Santa Cruz, Tenerife

3 June to 10 June 1787

Watercolour painting of the First Fleet voyage.

Santa Cruz on the SE side of Teneriffe; Sirius & convoy in the roads. June 1787. The peak shewing in a gap between two other mountains. William Bradley, watercolour from his journal ‘A Voyage to New South Wales’, 1802+. State Library of New South Wales: safe 1/14.

It was not until the fleet reached Tenerife that Governor Phillip had the opportunity to see all the convicts in his charge. He described them as ‘quiet and contented’, with some ‘compleat villains’ among them.

On the night of 8 June, while the ships were busily being loaded with fresh water, a convict named John Powers made a brief escape from Alexander. First Fleet marine officer Watkin Tench wrote in 1789:

While we lay at anchor in the road, a convict had the address … to secrete himself on the deck, when the rest were turned below; and after remaining quiet for some hours, let himself down over the bow of the ship, and floated to a boat that lay astern, into which he got, and cutting her adrift, suffered himself to be carried away by the current, until at a sufficient distance to be out of hearing, when he rowed off.

Powers was recaptured the next morning.

The voyage