In Arthur Ransome's Peter Duck, at the end of the voyage of the Wild Cat Captain Flint reads aloud to the Swallows and Amazons from Hakluyt's Voyages: Titty is enchanted by the reference to the whale rubbing up underneath Thomas Masham's pinnace the Watte and wishes that something really exciting like that could have happened to them. Captain Flint comments, ironically, that they had had quite enough excitement, what with pirates, buried treasure, an exploding mountain and a waterspout. Here is a longer extract from the text from which Captain Flint read - or rather, the 1809 edition of that text.
The third voyage set forth by Sir Walter Ralegh to Guiana, with a pinnesse called the Watte, in the yeere 1596. Written by M. Thomas Masham, a gentleman of the companie.
Now I think it not amisse to speak something of this countrey. And first touching the climate; though it stand within the Tropick, and something neere to the Equinoctial, so that the Sunne is twice a year over their heads and never far from them, yet it is temperate ynough in those partes. For besides that wee lost not a man upon the coast; one that was sicke before he came there, was nothing sicker for being there, but came home safe, thanks be to God. And for mine own part, I was never better in body in all my life, and in like sort fared it with the rest of the company: for indeed it is not so extreame hote as many imagine. The people in all the lower part of the countrey goe naked, both men and women, being of severall languages; very tractable and ingenious, and very loving and kinde to Englishmen generally; as by experience we found, and upon our owne knowledge do report. In the upper countreys they goe apparrelled, being, as it seemeth, of a more civill disposition. having greate store of gold, as we are certeinely informed by the lower Indians, of whom we had some golde, which they brought and bought in the high countrey of Wiana, being able to buy no more, because they wanted the things which wee have left among them. They keepe no order of marriage: but have a many wives as they can buy, or win by force of their enemies, which principally is the cause of all their warres. For bread there is infinite store of casaui, which is as good bread as a man need to eat and better then we can carry any thither. We spent not a bit of our owne all the while we were upon the coast. It is made of a root so called; which they take and scrape, and crush all the iuyce out, being poison; ans when it is drie it as fine floure as our white meal maketh, which drie as it is, wiothout any moisture, they strew upon a round stone, having a still fire under it, and so it congealeth to a cake; and when it commeth new off, it eateth like to our new white bread. Besides there is great store of Guiny-wheat (whereof they make passing good drink), which after it is once sowed, if you cutr off the corn, on the same stalke groweth another.
For victuals, wee did not, or at least needed not to have spent any of our owne; for there is a great store of as fish in the rivers, as any in the world. Great store of fowlee, or divers sorts. Tortoise-flesh plentifull, and Tortoises eggs innumerable. Deere, swine, conies, hares, cocks and hennes, with potatoes more then we could spend. Besides, all kindes of fruits, at all times of the yeere: and the rarest fruits of the world, the pine, the plantan, with infinite other variable and pleasant, growing to their handes, without planting or dresing. For commodities, though wee han bu small time to search, because wee spent so much time in searching the rivers; yet wee have brought examples of some, which the countrey yieldeth in great plenty: as a kinde of long hempe like unto steele hempe, fine cotton wooll, which the trees yeeld great store of; and wherewith the women make a fine thread, which will make excellent good fustians or stockings. Great store of fish, divers sorts of sweet gummes, West Indian pepper, balsamum, parrots and monkies. Besides divers other commodities, which in good time may be found out to the benefit of our countrey, and profit of the adventurers, who as yet having ventured much, have gained little.
Now leaving the river of Coritine, passing by Saint Vincent, Santa Lucia, and Matalina, we came to Dominica upon the Friday following, having lost the barke that came out with us the Wednesday befor. Upon Sunday morning, being the thirteenth of May, wee came to Guadalope, where wee watered at the southern part of the island, and having done by nigh, we set saile, and stood away to the Northward, but were becalmed all night, and untill tenne of the cloke on Monday night, at which time having a fair gale at East, and after at Southeast, wee passed along in the sight of Monserate, Antigua, and Barbuda. Upon the ninth of June, being Thursday, we made the Islands of Flores and Coruso : and the eight and twentieth of June we made the Lisart, and that night came all safe to Plymouth, blessed be God.
Betweene the Isle of Barbuda in the West Indies and England we had three mighty stormes, many calmes, and some contrary windes. And upon the foureteenth of June 1597, there being divers whales playing about our pinnesse, one of them crossed our stemme, and going under, rubbed his back against our keele; but by none of these we susteined any losse. Thanks be to him that gouverneth all things.
[From Hakluyt's Collection of the Early Voyages, Trade and Discoveries of the English, Vol 4.
Written by Master Thomas Masham
(R.H. Evans, London, 1811, pp. 189-195).]