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The Uranie ...


…and other voyages.
Scraps and jottings about voyages of exploration under sail,
usually in some way related to the voyage
of the French corvette Uranie,
1817 – 1820.


Arago in love

In The Hunt for Earth Gravity there is a description of Jacques Arago’s last minute dash from Apra Harbour to Hågatña (and back) for a final farewell to a Chamorro girl with whom he had fallen, very temporarily, in love. Twenty years later he wrote much more about this.

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Foreigners in the northern Marianas

Amongst the entertainments provided on Guam for the de Freycinets (and almost every other foreign visitor) was a performance of a close relative of the All Black’s haka, by a group of Hawaiians.

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The Bonin Europeans

Had Louis de Freycinet, when he left Guam, chosen to go a little bit west of north, instead of a little bit east, and had he held that course a little bit longer before turning east, he could have visited the Bonin Islands,

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Rose Atoll

On the 21st of October 1819, exactly 200 years before this blog was being posted, Rose de Freycinet wrote to her mother “Allow me, Madam, to inform you that the corvette Uranie discovered, to the east of the Archipelago of the Navigators, a small island that does not appear on any of the most recent charts ….”

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Jean Baptiste Rives

None of the crew of the Uranie deserted in Hawaii, but when the corvette left the islands at least one Frenchman was left behind. He had been there when the expedition arrived …..

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Hawaii at last

Almost exactly two hundred years ago, on the 5th of August 1819, after almost two months at sea, Rose de Freycinet added a short note to her ongoing letter to her mother. At last, at last, I can see land, but what land! Before us is a mountain that Louis thinks is...

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The ungovernable governors of Guam

When Dumont d’Urville visited Guam in 1828, he reported that the whole of the Marianas was administered by a single governor who… “maintains a shadow of a militia of one hundred to one hundred and fifty poorly dressed men, whom he pays in cloth from his stores, and who would be incapable of opposing the slightest resistance to the smallest regular force…

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The Surprise

It was Don Watts, my friend and former colleague in Australia’s Bureau of Mineral Resources (now Geoscience Australia, but we are going back fifty years here) who put me on to this. Don is a fan of Patrick O’Brien’s Napoleonic wars novels, chronicling the deeds and disasters of Captain Jack Aubrey and his close friend, the part–Catalan ship’s doctor and scientist Stephen Maturin. We are already getting a feel here for being in the world of the Uranie…

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