A Voyage to the South Sea/Chapter 16
Progress to the Northward along the Coast of New Holland. Land on different Islands in search of Supplies.
As we advanced within the reefs the coast began to show itself very distinctly in a variety of high and low land, some parts of which were covered with wood. In our way towards the shore we fell in with a point of a reef which is connected with that towards the sea, and here we came to a grapnel and tried to catch fish but had no success. The island Direction at this time bore south three or four leagues. Two islands lay about four miles to the west by north, and appeared eligible for a resting-place, if for nothing more; but on our approach to the nearest island it proved to be only a heap of stones, and its size too inconsiderable to shelter the boat. We therefore proceeded to the next, which was close to it and towards the main. On the north-west side of this I found a bay and a fine sandy point to land at. Our distance was about a quarter of a mile from a projecting part of the main, which bore from south-west by south to north-north-west three-quarters west. We landed to examine if there were any signs of the natives being near us: we saw some old fireplaces but nothing to make me apprehend that this would be an unsafe situation for the night. Everyone was anxious to find something to eat, and it was soon discovered that there were oysters on the rocks for the tide was out; but it was nearly dark and only a few could be gathered. I determined therefore to wait till the morning, when I should better know how to proceed, and I directed that one half of our company should sleep on shore and the other half in the boat. We would gladly have made a fire but, as we could not accomplish it, we took our rest for the night, which happily was calm and undisturbed.
The dawn of day brought greater strength and spirits to us than I expected for, notwithstanding everyone was very weak, there appeared strength sufficient remaining to make me conceive the most favourable hopes of our being able to surmount the difficulties we might yet have to encounter.
As there were no appearances to make me imagine that any of the natives were near us I sent out parties in search of supplies, while others of the people were putting the boat in order that we might be ready to go to sea, in case any unforeseen cause should make it necessary. One of the gudgeons of the rudder had come out in the course of the night and was lost. This, if it had happened at sea, might have been attended with the most serious consequences, as the management of the boat could not have been so nicely preserved as these very heavy seas required. I had been apprehensive of this accident, and had in some measure prepared for it, by having grummets fixed on each quarter of the boat for oars; but our utmost readiness in using them would not probably have saved us. It appears therefore a providential circumstance that it happened in a place of safety, and that it was in our power to remedy the defect; for by great good luck we found a large staple in the boat, which answered the purpose.
The parties returned, highly rejoiced at having found plenty of oysters and fresh water. I had also made a fire by the help of a small magnifying glass and, what was still more fortunate, we found among the few things which had been thrown into the boat and saved a piece of brimstone and a tinderbox, so that I secured fire for the future.
One of the people had been so provident as to bring away with him from the ship a copper pot: by being in possession of this article we were enabled to make a proper use of the supply we now obtained for, with a mixture of bread and a little pork, we made a stew that might have been relished by people of far more delicate appetites, and of which each person received a full pint.
The general complaints of disease among us were a dizziness in the head, great weakness of the joints, and violent tenesmus, most of us having had no evacuation by stool since we left the ship. I had constantly a severe pain at my stomach but none of our complaints were alarming: on the contrary, everyone retained marks of strength that, with a mind possessed of a tolerable share of fortitude, seemed able to bear more fatigue than I imagined we should have to undergo in our voyage to Timor.
As I would not allow the people to expose themselves to the heat of the sun, it being near noon, everyone took his allotment of earth where it was shaded by the bushes for a short sleep.
The oysters which we found grew so fast to the rocks that it was with difficulty they could be broken off, and at length we discovered it to be the most expeditious way to open them where they were fixed. They were of a good size, and well tasted. To add to this happy circumstance in the hollow of the land there grew some wire-grass, which indicated a moist situation. On forcing a stick, about three feet long, into the ground we found water, and with little trouble dug a well which produced as much as our occasions required. It was very good, but I could not determine if it was a spring or not. We were not obliged to make the well deep for it flowed as fast as we emptied it, which, as the soil was apparently too loose to retain water from the rains, renders it probable to be a spring. On the south side of the island likewise we found a small run of good water.
Besides places where fires had been made there were other signs of the natives sometimes resorting to this island. I saw two ill-constructed huts or wigwams which had only one side loosely covered, and a pointed stick was found, about three feet long, with a slit in the end of it to sling stones with, the same as the natives of Van Diemen's land use.
The track of some animal was very discernible and Nelson agreed with me that it was the kangaroo; but whether these animals swim over from the mainland, or are brought here by the natives to breed, it is impossible to determine. The latter is not improbable as they may be taken with less difficulty in a confined spot like this than on the continent.
The island is about a league in circuit: it is a high lump of rocks and stones covered with wood; but the trees are small, the soil, which is very indifferent and sandy, being barely sufficient to produce them. The trees that came within our knowledge were the manchineal and a species of purow; also some palm trees, the tops of which we cut down, and the soft interior part or heart of them was so palatable that it made a good addition to our mess. Nelson discovered some fern-roots which I thought might be good roasted as a substitute for bread, but in this I was mistaken: it however was very serviceable in its natural state to allay thirst, and on that account I directed a quantity to be collected to take into the boat. Many pieces of coconut shells and husk were found about the shore, but we could find no coconut trees, neither did I see any on the main.
I had cautioned the people not to touch any kind of berry or fruit that they might find; yet they were no sooner out of my sight than they began to make free with three different kinds that grew all over the island, eating without any reserve. The symptoms of having eaten too much began at last to frighten some of them but, on questioning others who had taken a more moderate allowance, their minds were a little quieted. The others however became equally alarmed in their turn, dreading that such symptoms would come on, and that they were all poisoned, so that they regarded each other with the strongest marks of apprehension, uncertain what would be the issue of their imprudence. Fortunately the fruit proved wholesome and good. One sort grew on a small delicate kind of vine; they were the size of a large gooseberry and very like in substance, but had only a sweet taste; the skin was a pale red, streaked with yellow the long way of the fruit: it was pleasant and agreeable. Another kind grew on bushes like that which is called the seaside grape in the West Indies, but the fruit was very different, being more like elderberries, and grew in clusters in the same manner. The third sort was a blackberry; this was not in such plenty as the others and resembled a bullace, or large kind of sloe, both in size and taste. When I saw that these fruits were eaten by the birds I no longer doubted of their being wholesome, and those who had already tried the experiment, not finding any bad effect, made it a certainty that we might eat of them without danger.
Wild pigeons, parrots, and other birds were about the summit of the island but, having no firearms, relief of that kind was not to be expected unless we should find some unfrequented spot where the birds were so tame that we might take them with our hands.
The shore of this island is very rocky except the place at which we landed, and here I picked up many pieces of pumice-stone. On the part of the main nearest to us were several sandy bays which at low water became an extensive rocky flat. The country had rather a barren appearance except in a few places where it was covered with wood. A remarkable range of rocks lay a few miles to the south-west, and a high peaked hill seemed to terminate the coast towards the sea, with islands to the southward. A high fair cape showed the direction of the coast to the north-west about seven leagues distant; and two small isles lay three or four leagues to the northward of our present station.
I saw a few bees or wasps and several lizards; and the blackberry bushes were full of ants nests, webbed like a spider's but so close and compact as not to admit the rain. A trunk of a tree about 50 feet long lay on the beach, from which I conclude that a heavy sea sets in here with a northerly wind.
This day being the anniversary of the restoration of King Charles the Second, and the name not being inapplicable to our present situation (for we were restored to fresh life and strength) I named this Restoration Island; for I thought it probable that Captain Cook might not have taken notice of it. The other names which I have presumed to give the different parts of the coast are meant only to show my route more distinctly.
At noon I observed the latitude of the island to be 12 degrees 39 minutes south, our course having been north 66 degrees west, distance 18 miles from yesterday noon. The wind was at east-south-east with very fine weather.
In the afternoon I sent parties out again to gather oysters, with which and some of the inner part of the palm-top we made another good stew for supper, each person receiving a full pint and a half; but I refused bread to this meal for I considered that our wants might yet be very great, and was intent on saving our principal support whenever it was in my power. After supper we again divided and those who were on shore slept by a good fire.
In the morning I discovered a visible alteration in our company for the better, and I sent them away again to gather oysters. We had now only two pounds of pork left. This article, which I could not keep under lock and key as I did the bread, had been pilfered by some inconsiderate person, but everyone denied having any knowledge of this act; I therefore resolved to put it out of their power for the future by sharing what remained for our dinner. While the party was out picking up oysters I got the boat in readiness for sea, and filled all our water vessels, which amounted to nearly 60 gallons.
The party being returned, dinner was soon ready, which was as plentiful a meal as the supper on the preceding evening, and with the pork I gave an allowance of bread. As it was not yet noon I sent the people once more to gather oysters for a sea store, recommending to them to be as diligent as possible for that I was determined to sail in the afternoon.
At noon I again observed the latitude 12 degrees 39 minutes south; it was then high-water, the tide had risen three feet, but I could not be certain from whence the flood came. I deduce the time of high-water at full and change to be ten minutes past seven in the morning.
Early in the afternoon the people returned with the few oysters that they had collected and everything was put into the boat. I then examined the quantity of bread remaining and found 38 days allowance, according to the last mode of issuing a 25th of a pound at breakfast and at dinner.
Fair weather and moderate breezes at east-south-east and south-east.
Being ready for sea I directed every person to attend prayers. At four o'clock we were preparing to embark when about twenty of the natives appeared, running and hallooing to us, on the opposite shore. They were each armed with a spear or lance and a short weapon which they carried in their left hand: they made signs for us to come to them. On the top of the hills we saw the heads of many more: whether these were their wives and children or others who waited for our landing, meaning not to show themselves lest we might be intimidated, I cannot say but, as I found we were discovered to be on the coast, I thought it prudent to make the best of our way for fear of being pursued by canoes, though, from the accounts of Captain Cook, the chance was that there were very few if any of consequence on any part of the coast. I passed these people as near as I could with safety: they were naked and apparently black, and their hair or wool bushy and short.
I directed my course within two small islands that lie to the north of Restoration Island, passing between them and the mainland towards Fair Cape with a strong tide in my favour, so that I was abreast of it by eight o'clock. The coast we passed was high and woody. As I could see no land without Fair Cape I concluded that the coast inclined to the north-west and west-north-west: I therefore steered more towards the west; but by eleven o'clock at night we met with low land which inclined to the north-east, and at three o'clock in the morning I found that we were embayed, which obliged us to stand back for a short time to the southward.
At daybreak I was exceedingly surprised to find the appearance of the country entirely changed, as if in the course of the night we had been transported to another part of the world; for we had now a low sandy coast in view, with very little verdure or anything to indicate that it was at all habitable to a human being except a few patches of small trees or brushwood.
Many small islands were in sight to the north-east about six miles distant. The eastern part of the main bore north four miles, and Fair Cape south-south-east five or six leagues. I took the channel between the nearest island and the mainland, which were about one mile apart, leaving all the islands on the starboard side. Some of these were very pretty spots, covered with wood and well situated for fishing: large shoals of fish were about us but we could not catch any. In passing this strait we saw another party of Indians, seven in number, running towards us, shouting and making signs for us to land. Some of them waved green branches of the bushes which were near them as a token of friendship; but some of their other motions were less friendly. A little farther off we saw a larger party who likewise came towards us. I therefore determined not to land though I much wished to have had some intercourse with these people. Nevertheless I laid the boat close to the rocks and beckoned to them to approach but none of them would come within 200 yards of us. They were armed in the same manner as the people we had seen from Restoration Island; they were stark naked, their colour black, with short bushy hair or wool, and in their appearance were similar to them in every respect. An island of a good height bore north half west four miles from us, at which I resolved to land and from thence to take a look at the coast. At this isle we arrived about eight o'clock in the morning. The shore was rocky but the water was smooth and we landed without difficulty. I sent two parties out, one to the northward and the other to the southward, to seek for supplies, and others I ordered to stay by the boat. On this occasion fatigue and weakness so far got the better of their sense of duty that some of the people expressed their discontent at having worked harder than their companions, and declared that they would rather be without their dinner than go in search of it. One person in particular went so far as to tell me, with a mutinous look, that he was as good a man as myself. It was not possible for me to judge where this might have an end if not stopped in time, therefore to prevent such disputes in future I determined either to preserve my command or die in the attempt and, seizing a cutlass, I ordered him to take hold of another and defend himself, on which he called out that I was going to kill him and immediately made concessions. I did not allow this to interfere further with the harmony of the boat's crew and everything soon became quiet.
The parties continued collecting what they could find, which were some fine oysters and clams and a few small dog-fish that were caught in the holes of the rocks. We also found some rainwater in the hollow of the rocks on the north part of the island, so that of this essential article we were again so fortunate as to obtain a full supply.
After regulating the mode of proceeding I walked to the highest part of the island to consider our route for the night. To my surprise no more of the mainland could be seen here than from below, the northernmost part in sight, which was full of sandhills bearing west by north about three leagues. Except the isles to the east-south-east and south that we had passed I could only discover a small key north-west by north. As this was considerably farther from the main than the spot on which we were at present I judged it would be a more secure resting-place for the night, for here we were liable to an attack, if the Indians had canoes, as they undoubtedly must have observed our landing. My mind being made up on this point I returned after taking a particular look at the island we were on, which I found only to produce a few bushes and some coarse grass, the extent of the whole not being two miles in circuit. On the north side in a sandy bay I saw an old canoe about 33 feet long, lying bottom upwards and half buried in the beach. It was made of three pieces, the bottom entire, to which the sides were sewed in the common way. It had a sharp projecting prow rudely carved in resemblance of the head of a fish; the extreme breadth was about three feet and I imagine it was capable of carrying 20 men. The discovery of so large a canoe confirmed me in the purpose of seeking a more retired place for our night's lodging.
At noon the parties were all returned but had found much difficulty in gathering the oysters from their close adherence to the rocks, and the clams were scarce: I therefore saw that it would be of little use to remain longer in this place, as we should not be able to collect more than we could eat. I named this Sunday Island: it lies north by west three-quarters west from Restoration Island; the latitude by a good observation 11 degrees 58 minutes south.
We had a fresh breeze at south-east by south with fair weather. At two o'clock in the afternoon we dined, each person having a full pint and a half of stewed oysters and clams, thickened with small beans which Nelson informed me were a species of Dolichos. Having eaten heartily and completed our water I waited to determine the time of high-water, which I found to be at three o'clock, and the rise of the tide about five feet. According to this it is high-water on the full and change at 19 minutes past 9 in the morning: I observed the flood to come from the southward, though at Restoration Island I thought it came from the northward. I think Captain Cook mentions that he found great irregularity in the set of the flood on this coast.
We steered for the key seen in the north-west by north where we arrived just at dark, but found it so surrounded by a reef of rocks that I could not land without danger of staving the boat; and on that account we came to a grapnel for the night.
Monday June 1.
At dawn of day we got on shore and tracked the boat into shelter for, the wind blowing fresh without and the ground being rocky, it was not safe to trust her at a grapnel lest she should be blown to sea: I was therefore obliged to let her ground in the course of the ebb. From appearances I expected that if we remained till night we should meet with turtle as we discovered recent tracks of them. Innumerable birds of a noddy kind made this island their resting-place; so that we had reason to flatter ourselves with hopes of getting supplies in greater abundance than it had hitherto been in our power. Our situation was at least four leagues distant from the main. We were on the north-westernmost of four small keys which were surrounded by a reef of rocks connected by sandbanks except between the two northernmost, and there likewise it was dry at low water, the whole forming a lagoon island into which the tide flowed: at this entrance I kept the boat.
As usual I sent parties away in search of supplies but, to our great disappointment, we could only get a few clams and some dolichos: with these and the oysters we had brought from Sunday Island I made up a mess for dinner with the addition of a small quantity of bread.
Towards noon Nelson and some others who had been to the easternmost key returned, but Nelson was in so weak a condition that he was obliged to be supported by two men. His complaint was a violent heat in his bowels, a loss of sight, much drought, and an inability to walk. This I found was occasioned by his being unable to support the heat of the sun and that, when he was fatigued and faint, instead of retiring into the shade to rest he had continued to attempt more than his strength was equal to. I was glad to find that he had no fever; and it was now that the little wine which I had so carefully saved became of real use. I gave it in very small quantities with some pieces of bread soaked in it; and he soon began to recover. The boatswain and carpenter also were ill and complained of headache and sickness of the stomach. Others who had not had any evacuation by stool became shockingly distressed with the tenesmus so that there were but few without complaints. An idea prevailed that the sickness of the boatswain and carpenter was occasioned by eating the dolichos. Myself however and some others who had taken the same food felt no inconvenience; but the truth was that many of the people had eaten a large quantity of them raw, and Nelson informed me that they were constantly teasing him whenever a berry was found to know if it was good to eat; so that it would not have been surprising if many of them had been really poisoned.
Our dinner was not so well relished as at Sunday Island because we had mixed the dolichos with our stew. The oysters and soup however were eaten by everyone except Nelson whom I fed with a few small pieces of bread soaked in half a glass of wine, and he continued to mend.
In my walk round the island I found several coconut shells, the remains of an old wigwam, and the backs of two turtless, but no sign of any quadruped. One of the people found three seafowl's eggs.
As is common on such spots the soil is little other than sand, yet it produced small toa-trees and some others that we were not acquainted with. There were fish in the lagoon, but we could not catch any. Our wants therefore were not likely to be supplied here, not even with water for our daily expense: nevertheless I determined to wait till the morning, that we might try our success in the night for turtle and birds. A quiet night's rest also, I conceived, would be of essential service to those who were unwell.
The wigwam and turtle shell were proofs that the natives at times visited this place, and that they had canoes the remains of the large canoe that we saw at Sunday Island left no room to doubt: but I did not apprehend that we ran any risk by remaining here a short time. I directed our fire however to be made in the thicket that we might not be discovered by its light.
At noon I observed the latitude of this island to be 11 degrees 47 minutes south. The mainland extended towards the north-west and was full of white sandhills: another small island lay within us, bearing west by north one quarter north three leagues distant. Our situation being very low we could see nothing of the reef towards the sea.
The afternoon was advantageously spent in sleep. There were however a few not disposed to it, and those were employed in dressing some clams to take with us for the next day's dinner: others we cut up in slices to dry, which I knew was the most valuable supply we could find here, but they were very scarce.
Towards evening I cautioned everyone against making too large a fire or suffering it after dark to blaze up. Mr. Samuel and Mr. Peckover had superintendence of this business, while I was strolling about the beach to observe if I thought it could be seen from the main. I was just satisfied that it could not when on a sudden the island appeared all in a blaze that might have been discerned at a much more considerable distance. I ran to learn the cause and found that it was occasioned by the imprudence and obstinacy of one of the party who in my absence had insisted on having a fire to himself, in making which the flames caught the neighbouring grass and rapidly spread. This misconduct might have produced very serious consequences by discovering our situation to the natives for, if they had attacked us, we had neither arms nor strength to oppose an enemy. Thus the relief which I expected from a little sleep was totally lost and I anxiously waited for the flowing of the tide that we might proceed to sea.
It was high-water at half-past five this evening whence I deduced the time on the full and change of the moon to be 58 past 10 in the morning: the rise was nearly five feet. I could not observe the set of the flood but imagined it to come from the southward, and that I was mistaken at Restoration Island as I found the time of high-water gradually later the more we advanced to the northward.
At Restoration Island high-water full and change : 7 hours 10. Sunday Island high-water full and change : 9 hours 19. Here high-water full and change : 10 hours 58.
After eight o'clock Mr. Samuel and Mr. Peckover went out to watch for turtle and three men went to the east key to endeavour to catch birds. All the others, complaining of being sick, took their rest, except Mr. Hayward and Mr. Elphinston whom I directed to keep watch. About midnight the bird party returned with only twelve noddies, birds which I have already described to be about the size of pigeons: but if it had not been for the folly and obstinacy of one of the party, who separated from the other two and disturbed the birds, they might have caught a great number. I was so much provoked at my plans being thus defeated that I gave this offender a good beating.* I now went in search of the turtling party who had taken great pains but without success. This did not surprise me as it was not to be expected that turtle would come near us after the noise which had been made at the beginning of the evening in extinguishing the fire. I therefore desired them to come back, but they requested to stay a little longer as they still hoped to find some before daylight: however they returned by three o'clock without any reward for their labour.
(*Footnote. Robert lamb. This man when he came to Java acknowledged he had eaten nine birds raw after he separated from his two companions.)
The birds we half dressed that they might keep the better: and these with a few clams made the whole of the supply procured here. I tied a few gilt buttons and some pieces of iron to a tree for any of the natives that might come after us and, finding my invalids much better for their night's rest, we embarked and departed by dawn of day. Wind at south-east; course to the north by west.
When we had run two leagues to the northward the sea suddenly became rough which, not having before experienced since we were within the reefs, I concluded to be occasioned by an open channel to the ocean. Soon afterwards we met with a large shoal on which were two sandy keys; between these and two others, four miles to the west, I passed on to the northward, the sea still continuing to be rough.
Towards noon I fell in with six other keys, most of which produced some small trees and brushwood. These formed a pleasing contrast with the mainland we had passed which was full of sandhills. The country continued hilly and the northernmost land, the same we had seen from the lagoon island, appeared like downs, sloping towards the sea. Nearly abreast of us was a flat-topped hill which on account of its shape I called Pudding-pan hill; and a little to the northward were two other hills which we called the Paps; and here was a small tract of country without sand, the eastern part of which forms a cape whence the coast inclines to the north-west by north.
At noon I observed in the latitude of 11 degrees 18 minutes south the cape bearing west distant ten miles. Five small keys bore from north-east to south-east, the nearest of them about two miles distant, and a low sandy key between us and the cape bore west distant four miles. My course from the lagoon island had been north half west distant 30 miles.
I am sorry it was not in my power to obtain a sufficient knowledge of the depth of water but in our situation nothing could be undertaken that might have occasioned delay. It may however be understood that to the best of my judgment from appearances a ship may pass wherever I have omitted to represent danger.
I divided six birds and issued one 25th of a pound of bread with half a pint of water to each person for dinner, and I gave half a glass of wine to Nelson, who was now so far recovered as to require no other indulgence.
The gunner when he left the ship brought his watch with him, by which we had regulated out time till today, when unfortunately it stopped; so that noon, sunrise, and sunset, are the only parts of the 24 hours of which from henceforward I can speak with certainty as to time.
The wind blew fresh from the south-south-east and south-east all the afternoon with fair weather. As we stood to the north by west we found more sea, which I attributed to our receiving less shelter from the reefs to the eastward: it is probable they did not extend so far north as this; at least it may be concluded that there is not a continued barrier to prevent shipping having access to the shore. I observed that the stream set to the north-west, which I considered to be the flood. In some places along the coast we saw patches of wood. At five o'clock, steering to the north-west, we passed a large and fair inlet into which I imagine there is a safe and commodious entrance; it lies in latitude 11 degrees south. About three leagues to the northward of this is an island, at which we arrived about sunset, and took shelter for the night under a sandy point which was the only part we could land at. This being rather a wild situation I thought it best to sleep in the boat: nevertheless I sent a party away to see if anything could be got, but they returned without success. They saw a great number of turtle bones and shells where the natives had been feasting, and their last visit seemed to be of late date. The island was covered with wood, but in other respects it was a lump of rocks.
We lay at a grapnel till daylight with a very fresh gale and cloudy weather. The main bore from south-east by south to north-north-west half west three leagues, and a mountainous island with a flat top, north by west four or five leagues, between which and the mainland were several other islands. The spot we were at, which I call Turtle Island, lies in latitude by account 10 degrees 52 minutes south and 42 miles west from Restoration Island. Abreast of it the coast has the appearance of a sandy desert, but improves about three leagues farther to the northward where it terminates in a point, near to which are many small islands. I sailed between these islands where I found no bottom at twelve fathoms; the high mountainous island with a flat top and four rocks to the south-east of it, that I call the Brothers, being on my starboard hand. Soon after an extensive opening appeared in the mainland, in which were a number of high islands. I called this the Bay of Islands. We continued steering to the north-west. Several islands and keys were in sight to the northward: the most northerly island was mountainous, having on it a very high round hill, and a smaller was remarkable for a single peaked hill.
The coast to the northward and westward of the Bay of Islands is high and woody and has a broken appearance, with many islands close to it, among which there are fine bays and convenient places for shipping. The northernmost of these islands I call Wednesday Island: to the north-west of this we fell in with a large reef which I believe joins a number of keys that were in sight from the north-west to the east-north-east. We therefore stood to the south-west half a league when it was noon, and I had a good observation of the latitude in 10 degrees 31 minutes south. Wednesday Island bore east by south five miles; the westernmost land in sight south-west two or three leagues; the islands to the northward from north-west by west to north-east, and the reef from west to north-east distant one mile. I was now tolerably certain that we should be clear of New Holland in the afternoon.
I know not how far this reef extends. It may be a continuation or a detached part of the range of shoals that surround the coast. I believe the mountainous islands to be separate from the shoals, and have no doubt that near them may be found good passages for ships. But I rather recommend to those who are to pass this strait from the eastward to take their direction from the coast of New Guinea: yet I likewise think that a ship coming from the southward will find a fair strait in the latitude of 10 degrees south. I much wished to have ascertained this point but in our distressful situation any increase of fatigue or loss of time might have been attended with the most fatal consequences. I therefore determined to pass on without delay.
As an addition to our dinner of bread and water I served to each person six oysters.
At two o'clock in the afternoon as we were steering to the south-west towards the westernmost part of the land in sight we fell in with some large sandbanks that run off from the coast: I therefore called this Shoal Cape. We were obliged to steer to the northward again till we got round the shoals, when I directed the course to the west.
At four o'clock the westernmost of the islands to the northward bore north four leagues; Wednesday Island east by north five leagues, and shoal cape south-east by east two leagues. A small island was seen bearing west, at which we arrived before dark and found that it was only a rock where boobies resort, for which reason I called it Booby Island. Here terminated the rocks and shoals of the north part of New Holland for except Booby Island no land was seen to the westward of south after three o'clock this afternoon.
I find that Booby island was seen by Captain Cook and, by a remarkable coincidence of ideas, received from him the same name, but I cannot with certainty reconcile the situation of some parts of the coast that I have seen to his survey. I ascribe this to the various forms in which land appears when seen from the different heights of a ship and a boat. The chart I have given is by no means meant to supersede that made by Captain Cook, who had better opportunities than I had and was in every respect properly provided for surveying. The intention of mine is chiefly to render this narrative more intelligible, and to show in what manner the coast appeared to me from an open boat. I have little doubt but that the opening which I named the Bay of Islands is Endeavour Straits; and that our track was to the northward of Prince of Wales' Isles. Perhaps, by those who shall hereafter navigate these seas, more advantage may be derived from the possession of both our charts than from either of them singly.