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seven or eight degrees east from the Galapagos Islands. The English and Anglo-Americans” who enter these latitudes for the spermacetiwhale or cachalot fishery are much less afraid of this archipelago than the Spaniards; and they frequently touch there for the purpose of getting turtles, an agreeable and salutary food to mariners, and of landing the diseased seamen. As the whalers are nicely constructed, they experience less drift from the feeble winds. After escaping from the calms which prevail under the equator, between Cape St. Francis and the Galapagos Islands, the Peruvian vessels fall in with, about the 13° 30' and 150 of north latitude, and the 103° and 106° of west longitude, another region equally formidable from the frequent calms in the months of February and March. In the year which preceded that in which we visited these seas, a dead calm of twenty-eight days, with a want of water in consequence of it, forced the crew of a ship newly built at Guayaquil, to abandon a rich cargo of cocoa, and save themselves in a boat to make the land, which was eighty leagues distant. Similar accidents are not uncommon in the South Sea, where the pilots have the blameable custom of taking in a very small number of casks of water, to have more room for goods.
* See vol. iii. chap. x. p. 88. VOL, IV. F
The calms which prevail in the parallel of 14° north, and which are only to be compared with those of the gulph of Guinea, are the more to be feared, as they are experienced at the end of the passage. In the navigation from the Callao, and from Guayaquil to Acapulco, they endeavour to land west from the port, on account of the winds and currents, which have a very regular direction near the coast. They generally endeavour to steer for the sand banks of Signantizo, situated at more than forty leagues distance to the west-north-west of Acapulco, a little to the west of the Morro de Petatlan. These banks being very white are seen at sea, at a distance of four leagues. After passing them, they follow the coast steering to the south-east, towards the point of Satlan and the beautiful shores of Sitiala and Coyuca, which are covered with palm trees. They know the port of Acapulco, merely from the nipples (tetas) of Coyuca and the great Cerro de la Brea or Siclata. This mountain, visible at sea at 38 miles distance from the port, is situated to the west of the Alto del Peregrino, and, like the Pic d'Orizaba, the Campana de Truxillo, and the Silla de Payta, serves for a signal to navigators. From the coasts of California and Cinaloa to Acapulco, and frequently even to Tehuantepec, the current runs from December to the month
of April, in the season which they agree to call summer, from the north-west to the south-east; and in winter, from the month of May to the month of December, the current runs to the north-west, most frequently west-north-west. On account of this motion of the waters of the ocean, which is only felt at forty leagues distance from the coast, a passage from Acapulco to San Blas lasts from twenty to thirty days in summer, while in winter it lasts only from five to six days. On the western coast of the New Continent, between the 16° and 270 of north latitude, a navigator without means of finding his longitude, may be sufficiently sure, if the observation of latitude places him to the north of the loch, that his vessel has been carried by the currents towards the west; while, on the other hand, his longitude will be farther east than he finds from his reckoning, if the observed latitude is less than the latitude of his reckoning. But south of the parallel of 16° north, and in the whole southern hemisphere, these rules become very uncertain, as I was convinced from carefully comparing in the eastern part of the great ocean day after day, the point of reckoning with the chronometrical longitude and observations of the sun and moon. Enormous errors in longitude, occasioned by the strength of the currents, render navigation in these latitudes equally long and expensive. Errors accumulate in passages of 2000 leagues, and nowhere is the use of timekeepers and the employment of the method of lunar distances more indispensable than in a sea basin of so vast an extent. Hence for several years past even the most ignorant pilots begin to feel the great utility of astronomical observations. I knew at Lima, Spanish merchants who had purchased timekeepers for six or eight thousand francs, with the view of embarking them in their newly built ships. I learned with satisfaction, that even several English and AngloAmerican vessels which double Cape Horn, for the whale fishery, and for visiting the northwest coast of America, are provided with chronometers. The passage from Acapulco to Lima, is frequently longer and more difficult than a navigation from Lima to Europe. It is executed in winter by ascending to the 28° or 30° of south latitude, before approaching the coast of Chili; and sometimes they are forced to steer to the south-south-west beyond the island of Juan Fernandez. This navigation por altura, of which the first example was given in 1540 by Diego de Ocampo under Antonio de Mendoza the viceroy of Mexico, generally lasts from three to four months; but a few years ago the ship Neptune belonging to the trade of Guayaquil took seven months in going from the coast of Mexico to the Port of Callao. In summer, from the month of December to the month of May, they ascend from the Point Pariña" (lat. 4° 35' south ; long. 88° 45') to Lima, by means of the Terral. This track goes by the name of Navigation por el meridiano, because, instead of keeping three or four hundred leagues west from the coast, they endeavour to change the longitude in a very small degree. In Peru, between Paita and the Callao, in Mexico, between Sonzonate and Acapulco, and in general on the greatest part of the coast under the torrid zone, the land wind is very cool during the night; it varies from the south-east to south-east 4 to the east; while between Cape Blanc and Guayaquil, the wind blows by night from the sea towards the land. The pilots know how to take advantage of this circumstance whenever they get to Punta Pariña. They tack for eighteen hours out at sea to the south-south-west; and at night when the land wind rises, they turn the head towards the coast for the other six hours, plying to windwards with full sail on account of the currents. In the Navigation by the meridian, they should not