Week 8

Sunday 12th January – fine weather. At daylight we cast off from our moorings and set sail for Honduras by the southern passage, in Company with 2 Sloops of war, the Tweed & the Fly – & several Merchantmen – having the land breeze blowing moderately. After it had ceased & we had a very short interval of calm, the sea breeze sprung up fresh and carried us along on our favourable course.

Monday 13th – we had still a continuance of our fine weather – and the breeze tho’ slacker was moderate and favourable.

Tuesday 14th January – fine weather – Moderate and favourable. Our object was first to make out the Island of Bonaca, from thence Rattan and from thence to stretch over to Half Moon Kay, where we would have a Pilot to Belize. We were well aware that we should feel the influence of currents – but this we little regarded so long as we had observations of the sun, and Chronometers to advertise us of our time position. To day we obtained fine lunars, from the Captain, Mate & Master, the results of which put us into a quandary. They almost all came out three degrees to the Westward of our Chronometers – so that instead of being 180 miles from Bonaca, we ought, if the Lunars were correct, to be within sight & even abreast of it. Now it seemed strange that our Chronometers should in the short space of two days have erred so much – and [not] only that but that both should show the same amount of error. But still here were so many lunars taken by different persons all coming out near to each other – & where could the mistake be – No one could explain & therefore a man was sent to the mast head to look for land, but no land could be seen. What then was to be done – should we sail all night, or lay to – The matter was left undecided until we should have an observation by the Moon & a planet. We had it – and resolved to carry on all night, as we thought the Chronometers were right and we had plenty of distance to run.

Wednesday 15th January – moderate and favourable breeze. Fine weather in the forenoon – heavy showers with dark clouds in the afternoon. To day we obtained 7 lunars, and before working them we fully expected that their result would point out that we had made some galling mistake in working those of yesterday. To our great surprise they all came as before – and puzzled us exceedingly. In this predicament the Captain  resolved to go about – to get into the latitude of the Light House & then steer to the Westward ______ _____ we made it. Accordingly we went about and beat to windward for nearly an hour, exchanging the easy motion of the vessel nearly before the wind, for the unpleasant pitching of one close hauled upon the wind. At the time we went about the sky looked dark and lowering thick clouds hung over the horizon & excluded us from the view of anything that lay beyond a mile or two. Fortunately indeed for us, the dense curtain was slowly uplifted, and there stood disclosed to our astonished eyes the Island of Bonacca, and not far from it the Island of Rattan. The minds of our Captain & Master were instantly relieved from intense anxiety – and all hands quickly obeyed the cheering order to go about again with a fair wind. Thus we found that all the lunars came out egregiously wide of the true mark – yet still so large an amount of error could not be accounted for on any reasonable grounds. The Captain could not rest easy, till he got to the bottom of the mystery. He pored & pored – but for a long time in vain – at last in looking over the Ephemeris of this year he discovered that the Tables shewed Mean Time, whereas he had been working as if they had been headed Apparent Time, according as they had been all along previous to this year. Thus the Mistake was elucidated & the lunars & Chronometers completely reconciled.

Thursday 16th January – during the night the rain fell in torrents, accompanied with strong breezes – and in the morning the weather was cloudy with a moderate & steady wind. At 9.30 A.M. we saw Half Moon Kay and Light House. At 11 A.M. we took a pilot on board (John Young) under whose guidance we had a very fine run to Belize, which we reached at 5 P.M. I have nothing new to say of our passage as I have exhausted in my former voyage, all that can be said of it. The weather during the day was very fine. On our arrival we came to in the Quarantine ground, a long way off from the Town. In half [an hour] afterwards the Health Officer came alongside and upon the production of our clean Bill of Health instantly gave us Practique, upon which we up anchor & moved further in to our old anchorage. I went on shore with the Mate, who had charge of the Mail – and whom should I meet but M.r Liddel, our old passenger two voyages ago. We had expected to have found him at Havanah where he is established – so that his presence at this out of the way place completely startled. He told us that he had left Havana only three weeks before & would be back again soon. He seemed very glad to see us, as indeed we were to see [him]. He said he had heard nothing from Senora Margareta, & that Don Jose Apellaniz had gone to Porto Rico. After leaving him & delivering the Governor’s Dispatches, we strolled about. All things were in status quo – only we were surprised by the unusual sight of a large private house, brilliantly lighted up & the open verandas hung up with flags. In the centre was an excellent band of music, which struck up ‘God Save the King’ as preliminary to the opening of the Ball, for such it was. In front of the house a very large assemblage of blacks & brownies gazed upon the scene before them and watched with curiosity every one who passed in. This Ball we found afterwards was given by the Bachelors of Belize to the Maidens – and was in return for a similar from the latter to the former about a month ago. There were about 80 guests male & female. The whole went off with great spirit and good humour – nor did many depart from the festive scene till 6 A.M.

We had no time to notice the proceedings as we had to return on board – so after getting a cup or two of coffee, we hurried off to our vessel. When we started a very strong tide was running, which the united efforts of the gigs crew could hardly stem. As it was we had a very long night & took up four times the time we usually take in pulling off.

Friday 17th Jan.ry – one of our men having been ill all night – I did not go on shore in the morning – but at Noon he being very much better, I went to see M.r Liddel & with him and another Scotchman I progressed to the house where the Ball had been held last night to eat second breakfast. The room still exhibited the traces of what had been going on – there were the flags – the chalked floor – and the various rooms deprived of their usual furniture. When we arrived there were a great many gentlemen there, most of whom had been at the entertainment last night. I was politely introduced to several and kindly received. Among others, one of the Stewards apologised to me & said that he was sorry we had arrived so late in the day, as otherwise he would have sent a Card of invitation to the Commander, Officers & passengers – and upon learning that some of us had been on shore in the evening, he said their Stewards would have been most happy had we come without ceremony – and particularly as we would have met the Officers of H.M. Schooner Skipjack. I expressed to him in return how much we were obliged to the Stewards for their kind intentions towards us – but hoped that it might be our good fortune to come about the same time & share in their festivities on a similar occasion.

In the centre of one of the rooms a long table was set on which was displayed – a vast variety of different eatables & drinkables – hams & poultry cuts – tarts – custards – beef &.c together with Porter, Beer – wine of various sorts & spirits of every description. I sat myself down – & did very good justice to the viands – so much so indeed, that when I went to dine with our passengers at 3 oClock, I could hardly take anything at all.

Here I met M.r McDonald the Teacher, who recognised me at once & with him I had a long eraat de similus rebus el muiltis ¬¬ellis.

Having satisfied our appetites, we left the house and went to a M.r Johnstone’s, where M.r Liddel was living. After a short stay, I left him there, and went about the Town till dinner time. I noticed no alterations in the buildings – but I was very glad to perceive that they have completed in a very convenient and substantial manner, the bridge over the river, which had been in progress when we were here last. The Town seemed very dull – little business- & few customers. The cause of this was that no communication was allowed with the interior on account of the Cholera – and in order to prevent any such, a cordon of soldiers was drawn, embracing all the points by which Belize is accessible.

At 3 the Master & I dined by invitation with our passengers – and shortly after dinner we went for the Mail & Despatches. At 7 P.M. every thing being ready we bid adieu to the shore & without much difficulty gained our Packet. Fine weather during the day.

Such is the history of our eight[h] week, for perceive that I have added nothing at all to your knowledge of the places we have seen – but in truth if I can not tell something new, I do not wish to give you repetitions. The only other remark I shall make regarding this week is, that during the last three days, we have turned the weather very cool & comfortable.

Read on …