ON THE 18TH [7 February] we were 2 leagues from the most easterly of the St. Peter islands, and so stood in for the point on the mainland at which our bearings had been stopped the day before. In this part the coast recedes to form a broad bay that stretches to North-East by North. We ran in for it in order to find out its depth and to see if there were not some ports there where ships could lie securely. As the weather was fine and the breeze fresh, we made fairly rapid progress - lead constantly in hand when we found no more than 11 fathoms. In less than a quarter of an hour we fell to 6, and this obliged us to bear away (and even to go about) in order to reach the other headland forming the western entrance to this bay. We were still roughly 2 leagues from the North-East inlet, but it was perfectly plain that it had neither cuttings nor openings that could lead one to believe that there was anything of interest there.

This lack of depth having obliged us to stand out a little, we sighted a long reef at water- level over which big seas broke. It seemed to us to be more than a league long. We were then in 15 fathoms and, being unable to pass between it and the mainland, were forced to stand in for the eastern end of the St. Peter islands and to pass between this and the reef, coasting the third island (not mentioned on the chart) at a distance of 1.1 miles at the most. The channel separating this island from the reef is a good league across and the depth is 15 to 18 fathoms with a bottom of sand and broken shells.

After doubling it, we saw several other islands to the West and East which we judged must belong to the Isles of St. Francis. In the channels between them there are several reefs at water- level over which the sea breaks heavily, but past which one can sail fairly close without having anything to fear, for the water is deep. We were frequently obliged to luff for some and bear away for others. Finally, heading East of North to stand in for the land, we doubled two islands lying very near the coast; and when we were to the North of the first, we sighted a large bay, even deeper than the one passed during the morning. It seemed to me that we should find good shelter there, and 1 decided to look for an anchorage in it, coasting the West side of the islands. This conjecture was proved correct, for once we had them to South-East, we found the sea very calm. We then shortened sail and, continuing North in 11 and 12 fathoms, advanced to 6, where I anchored 1-1 leagues off shore on a bottom of grey sand mixed with broken shells and weed. The coast at the head of the inlet was still more than 2 leagues to East- SouthEast, but before we took the ship in there. it was necessary to make sure if there were [sufficient depth] for entering as well as for coming out.

As soon as our sails were furled, two boats were immediately dispatched to go sounding all around the ship and in various directions. On their return, I was informed that the depth of this bay was not sufficient for even a small vessel. At about a mile from the ship there were no more than 5 fathoms of water; half a mile further on, 4, and almost straightaway, 3 and 2. Nearer to the shore there was nothing but shallows and a continuous succession of sand-banks partly visible at low tide.

The boat which had had orders to head North-West gave us a moment of joy and satisfaction when it told us that it had discovered a fine port into which four rivers flowed, and that in the one it had entered, there were 4 fathoms of water and 3 inside *. As a matter of fact the water in it was salty, but it would probably finish by becoming fresh as one went further up it. This was particularly pleasant, as it compensated for our regret at having found nothing on this coast so far that could repay us for our efforts and be of use to navigators.

The little boat had been sent off likewise to the island opposite which we were at anchor, and Citizen Guichenot, our gardener, had gone in it to reconnoitre the territory and discover what it produced. The boat did not return until during the night, having been stranded at low tide more than 2 miles off shore.

According to the gardener's report, this island consists merely of sand, in which various low, shrubby trees grow. He only brought back some plants that were gone to seed, having been unable to find any in flower. Amongst them, there is one that has absolutely the bearing of an olive-tree. Its fruit resembles the olive in miniature, although the seed inside is very different. A big fire was lit on this island to serve as a beacon for the Casuarina, should she happen to enter this region.

As there was a very strong breeze all day and we had only 30 fathoms of cable down, we paid out 20 more, and in spite of the heavy South-South-easterly gusts, held firm on our anchor - proof that the bottom was not foul and that the holding was good.

* Sic.

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