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[Academy Submission] A Land Undiscovered - The Discovery of Toin


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June 10, 1781

For once, the weather had improved. It was no longer raining, and while there were clouds, there was still a lot of blue sky visible and the sun was shining. Due to the time of year and the latitude, it was perhaps 60 degrees, but much better than the 50 degree, cloudy rain that they had known since this new land had emerged from the foggy gloom only a few days earlier.

Since the Discovery's discovery of their first native village, they had weighed anchor off shore and observed from a distance, and occasionally sent lifeboats in the direction of the village for a closer look. They had learned quite a bit, and observed several canoes depart and return from fishing expeditions. The natives appeared to be spear fishers when they weren't hunter-gatherers, skilled at fishing anything from salmon to killer whales. Religious ceremonies were curious: they appeared to believe that they had come from the sea thousands of years ago. They also appeared to worship rabbits, white rabbits in particular, but due to the language barrier no one knew why. They could only guess that a white rabbit, perhaps more than one white rabbit, was their equivalent to God himself.

By now, though, the Discovery had hauled anchor and proceeded under sail along their previous course. The initial shock of the discovery was beginning to wear off, and it didn't help that wherever the crew looked they had seen more of the same - rugged coastlines, rocky beaches, forested hills covered in pine trees, and a long chain of snow-capped mountains in the distance. The cartographer was still mapping the coast they had visited and marked only a few potential anchoring points and only one good stretch of land for a settlement with X's, as well as geographic coordinates. But they had bigger problems.

"Captain, Commander King and Lieutenant Commander Smith want to speak with you. It sounds quite serious."

"Show them in."

Commander James King was the ship's first officer, and Lt. Commander Smith was the ship's quartermaster. Since MacKenzie had said it sounded "quite serious," Brady could only assume something had gone wrong with the supplies.

"Good morning, Captain," King had said as he walked in the door.

"Isn't it? Please, sit." Brady was motioning towards the chairs in his cabin; both of his officers then proceeded to sit down in the chairs. The first to speak was the quartermaster.

"We have a problem. It's no surprise that most of the crew is suffering from scurvy, but it also appears we're running low on supplies. Unfortunately, most of those supplies are essentials: crates of food are now overwhelmingly empty. I have some people cataloging what we have left, but if I had to guess it's doubtful we can return to any of our resupply depots on full rations. I would normally advise trading with the natives, but we all know there's a language barrier, and we don't know how aggressive they are when it comes to us nicking their food. In other words, we should sail for home."

"I'm inclined to agree with the quartermaster, Captain," came out of Commander King.

"If we reduce rations, can we get back to our first resupply?"

"It would be risky, Captain, but I believe so. The crew, in my experience, never likes reduced rations, but being men of the Royal Navy, they should be used to it by now."

"Alright, so we reduce rations. By how much?"

"Until the evaluation is complete, it's hard to say, but I'd have to guess anywhere from one-third to one-half."

"How long until your evaluation is complete?"

"Roughly two and a half hours, Captain."

"I'm afraid we'll have to skip lunch, then. Very well. Commander, get us underway for Cork, and make sure to stop at the Azores for resupply."

Brady moved over to his desk, dipped his pen into ink, and started writing:

Quote

"From the senior staff:

Lieutenant Commander Smith of the Quartermaster Corps has informed me we are low on rations and advises we sail for home immediately. Quartermaster informs me morning and evening rations will be reduced one-third to one-half until the Azores resupply depot. To conserve our meager supplies, mid-day rations will no longer be served until the Azores.

Signed,

Captain Patrick Brady.

Commander James King affirming."

The captain took the parchment from his desk, handed it to Lieutenant MacKenzie, and ordered it posted below deck near the stairs that lead up. Brady also ordered an oral recount of the document to the crew above deck.

Within 30 minutes, the ship was underway and pointed towards Cork. Slightly earlier than expected, the quartermaster returned bearing news on the ration situation.

"Captain, it appears we have to reduce rations by one-half just to make it to the Azores, and even then it's uncertain if we'll make it without running out of rations or run out a few days beforehand."

"Hmm. Very well, half rations it is. Tell your boys in the cargo hold to dish out one-half rations until the Azores, at least. Make sure to post a Marine by the cargo hold, too."

"Yes, sir."

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August 2, 1781

The HMS Discovery was forced to leave Toin due to the unfortunate discovery that rations were consumed quicker than usual. Or maybe, perhaps, a calculation error had occurred before they had even set sail in the first place, and they never had enough rations to begin with. But either way, they were out of food now. In fact, they had run out a few days prior, almost as the quartermaster had "predicted."

Overall, though, the journey back to the Azores was relatively easy given the situation. The crew was never happy for reduced rations, but most of them had experienced a similar situation in the past, somewhat varying in severity. Running out of food, however, was another story. The second day after they had run out of food, the Royal Marines posted at the cargo hold were heckled regularly, and on the evening of July 31, were even outright attacked. Needless to say, after that particular incident, several of the crew and one Marine were on bed rest and visited by the ships doctor regularly.

But not all was in vain: Brady's latest calculations and measurements showed that they should be seeing the Azores at some point today, if not over the next few days. It was rather unfortunate that the Captain had to abandon his first large discovery, especially so soon, but at least he had something to report to the Admiralty. He figured they would have some interest in it as they had with the American colonies now in revolution, but figured that Parliament might have better sense this time around in regards to taxes. Brady himself, in his report sent to the Admiralty, requested that he return to his discovery in the future should it be worthy of the attention of the British Empire.

"Land ho!" the lookout, at the bow of the ship, had shouted - he had spotted the Azores, and therefore, food. It was still at least an hour away, but the Discovery was granted a stay in port when she arrived. The city they had arrived in was Ponta Delgada, and the crew had spent the next week quartered in most of the taverns that Ponta Delgada had to offer. The quartermaster and the captain had made sure to load all the stores they needed and then some for the rest of the journey to Cork.

•   •   •

Several weeks later, Captain Brady reported in person to the Admiralty the expedition's findings, and provided the maps made by the cartographer and the sketches made by the artist. The faceless organisation had then spent several more weeks deliberating the island's worth, and eventually came to the conclusion that this discovery was worth the attention of the Navy. The Admiralty then sent a recommendation to George III to send two Navy ships with colonists and supplies to build Toin's first settlement - Port St. George. The King then, subsequently, approved this recommendation, and the Admiralty appointed Brady as the Captain of the HMS St. George, the lead ship of the fleet.

•   •   •

Needless to say, our story is now at an end. This is the story of the first of many exploratory expeditions to Toin.

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