here, to give a more imposing appearance to the enterprise, the Barracouta was converted into a ship ; an alteration that occupied her crew no longer than from daylight till breakfast time. On the 9th the ships quitted Soolo, and on the 10th entered the Pacific Ocean between the islands to the eastward of Soolo, and which are in sight of Basseelan. On the 21st, after a very favourable run, the ships gained a sight of the Cape of Good Hope (new) on the coast of New-Guinea ; and on the 23d, late in the evening, having worked through Pitt's Straits against an adverse wind, entered the Java sea.
It took the ships nearly a fortnight to beat up to the island of Goram, although distant only four degrees of latitude from Pitt's Straits ; and on the 7th they communicated with the shore, but, owing to the rapidity of the current and the strength of the monsoon, not without considerable difficulty. The rajah of the island now furnished Captain Cole with two Malay guides, who professed to have a knowledge of the roads and batteries of Banda-Neira ; and the same evening the ships bore up for the Banda islands, which, with the prevailing wind, were only a 36 hours' sail from Goram.
The weather on the 8th was very fine, with a haze round the horizon, which favoured the approach of the ships ; who were now under easy sail, to prevent as much as possible their being discovered. The final preparations for the attack were this day made ; and at 2 p.m. the boats of the ships were hoisted out, and one day's provisions and 50 rounds of ball cartridge for each man put on board of them. At 5 p.m. the ships brought to. At 5 h. 30 m. the small island of Rosensgen became just visible through the haze ; and at 6 p.m. Great Banda appeared at the distance of 10 or 11 leagues, towards the lee or eastern point of which the ships immediately bore up.
At 9 p.m. two shots were fired at the British from the island of Rosensgen ; an unexpected occurrence, no intimation having been received that an outport was stationed there. This circumstance, added to the fineness of the night and brightness of the moon, frustrated the plan of a surprise by the ships ; and, against a place of such alleged strength as Bands-Neira, an attack in open day, by all the force which the little squadron could muster, promised very little success. At 9 h. 30 m. p.m. the ships again brought to, and at 10 p.m. the moon set. Soon afterwards the night became dark and squally. This sudden change in the weather suggested to Captain Cole the idea of a surprise by boats ; for, although the Dutch had seen the ships, it was fairly inferred that they would not give the British credit for making, under all the circumstances of the case, so hazardous an attempt.
The excellent arrangements that had been adopted rendered signals unnecessary ; and the ships closed near enough to each other, to receive directions by the trumpet. Scarcely had the
^ back to top ^