1914 - McNab, R. Historical Records of New Zealand, Vol. II. - RECORDS RELATING TO RAVEN'S VISITS, p 509-517

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  1914 - McNab, R. Historical Records of New Zealand, Vol. II. - RECORDS RELATING TO RAVEN'S VISITS, p 509-517
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CAPTAIN RAVEN, in the "Britannia," visited Dusky Sound in 1792, and there left the first sealing gang ever placed on the coast of New Zealand. The following year, in company with the "Francis," he returned and relieved the gang. The "Francis" sailed for Sydney, and the "Britannia" for Norfolk Island, where she was chartered by Lieut.-Governor King to take that officer and two captured Maoris across to New Zealand. Records published in Vol. i (pages 169 to 194) relate to the same matters.


1792 September.

Saturday, 8th. In Sydney Cove, Port Jackson, New So. Wales.

Chartered for Cape of Good Hope.

November. Saturday, 3rd. New Zealand sighted.


[Copied from the Original in the Essex Institute, Salem, Mass., U. S. A., by the EDITOR.]

Sept. 8th. [1792] the ship was hauled out of the cove--and on the 10th we worked her down to Bradley's Pt where we anchored, wind bound. -- during our stay here, we were chartered by 10 Officers of the Civil and Military, to proceed to the Cape of Good Hope, by way of Cape Horn and Sta Catherina, leave being granted us, to stop on our way at Duskey Bay in New Zealand, to leave a number of hands to collect Seal skins for the China Markets while we performed our voyage.

At 2 A. M. we made the snowey summits of New Zeeland bearing E. 1/2 N., 15 or 16 miles distant. We continued to stand on untill 3, when we tacked and stood off 'till 5--at which time we put about and made sail for the Land; at seven it began to blow very hard, and rained excessive heavy, which obliged us to shorten sail and haul off: The entrance of Duskey Bay

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1792 November.

Sunday, 4th. Failed to reach harbour.

Monday 5th. Another day lost.

Tuesday, 6th.


Wednesday, 7th. Visited coves and islands.

then bore N. E. and the So. pt. E. S.E. about 6 Leags from us. At noon Pt. 5 fingers bore N. E. 13 or 14 Miles.

The wind, this afternoon, abated greatly, but the weather became thick and hazy; which did not prevent us from using our utmost efforts to gain the bay, but they proved ineffectual; for at 4 it fell calm and the swell set us directly in for the Land the greatest supposed distance of which was not more than 2 miles; however, at 5 P. M. we got a light air from the Southward with which we stood out to sea. In the evening the wind freshened, and grew squally. At 7 the entrance of the Bay bore N. E. and Cape Wt. E. N. E., with these bearings we had a remarkable white cliff, to the South of Cape West bearing E. S.E. 1/4 S. At 2 in the morning it moderated, when we tacked, made sail, and stood on. We kept plying to windward, in order to gain the bay; but at noon it blew so strong from the N. E. that we again were under the necessity of hauling to the westwd. At noon Anchor Id. N. E. b E. 5 Miles.

It continued blowing very strong, and we had to encounter an irregular sea; at 4 P. M. we reefed the Foresail. 12 it moderated, made sail, tack'd, and stood to the eastward. 3 A. M. the wind was excessive strong and came in heavy squalls, we handed the topsails. Six A. M. it was moderate weather and the wind came round from the N. E. to WNW.; we then made sail at noon the white cliff bore Et. distant 6 miles. Our Latd. obsd. 45.56 So.

There were but little hopes, at present, of getting into Port, for we had an incessant rain, with heavy squalls at N. E., and found it necessary, at 2 P. M. to strike Top Gt. Masts. At 4 we had less wind, we then made sail in shore, at 8 we tacked to the westward, and at midnight stood in for the Land. At 1 a breeze blew from the WNW. when we shaped our course for the bay. 4 We made more sail, and steered for Pt. 5 Fingers; which at this time bore N. E. the distance 5 or 6 Le. We had a thick rainy morning, so much so, that it was with difficulty we cou'd keep sight of Pt. 5 fingers, which at 9 we passed, and at 10 moored in the No Cove of Facile Harbour in five fathoms.

After having secured the ship and dined, Capt. Raven went to look at the other parts of the Harbour, and at some of the adjacent Coves. At the head of Cormorant Cove is an awful Cascade which rolls down in very heavy torrents from the mountains, thither they went and shot several ducks. At 6 in the evening they returned on board. Early in the morning he went with the boats to examine the Seal Islands and found the weather so boisterous that he could not explore them equal to his desire.

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1792 November.

Thursday, 8th. Visited Cook's clearing.

Friday, 9th. Saw Vancouver's clearing.

Saturday, 10th. Seals plentiful.

Sunday, 11th. Heavy weather.

Monday, 12th. Set out for Breaksea Island.

Tuesday, 13th. Signs of Natives.

About three P. M. we made the best of our way for Pickersgill Harbour which we reached at 5, and pulled up a small creek at the head of which is a run of fine water on the starboard side, going into the creek there is a point of land that appears to have been the spot upon which Mr. Wales had his observatory. We found several trees down, which were on the ground, they were on the outside entirely rotten; and in the heart, decayed, tho' hard, there being any part good is a proof that the wood is of great durability. It has lain since the early part of the Year 1773. 1 We found some stumps of trees, which appeared to have been newly cut down. 2 After dining we pull'd for the ship, and got on board about 7 in the Evening.

In the morning the Chief Mate went to the Seal Ids. the Carpenter was well empd. in falling trees for Spars and plank for the Ships use. This afternoon I went with Capt. Raven to get some altitudes for the Time Keeper, to a bight which lies on the Starbd. side of the entrance of the Cove; We found a considerable spot cleared of trees which had been recently felled. 3 In the evening the Mate returned and gave a very good account of the Islands. In the morning the Mates went again to the seal Isles. At 8 A. M. it came on to rain very heavily which continued until the conclusion of the twenty-four hours.

In the evening the mates returned from the Seal Islands and gave Capt. Raven so good an account of them that It henceforth was determined to leave a party here to collect Skins for the China Market.

The weather was very moderate, with a fine breeze from the Southward, we were employed occasionally. In the morning it rained hard, and was attended by the heaviest gusts of wind, from the mountains, I ever recollect to have felt, which put a stop to our different operations.

At one P. M. it fell calm. We weighed our Stream anchor and moored with the two Bowers. In the Morning we set out for Breaksea Island, on our passage we pull'd to the head of Duck Cove, where we breakfasted. I saw only two Ducks who both took wing immediately on the approach of the boat. After leaving the Cove we made the best of our way for Breaksea; but the wind blew right in our teeth, and it rained hard, so that we did not get on equal to our wishes.

At two we put into a Cove, made a large fire, dined, and then proceeded. As we were pulling up the arm, and had nearly opened the Sea Gates we saw a smoke on our left, in pulling in for it, I saw a small hut, at a small distance from the edge of the

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1792 November.

Presents left.

Reached Breaksea Island.

Returned to ship.

Wednesday, 14th.

Luncheon Cove.

Thursday, 15th. House at Luncheon Cove.


December. Sunday, 2nd.

water, at this moment one of our people made a noise which roused the inhabitants who issued from their abode and took to the woods. We landed and found the hut had been newly erected every part of the materials of which it was constructed were green; particularly the roof, which was covered, with the leaves of the Flax plant. A fire was at the entrance and within there lay some matts; these appeared to be their bed. Capt. Raven left an Axe & two knives, upon a log of wood, near the Dwelling place, he laid a small green branch upon the things, and left them, expecting they would return, but in this, was disappointed.

We got to Breaksea Isld. in the evening and there saw great numbers of seals. We made the best of our way back for the cove, where we had dined: we arrived late, but the fire was alight, which we soon increased to a large one, and made a very good supper of mussells and biscuit. It rained hard untill day break, we then departed, and arrived on board the Ship at seven in the morning, it was fair weather all this forenoon and we were empd. cutting wood, spars & plank for the Ship.

The afternoon continued fair and the people were empd. as before mentd. at 6 A. M. the Capt, & party set off for Luncheon Cove to build an house for the Sealing party.

Empd. as above, the Captain's gang returned at 7 P. M. and set off early the following morning.

From this time untill Saturday, Dec. 1st, we were employed building the dwelling and another House and getting the Ship ready for Sea. On this day we unmoored, weighed and warped the ship out of the north Cove, soon after it fell calm, we therefore anchored in 16 fms, under a small Island. After dinner the Captn. took his last trip to Luncheon Cove, and we, during his absence, having a light breeze from the Nd. weighed, and made sail out of Facile Harbour.

What we in the following days work supposed to be a shoal, we afterwards found from our peoples information, was the Shock of an Earthquake, it was felt in a more violent manner by the people at the House, its being felt in the boat strengthens the supposition.

[Tabular matter omitted. --The Editor. ]

2 P. M. we got underway and made sail out of Facill 4 Harbour when in the Sound we saw the boat coming towards us. brot. too untill she came on board, just as the Capt. was on deck the ship having very little headway touched upon a rock or shoal, but so lightly as to be hardly perceived, the other boat

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1792 December.

Earthquake felt on ship.

Monday, 3rd. Snares sighted

1793 25 June. At Sydney.

"Francis" launched.

in which was the mate, just came up and they said a tremor similar to what we had felt had but that inst. been felt in the boat. What this may arise from it is hard to conjecture, there was a considerable swell setting in to the bay--if this had. been a shoal we must have felt it more sensibly than we did--the ship instead of striking as on a rock--trembled to a violent degree--this water looked as in deep water.

N. B. five fingers pt. 45. 42 S. 166 9.

3rd. 4 P. M. Saw Land. S.E. 1/4 P 8 or 9 L. 8 P. M. the Isles which we suppose to be a new discovery bore from E b S b S.E. b E. dist. 5 Leagues, we called them Sunday they are in Lattd. 48.7 S. Long. 166.20' E. not a tree to be seen on them, the height of the northern one about as high as the Lizard.

The same Isles were seen by Capt. Vancover H. M. S. Discovery, prior to our discovery, he named them the Snares and makes their Long. the same as us, but differ'd to us in Latt.

[This latter paragraph was inserted in the journal at a later date, as the writing, when examined, shows. This ends the first visit of the "Britannia" to Dusky.

On the return of the "Britannia" from the Cape of Good Hope to Sydney the journal is again continued, on 25th June, 1793, when Raven is helping to launch the "Francis," which was afterwards to accompany the "Britannia" to Dusky, to relieve the sealing gang left there. --The Editor.]

During our stay at Port Jackson we have been employed delivering the cargo and rigging and refitting the ship.

A schooner which had been on the stocks a long time, was now ready to launch, and the whole strength of the colony being insufficient, the Comr. of the Britannia was ordered to compass this mighty point, we therefore slipped our cable and warped over to the Hospital Wharf, where we made the ship fast, rove a luff takle purchase and hove her off at highwater. She was called the Francis, in honor of the Major's Son. -- and his honor, gave the ships company an hog of 232 lbs. weight for the trouble thay had been at with her. Captn. Raven was then ordered to superintend the fitting her for sea which he did, and when he gave his report of her readiness, &c, He was ordered to take her under his care to Duskey Bay; in New Zeeland to send by her, accts. of the productions of that country, from New Zeeland he was ordered to proceed to Calcutta for a cargo of Salt Provisions for the use of the Colony --and was allowed 14/6 pr Ton pr Month for 300 Tons. --until) he arrived at Port Jackson again.

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1793 September. 7th.

8th to 24th. Voyage across to New Zealand.

Thursday, 27th. Dusky sighted.

6 a.m. Unmoored. 7. weighed and made sail. Empd turning down the Harbour--the Francis, in company."

[Table taken from the Log, from 8th to 24th September, 1793, showing the daily position of the "Britannia," with comments upon the "Francis." The lat. is in all cases S. and long. E. --The Editor.]

The journal then proceeds:--

4 P. M. the So Extr. of Duskey Bay N. E. 7 or 8 Legs.

5 A. M. Pt. five fingers E N E 6 Ls.

10 A. M. we were off Pt. Five Fingers, we then fired six Guns. We kept standing on for Anchor Island Harbour, and we were impatiently looking out for the boat, which at 11 we

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1793 September.

Meet Mr. Leith.


Sealers had built a craft.

Friday, 28th. Prepare for departure.

October. Wednesday, 9th.

Thursday, 10th. Left the cove.

saw pulling round the So. pt. of Anchor Isld. at Noon brot up in Anchor Isld Harbour. --Mr. Leith 5 and five others came on board--who informed us that all the rest were well--which gave us no small satisfaction.

Remarks &c. Duskey Bay New Zealand.

Soon after furling the sails--The Captain went with Mr. Leith to Luncheon Cove, in the Evening they returned to Supper, not an individual was left at the dwelling place, we had killed a Goat (the only remainder of our live stock) on the occasion, and I will venture to assert that a more pleasant sensation than this afforded had never been felt by any of the persons who composed this entertainment.

The informations we received were not equal to our expectations but the satisfactory intelligence of their safety exceeded them they had now been Ten Months on a Desolate (and to them) and an Uninhabited Island, without communication of any sort, and without any kind of refreshment than what we left them. They had built a Vessell of Sixty or Seventy Tons and had proceeded so far in her as to have been able to have left the place in 3 Months from the time of our arrival. Circumstances however prevented us from carrying this into execution, the time limited us by our Charter to stay at Duskey Bay was 14 Days beyond that time we were not to be considered in the service of Government nor should we receive Pay untill the time of our departure if we exceeded it. --it therefore became necessary to prepare for an early departure.

The following Morning was accordingly spent in getting a part of the Stores &c. which we had left, with a quantity of Plank intended for the Ships Decks, they being in a wretched condition. We found the weather in general unfavourable for our purpose, blowing chiefly very hard from the Nod, and being attended with very heavy rains.

Every opportunity was made use of for getting on board the above mentioned, articles, which was done, the rigging repaired and every necessary completed on Wednesday October 9th. and on Thursday we unmored and warped out of the Harbour into an Inlet between One of the Parrot Islands and the Pt. of Anchor Island, we found the swell setting very heavily into the Bay and so little wind that attempting to get was impossible. We got 3 or 4 Boats load of wood and spent the remainder of the day, which was a fine one, in pleasant excursion.

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1793 October.

Friday, 11th. Returned to Facile Harbour.

Saturday, 12th. Visit Goose Cove.

Native hut described.

Natives once seen by sealers.


This morning we had a light breeze at S.S.E., we immediately weighed and stood into the Sound--we now found the wind increase and the swell setting so violently into the Bay that the Ship would not work, we Bore up and run into Facill Harbour in the North Cove of which we anchored in the afternoon.

Employed scraping and greasing the Masts--One Boat with Cns Raven and Nepean set off on a party to Goose Cove. I went with them we arrived in the entrance at about 10 A. M. The weather was very unfavourable blowing heavily from the Southward, we landed on the Beach opposite to a Sandy low point which runs off a considerable distance from the Shore. The purpose of our landing was to look at a Hutt which we saw from the Boat. It was Built about 10 Yards from the High Water mark -- in the entrance of the Woods. The materials of which it was constructed were chiefly the Flax plant and a few Sticks stuck in an Upright position, it appeared nearly circular; but wanted a segment of 1/2 of its circumference which was the entrance a man might sit upright, but I think it impossible for one to stand upright in it. They must creep on all fours to enter it--and a family of 5 or 6 persons must lie very warm, the whole reminds me of necessary buildings I have seen at Port Jackson built by the Convicts and designed for the accommodation of a Sow and a litter of Pigs, with the Shelter they receive (for neither land nor Sea wind can reach them) they, may serve the purpose to those whom Nature has destined to endure those hardships which to them seem trifles, but to a European unused to the scenes would be astonishing. No inhabitant was seen nor had any Been in it some time. Our People had once visited this Cove since our leaving them when they had seen a fire in the hut but the Natives had fled before their approach, every inducement of theirs had been found insufficient to persuade them to return to the habitation before they departed. They had left a few nails and other baubles which they found afterwards untouched, the Natives had left their Habitation in consequence of this discovery of theirs. We found that all the Huts in Goose Cove and those at the Head of it and in Wood Hen Cove were deserted, at the Head of Goose Cove we found Celery and some Ducks but they had now become so shy that on the approach of the Boat they immediately took flight. We shot about 6--the last of which was a Painted one. 6 it had 10 Ducklings, with a great deal of trouble they caught 6 of them, 2 were killed in catching, and the other four were taken on Board,

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1793 October.

Saturday, 12th.

Thought schooner lost.

Unexpectedly found at Luncheon Cove.

Brought to facile Harbour.

Sunday, 20th. Refitted. Left Dusky.

Remarks, Monday, 21st.

where, notwithstanding every care was taken to preserve them; they died in a week--The Mother being shot, it was with great difficulty we were able to pull the boat ahead round the point which we at last accomplished and in the Evening returned on Board.

Nothing has been said of the Schooner, which from the inclemency of the weather both when she Parted and since that time, we all concluded was lost. A very odd circumstance occurred which gave us the greatest and the most pleasant surprize. It happened that the last Boat when was at Luncheon had forgot a Cat which was out of the House. A boat was now sent to fetch that Cat--in her I went, and on pulling into the entrance we saw to our surprize the Schooner at anchor--we learned that she had arrived on the day before after having been driven to leeward as far as the Sundays Islands, Supposed to have been discov. in our last Voyage.

She now wanted every assistance, they had not been able to make her stay she wanted repairs which they were unable to give her, and without which it would have been impossible to have ventured to Sea again. We returned on board in the evening, and 2 Boats were dispatched to bring her to Facill 7 Harbour where she arrived the day after. We were now all hands Empd. in wooding and watering her. The Carpenters were empd. in making a Bowsprit and repairing her rudder and Sawyers were cutting plank for Her. On Sunday 20th. of October we had completely fitted her to proceed on her voyage we got under way and made sail out of the Sound with the Francis in Company. After a stay of 1 Mo. more than we were directed by Charter Party for which the reasons were given that detained us.

Hoisted our Colours and parted Company with the Francis. 8 Made and shortened sail occasionally. Swell from N.N.W.

1   From 27th March to 29th April, 1773.
2   Probably by Vancouver's men (ante pp. 489 and 491).
3   Probably by the Chatham's men (ante pp. 496 to 500).
4   Facile Harbour.
5   The second mate left in charge of the sealing party at Luncheon Cove the previous year.
6   The paradise duck, Casarca variegata, or putangitangi.
7   Facile Harbour.
8   Captain Raven sailed for Norfolk Island and there handed to Lieut.-Governor King, under date 2nd November, 1793, a report of his visit to Dusky Sound (Vol. i, pp. 177 to 179).

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