A Narrative of the Passage of His Britannic Majesty’s ships Discovery and Chatham, under the Command of Captain Vancouver, through the Straits of Juan de Fuca, and through the channel known at the present day as the Rosario Strait, to Birch Bay, situated in the ancient Gulf of Georgia, S. 23 W. and N. 12 W. (Extracted from Vol. I of “Captain Vancouver’s Voyages,” published in 1798.)
On the 29th April, 1792, Captain Vancouver, in command of His Britannic Majesty’s ships Discovery and Chatham, anchored, about eight miles within the entrance, on the southern shore of the supposed Straits of de Fuca.April 29, 1792, page 220.
On the following morning (30th) the expedition weighed anchor, with a favourable wind, and the same evening anchored off a low, sandy point, to which Captain Vancouver gave the name of New Dungeness.April 30, 1792.
On the 2nd May the expedition quitted New Dungeness, and sub sequently anchored, in 34 fathoms water, about a quarter of a mile from the shore, in a harbour, to which was given the name of Port Discovery, after the vessel commanded by Captain Vancouver.May 2, 1792, page 227.
During the stay of the expedition at Port Discovery, namely, until the 18th May, boat expeditions were sent to explore the western shore of the Straits.
On the 18th May the ships quitted Port Discovery and entered Admiralty Inlet, and on the 19th they anchored off Restoration Point, the name given to an anchorage discovered therein.May 18, 1792, page 258.
During the period of the stay of the vessels at Restoration Point, several boating expeditions were dispatched to explore the shores in Puget Sound and Admiralty Inlet.May 19, 1792.
On the 30th May Captain Vancouver quitted Restoration Point and directed his course to the opening under examination by Mr. Broughton, who commanded the Chatham, the entrance to which lies from Restoration Point N. 20 E., 5 leagues distant, and there anchored for the night.May 30, 1792, page 279.
On the 31st May he again weighed anchor, and on the 2nd June Captain Vancouver anchored his vessels, in 50 fathoms water, in a branch of the Admiralty Inlet, which he called Possession Sound, distinguishing its western arm by the name of Port Gardner, and its smaller or eastern one by that of Port Susan.May 31, 1792, page 280.June 2, 1792, page 283.
On the 5th June the expedition quitted Possession Sound and anchored the same night about half a mile from the western shore of Admiralty Inlet.June 5, 1792, page 290.
On the 6th June the vessels worked out of the inlet, and reached its entrance at a point to which Captain Vancouver gave the name of Point Partridge, and, proceeding northward, after advancing a few miles along the eastern shore of the Gulf, the expedition was obliged to anchor in 20 fathoms water, finding no effect from the ebb or flood tides, and the wind being light from the northward.June 6, 1792, page 291.
“In this situation,” Captain Vancouver stated. “New Dungeness bore by compass S. 54 W.; the east point of Protection Island, S. 15 W.; the west point of Admiralty Inlet, which, after my much esteemed friend, Captain George Wilson, of the navy, I distinguished by the name of Point Wilson, S. 35 E., situated in latitude 48° 10′, longitude 237° 31′; the [Page 86]nearest shore east, 2 leagues distant, a low, sandy island, forming at its west end a low cliff, above which some dwarf trees are produced from H. 26 W. *to N. 40 W., and the proposed station for the vessels during the examination of the continental shore by the boats, which, from Mr. Broughton, who had visited it, obtained the name of Strawberry Bay, N. 11 W., at the distance of about 6 leagues, situated in a region apparently much broken and divided by water. Here we remained until 7 in the evening. We then weighed, butwith so little wind that, after having drifted to the southward of our former station, we were obliged again to anchor until 6 the next morning, when we made an attempt to proceed, but were soon again compelled to become stationary near our last situation.”Description by Captain Vancouver of the passage through the channel, now called Rosario Strait, to Birch Bay, in His Majesty’s ships Discovery and Chatham.Page 291.June 7, 1792.
“On the 7th June,” Captain Vancouver continues, “about 6 in the evening, with a light breeze from the S. W., we weighed and stood to the northward; but after having advanced about eleven miles, the wind became light, and obliged us to anchor about 9 that evening, in 37 fathoms of water, hard bottom, in some places rocky; in this situation we were detained by calms until the afternoon of the following day. Our observed latitude here was 48° 29′, longitude 237° 29′; the country occupying the northern horizon in all directions appeared to be excessively broken and insular. Strawberry Bay bore by compass N. 10 W. about three leagues distant; the opening on the continental shore, the first object for the examination of the detached party, with some small rock islets before its entrance that appeared very narrow, bore, at the distance of about five miles, S. 37 E.; Point Partridge, S. 21 E.; the low sandy island, south; the south part of the westernmost shore, which is composed of islands and rocks, S. 37 W., about two miles distant; the nearest shore was within about a mile; a very dangerous sunken rock, visible only at low tide, lies off from a low rocky point on this shore, bearing N. 79 W.; and a very unsafe cluster of small rocks, some constantly, and others visible only near low water, bore N. 15 W. about two and a half miles distant.June, 1792, page 293.June 8, 1792.
“This country presented a very different aspect from that which we had been accustomed to behold further south. The shores now before us were composed of steep, rugged rocks, whose surface varied exceedingly in respect to height, and exhibited little more than the barren rock, which in some places produced a little herbage of a dull colour, with a few dwarf trees.
“With a tolerably good breeze from the north we weighed about 3 in the afternoon, and with a flood tide turned up into Strawberry Bay, where in about three hours we anchored in 16 fathoms, fine sandy bottom. This bay is situated on the west side of an island which, producing an abundance of upright cypress, obtained the name of Cypress Island. The bay is of small extent, and not very deep; its south point bore by compass S. 40 E.; a small islet, forming nearly the north point of the bay, round which is a clear good passage west; and the bottom of the bay east, at a distance of about three-quarters of a mile. This situation, though very commodious in respect to the shore, is greatly exposed to the winds and sea in a S.SE. direction.”
In consequence of the anchorage being much exposed, Captain Vancouver resolved to proceed with his vessels up the gulf to the northwest in quest of a more commodious situation.June 11, 1792, page 296.
“With a light breeze from the SE., about 4 o’clock the next morning,” (11th June,) Captain Vancouver states, “we quitted this station, and passed between the small island and the north point of the bay to [Page 87]the north westward, through a cluster of numerous islands, rocks, and rocky islets. On Mr. Broughton’s first visit hither he found a quantity of very excellent strawberries, which gave it the name of Strawberry Bay; but, on our arrival, the fruit season was passed. The bay affords good and secure anchorage, though sometimes exposed; yet, in fair weather, wood and water may be easily procured. The island of Cypress is principally composed of high, rocky mountains, and steep perpendicular cliffs, which, in the centre of Strawberry Bay, fall a little back, and the space between the foot of the mountains and the sea-side is occupied by low, marshy land, through which are several runs of most excellent water, that find their way into the bay by oozing through the beach. It is situated in latitude 48° 36½′, longitude 237° 34′. The variation of the compass, by eighteen sets of azimuths, differing from 18° to 21°, taken on board and on shore, since our departure from Admiralty Inlet, gave the mean result of 19° 5′ eastwardly. The rise and fall of the tide was inconsiderable, though the stream was rapid. The ebb came from the east, and it was high water 2h. 37m. after the moon had passed the meridian.
“We proceeded first to the north-eastward, passing the branch of the gulph that had been partly examined, and then directed our course to the north-westward, along that which appeared a continuation of the continental shore, formed by low sandy cliffs, rising from a beach of sand and stones. The country, moderately elevated, stretched a considerable distance from the north-westward round to the south-eastward, before it ascended to join the range of rugged, snowy mountains. This connected barrier, from the base of Mount Baker, still continued very lofty, and appeared to extend in a direction leading to the westward of north. The soundings along the shore were regular, from 12 to 25 and 30 fathoms, as we approached or increased our distance from the land, which seldom exceeded two miles; the opposite of the gulph to the south-westward, composed of numerous islands, was at a distance of about two leagues. As the day advanced, the south-east wind gradually died away, and for some hours we remained nearly stationary.
“In the evening, a light breeze favouring the plan I had in contemplation, we steered for a bay that presented itself, where about 6 o’clock we anchored in 6 fathoms of water, sandy bottom, half a mile from the shore. The points of the bay bore by compass S. 32 W. and N. 72 W.; the westernmost part of that which we considered to be the main land west, about three leagues distant; to the south of this point appeared the principal direction of the gulph though a very considerable arm seemed to branch from it to the north-eastward. As soon as the ship was secured, I went in a boat to inspect the shores of the bay, and found, with little trouble, a very convenient situation for our several very necessary duties on shore; of which the business of the observatory was my chief object, as I much wished for a further trial of the rate of chronometers, now that it was probable that we should remain at rest a sufficient time to make the requisite observations for that purpose. Mr. Broughton received my directions to this effect, as also that the vessels should be removed, the next morning, about a mile further up the bay to the north-east, where they would be more conveniently stationed for our several operations on shore; and as soon as the business of the observatory should acquire a degree of forward*ness, Mr. Whidby, in the Discovery’s cutter, attended by the Chatham’s launch, was to proceed to the examination of that part of the coast unexplored to the south-eastward; whilst myself in the yawl, accompanied by Mr. Puget in the launch, directed our researches up the main inlet of the gulph.”[Page 88]