OFF THE ISLANDS OF ESPIRITU SANTO
excerpted from the journals of Captain James Cook
Thursday 25th August 1774
AFTER DOUBLING THE CAPE we found the Coast trend away to the South and to form a very large and deep bay of which the land above mentioned was its western boundaries. Every thing conspired to make us believe this was the Bay of St Philip and St James discovered by Quiros in 1606. To determine this point it was necessary to search it to the very bottom for at this time we could see no end to it, for this purpose hauled the wind on the Larboard tack, having a gentle breeze at South which at Noon began to veer towards East and being well over to the Western shore taked and stood to NE Latitude 14o 55′ 30”, Longde 16o ” East, the Mouth of the Bay extending from N64o W’ to S 86oEast.
Saturday 27th August 1774
At 1 PM the Cabin was succeeded by a gentle breeze at NBW with which we stood up the bay till 3 when being but about two Miles from the shore, I sent away Mr Cooper and the Master to sound and reconnoitre the Coast and in the Meantime we stood off and on with the Ship, this gave time for three sailing Canoes who had been following us some time to come up with us; there were 5 or 6 Men in each; they came near enough to take hold of such things as were thrown them fastned to a rope but would not come along side. They were the same sort of people as we saw last night and had some resemblance to those of Mallicollo but seemed to be stouter and better shaped and so far as we could judge spoke a different language which made us believe they were of a nother Nation: probably the same as Annamoka and the neighbouring isles, as one of them, on some occasion, mentioned the Numerals as far as five or Six in that language, some other circumstance increased the Probability such as giving us the Names of such parts of the Country as we pointed to, but we could not obtain from them the Name of the Island. Some had hair short a crisp which looked like wool, others had it tyed up on the crown of the head and Ornamented with feathers like the New Zealanders, their other Ornaments were Bracelets and Necklaces and one wore some thing like a white shell on his forehead. Some were painted with a kind of black Pigment. It did not appear to me that they had any other weapons with them than darts and fishgigs intended only for stricking of fish. The Canoes which were by no means a Master piece of workman Ship, were fitted with outriggers. The Sail was triangular, extended between two sticks one of which was the Mast and the other the Yard or boom, at least they appeared to us who only saw them under Sail at some distance off…It was not unanimously concluded that this was the bay of St Philip and St James…for my own part I had no doubt about it, I found general points to agree very well with Quiros’s description, and as to what he calls the Port of Vara Cruz is undoubtedly the Anchorage at the head of the bay…it was but natural for them to give a name to a place, independant of so large a bay, where they laid so long at Anchor. Port is a vague term, like many others used in geography, as is very often applied to a much less sheltred place than the head of this bay. The officers observed that there is seldom any surf on the beach, as grass and other plants grew close to high-water mark which is a sure sign of Pacifick anchorage; the judged that the tides rose about 4 feet and that boats might enter the River at high-water, so that it is very probbly it is one of those mentioned by Quiros and appearance inclined us to believe we saw the other.
For further reading about Captain Cook (and an extensive collection of journal entries) visit: The Captain Cook Society