At 3.15 a.m. we began to slow; at 3.45 the anchor was dropped near the lighthouse of Isaki, and we waited until daylight before proceeding through the Straits of Simono-seki.
The wind and weather became worse than ever, and, as time was precious, Tom decided to retrace our steps for a short distance and go through the Bungo Channel, between the islands of Sikok and Kiusiu, instead of going out to sea through the Simono-seki Straits, as, in the latter case, the gale would be right in our teeth, and we should make but little progress.
They told us that no European lady or child had ever been at Simono-seki before. It is not a treaty port, so no one is allowed to land, except from a man-of-war, without special permission, which is not often given; it is, besides, the key to the Inland Sea, and the authorities are very jealous about any one seeing the forts.
At the bombardment of the Simono-seki forts, at the entrance of the Suwo-Nada, or 'Inland Sea, in September 1864, Prince Choisiu's loss, according to one of his own officers, amounted to upwards of 500 killed and wounded; but all had been removed when the brigade of English, French, and Dutch, under the command of Colonel Suther, C.B., Royal Marines, took possession of the forts early next day.