Bibliography Texts

Ship's Log: Whaleship Cyrus

Paul West

Excerpts from the 1809 log of the whaleship Cyrus, with minor edits for clarity. The May 20th entry describes the incident in which Patrick Watkins procured a boat with which to sail for the mainland. West does not identify Watkins by name, but refers to him as “the notorious Irishman, the Governor, the Irish inhabitant, the Hermit, the villain” and finally, as “Paddy.” The description of dealing with Watkins for vegetables and the theft of the whaleboat may have been the source for a similar episode in William H. Macy's “King Pat” story. In his Journal of a Cruise …, David Porter's description of Watkins indicates he left the island shortly after stealing the boat.

May 14th. Found the island inhabited by the notorious Irishman & co[mpany], and that the tortoises are more plentifully procured than they were in August 1807. Landed one boat and took off 23 turpin besides enough to serve 24 hours. Careened ship & begun to pay the bends. At noon the Danube sailed.

Monday May 15th. First part light airs & calm, at 10 AM a breeze sprung up at NNW and blew a moderate breeze until noon. Then a moderate trade set in & continued all the latter part, finished paying the bends and took on board 40 tortoisses.

Tuesday May 16th. Gentle breezes varying all round the compass and fair Wr. Landed three boats and took off 104 tortoises. Paid the Governor a visit, & agreed to take a number of pumpkins and a few potatoes at a very high price. Found two Men in company with the Irishman and had reason to suspect others being on the island. Found tolerable plenty of prickly-plumbs, at 10 AM the H[annah] & Eliza sailed.

Wednesday May 17th. Fresh SE trades and fair weather throughout these 24 hours. At 4 AM dispatched all three boats as usual after tortoisses at 6 & 8. They return'd with 98, at 11 AM landed and took two dogs to the shore, but had not been an hour on the land when the largest of the two (being a kind of mastiff) was overcome I suppose with the extreme heat and went mad, so that I was oblig'd to destroy him. The other, a small dog, began to be affected but on taking him on board he recovered immediately. Kept as many of the crew on shore as could possibly be out of the ship at a time.

Thursday 18th May. Gentle trades at SE and sometimes light variable airs. Laying still under the lee of Charle's Island at 4 AM dispatch'd two boats for tortoisses. At 5 PM they return'd with 61, one boats crew on board tacked the Ship round, and put the T-G-riging in order. Landed on the W-side of this bay and found a few tortoisses. Received a visit from the Irish inhabitant of this island, who disappointed us, in the pumpkins that we agreed to purchase of him.

Friday 19th May. Moderate Southerly trades, and at times light variable airs & calm lying still under the lee of Charle's [sic] Island, having already procured a good supply of tortoisses. Did not endeavour to get more than would serve the present time. Most of the crew on shore, some on board employ'd at seting up the riging. Painted the outside of the Bulwark etc., counted and found we had 327 tortoisses on board. So ends waiting for the Hermit to collect his vegetables.

Saturday 20th May. Steady trades and fair weather at 4 AM. Manned two boats from the Argo and two from the Cyrus, and according to agreement with the inhabitant § landed at his valley and went up to his place of pumkins [sic], where he delivered 120 pumpkins which we took down to our boats at two turns. Then went up to take another turn but not finding the villains or anything else worth notice, made the best of our way to the boats, where to our surprise we found that the villain with his comrades had taken away one of the Argo's boats and stove both boats belonging to the Cyrus. He took or destroyed all the oars except two steer-oars, two boat-sails, an anchor-&-rode, two small casks, & kegs with water, and every thing else about the boats whether it could be of any use to him or not. One sail that was under the bushes was left, which together with two steer-oars and four rowing oars that we found on our passage enabled us to get on board. After repairing one of my boats with canvas and ceiling-nails, leaving one boat on the beach with three holes in her bottom, and part of our pumpkins at 4 PM reached the Ships with two boats, then man'd and sent two armed boats that patched and tarpaulined my other boat and at 8 PM got her and the rest of the pumpkins to the Ship.

§ Patrick Watkins. See David Porter's Journal of a Cruise for details about Watkins.

Sunday May 21st. At 5 AM unmoored. At 6 took our anchor and stood out with a light trade at SE which soon left us and blew gently from the N or came too again & lay till noon. Then with a light air at SE got under way in company with the Argo and left Charles Island with 310 tortoises & 60 pumpkins. Steered westward, passed the S end of Albemarle & hove to for daylight, parted with the Argo. We did not think it prudent to allow our crews to attempt any kind of revenge on Paddy, since we are so well convinced of his good supply of arms & ammunition, knowing such a remedy would in the end be worse than the disease.