A story of pursuit, retribution and disaster at sea
The story of the mutiny of the crew of the Bounty led by Fletcher Christian is well known. That story and Captain Bligh's endurance in an open boat is available from Leonaur. The Royal Navy, however, were not about to allow such an outrage go unpunished and it despatched HMS Pandora to bring the culprits to account. The Pandora's voyage—told here in two contrasting accounts—is no less remarkable than that of the Bounty itself. After many trials including the capture of some of the mutineers it too ended in disaster. An essential book for all those interested in the Royal Navy during the great age of sail.
Several canoes came on board us from the different islands. We were then within half a mile of the last, and equally near to the shoals of the second, but not so near to Middleburgh, yet we were near enough to see into English Road. At these islands we could neither see nor get any satisfactory information relative to the objects of our search. The natives brought in their canoes, yams, cocoanuts and a few small hogs, and I made no doubt that I should have been able to procure plenty of these articles had it been convenient for me to have stayed at these islands. The difficulty in getting in and out of the harbour and the indifferent quality of the water were alone sufficient objections against my stopping here. The road at Annamooka was more convenient for getting out and in, and the water, although not of the best quality, is reported to be better than that found at Amsterdam, and Annamooka being the place I had appointed as a rendezvous for the tender I did not hesitate in giving the preference to it, and accordingly made the best of my way thither, and we saw the Fallafagee islands (which lie near Annamooka) before dark, and also Toofoa, Kaho and Hoonga Tonga islands to the Westward, which are visible at a greater distance.<br>
On the 28th July anchored in Annamooka Road. The person who now had the principal authority on the shore was a young chief whom we had not seen before. There was the same respect paid to him as was paid to Fattahfahe and to Toobou; neither of these chiefs nor Moukahkahlah were now in the islands, and the natives were now more daring in their thefts than ever, and would sometimes endeavour to take things by force, and robbed and stripped some of our people that were separated from the party.<br> Lieutenant Corner, who commanded the watering and wooding parties on shore, received a blow on the head and was robbed of a curiosity he had bought and held in his hand, and with which the thief was making off. Lieutenant Corner shot the thief in the back, and he fell to the ground; at the same instant the natives attempted to take axes and a saw from the wooding party, and actually got off with two axes, one by force and the other by stealth, but they did not succeed in getting the saw. Two muskets were fired at the thieves, yet it was supposed that they were not hurt, but we are told that the other man died of his wound. One of the yawls was on shore at the time, and the long boat was landing near her with an empty cask. Lieutenant Corner drew the wooding and watering parties towards the boats and then began to load them with the wood that was cut.<br>
A boat was sent from the ship to inquire the cause of the firing that was heard, but before she returned a canoe came from the shore to inform the principal chief (whom I had brought on board to dine with me) that one of the natives had been killed by our people. The chief was very much agitated at the information, and wanted to get out of the cabin windows into the canoe, but I would not suffer him to do it and told him I would go on shore with him myself in a little time in one of the ship’s boats. Our boat soon returned and gave me an account of what had passed on shore. I told the chief that the lieutenant had been struck, and that he and his party had been robbed of several things, and that I was very glad that the thief had been shot, and that I should shoot every person who attempted to rob us, but that no other person except the thief should be hurt by us on that account. The axes and some other things that had been stolen before were returned and very few robbings of any consequence were attempted and discovered until the day of our departure.<br>
I took this opportunity of showing the chief what execution the cannon and carronades would do by firing a six-pound shot on shore and an eighteen-pounder carronade loaded with grape shot into the sea. I afterwards went on shore with two boats and took with me the chief and his attendants, and before I returned on board again told him that I should send on shore the next morning for water and wood, and that I should also come on shore myself in the course of the day, all which he approved of and desired me to do, and accordingly the next morning, the 31st July the watering and wooding parties were sent on shore and carried on their business without interruption, and in the afternoon I went on shore myself and made a small present to the chief and to some other people.<br>
On the 2nd August, having completed my water, &c. and thinking it time to return to England I did not think proper to wait any longer for the tender, but left instructions for her commander should she happen to arrive after my departure, and I sailed from Annamooka, attended by a number of chiefs and canoes belonging to those and the surrounding islands. After the ship was under way some of the natives had the address to get in at the cabin windows and stole out of the cabin some books and other things, and they had actually got into their canoes before they were discovered. The thieves were allowed to make their escape, but the canoes that had stolen these things were brought alongside and broke up for firewood. During this transaction the other natives carried on their traffic alongside with as much unconcern as if nothing had happened.