A Voyage to the South Sea/Chapter 15
Passage towards New Holland. Islands discovered in our Route. Our great Distresses. See the Reefs of New Holland and find a Passage through them.
It was about eight o'clock at night when we bore away under a reefed lug fore-sail and, having divided the people into watches and got the boat in a little order, we returned God thanks for our miraculous preservation and, fully confident of his gracious support, I found my mind more at ease than it had been for some time past.
At daybreak the gale increased; the sun rose very fiery and red, a sure indication of a severe gale of wind. At eight it blew a violent storm and the sea ran very high, so that between the seas the sail was becalmed, and when on the top of the sea it was too much to have set: but we could not venture to take in the sail for we were in very imminent danger and distress, the sea curling over the stern of the boat, which obliged us to bale with all our might. A situation more distressing has perhaps seldom been experienced.
Our bread was in bags and in danger of being spoiled by the wet: to be starved to death was inevitable if this could not be prevented: I therefore began to examine what clothes there were in the boat and what other things could be spared and, having determined that only two suits should be kept for each person, the rest was thrown overboard with some rope and spare sails, which lightened the boat considerably, and we had more room to bale the water out. Fortunately the carpenter had a good chest in the boat, in which we secured the bread the first favourable moment. His tool chest also was cleared and the tools stowed in the bottom of the boat so that this became a second convenience.
I served a teaspoonful of rum to each person (for we were very wet and cold) with a quarter of a breadfruit, which was scarce eatable, for dinner: our engagement was now strictly to be carried into execution, and I was fully determined to make our provisions last eight weeks, let the daily proportion be ever so small.
At noon I considered our course and distance from Tofoa to be west-north-west three-quarters west 86 miles, latitude 19 degrees 27 minutes south. I directed the course to the west-north-west that we might get a sight of the islands called Feejee if they laid in the direction the natives had pointed out to me.
The weather continued very severe, the wind veering from north-east to east-south-east. The sea ran higher than in the forenoon, and the fatigue of baling to keep the boat from filling was exceedingly great. We could do nothing more than keep before the sea, in the course of which the boat performed so well that I no longer dreaded any danger in that respect. But, among the hardships we were to undergo, that of being constantly wet was not the least.
The night was very cold and at daylight our limbs were so benumbed that we could scarce find the use of them. At this time I served a teaspoonful of rum to each person, from which we all found great benefit.
As I have mentioned before I determined to keep to the west-north-west till I got more to the northward, for I not only expected to have better weather but to see the Feejee Islands, as I have often understood from the natives of Annamooka that they lie in that direction. Captain Cook likewise considered them to be north-west by west from Tongataboo. Just before noon we discovered a small flat island of a moderate height bearing west-south-west 4 or 5 leagues. I observed our latitude to be 18 degrees 58 minutes south; our longitude was by account 3 degrees 4 minutes west from the island of Tofoa, having made a north 72 degrees west course, distance 95 miles, since yesterday noon. I divided five small coconuts for our dinner and everyone was satisfied.
A little after noon other islands appeared, and at a quarter past three o'clock we could count eight, bearing from south round by the west to north-west by north, those to the south which were the nearest being four leagues distant from us.
I kept my course to the north-west by west between the islands, the gale having considerably abated. At six o'clock we discovered three other small islands to the north-west, the westernmost of them bore north-west half west 7 leagues. I steered to the southward of these islands a west-north-west course for the night under a reefed sail.
Served a few broken pieces of breadfruit for supper and performed prayers.
The night turned out fair and, having had tolerable rest, everyone seemed considerably better in the morning, and contentedly breakfasted on a few pieces of yams that were found in the boat. After breakfast we examined our bread, a great deal of which was damaged and rotten; this nevertheless we were glad to keep for use.
I had hitherto been scarcely able to keep any account of our run, but we now equipped ourselves a little better by getting a log-line marked and, having practised at counting seconds, several could do it with some degree of exactness.
The islands we had passed lie between the latitude of 19 degrees 5 minutes south and 18 degrees 19 minutes south, and according to my reckoning from 3 degrees 17 minutes to 3 degrees 46 minutes west longitude from the island Tofoa: the largest may be about six leagues in circuit; but it is impossible for me to be very correct. To show where they are to be found again is the most my situation enabled me to do. The sketch I have made will give a comparative view of their extent. I believe all the larger islands are inhabited as they appeared very fertile.
At noon I observed in latitude 18 degrees 10 seconds south and considered my course and distance from yesterday noon north-west by west half west 94 miles; longitude by account from Tofoa 4 degrees 29 minutes west.
For dinner I served some of the damaged bread and a quarter of a pint of water.
About six o'clock in the afternoon we discovered two islands, one bearing west by south 6 leagues and the other north-west by north 8 leagues; I kept to windward of the northernmost and, passing it by 10 o'clock, I resumed our course to the north-west and west-north-west for the night.
The weather was fair and the wind moderate all day from the east-north-east. At daylight a number of other islands were in sight from south-south-east to the west and round to north-east by east; between those in the north-west I determined to pass. At noon a small sandy island or key two miles distant from me bore from east to south three-quarters west. I had passed ten islands, the largest of which I judged to be 6 or 8 leagues in circuit. Much larger lands appeared in the south-west and north-north-west, between which I directed my course. Latitude observed 17 degrees 17 minutes south; course since yesterday noon north 50 degrees west; distance 84 miles; longitude made by account 5 degrees 37 minutes west.
Our allowance for the day was a quarter of a pint of coconut milk and the meat, which did not exceed two ounces to each person: it was received very contentedly but we suffered great drought. I durst not venture to land as we had no arms and were less capable of defending ourselves than we were at Tofoa.
To keep an account of the boat's run was rendered difficult from being constantly wet with the sea breaking over us but, as we advanced towards the land, the sea became smoother and I was enabled to form a sketch of the islands which will serve to give a general knowledge of their extent and position. Those we were near appeared fruitful and hilly, some very mountainous and all of a good height.
To our great joy we hooked a fish, but we were miserably disappointed by its being lost in trying to get it into the boat.
We continued steering to the north-west between the islands which by the evening appeared of considerable extent, woody and mountainous. At sunset the southernmost bore from south to south-west by west and the northernmost from north by west half west to north-east half east. At six o'clock we were nearly midway between them and about 6 leagues distant from each shore when we fell in with a coral bank, on which we had only four feet water, without the least break on it or ruffle of the sea to give us warning. I could see that it extended about a mile on each side of us, but as it is probable that it may extend much further I have laid it down so in my sketch.
I directed the course west by north for the night, and served to each person an ounce of the damaged bread and a quarter of a pint of water for supper.
As our lodgings were very miserable and confined for want of room I endeavoured to remedy the latter defect by putting ourselves at watch and watch; so that one half always sat up while the other lay down on the boat's bottom or upon a chest, with nothing to cover us but the heavens. Our limbs were dreadfully cramped for we could not stretch them out, and the nights were so cold, and we so constantly wet, that after a few hours sleep we could scarce move.
At dawn of day we again discovered land from west-south-west to west-north-west, and another island north-north-west, the latter a high round lump of but little extent: the southern land that we had passed in the night was still in sight. Being very wet and cold I served a spoonful of rum and a morsel of bread for breakfast.
The land in the west was distinguished by some extraordinary high rocks which, as we approached them, assumed a variety of forms. The country appeared to be agreeably interspersed with high and low land, and in some places covered with wood. Off the north-east part lay some small rocky islands, between which and an island 4 leagues to the north-east I directed my course; but a lee current very unexpectedly set us very near to the rocky isles, and we could only get clear of it by rowing, passing close to the reef that surrounded them. At this time we observed two large sailing canoes coming swiftly after us along shore and, being apprehensive of their intentions, we rowed with some anxiety, fully sensible of our weak and defenceless state. At noon it was calm and the weather cloudy; my latitude is therefore doubtful to 3 or 4 miles. Our course since yesterday noon north-west by west, distance 79 miles; latitude by account 16 degrees 29 minutes south, and longitude by account from Tofoa 6 degrees 46 minutes west. Being constantly wet it was with the utmost difficulty I could open a book to write, and I am sensible that what I have done can only serve to point out where these lands are to be found again, and give an idea of their extent.
All the afternoon we had light winds at north-north-east: the weather was very rainy, attended with thunder and lightning. Only one of the canoes gained upon us, which by three o'clock in the afternoon was not more than two miles off, when she gave over chase.
If I may judge from the sail of these vessels they are of a similar construction with those at the Friendly Islands which, with the nearness of their situation, gives reason to believe that they are the same kind of people. Whether these canoes had any hostile intention against us must remain a doubt: perhaps we might have benefited by an intercourse with them, but in our defenceless situation to have made the experiment would have been risking too much.
I imagine these to be the islands called Feejee as their extent, direction, and distance from the Friendly Islands answers to the description given of them by those Islanders. Heavy rain came on at four o'clock, when every person did their utmost to catch some water, and we increased our stock to 34 gallons, besides quenching our thirst for the first time since we had been at sea; but an attendant consequence made us pass the night very miserably for, being extremely wet and having no dry things to shift or cover us, we experienced cold and shiverings scarce to be conceived. Most fortunately for us the forenoon turned out fair and we stripped and dried our clothes. The allowance I issued today was an ounce and a half of pork, a teaspoonful of rum, half a pint of coconut milk, and an ounce of bread. The rum though so small in quantity was of the greatest service. A fishing-line was generally towing from the stern of the boat but though we saw great numbers of fish we could never catch one.
At noon I observed in latitude 16 degrees 4 minutes south and found we had made a course from yesterday noon north 62 degrees west distance 62 miles; longitude by account from Tofoa 7 degrees 42 minutes west.
The land passed yesterday and the day before is a group of islands, 14 or 16 in number, lying between the latitude of 16 degrees 26 minutes south and 17 degrees 57 minutes south, and in longitude by my account 4 degrees 47 minutes to 7 degrees 17 minutes west from Tofoa. Three of these islands are very large, having from 30 to 40 leagues of sea-coast.
In the afternoon we cleaned out the boat and it employed us till sunset to get everything dry and in order. Hitherto I had issued the allowance by guess, but I now made a pair of scales with two coconut shells and, having accidentally some pistol-balls in the boat, 25 of which weighed one pound or 16 ounces, I adopted one,* as the proportion of weight that each person should receive of bread at the times I served it. I also amused all hands with describing the situation of New Guinea and New Holland, and gave them every information in my power that in case any accident happened to me those who survived might have some idea of what they were about, and be able to find their way to Timor, which at present they knew nothing of more than the name and some not even that. At night I served a quarter of a pint of water and half an ounce of bread for supper.
(*Footnote. It weighed 272 grains.)
In the morning a quarter of a pint of coconut milk and some of the decayed bread was served for breakfast, and for dinner I divided the meat of four coconuts with the remainder of the rotten bread, which was only eatable by such distressed people.
At noon I observed the latitude to be 15 degrees 47 minutes south; course since yesterday north 75 degrees west distance 64 miles; longitude made by account 8 degrees 45 minutes west.
In the afternoon I fitted a pair of shrouds for each mast, and contrived a canvas weather cloth round the boat, and raised the quarters about nine inches by nailing on the seats of the stern sheets, which proved of great benefit to us.
The wind had been moderate all day in the south-east quarter with fine weather; but about nine o'clock in the evening the clouds began to gather, and we had a prodigious fall of rain with severe thunder and lightning. By midnight we caught about twenty gallons of water. Being miserably wet and cold I served to the people a teaspoonful of rum each to enable them to bear with their distressed situation. The weather continued extremely bad and the wind increased; we spent a very miserable night without sleep except such as could be got in the midst of rain. The day brought no relief but its light. The sea broke over us so much that two men were constantly baling; and we had no choice how to steer, being obliged to keep before the waves for fear of the boat filling.
The allowance now regularly served to each person was one 25th of a pound of bread and a quarter of a pint of water, at eight in the morning, at noon, and at sunset. Today I gave about half an ounce of pork for dinner which, though any moderate person would have considered only as a mouthful, was divided into three or four.
The rain abated towards noon and I observed the latitude to be 15 degrees 17 minutes south; course north 67 degrees west distance 78 miles; longitude made 10 degrees west.
The wind continued strong from south-south-east to south-east with very squally weather and a high breaking sea, so that we were miserably wet and suffered great cold in the night.
In the morning at daybreak I served to every person a teaspoonful of rum, our limbs being so cramped that we could scarce move them. Our situation was now extremely dangerous, the sea frequently running over our stern, which kept us baling with all our strength.
At noon the sun appeared, which gave us as much pleasure as in a winter's day in England. I issued the 25th of a pound of bread and a quarter of a pint of water, as yesterday. Latitude observed 14 degrees 50 minutes south; course north 71 degrees west distance 102 miles; and longitude by account 11 degrees 39 minutes west from Tofoa.
In the evening it rained hard and we again experienced a dreadful night.
At length the day came and showed to me a miserable set of beings, full of wants, without anything to relieve them. Some complained of great pain in their bowels, and everyone of having almost lost the use of his limbs. The little sleep we got was no ways refreshing as we were covered with sea and rain. I served a spoonful of rum at day-dawn, and the usual allowance of bread and water for breakfast, dinner, and supper.
At noon it was almost calm, no sun to be seen, and some of us shivering with cold. Course since yesterday west by north distance 89 miles; latitude by account 14 degrees 33 minutes south; longitude made 13 degrees 9 minutes west. The direction of our course was to pass to the northward of the New Hebrides.
The wet weather continued and in the afternoon the wind came from the southward, blowing fresh in squalls. As there was no prospect of getting our clothes dried I recommended to everyone to strip and wring them through the salt water, by which means they received a warmth that while wet with rain they could not have.
This afternoon we saw a kind of fruit on the water which Nelson told me was the Barringtonia of Forster and, as I saw the same again in the morning, and some men-of-war birds, I was led to believe that we were not far from land.
We continued constantly shipping seas and baling, and were very wet and cold in the night; but I could not afford the allowance of rum at daybreak.
At noon I had a sight of the sun, latitude 14 degrees 17 minutes south. Course west by north 79 miles; longitude made 14 degrees 28 minutes west. All this day we were constantly shipping water and suffered much cold and shiverings in the night.
Fresh gales at south-east and gloomy weather with rain and a high sea. At six in the morning we saw land from south-west by south eight leagues to north-west by west three-quarters west six leagues, which soon after appeared to be four islands, one of them much larger than the others, and all of them high and remarkable. At noon we discovered a small island and some rocks bearing north-west by north four leagues, and another island west eight leagues, so that the whole were six in number; the four I had first seen bearing from south half east to south-west by south; our distance three leagues from the nearest island. My latitude observed was 13 degrees 29 minutes south, and longitude by account from Tofoa 15 degrees 49 minutes west; course since yesterday noon north 63 degrees west distance 89 miles. At four in the afternoon we passed the westernmost island.
At one in the morning another island was discovered bearing west-north-west five leagues distance, and at eight o'clock we saw it for the last time bearing north-east seven leagues. A number of gannets, boobies, and men-of-war birds were seen.
These islands lie between the latitude of 13 degrees 16 minutes and 14 degrees 10 minutes south: their longitude according to my reckoning 15 degrees 51 minutes to 17 degrees 6 minutes west from the island Tofoa.* The largest island I judged to be about twenty leagues in circuit, the others five or six. The easternmost is the smallest island and most remarkable, having a high sugar loaf hill.
(*Footnote. By making a proportional allowance for the error afterwards found in the dead reckoning I estimate the longitude of these islands to be from 167 degrees 17 minutes east to 168 degrees 34 minutes east from Greenwich.)
The sight of these islands served only to increase the misery of our situation. We were very little better than starving with plenty in view; yet to attempt procuring any relief was attended with so much danger that prolonging of life, even in the midst of misery, was thought preferable, while there remained hopes of being able to surmount our hardships. For my own part I consider the general run of cloudy and wet weather to be a blessing of Providence. Hot weather would have caused us to have died with thirst; and probably being so constantly covered with rain or sea protected us from that dreadful calamity.
As I had nothing to assist my memory I could not then determine whether these islands were a part of the New Hebrides or not: I believe them to be a new discovery which I have since found true but, though they were not seen either by Monsieur Bougainville or Captain Cook, they are so nearly in the neighbourhood of the New Hebrides that they must be considered as part of the same group. They are fertile and inhabited, as I saw smoke in several places.
The wind was at south-east with rainy weather all day. The night was very dark, not a star could be seen to steer by, and the sea broke continually over us. I found it necessary to counteract as much as possible the effect of the southerly winds to prevent being driven too near New Guinea, for in general we were forced to keep so much before the sea that if we had not, at intervals of moderate weather, steered a more southerly course we should inevitably from a continuance of the gales have been thrown in sight of that coast: in which case there would most probably have been an end to our voyage.
In addition to our miserable allowance of one 25th of a pound of bread and a quarter of a pint of water I issued for dinner about an ounce of salt pork to each person. I was often solicited for this pork, but I considered it more proper to issue it in small quantities than to suffer it to be all used at once or twice, which would have been done if I had allowed it.
At noon I observed in 13 degrees 33 minutes south, longitude made from Tofoa 19 degrees 27 minutes west; course north 82 degrees west, distance 101 miles. The sun breaking out through the clouds gave us hopes of drying our wet clothes, but the sunshine was of short duration. We had strong breezes at south-east by south and dark gloomy weather with storms of thunder, lightning, and rain. The night was truly horrible, and not a star to be seen; so that our steerage was uncertain.
At dawn of day I found every person complaining, and some of them solicited extra allowance, which I positively refused. Our situation was miserable: always wet, and suffering extreme cold in the night without the least shelter from the weather. Being constantly obliged to bale to keep the boat from filling was perhaps not to be reckoned an evil as it gave us exercise.
The little rum we had was of great service: when our nights were particularly distressing I generally served a teaspoonful or two to each person: and it was always joyful tidings when they heard of my intentions.
At noon a water-spout was very near on board of us. I issued an ounce of pork in addition to the allowance of bread and water; but before we began to eat every person stripped and, having wrung their clothes through the seawater, found much warmth and refreshment. Course since yesterday noon west-south-west distance 100 miles; latitude by account 14 degrees 11 minutes south and longitude made 21 degrees 3 minutes west.
The night was dark and dismal: the sea constantly breaking over us and nothing but the wind and waves to direct our steerage. It was my intention if possible to make New Holland to the southward of Endeavour straits, being sensible that it was necessary to preserve such a situation as would make a southerly wind a fair one, that we might range along the reefs till an opening should be found into smooth water, and we the sooner be able to pick up some refreshments.
In the morning the rain abated, when we stripped and wrung our clothes through the seawater as usual, which refreshed us greatly. Every person complained of violent pain in their bones; I was only surprised that no one was yet laid up. The customary allowance of one 25th of a pound of bread and a quarter of a pint of water was served at breakfast, dinner, and supper.
At noon I deduced my situation by account, for we had no glimpse of the sun, to be in latitude 14 degrees 52 minutes south; course since yesterday noon west-south-west 106 miles; longitude made from Tofoa 22 degrees 45 minutes west. Saw many boobies and noddies, a sign of being in the neighbourhood of land. In the night we had very severe lightning with heavy rain and were obliged to keep baling without intermission.
Very bad weather and constant rain. At noon latitude by account 14 degrees 37 minutes south; course since yesterday north 81 degrees west, distance 100 miles; longitude made 24 degrees 30 minutes west. With the allowance of bread and water served half an ounce of pork to each person for dinner.
Fresh breezes east-north-east with constant rain, at times a deluge. Always baling.
At dawn of day some of my people seemed half dead: our appearances were horrible, and I could look no way but I caught the eye of someone in distress. Extreme hunger was now too evident, but no one suffered from thirst, nor had we much inclination to drink, that desire perhaps being satisfied through the skin. The little sleep we got was in the midst of water, and we constantly awoke with severe cramps and pains in our bones. This morning I served about two teaspoonfuls of rum to each person and the allowance of bread and water as usual. At noon the sun broke out and revived everyone. I found we were in latitude 14 degrees 49 minutes south; longitude made 25 degrees 46 minutes west; course south 88 degrees west distance 75 miles.
All the afternoon we were so covered with rain and salt water that we could scarcely see. We suffered extreme cold and everyone dreaded the approach of night. Sleep, though we longed for it, afforded no comfort: for my own part I almost lived without it.
About two o'clock in the morning we were overwhelmed with a deluge of rain. It fell so heavy that we were afraid it would fill the boat, and were obliged to bale with all our might. At dawn of day I served a larger allowance of rum. Towards noon the rain abated and the sun shone, but we were miserably cold and wet, the sea breaking constantly over us so that, notwithstanding the heavy rain, we had not been able to add to our stock of fresh water. Latitude by observation 14 degrees 29 minutes south, and longitude made by account from Tofoa 27 degrees 25 minutes west; course since yesterday noon north 78 degrees west 99 miles. I now considered myself nearly on a meridian with the east part of New Guinea.
Strong gales from east-south-east to south-south-east, a high sea, and dark dismal night.
Our situation this day was extremely calamitous. We were obliged to take the course of the sea, running right before it and watching with the utmost care as the least error in the helm would in a moment have been our destruction.
At noon it blew very hard and the foam of the sea kept running over our stern and quarters; I however got propped up and made an observation of the latitude in 14 degrees 17 minutes south; course north 85 degrees west distance 130 miles; longitude made 29 degrees 38 minutes west.
The misery we suffered this night exceeded the preceding. The sea flew over us with great force and kept us baling with horror and anxiety.
At dawn of day I found everyone in a most distressed condition, and I began to fear that another such night would put an end to the lives of several who seemed no longer able to support their sufferings. I served an allowance of two teaspoonfuls of rum, after drinking which, having wrung our clothes and taken our breakfast of bread and water, we became a little refreshed.
Towards noon the weather became fair, but with very little abatement of the gale and the sea remained equally high. With some difficulty I observed the latitude to be 13 degrees 44 minutes south: course since yesterday noon north 74 degrees west, distance 116 miles; longitude made 31 degrees 32 minutes west from Tofoa.
The wind moderated in the evening and the weather looked much better, which rejoiced all hands so that they ate their scanty allowance with more satisfaction than for some time past. The night also was fair but, being always wet with the sea, we suffered much from the cold.
A fine morning, I had the pleasure to see, produced some cheerful countenances and, the first time for 15 days past, we experienced comfort from the warmth of the sun. We stripped and hung our clothes up to dry, which were by this time become so threadbare that they would not keep out either wet or cold.
At noon I observed in latitude 13 degrees 33 minutes south; longitude by account from Tofoa 33 degrees 28 minutes west; course north 84 degrees west, distance 114 miles. With the usual allowance of bread and water for dinner I served an ounce of pork to each person. This afternoon we had many birds about us which are never seen far from land, such as boobies and noddies.
As the sea began to run fair, and we shipped but little water, I took the opportunity to examine into the state of our bread and found that, according to the present mode of issuing, there was a sufficient quantity remaining for 29 days allowance, by which time I hoped we should be able to reach Timor. But as this was very uncertain and it was possible that, after all, we might be obliged to go to Java, I determined to proportion the allowance so as to make our stock hold out six weeks. I was apprehensive that this would be ill received, and that it would require my utmost resolution to enforce it for, small as the quantity was which I intended to take away for our future good, yet it might appear to my people like robbing them of life, and some, who were less patient than their companions, I expected would very ill brook it. However on my representing the necessity of guarding against delays that might be occasioned in our voyage by contrary winds, or other causes, and promising to enlarge upon the allowance as we got on, they cheerfully agreed to my proposal. It was accordingly settled that every person should receive one 25th of a pound of bread for breakfast, and the same quantity for dinner, so that by omitting the proportion for supper, we had 43 days allowance.
At noon some noddies came so near to us that one of them was caught by hand. This bird was about the size of a small pigeon. I divided it with its entrails into 18 portions, and by a well-known method at sea of Who shall have this?* it was distributed with the allowance of bread and water for dinner, and ate up bones and all, with salt water for sauce. I observed the latitude 13 degrees 32 minutes south; longitude made 35 degrees 19 minutes west; course north 89 degrees west, distance 108 miles.
(*Footnote. One person turns his back on the object that is to be divided: another then points separately to the portions, and each of them asking aloud, "Who shall have this?" to which the first answers by naming somebody. This impartial method of division gives every man an equal chance of the best share.)
In the evening several boobies flying very near to us we had the good fortune to catch one of them. This bird is as large as a duck: like the noddy it has received its name from seamen for suffering itself to be caught on the masts and yards of ships. They are the most presumptive proofs of being in the neighbourhood of land of any seafowl we are acquainted with. I directed the bird to be killed for supper, and the blood to be given to three of the people who were the most distressed for want of food. The body, with the entrails, beak, and feet, I divided into 18 shares, and with an allowance of bread, which I made a merit of granting, we made a good supper, compared with our usual fare.
Fresh breezes from the south-east with fine weather. In the morning we caught another booby so that Providence appeared to be relieving our wants in an extraordinary manner. Towards noon we passed a great many pieces of the branches of trees, some of which appeared to have been no long time in the water. I had a good observation for the latitude, and found our situation to be in 13 degrees 41 minutes south; longitude by account from Tofoa 37 degrees 13 minutes west; course south 85 degrees west, 112 miles. The people were overjoyed at the addition to their dinner which was distributed in the same manner as on the preceding evening, giving the blood to those who were the most in want of food.
To make the bread a little savoury most of the people frequently dipped it in salt water; but I generally broke mine into small pieces and ate it in my allowance of water, out of a coconut shell with a spoon, economically avoiding to take too large a piece at a time, so that I was as long at dinner as if it had been a much more plentiful meal.
The weather was now serene, which nevertheless was not without its inconveniences, for we began to feel distress of a different kind from that which we had lately been accustomed to suffer. The heat of the sun was so powerful that several of the people were seized with a languor and faintness which made life indifferent. We were so fortunate as to catch two boobies in the evening: their stomachs contained several flying-fish and small cuttlefish, all of which I saved to be divided for dinner the next day.
A fresh breeze at east-south-east with fair weather. We passed much driftwood this forenoon and saw many birds; I therefore did not hesitate to pronounce that we were near the reefs of New Holland. From my recollection of Captain Cook's survey of this coast I considered the direction of it to be north-west, and I was therefore satisfied that, with the wind to the southward of east, I could always clear any dangers.
At noon I observed in latitude 13 degrees 26 minutes south; course since yesterday north 82 degrees west, distance 109 miles; longitude made 39 degrees 4 minutes. After writing my account I divided the two birds with their entrails and the contents of their maws into 18 portions and, as the prize was a very valuable one it was divided as before, by calling out Who shall have this? so that today, with the allowance of a 25th of a pound of bread at breakfast, and another at dinner, with the proportion of water, I was happy to see that every person thought he had feasted.
In the evening we saw a gannet; and the clouds remained so fixed in the west that I had little doubt of our being near the land. The people, after taking their allowance of water for supper, amused themselves with conversing on the probability of what we should find.
At one in the morning the person at the helm heard the sound of breakers, and I no sooner lifted up my head than I saw them close under our lee, not more than a quarter of a mile distant from us. I immediately hauled on a wind to the north-north-east and in ten minutes time we could neither see nor hear them.
I have already mentioned my reason for making New Holland so far to the southward: for I never doubted of numerous openings in the reef through which I could have access to the shore and, knowing the inclination of the coast to be to the north-west and the wind mostly to the southward of east, I could with ease range such a barrier of reefs till I should find a passage, which now became absolutely necessary, without a moment's loss of time. The idea of getting into smooth water and finding refreshments kept my people's spirits up: their joy was very great after we had got clear of the breakers to which we had approached much nearer than I thought was possible, without first discovering them.
In the morning at daylight, we could see nothing of the land or of the reefs. We bore away again and at nine o'clock saw the reefs. The sea broke furiously over every part, and we had no sooner got near to them than the wind came at east, so that we could only lie along the line of the breakers, within which we saw the water so smooth that every person already anticipated the heart-felt satisfaction he should receive as soon as we could get within them. I now found we were embayed for we could not lie clear with the sails, the wind having backed against us; and the sea set in so heavy towards the reef that our situation was become unsafe. We could effect but little with the oars, having scarce strength to pull them, and I began to apprehend that we should be obliged to attempt pushing over the reef. Even this I did not despair of effecting with success when happily we discovered a break in the reef, about one mile from us, and at the same time an island of a moderate height within it, nearly in the same direction, bearing west half north. I entered the passage with a strong stream running to the westward and found it about a quarter of a mile broad, with every appearance of deep water.
On the outside the reef inclined to the north-east for a few miles, and from thence to the north-west: on the south side of the entrance it inclined to the south-south-west as far as I could see it, and I conjecture that a similar passage to this which we now entered may be found near the breakers that I first discovered which are 23 miles south of this channel.
I did not recollect what latitude Providential channel* lies in, but I considered it to be within a few miles of this, which is situate in 12 degrees 51 minutes south latitude.
(*Footnote. Providential Channel is laid down by Captain Cook in 12 degrees 34 minutes south, longitude 143 degrees 33 minutes east.)
Being now happily within the reefs and in smooth water I endeavoured to keep near them to try for fish, but the tide set us to the north-west, I therefore bore away in that direction and, having promised to land on the first convenient spot we could find, all our past hardships seemed already to be forgotten.
At noon I had a good observation by which our latitude was 12 degrees 46 minutes south, whence the foregoing situations may be considered as determined with some exactness. The island first seen bore west-south-west five leagues. This, which I have called the island Direction, will in fair weather always show the channel, from which it bears due west, and may be seen as soon as the reefs from a ship's masthead: it lies in the latitude of 12 degrees 51 minutes south. These however are marks too small for a ship to hit unless it can hereafter be ascertained that passages through the reef are numerous along the coast which I am inclined to think they are, in which case there would be little risk even if the wind was directly on the shore.
My longitude made by dead reckoning from the island Tofoa to our passage through the reef is 40 degrees 10 minutes west. Providential channel, I imagine, must lie very nearly under the same meridian with our passage, by which it appears we had out-run our reckoning 1 degree 9 minutes.
We now returned God thanks for his gracious protection, and with much content took our miserable allowance of a 25th of a pound of bread and a quarter of a pint of water for dinner.