The adventurers were delayed from the further pursuit of their ambition by ship's duties. The Reliance was ordered to convey to Norfolk Island an officer of the New South Wales Corps required for duty there, as well as the Judge Advocate. She sailed in January, 1796. After her return in March, Bass and Flinders, being free again, lost no time in fitting out for a second cruise. Their object this time was to search for a large river, said to fall into the sea to the south of Botany Bay, which was not marked on Cook's chart. As before, the crew consisted only of themselves and the boy.
It has always been believed that the boat in which this second cruise was made, was the same Tom Thumb as that which carried the two young explorers to George's River; indeed, Flinders himself, in his Voyage to Terra Australis, Volume 1, page 97, says that "Mr. Bass and myself went again in Tom Thumb." But in his unpublished Journal there is a passage that suggests a doubt as to whether, when he wrote his book, over a decade later, he had not forgotten that a second boat was obtained for the second adventure. He may not have considered the circumstance important enough to mention. At all events in the Journal, he writes: "As Tom Thumb had performed so well before, the same boat's crew had little hesitation in embarking in another boat of nearly the same size, which had been since built at Port Jackson." There was, it is evident, a second boat, no larger than the first, or that fact would have been mentioned, and she was also known as the Tom Thumb. She was Tom Thumb the Second. Only by that assumption can we reconcile the Voyage statement with the Journal, which, having been written up at the time, is an authoritative source of information.
They left Sydney on March 25th, intending to stand off to sea till evening, when it was expected that the