Volume 7, Chapter 9 -- Early Voyages of the English to the East Indies, before the establishment of an exclusive Company: *section index*

Volume 7, Chapter 9, Section 5 -- Of the Monsoons, or Periodical Winds, with which Ships depart from Place to Place in India; by William Barret.[5]

It is to be noted, that the city of Goa is the principal place of all the oriental India, and that the winter begins there on the 15th of May, with very great rain, and so continues till the 1st of August; during which time no ship can pass the bar of Goa, as, by these continual rains, all the sands join together near a mountain called Oghane, and run into the shoals of the bar and port of Goa, having no other issue, and remain there, so that the port is shut up till the 1st of August; but it opens again on the 10th of August, as the rains are then ceased, and the sea thus scours away the sand.

To the northward, as Chaul, Diu, Cambay, Damaun, Basseen, and other places, the ships depart from Goa between the 10th and 24th of August; and ships may sail to these places at all times of the year, except in winter, as already described.

Ships depart for Goa from Chaul, Diu, Cambay, and other parts to the northward, betwixt the 8th and 15th of January, and come to Goa about the end of February.

From Diu ships depart for the straits of Mecca, or the Red-Sea, about the 15th of January, and return from thence to Diu in the month of August. They likewise depart from Din for the Red-Sea in the second monsoon, betwixt the 25th of August and 25th of September, and return to Diu between the 1st and 15th of May following.

From Socotora, which hath only few ships, they depart for Ormus about the 10th of August.

About the 15th of September the Moors of the firm land begin to come to Goa from all parts, as from Balagnete, Bezenegar, Sudalcan, and other places; and they depart from Goa betwixt the 10th and 15th of November.

It is to be understood, that, by going to the north, is meant departing from Goa for Chaul, Diu, Cambay, Damaun, Basseen, and other places as far as Sinde; and, by the south, is meant departing from Goa for Cochin, and all that coast, as far as Cape Comorin.

In the first monsoon for Ormus, ships depart from Goa in the month of October, passing with easterly winds along the coast of Persia. In the second monsoon, the ships depart from Goa about the 20th of January, passing by a like course, and with a similar wind; this second monsoon being called by the Portuguese the entremonson. There is likewise a third monsoon for going from Goa to Ormus, when ships set out from Goa betwixt the 25th March and 6th April, having easterly winds, when they set their course for the coast of Arabia, which they fell in with at Cape Rasalgate and the Straits of Ormus. This monsoon is the most troublesome of all, for they make two navigations in the latitude of Ceylon, somewhat lower than six degrees.[6]

The first monsoon from Ormus for Chaul and Goa is in the month of September, with the wind at north or north-east. The second is between the 25th and 30th of December, with like winds. In the third, ships leave Ormus between the 1st and 15th of April, with the wind at south-east, east, or north-east, when they coast along Arabia from Cape Mosandon to Cape Rasalgate; and after losing sight of Rasalgate, they have westerly winds which carry them to Chaul and Goa. But if they do not leave Ormus on or before the 25th of April, they must winter at Ormus, and wait the first monsoon in September.

The first monsoon from Ormus to Sinde is between the 15th and 20th of April; the second between the 10th and 20th of October. From Ormus ships depart for the Red Sea in all January.

From Goa for Calicut, Cochin, Ceylon, and other places to the southward, the ships depart from the 1st to the 15th of August, and find these seas navigable all the year, except in winter, that is, from the 15th May to the 10th August. In like manner, ships can go from these places to Goa every time of the year except in winter; but the best time is in the months of December, January, and February.

In the first monsoon from Goa for Pegu, the ships depart from Goa between the 15th and 20th of April, and winter at San Thome, whence they sail for Pegu after the 5th of August. In the second, they leave Goa between the 8th and 24th of August, going direct for Pegu; but, if they pass the 24th of August, they cannot make out their voyage that monsoon, and must wait till next April. It may be noticed, that the best trade for Pegu is to take ryals and patechoni to San Thome, and there purchase Tellami, which is fine cotton cloth, of which great quantities are made in Coromandel. Other merchandize is not good in Pegu, except a few dozens of very fair oriental emeralds. Gold, silver, and rubies are in Pegu sufficiently abundant. In coming from Pegu for Western India, ships sail between the 15th and 25th of January, and come to Goa about the 25th of March, or beginning of April. If it pass the 10th of May before reaching Goa, ships cannot reach Goa that monsoon; and if they have not then made the coast of India, they will with much peril fetch San Thome.

In the first monsoon for Malacca, the ships leave Goa between the 15th and 30th of September, and reach Malacca about the end of October. In the second, they leave Goa about the 5th of May, and arrive at Malacca about the 15th of June. In the first monsoon from Malacca for Goa, they leave Malacca about the 10th September, and come to Goa about the end of October. In the second, they leave Malacca about the 10th February, and reach Goa about the end of March. If any ship is detained on this voyage till the 10th May, they cannot enter the harbour of Goa; and, if they have not then got to Cochin, they must return to Malacca, as the winter and the contrary winds then come on.

Ships sail from Goa for China in the month of April; and they must sail in such time from China as to reach Goa before the 10th of May. If not then arrived, they must put back to Cochin; and if not able to get in there, must go to Malacca to winter.

Ships going from Goa for the Moluccas must sail on or before the 10th or 15th May; after which period they cannot pass the bar of Goa: and the ships returning from the Moluccas usually reach Goa about the 15th of April.

The ships from Portugal for India usually depart between the 10th and 15th of March, going direct for the coast of Melinda and Mozambique, which they reach in July, whence they proceed to Goa. If they do not reach the coast of Melinda in July, they cannot fetch Melinda that year, but must return to the island of St Helena. If they are unable to make that island, then they run as lost on the coast of Guinea. If they reach the coast of Melinda in time, and set forwards for Goa, but are unable to make that port by the 15th September, they then go to Cochin; but, if unable to get into Cochin, they must return and winter on the coast of Mozambique. Yet, in the year 1580, the ship San Lorenzo arrived there on the 8th of October, sore tempest-beaten, to the great admiration of every one, as the like had not been seen before.

The ships bound for Portugal leave Cochin between the 15th and 31st January, steering for Cabo de buona Speranza, and the isle of St Helena, which island is about midway, being in lat. 16° S. It is a small island, but fruitful of all things, with great store of fruit, and gives great succour to the ships homeward-bound from India to Portugal. It is not long since that island was discovered, by a ship that came from the Indies in a great storm. They found in it such abundance of wild beasts and boars, and all sorts of fruit, that by these means this ship, which had been four months at sea, was wonderfully refreshed both with food and water. It received its name because discovered on the day of St Helen. This island is so great a succour to the Portuguese ships, that many of them would surely perish if it were not for the aid they get here. For this reason, the King of Portugal caused a church to be built here to the honour of St Helena, where only two hermits reside, all others being forbidden to inhabit there, that the ships may be the better supplied with victuals, as on coming from India they are usually but slenderly provided, because no corn grows there, nor do they make any wine. The ships which go from Portugal for India do not touch there, because, on leaving Portugal, they are fully provided with bread and water for eight months. No other person can inhabit St Helena except the two hermits, or perchance some sick person who may be left there on shore under the care of the hermits, for his help and recovery.

Ships depart from Goa for Mozambique between the 10th and 15th of January; and from Mozambique for Goa between the 8th and 31st August, arriving at Chaul or Goa any time in October, or till the 15th of November.

From Ormus ships bound for Bengal depart between the 15th and 20th of June, going to winter at Teve (?)  whence they resume their voyage for Bengal about the 15th of August.

[Footnote 5: Hakluyt, II. 413.
It appears, from the journal of John Eldred, in the preceding section, that William Barret was English consul at Aleppo, and died in 1584.
In the immediately preceding article in Hakluyt, vol. II. p. 406, et seq., is a curious account of the money weights and measures of Bagdat, Basora, Ormus, Goa, Cochin, and Malacca, which we wished to have inserted, but found no sufficient data by which to institute a comparison with the money weights and measures of England, without which they would have been entirely useless.
In the present article, the dates are certainly of the old style, and, to accommodate these to the present new style, it may be perhaps right to add nine days to each for the sixteenth century, or twelve days to reduce them to corresponding dates of the present nineteenth century.--E.]
[Footnote 6: This is by no means obvious; but means, perhaps, that they are obliged to bear away so far south, owing to the wind not allowing a direct passage.--E.]


 -- *Index of Part Two, Book Three* -- *Glossary*-- *Robert Kerr index page* -- *FWP's main page* --