15th & 16th Feb 1832

St Pauls Rocks

Saw the rocks of St Pauls right ahead:[Photo taken during a landing in 2002]

Heaved to during the night, and this morning we were a few miles distant from them. — When within 3 miles, two boats were lowered, one with Mr Stokes for surveying the island, the other with Mr Wickham and myself for geologizing and shooting. — St Pauls may be considered as the top of a submarine mountain. — It is not above 40 feet above the sea, and about 1/2 a mile in circumference. — Bottom could not be found within a mile of the Island, and if the depth of the Atlantic is as great as it is usually supposed, what an enormous pyramid this must be. —

We had some difficulty in landing as the long swell of the open sea broke with violence on the broken rocky coast. — We had seen from a distance large flocks of sea-birds soaring about, and when we were on the Island a most extraordinary scene was presented. — We were surrounded on every side by birds, so unaccustomed to men that they would not move. — We knocked down with stones and my hammer the active and swift tern. — Shooting was out of the question, so we got two of the boats crew and the work of slaughter commenced. They soon collected a pile of birds, and hats full of eggs.

Whilst we were so active on shore, the men in the boat were not less so. — They caught a great number of fine large fish and would have succeeded much better had not the sharks broken so many of their hooks and lines: they contrived to land three of these latter fish, and during our absence 2 large ones were caught from the ship. — We returned in great triumph with our prey, but were a good deal fatigued. —

The island is only 50 miles from the Equator, and the rocks being white from the birds dung, reflected a glaring heat. — The birds were only of two sorts, Booby and Noddys, and these with a few insects were the only organized beings that inhabited this desolate spot. —

In the evening the ceremonies for crossing the line commenced: The officer on watch reported a boat ahead. — The Captain turned "hands up, shorten sail", and we heaved to in order to converse with Mr Neptune. The Captain held a conversation with him through a speaking trumpet, the result of which was that he would in the morning pay us a visit.

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