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Letter from the Secretary of the Navy, transmitting, in compliance with resolution of January 27, report of Lieutenant Taunt of a journey on the river Congo
(1887)

Letter from the Secretary of the Navy, transmitting, in compliance with resolution of January 27, report of Lieutenant Taunt of a journey on the river Congo,   pp. [1]-42 ff.


Page 19

JOURNEY ON THE RIVER CONGO.
The Henry Reed draws but 17 inches loaded.  We nade our passage&
When the river was not at its lowest point, and even with our light
draught we were aground several times, particularly when above Ban-
gala, each time losing many hours of daylight.
The State launches draw 3, and some times 34 feet, but they are con-
tinually meeting with accidents and delays.
After leaving Stanley Pool, until our return, the lead was in use all
the time we were under way. I noticed the soundings carefully, both
going up and coining down, near both banks, in mid-river, among the
islands, in fact every place where we would be likely to find deep water,
and I am of the opinion that the most successful way to navigate the
Upper Congo will be to employ flat-bottomed, stern-wheel steamers
drawing from 17 inches to 2 feet, with little top hamper, on account of
the heavy tornadoes, with the machinery on deck, or so placed that it
can be easily gotten at, the steamer to be driven 9 knots in smooth
water, with as economical consumption of fuel as possible. Each
steamer should carry one bow and one stern anchor, and, if possible, a
spare one. My own experience was that a stern anchor planted on our
off-shore quarter saved us frequently from being driven into the beach
by the high winds during the tornadoes; the launches having little
freeboard, it is necessary to anchor close to the shore, as the tornadoes
soon raise a sea on the river that would be most uncomfortable if the
vessel were not sheltered under the land.
At present, there are no surveys of the Congo, nor are there any lights,
buoys, or beacons, although the State proposes to light and buoy the
Lower River at an early date.
The only pilot on the river is an employd of the Dutch-African Trad-
ing Company. He is a pilot for the entrance at the mouth of the river,
and also for Banana Creek. The pilotage is £4 sterling each way.
The water of the Congo is a dirty mud color.
AFFLUENTS.
There are many affluents of the Congo, most of them being navigable
for a short distance. The principal rivers, however, in size, and impor-
tance for trade, are, first, on the south bank, below Stanley Falls, the
Loumamil River. This river has been explored by the Rev. George
Grenfell, of the English Baptist Mission, some 50 miles from its mouth.
Next below on the north bank is the Arroowimi River. Owing to the
hostile character of the natives, this river has not been explored to any
extent, but it is reported to be navigable for some distance inland.
I The Mobeke River, just above Bangala, has been explored some 70,
miles from its mouth. Next on the south bank, a few miles above the
Equator Station, are the Louloungo and Ouriki Rivers. These have both
beeD lately explored by Mr. Grenfell, who reports the former navigable
to 220 321 east longitude and 00 101 north latitude. The Ouriki, or Boriki
River, Mr. Grenfell traced to 230 14' east longitude and l 1 south lati-
tude, he says, "leaving it still an open watar-way, 100 yards wide, 12
feet deep, with a current of 200 feet per minute." Both of these rivers
are full of islands, large and small. The natives have been found
friendly on both of these rivers.
In 0020' south latitude, on the north bank, is the Oubangi River, and,
next to the Kassai River, the greatest affluent of the Congo. Mr. Gren-
fell has explored the Oubantgi to 40 27' north latitude, but, at this point,
4e was stopped by the hostile natives, and obliged to turn back. le re-
orts clear navigation some miles ahead of his farthermost ponit. The


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