Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

During these final days of the sail, it was still regular practice for the Navy to take advantage of the trade winds and reach South America by first crossing the Atlantic Ocean to the Madeira Islands before turning south. This was the course used by the six ships of the expedition: Wilkes' flagship, the sloop-of-war U.S.S. Vincennes, the sloop-of-war U.S.S. Peacock, the brig U.S.S. Porpoise, the storeship U.S.S. Relief, and the two tenders, U.S.S. Flying Fish and Sea Gull. Before a week was out, however, Relief proved to be intolerably slow. Wilkes ordered it to skip Madeira and head directly for the Cape Verde Islands and then on to Rio de Janeiro to await the arrival of the others. Later, when the rest of the fleet checked in at Cape Verde after spending a week at Madeira, Relief still had not arrived. It came a few days later, but the others had departed for South America.