze sprung up at midnight off the land which enabled us to weigh + run out of the bay. Having had information of a ship being at anchor under point Conception in Latitude 34º, 36´ N Longitude 120º, 10´ W. made sail for it + upon the 28th stood into the bay with a fresh breeze at N.N.W. no ship in it nor any thing to be seen in the offing. It appears to be well sheltered with the wind from N. W. to S.S.E. but quite open to w. + S. W. winds – many cattle and Horses on the Hills near, + a few Indian Huts on the beach in the bay, but no boat or any one stirring. It being sun set + the weather looking very dirty haul’d off to the westward; during the night it blew very strong, from N.N.W. close reef’d the topsails [ page 31 ] + got the top Gl’t yards down. From the 28th April to 6th may strong gale from the Northward, at times under storm staysails: seeing no chance of getting back to Monterey, + having good information that the Sandwich Islands was the most likely place to meet any of the enemy’s vessels, made all sail for Owyhee _ strong breeze at N. W. ship going 200 miles per day 17th -- In the morning saw Owyhee from S. to N.W. Timekeepers right. Mauna Kaah very high indeed = a great quantity of snow on it ,, at noon or Latitude 19º 53´ N. Extremes of the land S.S.E. to W. by N. running along the East side of the island, having been informed by the Natives, many of whom came on board, that the King Tamaahmaah was at Tonagh [?] Bay. The canoes came off from Ahecedo, where there is a harbor, + the natives say a great
  12. 12. 12 deal of sea going into it, which must be the case as it is on the Weather part of the Island, the sea continually breaks very high al along it. At noon a fine breeze sprang up, the canoes could not keep up with the ship, one of them filled and upset alongside, one man who was in her at the time went astern, she was cut adrift, the remainder of the crew one man + two women who were on board the ship jumped overboard + swam to her; in a few minutes they had the canoe again perfectly to rights + soon got alongside the Ships as it was then less wind – on the canoes leaving the Ship the crew both men and women who were onboard preferred jumping overboard to getting down the side, some of the canoes were at least a mile [ page 32 ] astern before they did so. 18th at 2 A.M. haul’d round the N. W. point for Tonagh Bay_ at day-light calm – a great many canoes came off to us + in one of them came John Young the Englishman mentioned by Capt. Vancouver; he informed ^me that the King Tamaahmaah was only a short distance off, & would be glad to come on board if he Knew what we were, having had American colors up all the morning; as I much wished to see him Young sent his canoe, which was a very fine one, + in an hour His Owyhee Majesty came on board, tho’ it blew fresh, he brought three of his Wives with him who are sisters + the fourth wife is daughter of one of them by another man: the one for whom Capt. Vancouver succeeded in making up a quarrel between her + Tamaahmaah is still the favorite; she always goes in the same canoe with him, it is the second sister who has had the children, they are the largest women I ever saw, two of their Brothers whom I also saw were 6 feet 5 inches in height and stout in proportion, they can all speak English a little, the men pretty well ~ I made the King and his Wives what presents I could, having only a little Cloth + a few trinkets we got from the Isaac Todd for that purpose: he ordered one of his leading men to go with him to Mowee, where we were going for water, to procure us Hogs, yams +c no water to be had at Owyhee, at which I was much astonished as I had observed many [page 33] streams running into the sea even the steep rocks in coasting along the N. E. side of the Island, the shore on that part of it being almost perpendicular + constantly a heavy sea breaking on it there is no possibility of getting near the fresh water by sea; on the west side of the Island the land is low near the sea, + the ground higher up is so porous that although there is plenty of excellent water it eh higher parts of the Island it sinks before it reaches near the sea; on this side the Inhabitants are obliged to send 5 + 6 miles p the Country for the water they use~ the king with his wives + retinue left us at sun set after doing ample justice to the wine +c I could put before them + taking with him the Decanter + two Wine glasses. While he was on board I represented to him the impropriety of his countenancing the Americans while they were the enemies of Great Britain by allowing them to remain on his Island + supplying their ships with provisions +c. He acknowledged himself a subject of Great Britain + that his islands belonged to the King of England, but as the Americans had been the only people who had come near them or been in the habit of trading with them for many years for sandal wood bringing Tea, Sugar, Rice, Trinkets, Cloaths +c. and their Ships remaining amongst them during the winter months when they cannot stay on the N.W. Coast, the natives now look on them as friends; that tho’ he the King wishes much to get clear of them it cannot easily be done form their [page 34] numbers on the different islands + the friendship them + his own people.

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