Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/25

This page needs to be proofread.

EARLY NAVIGATION OF THE STRAITS OF FUCA 17 The First Voyage of the Washington. We now come to the consideration of the first voyage of the Columbia and the Washington, and of the work of the latter in the vicinity of the strait of Fuca. These two vessels the first representatives of the American flag in the fur-trade on this coast were fitted out at Boston, and sailed thence on 1st October, 1787. The Columbia, a ship of 212 tons, was commanded by Captain John Kendrick; the Washington, the sloop of 90 tons, by the famous Captain Robert Gray. The Washington reached Nootka on 16th Sep- tember, 1788. Meares was in port at the time and seeing the sail in the offing, sent out the long boat to her assistance, think- ing her the Princess Royal. He was surprised when the boat returned towing into the harbor the American sloop Washing- ton, instead of the British sloop Princess Royal. The Columbia arrived about a week later. As far as our subject is concerned the Washington is the important vessel, on this first voyage. It is claimed that she was the first vessel to navigate the strait of Fuca and to cir- cumnavigate Vancouver island. This claim is based on Meares's map showing "the sketch of the track of the American sloop Washington in the autumn 1789", and on the statements in his Observations on the Probable Existence of a North West Passage, page LVI. He there says : "The Washington entered the straits of John de Fuca, the "knowledge of which she had obtained from us ; and penetrat- "ing up them, entered into an extensive sea, where she steered "to the Northward and Eastward, and had communication with "the various tribes who inhabit the shores of the numerous "islands that are situated at the back of Nootka Sound, and "speak with some little variation the language of the Nootkan "people. The track of this vessel is marked on the map, and "is of great moment, as it now completely ascertains that "Nootka Sound and the parts adjacent, are islands, and compre- "hended within the Great Northern Archipelago. The sea also "which is seen to the East, is of great extent; and it is from