Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/342

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269
AUSTRALIA CIRCUMNAVIGATED

Passage, in latitude 18° 45' south, longitude 148° 10' east, and is frequently used nowadays. It is about 45 miles north-east from Cape Bowling Green, and is the southernmost of the passages used by shipping through the Barrier. Three anxious days were spent in tacking through the intricacies of the untried passage. The perplexity and danger of the navigation must have recalled to the commander's mind his experiences as a midshipman under Bligh ten years before. It was not until the afternoon of October 20th that a heavy swell from the eastward was felt under the ship, and Flinders knew by that sign that the open sea had been gained. He finished his description of this treacherous piece of reef-ribbed sea by a bit of seaman's advice to brother sailors. A captain who wished to make the experiment of getting through the Barrier Reef "must not be one who throws his ship's head round in a hurry so soon as breakers are announced from aloft. If he do not feel his nerves strong enough to thread the needle, as it is called, amongst the reefs, while he directs the steerage from the masthead, I would strongly recommend him not to approach this part of the coast." Strong nerves and seamanship had pulled through in this case, with a few exciting phases; and the Investigator, in the open ocean, was headed for Torres Strait.

The strait was entered eight days later, by a passage through the reef which had been found by Captain Edwards of the Pandora in 1791, and which Flinders marked on his chart as Pandora's Entrance.[1] He preferred this opening to the one further north, found by Bligh in 1792. The ship was brought to anchor on October 29th under the lee of the largest of Murray's Islands.

  1. It is generally marked Flinders' Entrance on modern maps; but Flinders himself held to his principle of never calling a place after himself, and of invariably ascribing full credit to his predecessors.