Early Voyages to Terra Australis/Description of the West Coast of the South Land

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search


which sailed from batavia on the first of january,
1658, and returned on the 19th of april of
the same year.

Translated from a Dutch MS. in the Royal Archives at the Hague.

The South Land has, on its coasts, downs covered with grass and sand so deep, that, in walking, one's foot is buried ankle-deep, and leaves great traces behind it. At about a league from the shore there runs a reef of rock, on which here and there the sea is seen to break with great force. In some places there is a depth of from one, one and a half, to two fathoms, so that a boat can pass, after which the depth becomes greater up to the shore; but it is everywhere a dangerous coral bottom, on which it is difficult to find holding for an anchor. There is only one spot, about nine leagues to the north of the island, and where three rocks are joined by a reef, that shelter is afforded for a boat, and there one can effect a landing, but the ground is everywhere rocky. Further from the coast there is a raised ground, tolerably level, but of a dry and barren aspect, except near the island, where there is some foliage. In nearly thirty-two degrees south latitude there is a large island, nearly three leagues from the continent, with some rather high mountains, covered with wood and thickets, which render it difficult to pass across. It is dangerous to land there, on account of the reefs of rock along the coast; and, moreover, one sees many rocks between the continent and this island, and also a smaller island somewhat to the south. This large island, to which I have not chosen to give a name myself, thinking it right to leave the choice of name to the governor-general, may be seen from the sea at seven or eight leagues distance on a clear day. I presume that both fresh water and wood will be found there in abundance, though not without considerable trouble.

Two certain signs of the proximity of the west coast of
the South Land.

1st. When a variation is perceived in the compass in these countries to about eleven degrees, it may be taken for certain that the land is not more than eighteen to twenty leagues distant.

2ndly. When one sees sea-weed floating, soundings will be found in 70, 60, 50, 40, 30 fathoms, or even less.

Samuel Volckersen.