Purchased in 1798, ex XENOPHON, a north-country built ship of 334 tons.
She resembled, in form, the description of a vessel recommended by Capt. COOK as best suited for voyages of discovery.
Broken up in 1810.
- During 1798, 1799 and part of 1800, as XENOPHON, she was commanded by George SAYER in the North Sea.
In 1799 he brought the Irish rebel, Napper Tandy, and his associates as prisoners from Hamburg to England.
Capt. SAYER moved to INSPECTOR.
- In 1801 she was renamed, newly coppered and repaired.
- 1801 Matthew FLINDERS with Robert Merrick FOWLER as his first lieutenant.
He sailed from the Downs on the 2 June 1801 on an exploratory voyage to survey the coast of Australia. Because of the war he was provided with a passport by the French Government. Having completed most of his mission he decided that the upper works of INVESTIGATOR were rotten so he joined the armed vessel PORPOISE at Port Jackson (Sydney) for the journey back to England.
Lieut. FOWLER was appointed to command the PORPOISE, formally the Spanish packet INFANTA AMELIA.
- At the beginning of August 1803 two ships lying in Sydney Cove, bound for Batavia, asked to accompany PORPOISE through the Torres Strait. These were the CATO of London and the H. E.I. Co's BRIDGEWATER. After receiving dispatches from the Governor the three vessels sailed on the morning of 10 August and steered north-east.
On the 17th., some two degrees to the east of the Barrier Reef and just north of the Tropic of Capricorn, CATO signalled for land. This proved to be a dry sand which was named ICATO's Banki but, as it seemed to be connected with any other, it did not seem necessary to heave to during the night, and the ships continued under easy sail with a warrant officer on lookout on the forecastle.
At eight o'clock CATO was was about a mile away on the port quarter and BRIDGEWATER about half a mile on the starboard; no bottom was found at 35 fathoms. An hour and a half later breakers were seen ahead and the ship, being carried amongst them, struck on a coral reef and heeled over on her port side, fortunately towards the reef. Shortly afterwards CATO, having hauled to the wind and passed BRIDGEWATER on opposite tacks, struck on the reef about two cables from PORPOISE and fell over, losing her masts.
PORPOISE's people managed to launch a gig and a cutter in the lee and cap. FLINDERS endeavoured to reach BRIDGEWATER which was standing away from them. When this proved impossible Mr FOWLER set his men to work to make a raft, while the gig went to pick up Capt. Park and his men from CATO which had been breaking up during the night. Three boys were drowned as they swam out to the gig.
At low water the reef was dry near the PORPOISE so stores and both crews were got on shore. The two cutters and the gig were pulled above the high water mark but the latter floated away when the tide rose higher than expected during the night. A large blue ensign was hoisted as a signal to BRIDGEWATER but she had already abandoned them; without closing to investigate, Capt. PALMER sailed off to India to report that they were all lost.
By the 22nd most of the stores and water had been brought ashore and three tents had been erected. It was then decided that an attempt should be made to go for help.
On the 26th. the largest cutter was prepared for a long voyage, launched and named the HOPE.
apt. FLINDERS and Capt. PARK embarked and sailed 750 miles against a prevailing south wind back to Port Jackson where they arrived on 8 September. Here Governor King arranged for the ship ROLLA, Mr Robert Cumming, then waiting to sail for China, to go to the rescue of the officers and men on the reef, accompanied by the FRANCIS to bring back those who wished to return to Port Jackson.
- The 29 ton colonial schooner CUMBERLAND was completed from the stores of the INVESTIGATOR and turned over to Capt. FLINDERS for the return voyage to England.
- They sailed from Port Jackson on 21 September and arrived at the reef on 7 October, to receive a salute of 11 guns from the carronades which had been landed from PORPOISE. While Capt. FLINDERS was away they had dug a saw-pit, set up a forge and started to build a new boat. An island some 9 or 10 miles away was visited in the cutter and they brought back a plentiful supply of eggs. They had plenty of flour and a violent storm of rain supplied enough water to last a fortnight. ROLLA and CUMBERLAND were met by two boats, the remaining cutter and the new boat constructed over the past month, it was about the same size as CUMBERLAND, decked and called the RESOURCE.
- On the 10th. the ROLLA and CUMBERLAND sailed, parting company the following day as ROLLA steered north-eastward to China and Capt. FLINDERS directed his course to the Timor Strait to continue his survey.
- From Canton Lieut. FOWLER sailed as a passenger on board the H. E.I. Co. EARL CAMDEN in a valuable homeward bound fleet on 31 January 1804.
On 4 February they had a celebrated encounter with a French squadron consisting of a line-of-battle ship and three frigates under Rear Ad. Linois. The merchant ships drove off the enemy by forming line of battle.
He commanded CROCUS in 1808.
- Capt. FLINDERS left Coupang Bay, Timor, in November 1803 to return to England with his charts.
When CUMBERLAND's upper works proved leaky and the pumps became unserviceable and having no reason to suppose that hostilities had broken out and believing in the efficacy of his passport he put in at the Isle de France (Mauritius) on 16 December 1803. At two o'clock the following morning he and the master, Mr ATKIN, were arrested as spies. They were to remain in French hands for six years.