A Voyage to the South Sea/Chapter 19

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From Timor to Batavia.

AUGUST 1789.

Thursday 20.

From Coupang we steered north-west by west having a moderate breeze at south-east with fair weather.

Saturday 22.

At daylight we saw the island Flores to the northward. At noon latitude observed 9 degrees 27 minutes south, and longitude by account from Coupang 2 degrees 10 minutes west. Our distance from the coast of Flores was about 10 leagues; and two high peaked mountains bore north half east and north-north-west. These two mountains resemble each other in shape and the westernmost is a volcano. The interior parts of Flores are mountainous and woody: but near the sea-coast is a fine open country. A Dutch map with which I was provided places the south part of Flores in 9 degrees 3 minutes south which I am of opinion is too far south. We steered along the south side of Flores, mostly with light winds and hazy weather, so that we did not constantly keep sight of the coast.

Tuesday 25.

At noon we were off Toorns island which bore north-west by north three or four leagues distant. Our latitude observed was 8 degrees 57 minutes south and longitude made by dead reckoning from Coupang 3 degrees 27 minutes west. Toorns island is about four leagues in circuit and has a craggy and uneven appearance. There is a curious high peak on the south-west part: the land near the shore is low and woody.

Thursday 27.

On the 27th at noon we were near the entrance of the Straits of Mangaryn, which not appearing so open and clear as represented in the map, I steered for the straits of Sapi, intending to pass through; but was obliged to give up this plan by strong currents setting to the south-east which there was not sufficient wind to enable us to stem.

Saturday 29.

I therefore again stood for the Straits of Mangaryn which we ran through in the afternoon of the 29th, being favoured with a fresh breeze from the south-south-east. On our first entering the straits we got close to the Flores shore: our course through was north half east. We tried for soundings but could not anywhere find bottom at 25 and 30 fathoms depth. On the Flores side there are many good harbours and bays where vessels may anchor; but the country hereabouts appears burnt up and desolate.

I had no azimuth-compass and consequently could not observe very accurately the variation; but I believe there is so little in Mangaryn Straits that no great error will be occasioned by considering the true and magnetic bearings to be the same.

When we had passed the straits we kept to the westward, running along the north side of the island Sumbawa, where there is a very high mountain near the coast, at the foot of which I am informed, are many runs of good water, conveniently situated for ships to supply themselves. The latitude of the north part of Sumbawa I make by my observations and bearings to be 8 degrees 6 minutes south, which differs very little from the Dutch charts.

Monday 31.

In the night of the 31st several prows were rowing about us, on which account we kept all night under arms.

September. Thursday 3.

This and the two following days we were sailing along the north side of the island Lombok, on which is a high mountain. Most of the islands in this route are distinguished by high mountains. Lombok appears to be well clothed with wood. In the nights we saw fires upon the high lands at a distance from the coast.

Sunday 6.

In the afternoon we saw the high land of Cape Sandana, which is the north-east part of Java.

Monday 7.

The next day we were off cape Sandana which is a low cape projecting from the high land already mentioned. This cape is placed by the Dutch maps in 7 degrees 52 minutes south. But according to my observation and our estimated distance from the land I make it in 7 degrees 46 minutes south latitude. The longitude by my dead reckoning from Coupang to Cape Sandana was 11 degrees 33 minutes west.

Thursday 10.

We steered to the westward along the coast of Java and on the 10th at noon we anchored off Passourwang, a Dutch settlement on the coast of Java, in two fathoms, distant from the shore half a league, the entrance of the river bearing south-west. The coast hereabouts so is shoal that large ships are obliged to anchor three or four miles from the land. As soon as we were at anchor I got in my boat and went on shore. The banks of the river near the entrance were mud, on which grew a few mangrove bushes. Among them we saw hogs running and many were laying dead in the mud, which caused a most intolerable stench and made me heartily repent having come here; but after proceeding about a mile up the river, the course of which was serpentine, we found a very pleasant country and landed at a small and well-constructed fort, where I was received in a friendly and polite manner by M. Adrian van Rye, the commandant. By the return of the boat I sent on board a small bullock and other provisions. I likewise took a pilot to conduct us to Sourabaya.

The houses at Passourwang are neatly built and the country appears to be well cultivated. The produce of this settlement is rice, of which they export large quantities. There are but few Dutch here: the Javanese are numerous and their chief lives with considerable splendour. They have good roads and posts are established along the coast; and it appears to be a busy and well-regulated settlement. Latitude 7 degrees 36 minutes south. Longitude 1 degree 44 minutes west of Cape Sandana.

Friday 11.

The next day about noon we sailed.

Saturday 12.

And on the 12th in the evening anchored in Sourabaya road in seven fathoms: the flagstaff bearing south one quarter west; distance from the shore one mile. We found riding here seven square-rigged and several smaller vessels.

It was too late when we anchored to send a boat on shore.

Sunday 13.

The next morning before daylight three guard-boats stationed themselves near us and I was informed that I must not land or send a boat on shore. This restriction I learnt from the officer of the guard-boats was in conformity to general orders concerning all strange vessels on their first arrival. At nine in the forenoon leave came off for us to land and soon after the guard-boats quitted us.

I was received on shore with great civility and friendship by the governor or Opperhoost M. Ant. Barkay, and the commandant of the troops M. de Bose. By these gentlemen I was hospitably entertained, and advised to remain till the 16th when some vessels were to sail, with whom I might keep company, which they recommended on account of pirates.

Sourabaya is one of the most pleasant places I ever saw. It is situated on the banks of a river and is a mile and a half distant from the seashore so that only the flagstaff can be seen from the road. The river is navigable up to the town for vessels of 100 tons burden, and the bank on one side is made convenient for tracking. The Chinese carry on a considerable trade here, and have a town or camp on the side of the river opposite to Sourabaya. The country near the town is flat and the soil light, so that they plow with a single bullock or buffalo (karrabow). The interior parts of the country near the mountains are infested with a breed of fierce tigers, which makes travelling inland very dangerous. They have here a breed of horses which are small but they are handsome and strong.

The Javanese in this neighbourhood are numerous. M. Barkay and M. de Bose took me with them to pay a visit to two of the principal natives, whom we found attended by a number of men armed with pikes in great military order. We were entertained with a concert of music; the instruments were gongs, drums, and a fiddle with two strings. I hired a pilot here to carry us to Batavia. Our latitude observed in Sourabaya road was 7 degrees 11 minutes south. Longitude made from Cape Sandana 1 degree 52 minutes west.

Thursday 17.

On the 17th we sailed from Sourabaya in company with three prows. At noon we anchored at Crissey which is a town with a small fort belonging to the Dutch. We remained here about two hours and then weighed. Latitude of Crissey 7 degrees 9 minutes south. Longitude from Cape Sandana 1 degree 55 minutes west.

The navigation through the Straits of Madura is so intricate that with the little opportunity I had I am unable to undertake a description of it.

Friday 18.

The next day, having passed the straits, we bore away to the westward along the coast of Java in company with the prows before mentioned.

Tuesday 22.

We had regular soundings all the way to Samarang, off which place we anchored on the 22nd in the afternoon; the church bearing south-east; distance from the shore half a league: depth of water two fathoms. The shoalness of the coast here makes the road of Samarang very inconvenient, both on account of the great distance that large ships (of which there were several in the road) are obliged to lay from the shore, and of the landing which is in a river that cannot be entered before half-flood. This river resembles the one at Passourwang, the shores being low with offensive dead animals laying about. I was met at the landing-place by the equipage-master, and he furnished me with a carriage to carry me to the governor, whose residence is about two miles from the town of Samarang. I requested and obtained leave to have our wants supplied, which were to recruit our provisions, and to get a any mainmast, having sprung ours in the passage from Sourabaya.

Samarang is a fortified town surrounded by a wall and ditch, and is the most considerable settlement next to Batavia that the Dutch have in Java. Here is a very good hospital and a public school, chiefly for teaching the mathematics. They have likewise a theatre. Provisions are remarkably cheap here, beef being at ten doits per pound and the price of a fowl 12 doits.

I experienced great civility from some of the gentlemen at Samarang, particularly from M. le Baron de Bose, a merchant, brother to the M. de Bose, commandant of the troops at Sourabaya: and from M. Abegg, the surgeon of the hospital, to whom we were indebted for advice and medicines for which he would not consent to receive payment.

The latitude of Samarang is 6 degrees 57 minutes. Longitude by my reckoning from Cape Sandana 4 degrees 7 minutes west.

Saturday 26.

On the 26th we sailed from Samarang and with us a galley mounting six swivels which the governor had directed to accompany us to Batavia.

October. Thursday 1.

On the 1st of October we anchored in Batavia road, where we found riding a Dutch ship of war and 20 sail of Dutch East India ships, besides many smaller vessels.