Journal of William Dampier

July 4, 1686

THEIR COASTING ALONG THE ISLE OF MINDANAO, FROM A BAY ON THE EAST SIDE TO ANOTHER AT THE SOUTH-EAST END.

Having in the two last chapters given some account of the natural, civil, and religious state of Mindanao, I shall now go on with the prosecution of our affairs during our stay here.

It was in a bay on the north-east side of the island that we came to an anchor, as has been said. We lay in this bay but one night and part of the next day. Yet there we got speech with some of the natives, who by signs made us to understand that the City Mindanao was on the west side of the island. We endeavoured to persuade one of them to go with us to be our pilot but he would not: therefore in the afternoon we loosed from hence, steering again to the south-east, having the wind at south-west. When we came to the south-east end of the island Mindanao we saw two small islands about three leagues distant from it. We might have passed between them and the main island, as we learnt since; but not knowing them, nor what dangers we might encounter there, we chose rather to sail to the eastward of them. But meeting very strong westerly winds we got nothing forward in many days. In this time we first saw the islands Meangis, which are about sixteen leagues distant from the Mindanao, bearing south-east. I shall have occasion to speak more of them hereafter.

TORNADOES AND BOISTEROUS WEATHER.

The 4th day of July we got into a deep bay four leagues north-west from the two small islands before mentioned. But the night before, in a violent tornado, our bark being unable to bear any longer, bore away, which put us in some pain for fear she was overset, as we had like to have been ourselves. We anchored on the south-west side of the bay in fifteen fathom water, about a cable’s length from the shore. Here we were forced to shelter ourselves from the violence of the weather, which was so boisterous with rains and tornadoes and a strong westerly wind that we were very glad to find this place to anchor in, being the only shelter on this side from the west winds.

THE SOUTH-EAST COAST, AND ITS SAVANNAH AND PLENTY OF DEER.

This bay is not above two miles wide at the mouth, but farther in it is three leagues wide and seven fathom deep; running in north-north-west. There is a good depth of water about four or five leagues in, but rocky foul ground for about two leagues in from the mouth on both sides of the bay, except only in that place where we lay. About three leagues in from the mouth, on the eastern side, there are fair sandy bays and very good anchoring in four, five, and six fathom. The land on the east side is high, mountainous and woody, yet very well watered with small brooks, and there is one river large enough for canoes to enter. On the west side of the bay the land is of a mean height with a large savannah bordering on the sea, and stretching from the mouth of the bay a great way to the westward.

This savannah abounds with long grass and it is plentifully stocked with deer. The adjacent woods are a covert for them in the heat of the day; but mornings and evenings they feed in the open plains, as thick as in our parks in England. I never saw anywhere such plenty of wild deer, though I have met with them in several parts of America, both in the North and South Seas.

The deer live here pretty peaceably and unmolested; for there are no inhabitants on that side of the bay. We visited this savannah every morning and killed as many deer as we pleased, sometimes 16 or 18 in a day; and we did eat nothing but venison all the time we stayed here.

We saw a great many plantations by the sides of the mountains on the east side of the bay, and we went to one of them in hopes to learn of the inhabitants whereabouts the city was, that we might not over-sail it in the night, but they fled from us.