14th & 15th August 1770
14th. Winds at South-East, a steady gale. By 2 P.M. we got out to the outermost reefs, and just fetched to Windward of one of the openings I had discover'd from the Island; we tacked and Made a short trip to the South-West, while the Master went in the pinnace to examine the Channel, who soon made the signal for the Ship to follow, which we accordingly did, and in a short time got safe out. This Channel* (* Now known as Cook's Passage.) lies North-East 1/2 North, 3 Leagues from Lizard Island; it is about one-third of a Mile broad, and 25 or 30 fathoms deep or more. The moment we were without the breakers we had no ground with 100 fathoms of Line, and found a large Sea rowling in from the South-East. By this I was well assured we were got with out all the Shoals, which gave us no small joy, after having been intangled among Islands and Shoals, more or less, ever since the 26th of May, in which time we have sail'd above 360 Leagues by the Lead without ever having a Leadsman out of the Chains, when the ship was under sail; a Circumstance that perhaps never hapned to any ship before, and yet it was here absolutely necessary. I should have been very happy to have had it in my power to have keept in with the land, in order to have explor'd the Coast to the Northern extremity of the Country, which I think we were not far off, for I firmly believe this land doth not join to New Guinea. But this I hope soon either to prove or disprove, and the reasons I have before assign'd will, I presume, be thought sufficient for my leaving the Coast at this time; not but what I intend to get in with it again as soon as I can do it with safety. The passage or channel we now came out by, which I have named, ----* (* Blank in MS.) lies in the Latitude of 14 degrees 32 minutes South; it may always be found and known by the 3 high Islands within it, which I have called the Islands of Direction, because by their means a safe passage may be found even by strangers in within the Main reef, and quite into the Main. Lizard Island, which is the Northermost and Largest of the 3, Affords snug Anchorage under the North-West side of it, fresh water and wood for fuel; and the low Islands and Reefs which lay between it and the Main, abound with Turtle and other fish, which may be caught at all Seasons of the Year (except in such blowing weather as we have lately had). All these things considered there is, perhaps, not a better place on the whole Coast for a Ship to refresh at than this Island. I had forgot to mention in its proper place, that not only on this Island, but on Eagle Island, and on several places of the Sea beach in and about Endeavour River, we found Bamboos, Cocoa Nutts, the seeds of some few other plants, and Pummice-stones, which were not the produce of the Country. From what we have seen of it, it is reasonable to suppose that they are the produce of some lands or Islands laying in the Neighbourhood, most likely to the Eastward, and are brought hither by the Easterly trade winds. The Islands discover'd by Quiros lies in this parrallel, but how far to the Eastward it's hard to say; for altho' we found in most Charts his discoveries placed as far to the West as this country yet from the account of his Voyage, compared with what we ourselves have seen, we are Morally certain that he never was upon any part of this Coast.* (* The Island of Espiritu Santo, in the New Hebrides, which Quiros discovered, lies 1200 miles to the eastward, and New Caledonia, from which these objects might equally have come, is 1000 miles in the same direction.) As soon as we had got without the Reefs we Shortened sail, and hoisted in the pinnace and Long boat, which last we had hung alongside, and then stretched off East-North-East, close upon a wind, as I did not care to stand to the Northward until we had a whole day before us, for which reason we keept making short boards all night. The large hollow sea we have now got into acquaints us with a Circumstance we did not before know, which is that the Ship hath received more Damage than we were aware of, or could perceive when in smooth Water; for now she makes as much water as one pump will free, kept constantly at work. However this was looked upon as trifling to the Danger we had lately made an Escape from. At day light in the morning Lizard Island bore South by West, distant 10 Leagues. We now made all the sail we could, and stood away North-North-West 1/2 West, but at 9 we steer'd North-West 1/2 North, having the advantage of a Fresh Gale at South-East; at Noon we were by observation in the Latitude of 13 degrees 46 minutes South, the Lizard Island bore South 15 degrees East, distant 58 Miles, but we had no land in sight.
15th. Fresh Trade at South-East and Clear weather. At 6 in the evening shortned sail and brought too, with her head to the North-East. By this time we had run near 12 Leagues upon a North-West 1/2 North Course since Noon. At 4 a.m. wore and lay her head to the South-West, and at 6 made all Sail, and steer'd West, in order to make the land, being fearful of over shooting the passage, supposing there to be one, between this land and New Guinea. By noon we had run 10 Leagues upon this Course, but saw no land. Our Latitude by observation was 13 degrees 2 minutes South, Longitude 216 degrees 00 minutes West, which was 1 degree 23 minutes to the West of Lizard Island.
Joseph Banks Journal
14th. For the first time these three months we were this day out of sight of Land to our no small satisfaction: that very Ocean which had formerly been look'd upon with terror by (maybe) all of us was now the Assylum we had long wishd for and at last found. Satisfaction was clearly painted in every mans face: the day was fine and the trade wind brisk before which we steerd to the Northward; the well grown waves which followd the ship, sure sign of no land being in our neighbourhood, were contemplated with the greatest satisfaction, notwithstanding we plainly felt the effect of the blows they gave to our crazy ship, increasing her leaks considerably so that she made now 9 inches water every hour. This however was lookd upon as a light evil in comparison to those we had so lately made our escape from.
15th. Fine weather and moderate trade. The Captn fearfull of going too far from the Land, least he should miss an opportunity of examining whether or not the passage which is layd down in some charts between New Holland and New Guinea realy existed or not, steerd the ship west right in for the land; about 12 O'Clock it was seen from the Mast head and about one the Reef laying without it in just the same manner as when we left it. He stood on however resolving to stand off at night after having taken a nearer view, but just at night fall found himself in a manner embayd in the reef so that it was a moot Point whether or not he could weather it on either tack; we stood however to the Northward and at dark it was concluded that she would go clear of every thing we could see. The night however was not the most agreable: all the dangers we had escapd were little in comparison of being thrown upon this reef if that should be our lot. A Reef such a one as I now speak of is a thing scarcely known in Europe or indeed any where but in these seas: it is a wall of Coral rock rising almost perpendicularly out of the unfathomable ocean, always overflown at high water commonly 7 or 8 feet, and generaly bare at low water; the large waves of the vast ocean meeting with so sudden a resistance make here a most terrible surf Breaking mountain high, especialy when as in our case the general trade wind blows directly upon it.
Sydney Parkinson Journal
On the 15th, about noon, we saw land again in latitude 13° S. also a continuation of the reef which ran along-side of it. In the evening, standing right in for land, we were alarmed by suddenly discovering that reef extended to leeward of us, upon which we hauled in our wind, and crouded all the sail we could, that we might be able to weather the farthest point of it. The wind was easterly this day, more moderate, and the swell of the sea less.
Posted by Arborfield at 05:52