Page:A Voyage to Terra Australis Volume 1.djvu/51

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
North Coast: Torres' Strait.]
xxix
INTRODUCTION.

Bligh and
Portlock
1792.

been imagined; the approach of night, however, obliged captain Bligh to anchor, soon afterward, in 8 fathoms.

In this situation, the vessels were so closely surrounded with rocks and reefs, as scarcely to have swinging room; the bottom was rocky; the wind blowing a fresh gale; and a tide running between four and five knots an hour. This anxious night was, however, passed without accident; and next morning, Sept. 18, the route was continued through the passage, between reefs and rocks, which, in some places, were not three quarters of a mile asunder: the smallest depth was 4 fathoms.

On clearing this dangerous pass, which captain Bligh named, Bligh's Farewell, he anchored in 6 fathoms, sandy bottom; the wind blowing strong at S. E. with thick weather. The latitude here was 10° 5', and longitude 141 56'. From north nearly, round by the east, to S. 8° E., there was a mass of islands, rocks, and reefs, at various distances; but in the western half of the compass, no danger was visible; and as far as three miles to the W.N.W., the boats found good soundings in 6 and 7 fathoms.

Sept. 19. The wind moderated; and the vessels steered W. by S. until noon, with a depth gradually increasing from 6 to 8 fathoms. The latitude was then 10° 8¼' south, longitude, by time keeper, 141° 31' east, and no land was in sight; nor did any thing more obstruct captain Bligh and his associate, in their route to the island Timor.

Thus was accomplished, in nineteen days, the passage from the Pacific, or Great Ocean, to the Indian Sea; without other misfortune than what arose from the attack of the natives, and some damage done to the cables and anchors. Perhaps no space of 8½° in length, presents more dangers than Torres' Strait; but, with caution and perseverance, the captains Bligh and Portlock proved them to be surmountable; and within a reasonable time: how far it may be advisable to follow their track through the Strait, will appear more fully hereafter.