The Endeavour Journal of Sir Joseph Banks/June 1770

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1770 June 1.

In the night it raind and at times blew strong not much to our satisfaction who were in a situation not very desirable, as if our anchor should come home or cable break we had nothing to expect but going ashore on some one or other of the shoals which lay round us. The night passd however without the least accident, and at day light in the morn the anchor was got up and we proceeded, in hopes of getting out of our Archipelago. By noon we got in with the main land, which made hilly and barren; on it were some smoaks. In the Evening the weather settled fine and we saild along shore; at night came to an Anchor.

Tupia complaind this evening of swelld Gums; he had it seems had his mouth sore for near a fortnight, but not knowing what cause it proceeded from did not complain. The Surgeon immediately put him upon taking extract of Lemons in all his drink.

1770 June 2.

Sailing along shore with fine weather, the countrey hilly and ill wooded. Some Islands were still in sight ahead of us; at noon the irregularity of the soundings made it necessary to send the boat ahead again. In the evening the countrey was moderately hilly and seemd green and pleasant; one smoak was seen upon it. At night we anchord, several large Islands being without us.

1770 June 3.

At day break the anchor was weighd and we stood along shore till we found ourselves in a bay off the outermost point of which were the Islands seen yesterday; by 8 it was resolvd to stand out again through a passage which was seen between them and the main which was accordingly done. The countrey within the bay, especialy on the innermost side, was well wooded, lookd fertile and pleasant. After dinner standing among Islands which were very barren, rising high and steep from the sea; on one of these we saw with our glasses 2 men a woman and a small canoe fitted with an outrigger, which made us hope that the people were something improvd as their boat was far preferable to the bark Canoes of Stingrays bay.

1770 June 4.

Hills in the morn were high and steep but they soon fell into very low land to all appearance barren. The water began now to be discolourd and an appearance of Islands was seen ahead which made us look out for more sholes. At noon one smoak was seen behind some hills inland. At night we passd pretty near a head land which appeard miserably rocky and barren. Much seaweed with very fine leaves passd by the ship all day.

1770 June 5.

Land near the sea very low and flat behind which the hills rose: in the countrey very little appearance of fertility however either on one or the other: at noon one large fire was seen. Several Cuttle bones and 2 Sea Snakes swam past the ship. In the Even the Thermometer was at 74 and the air felt to us hotter than we have felt it on the coast before. Many Clouds of a thin scum lay floating upon the water the same as we have before seen off Rio de Janiero; some few flying fish also.

1770 June 6.

Land made in Barren rocky capes; one in particular which we were abreast of in the morn appeard much like Cape Roxent; at noon 3 fires upon it. Many Cuttle bones, Some sea weed and 2 or 3 Sea snakes were seen. In the evening it fell quite calm and I went out in the small Boat and shot nectris nugax but saw nothing remarkable on the water; the weather most sultry hot in an open boat.

1770 June 7.

Sailing between the main and Islands the main rose steep from the Water rocky and barren. Just about sun rise a shoal of fish about the size of and much like flounders but perfectly white went by the ship. At noon the Islands had mended their appearance and people were seen upon them; the Main as barren as ever with several fires upon it, one vastly large. After dinner an appearance very much like Cocoa nut trees tempted us to hoist out a boat and go ashore, where we found our supposd Cocoanut trees to be no more than bad Cabbage trees. The Countrey about them was very stoney and barren and it was almost dark when we got ashsore; we made a shift however to gather 14 or 15 new plants after which we repaird to our boats, but scarce were they put off from the shore when an Indian came very near it and shouted to us very loud; it was so dark that we could not see him, we however turnd towards the shore by way of seeing what he wanted with us, but he I suppose ran away or hid himself immediately for we could not get a sight of him.

1770 June 8.

Still sailing between the Main and Islands; the former rocky and high lookd rather less barren than usual and by the number of fires seemd to be better peopled. In the morn we passd within ¼ of a mile of a small Islet or rock on which we saw with our glasses about 30 men women and children standing all together and looking attentively at us, the first people we have seen shew any signs of curiosity at the sight of the ship.

1770 June 9.

Countrey much the same as it was, hills near the sea high, lookd at a distance not unlike Mores or heaths in England but when you came nearer them were coverd with small trees; some few flatts and valleys lookd tolerably fertile. At noon a fire and some people were seen. After dinner came to an Anchor and went ashore, but saw no people. The countrey was hilly and very stony affording nothing but fresh water, at least that we found, except a few Plants that we had not before met with. At night our people caught a few small fish with their hooks and lines.

1770 June 10.

Just without us as we lay at an anchor was a small sandy Island laying upon a large Coral shoal, much resembling the low Islands to the eastward of us but the first of the kind we had met with in this part of the South Sea. Early in the morn we weighd and saild as usual with a fine breeze along shore, the Countrey hilly and stoney. At night fall rocks and sholes were seen ahead, on which the ship was put upon a wind off shore. While we were at supper she went over a bank of 7 or 8 fathom water which she came upon very suddenly; this we concluded to be the tail of the Sholes we had seen at sunset and therefore went to bed in perfect security, but scarce were we warm in our beds when we were calld up with the alarming news of the ship being fast ashore upon a rock, which she in a few moments convincd us of by beating very violently against the rocks. Our situation became now greatly alarming: we had stood off shore 3 hours and a half with a plesant breeze so knew we could not be very near it: we were little less than certain that we were upon sunken coral rocks, the most dreadfull of all others on account of their sharp points and grinding quality which cut through a ships bottom almost immediately. The officers however behavd with inimitable coolness void of all hurry and confusion; a boat was got out in which the master went and after sounding round the ship found that she had ran over a rock and consequently had Shole water all round her. All this time she continued to beat very much so that we could hardly keep our legs upon the Quarter deck; by the light of the moon we could see her sheathing boards etc. floating thick round her; about 12 her false keel came away.

1770 June 11.

In the mean time all kind of Preparations were making for carrying out anchors, but by reason of the time it took to hoist out boats etc. the tide ebbd so much that we found it impossible to attempt to get her off till next high water, if she would hold together so long; and we now found to add to our misfortune that we had got ashore nearly at the top of high water and as night tides generaly rise higher than day ones we had little hopes of getting off even then. For our Comfort however the ship as the tide ebbd settled to the rocks and did not beat near so much as she had done; a rock however under her starboard bow kept grating her bottom making a noise very plainly to be heard in the fore store rooms; this we doubted not would make a hole in her bottom, we only hopd that it might not let in more water than we could clear with our pumps.

In this situation day broke upon us and showd us the land about 8 Leagues off as we judgd; nearer than that was no Island or place on which we could set foot. It however brought with it a decrease of wind and soon after that a flat calm, the most fortunate circumstance that could Possibly attend people in our circumstances. The tide we found had falln 2 feet and still continued to fall; Anchors were however got out and laid ready for heaving as soon as the tide should rise but to our great surprize we could not observe it to rise in the least.

Orders were now given for lightning the ship which was began by starting our water and pumping it up; the ballast was then got up and thrown over board, as well as 6 of our guns (all that we had upon deck). All this time the Seamen workd with surprizing chearfullness and alacrity; no grumbling or growling was to be heard throughout the ship, no not even an oath (tho the ship in general was as well furnishd with them as most in his majesties service). About one the water was faln so low that the Pinnace touchd ground as he lay under the ships bows ready to take in an anchor, after this the tide began to rise and as it rose the ship workd violently upon the rocks so that by 2 she began to make water and increasd very fast. At night the tide almost floated her but she made water so fast that three pumps hard workd could but just keep her clear and the 4th absolutely refusd do deliver a drop of water. Now in my own opinion I intirely gave up the ship and packing up what I thought I might save prepard myself for the worst.

The most critical part of our distress now aproachd: the ship was almost afloat and every thing ready to get her into deep water but she leakd so fast that with all our pumps we could just keep her free: if (as was probable) she should make more water when hauld off she must sink and we well knew that our boats were not capable of carrying us all ashore, so that some, probably the most of us, must be drownd: a better fate maybe than those would have who should get ashore without arms to defend themselves from the Indians or provide themselves with food, on a countrey where we had not the least reason to hope for subsistance had they even every convenence to take it as netts etc., so barren had we always found it; and had they even met with good usage from the natives and food to support them, debarrd from a hope of ever again seing their native countrey or conversing with any but the most uncivilizd savages perhaps in the world.

The dreadfull time now aproachd and the anziety in every bodys countenance was visible enough: the Capstan and Windlace were mannd and they began to heave: fear of Death now stard us in the face; hopes we had none but of being able to keep the ship afloat till we could run her ashore on some part of the main where out of her materials we might build a vessel large enough to carry us to the East Indies. At 10 O'Clock she floated and was in a few minutes hawld into deep water where to our great satisfaction she made no more water than she had done, which was indeed full as much as we could manage tho no one there was in the ship but who willingly exerted his utmost strength.

1770 June 12.

The people who had been 24 hours at exceeding hard work now began to flag; myself unusd to labour was much fatigued and had laid down to take a little rest, was awakd about 12 with the alarming news of the ships having gaind so much upon the Pumps that she had four feet water in her hold: add to this that the wind blew of the land a regular land breeze so that all hopes of running her ashore were totaly cut off. This however acted upon every body like a charm: rest was no more thought of but the pumps went with unwearied vigour till the water was all out which was done in a much shorter time than was expected, and upon examination it was found that she never had half so much water in her as was thought, the Carpenter having made a mistake in sounding the pumps.

We now began again to have some hopes and to talk of getting the ship into some harbour as we could spare hands from the pumps to get up our anchors; one Bower however we cut away but got the other and three small anchors far more valuable to us than the Bowers, as we were obligd immediately to warp her to windward that we might take advantage of the sea breeze to run in shore.

One of our midshipmen now proposd an expedient which no one else in the ship had seen practisd, tho all had heard of it by the name of fothering a ship, by the means of which he said he had come home from America in a ship which made more water than we did; nay so sure was the master of that ship of his expedient that he took her out of harbour knowing how much water she made and trusting intirely to it. He was immediately set to work with 4 or 5 assistants to prepare his fother which he did thus. He took a lower studding sail and having mixd together a large quantity of Oakum chopd fine and wool he stickd it down upon the sail as loosely as possible in small bundles each about as big as his fist, these were rangd in rows 3 or 4 inches from each other: this was to be sunk under the ship and the theory of it was this, where ever the leak was must be a great suction which would probably catch hold of one or other of these lumps of Oakum and wool and drawing it in either partly or intirely stop up the hole. While this work was going on the water rather gaind on those who were pumping which made all hands impatient for the tryal. In the afternoon the ship was got under way with a gentle breeze of wind and stood in for the land; soon after the fother was finishd and applyd by fastning ropes to each Corner, then sinking the sail under the ship and with these ropes drawing it as far backwards as we could; in about ½ an hour to our great surprize the ship was pumpd dry and upon letting the pumps stand she was found to make very little water, so much beyond our most sanguine Expectations had this singular expedient succeeded. At night came to an anchor, the fother still keeping her almost clear so that we were in an instant raisd from almost despondency to the greatest hopes: we were now almost too sanguine talking of nothing but getting her into some harbour where we might lay her ashore and repair her, or if we could not find such a place we little doubted to the East indies.

During the whole time of this distress I must say for the credit of our people that I beleive every man exerted his utmost for the preservation of the ship, contrary to what I have universaly heard to be the behavior of sea men who have commonly as soon as a ship is in a desperate situation began to plunder and refuse all command. This was no doubt owing intirely to the cool and steady conduct of the officers, who during the whole time never gave an order which did not shew them to be perfectly composd and unmovd by the circumstances howsoever dreadfull they might appear.

1770 June 13.

One Pump and that not half workd kept the ship clear all night. In the morn we weighd with a fine breeze of wind and steerd along ashore among innumerable shoals, the boats keeping ahead and examining every appearance of a harbour which presented itself; nothing however was met with which could possibly suit our situation, bad as it was, so at night we came to an anchor. The Pinnace however which had gone far ahead was not returnd, nor did she till nine O'Clock, when she reported that she had found just the place we wanted, in which the tide rose sufficiently and there was every natural convenience that could be wishd for either laying the ship ashore or heaving her down. This was too much to be beleivd by our most sanguine wishes: we however hopd that the place might do for us if not so much as we had been told yet something to better our situation, as yet but precarious, having nothing but a lock of Wool between us and destruction.

1770 June 14.

Very fresh Sea breeze. A boat was sent ahead to shew us the way into the harbour, but by some mistake of signals we were obligd to come to an anchor again of the mouth of it without going in, where it soon blew too fresh for us to Weigh. We now began to consider our good fortune; had it blown as fresh the day before yesterday or before that we could never have got off but must inevitably have been dashd to peices on the rocks. The Captn and myself went ashore to view the Harbour and found it indeed beyond our most sanguine wishes: it was the mouth of a river the entrance of which was to be sure narrow enough and shallow, but when once in the ship might be moord afloat so near the shore that by a stage from her to it all her Cargo might be got out and in again in a very short time; in this same place she might be hove down with all ease, but the beach gave signs of the tides rising in the springs 6 or 7 feet which was more than enough to do our business without that trouble. The meeting with so many natural advantages in a harbour so near us at the very time of our misfortune appeard almost providential; we had not in the voyage before seen a place so well suited for our purpose as this was, and certainly had no right to expect the tides to rise so high here that did not rise half so much at the place where we struck, only 8 Leagues from this place; we therefore returnd on board in high spirits and raisd the spirits of our freinds on board as much as our own by bringing them the welcome news of aproaching security. It blew however too fresh to night for us to attempt to weigh the anchor, I even think as fresh as it has ever done since we have been upon the Coast.

1770 June 15.

Blew all day as fresh as it did yesterday. We thought much of our good fortune in having fair weather upon the rocks when upon the Brink of such a gale. Our people were now however pretty well recoverd from their fatigues having had plenty of rest, as the ship since she was Fotherd has not made more water than one pump half workd will keep clear. At night we observd a fire ashore near where we were to lay, which made us hope that the necessary lengh of our stay would give us an oportunity of being acquainted with the Indians who made it.

1770 June 16.

In the morn it was a little more moderate and we attempted to weigh but were soon obligd to vere away all that we had got, the wind freshning upon us so much. Fires were made upon the hills and we saw 4 Indians through our glasses who went away along shore, in going along which they made two more fires for what purpose we could not guess. Tupia whose bad gums were very soon followd by livid spots on his legs and every symptom of inveterate scurvy, notwithstanding acid, bark and every medecine our Surgeon could give him, became now extreemly ill; Mr Green the astronomer was also in a very poor way, which made everybody in the Cabbin very desirous of getting ashore and impatient at our tedious delays.

1770 June 17.

Weather a little less rough than it was. Weighd and brought the ship in but in doing it ran her twice ashore by the narrowness of the channel; the second time she remaind till the tide lifted her off. In the meantime Dr Solander and myself began our Plant gathering. In the Evening the ship was moord within 20 feet of the shore afloat and before night much lumber was got out of her.

1770 June 18.

A stage was built from the ship which much facilitated our undertakings. Myself walking in the countrey saw old Frames of Indian houses and places where they had dressd shellfish in the same manner as the Islanders, but no signs that they had been at the place for 6 months at least. The countrey in general was sandy between the hills and barren made walking very easy; Musquetos there were some and but few, a peice of good fortune in a place where we were likely to remain some time. Tupia who had employd himself since we were here in angling and had livd intirely on what he caught was surprizingly recoverd. Poor Mr Green still very ill. Weather blowing hard with showers; had we not got in yesterday we certainly could not today.

1770 June 19.

Went over the Water today to spy the land which there was sand hills. On them I saw some Indian houses which seem'd to have been inhabited since those on this side, tho not very lately. There were vast flocks of Pigeons and crows; of the former which were very beautifull we shot several; the latter exactly like those in England were so shy that we could not come near them by any means. The Inlet or river in which we lay ran very far into the countrey, keeping its course over flat land overgrown with Mangroves; the countrey inland was however sufficiently hilly. Evening hard rain.

1770 June 20.

Weather cleard up so we began to gather and Dry plants of which we had hopes of as many as we could muster during our stay. Observd that in many parts of the inlet were large quantities of Pumice stones which lay a good way above the high water mark, Probably carried there by freshes or extrordinary high tides as they certainly came from the Sea. Before night the ship was lightned and we observd with great pleasure that the springs which were now beginning to lift rose as high as we could wish.

1770 June 21.

Fine clear weather: began today to lay Plants in sand. By night the ship was quite clear and in the nights tide (which we had constantly observd to be much higher than the days) we hauld her ashore.

1770 June 22.

In the morn I saw her leak which was very large: in the middle was a hole large enough to have sunk a ship with twice our pumps but here providence had most visibly workd in our favour, for it was in great measure pluggd up by a stone which was as big as a mans fist: round the Edges of this stone had all the water come in which had so near overcome us, and here we found the wool and oakum or fothering which had releivd us in so unexpected a manner. The effects of the Coral rock upon her bottom is dificult to describe but more to beleive; it had cut through her plank and deep into one of her timbers, smoothing the gashes still before it so that the whole might easily be imagind to be cut with an axe. Myself employd all day in laying in Plants. The People who were sent to the other side of the water in order to shoot Pigeons saw an animal as large as a grey hound, of a mouse coulour and very swift; they also saw many Indian houses and a brook of fresh water.

1770 June 23.

The people who went over the River saw the animal again and describd him much in the same manner as yesterday.

1770 June 24.

Gathering plants and hearing descriptions of the animal which is now seen by every body. A seaman who had been out in the woods brought home the description of an animal he had seen composd in so Seamanlike a stile that I cannot help mentioning it: it was (says he) about as large and much like a one gallon cagg, as black as the Devil and had 2 horns on its head, it went but Slowly but I dard not touch it.

1770 June 25.

In gathering plants today I myself had the good fortune to see the beast so much talkd of, tho but imperfectly; he was not only like a grey hound in size and running but had a long tail, as long as any grey hounds; what to liken him to I could not tell, nothing certainly that I have seen at all resembles him.

1770 June 26.

Since the ship has been hauld ashore the water that has come into her has of course all gone backwards and my plants which were for safety stowd in the bread room were this day found under water; nobody had warnd me of this danger which had never once enterd into my head; the mischeif was however now done so I set to work to remedy it to the best of my power. The day was scarce long enough to get them all shifted etc.: many were savd but some intirely lost and spoild.

1770 June 27.

Some of the Gentlemen who had been out in the woods Yesterday brought home the leaves of a plant which I took to be Arum Esculentum, the same I beleive as is calld Coccos in the West Indies. In consequence of this I went to the place and found plenty; on tryal however the roots were found to be too acrid to be eat, the leaves however when boild were little inferior to spinage. In the same place grew plenty of Cabbage trees a kind of Wild Plantain whose fruit was so full of stones that it was scarce eatable, another fruit about as large as a small golden pippin but flatter, of a deep purple colour; these when gatherd off from the tree were very hard and disagreable but after being kept a few days became soft and tasted much like indiferent Damsons.

1770 June 28.

Tupia by Roasting his Coccos very much in his Oven made them lose intirely their acridity; the Roots were so small that we did not think them at all an object for the ship so resolvd to content ourselves with the greens which are calld in the West Indies Indian Kale. I went with the seamen to shew them the Place and they Gatherd a large quantity. Saw one tree and only one notchd in the same manner as those at Botany bay. We have ever since we have been here observd the nests of a kind of Ants much like the White ants in the East indies but to us perfectly harmless; they were always pyramidical, from a few inches to 6 feet in hight and very much resembled stones which I have seen in English Druidical monuments. Today we met with a large number of them of all sizes rangd in a small open place which had a very pretty effect; Dr Solander compard them to the Rune Stones on the Plains of Upsal in Sweden, myself to all the smaller Druidical monuments I had seen.

1770 June 29.

One of our Midshipmen an American who was out a shooting today saw a Wolf, perfectly he sayd like those he had seen in America; he shot at it but did not kill it. The Seine was hauld today for the first time and 150 lb of Fish caught in it.

1770 June 30.

The second lieutenant saw 2 animals like dogs but smaller, they ran like hares and were of a straw colour. Sein caught 213 lb of Fish.