Of the great Banks of Morues or Cods
BEFORE we come to the Bank spoken of before, which is the great Bank where the fishing of green cod-fishes is made (so are they called when they are not dry, for one must go a-land for the drying of them), the seafaring men, besides the computation they make of their course, have warnings when they come near to it, by birds which are known: even as one doth them of these our parts, returning back into France, when one is within 100 or 120 leagues near it. The most frequent of these birds, towards the said Bank, be godes, fouquets, and other called happe-foies,58 for a reason that we will declare anon. When these birds then were seen, which were not like to them that we had seen in the midst of the great sea, we began to think ourselves not to be far from the said Bank. Which made us to sound with our lead upon a Thursday the 22nd of June, but then we found no bottom. The same day in the evening we cast again with better success, for we found bottom at 36 fathoms. The said sound is a piece oflead of seven or eight pound weight, made pyramidal-wise, fastened at one or divers lines; and at the biggest end, which is flat, one putteth some grease to it, mingled with butter; then all the sails are stricken down, and the sound cast; and, when that the bottom is felt and the lead draweth no more line, they leave off letting down of it. So our sound, being drawn up, brought with it some small stones, with a white one, and a piece of shell, having, moreover, a pit in the grease, whereby they judged that the bottom was a rock. I cannot express the joy that we had, seeing us there where we had so much desired to be.