In comparison, the disappointments experienced by Britain's eighteen scattered observers were mild. Mason found himself paired with a young surveyor named Jeremiah Dixon and apparently they got along well, for they formed a lasting partnership.
Their instructions were to travel to Sumatra and chart the transit there, but after just one night at sea their ship was attacked by a French frigate. (Although scientists were in an internationally cooperative mood, nations weren't.)
Mason and Dixon sent a note to the Royal Society observing that it seemed awfully dangerous on the high seas and wondering if perhaps the whole thing oughtn't to be called off. In reply they received a swift and chilly rebuke, noting that they had already been paid, that the nation and scientific community were counting on them, and that their failure to proceed would result in the irretrievable loss of their reputations.
Chastened, they sailed on, but en route word reached them that Sumatra had fallen to the French and so they observed the transit inconclusively from the Cape of Good Hope. On the way home they stopped on the lonely Atlantic outcrop of St. Helena, where they met Maskelyne, whose observations had been thwarted by cloud cover. Mason and Maskelyne formed a solid friendship and spent several happy, and possibly even mildly useful, weeks charting tidal flows.