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Philippine Islands & Western Pacific

The expedition set off from San Francisco Bay on 31 October. The loss of Peacock and the addition of Oregon necessitated a reorganization of the officers, crewmen, and scientifics. Alfred Agate found himself assigned to Vincennes. They sailed quickly for Hawaii in order to acquire replacement supplies for the things they had lost on Peacock, arriving on 17 November and staying only a brief ten days. There they saw their first Japanese and Agate made sketches of them. On leaving Hawaii, Vincennes and Flying Fish went in search of Strong's and Ascension Islands, which Wilkes believed it was particularly important to locate accurately, and he sent Porpoise and Oregon to investigate the currents off the coast of Japan, which he believed would be similar to the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic. Their rendezvous point would be Singapore.


Flying Fish, which had greatly deteriorated through the voyage, was almost to the point of being unable to continue. To continue his explorations at an expeditious pace, Wilkes gave the ship the task of surveying Strong's and Ascension Islands while he pressed on with the rest of his agenda. He surveyed several other western Pacific islands, including Wake and the Marianas, and rejoined Flying Fish at Manila, Philippines on 13 December.


Wilkes made an extended study at Manila, even sending scientific parties inland. The islands had great potential for trade in a variety of goods: abaca hemp, indigo, cotton, coffee, sugar cane, and tobacco. For the latter, Wilkes noticed the enjoyment of cigars was so great that joss sticks were kept burning in many rooms just to light them. Still a Spanish colony, the government kept a tight control on local affairs, though there seemed to be constant revolts in the countryside among the several groups of native peoples.