Page:A Voyage to Terra Australis Volume 1.djvu/123

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East Coast, & V.D.'s Land.]

Bass and

The shore in this part is mostly high and cliffy; and under the cliffs were lying black lumps, apparently of slaty stone, rounded by attrition. These were not particularly noticed, but Mr. Clarke, in his disastrous journey along the coast, afterwards made fires of them; and on a subsequent examination, Mr. Bass found a stratum of coal to run through the whole of these cliffs.

March 29. By rowing hard we got four leagues nearer home; and at night dropped our stone under another range of cliffs, more regular but less high than those near Hat Hill. At ten o'clock, the wind, which had been unsettled and driving electric clouds in all directions, burst out in a gale at south, and obliged us to get up the anchor immediately, and run before it. In a few minutes the waves began to break; and the extreme danger to which this exposed our little bark, was increased by the darkness of the night, and the uncertainty of finding any place of shelter. The shade of the cliffs over our heads, and the noise of the surfs breaking at their feet, were the directions by which our course was steered parallel to the coast.

Mr. Bass kept the sheet of the sail in his hand, drawing in a few inches occasionally, when he saw a particularly heavy sea following. I was steering with an oar, and it required the utmost exertion and care to prevent broaching to; a single wrong movement, or a moment's inattention, would have sent us to the bottom. The task of the boy was to bale out the water which, in spite of every care, the sea threw in upon us.

After running near an hour in this critical manner, some high breakers were distinguished a-head; and behind them there appeared no shade of cliffs. It was necessary to determine, on the instant, what was to be done, for our bark could not live ten minutes longer. On coming to what appeared to be the extremity of the breakers, the boat's head was brought to the wind in a favourable moment, the mast and sail taken down, and the oars got out. Pulling then towards the reef during the intervals of the heaviest

seas, we found it to terminate in a point; and in three minutes were