D I S A S T E R - 10th June 1770

[D I S A S T E R]
[The Ship Aground on what is now called Endeavour Reef]

Perhaps it is obvious to point out that if the crew and its officers cannot get the ship off the rocks in one piece, they will die a long and horrible death in a strange land. Or just perhaps, there would have been a strain of european blood in the local aborigine population from 1770!

After hauling round Cape Grafton we found the land trend away North-West by West; 3 Miles to the Westward of the Cape is a Bay, wherein we Anchor'd, about 2 Miles from the Shore, in 4 fathoms, owsey bottom. The East point of the Bay bore South 74 degrees East, the West point South 83 degrees West, and a Low green woody Island laying in the Offing bore North 35 degrees East. The Island lies North by East 1/2 East, distance 3 or 4 Leagues from Cape Grafton, and is known in the Chart by the Name of Green Island. As soon as the Ship was brought to an Anchor I went ashore, accompanied by Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander; the first thing I did was to look for fresh Water, and with that View rowed out towards the Cape, because in the bottom of the bay was low Mangrove land, and little probability of meeting with any there. But the way I went I found 2 Small streams, which were difficult to get at on account of the Surf and rocks upon the Shore. As we came round the Cape we saw, in a sandy Cove, a small stream of Water run over the beach; but here I did not go in the boat because I found that it would not be Easey to land. We hardly advanced anything into the Country, it being here hilly, which were steep and rocky, and we had not time to Visit the Low lands, and therefore met with nothing remarkable. My intention was to have stay'd here at least one day, to have looked into the Country had we met with fresh water convenient, or any other Refreshment; but as we did not, I thought it would be only spending of time, and loosing as much of a light Moon to little purpose, and therefore at 12 o'Clock at night we weighed and stood away to the North-West, having at this time but little wind, attended with Showers of rain.* (* In the next bay west of where Cook anchored is Cairns, a small but rising town in the centre of a sugar-growing district.) At 4 the breeze freshned at South by East, with fair weather; we continued steering North-North-West 1/2 West as the Land lay, having 10, 12, and 14 fathoms, at a distance of 3 Leagues from the Land. At 11 we hauld off North, in order to get without a Small Low Island* (* Low Isles. There is now a lighthouse on them.) which lay about 2 Leagues from the Main; it being about high Water, about the time we passed it, great part of it lay under water. About 3 Leagues to the North Westward of this Island, close under the Main land, is another Island,* (* Snapper Island.) Tolerable high, which bore from us at Noon North 55 degrees West, distant 7 or 8 Miles; we being at this time in the Latitude of 16 degrees 20 minutes South, Cape Grafton bore South 29 degrees East, distant 40 Miles, and the Northermost point of Land in Sight North 20 degrees West, and in this Situation had 15 fathoms Water. The Shore between Cape Grafton and the above Northern point forms a large but not very deep Bay, which I named Trinity Bay, after the day on which it was discover'd; the North point Cape Tribulation, because here began all our Troubles. Latitude 16 degrees 6 minutes South, Longitude 214 degrees 39 minutes West.

Joseph Banks Journal
Just without us as we lay at an anchor was a small sandy Island laying upon a large Coral shoal, much resembling the low Islands to the eastward of us but the first of the kind we had met with in this part of the South Sea. Early in the morn we weighd and saild as usual with a fine breeze along shore, the Countrey hilly and stoney. At night fall rocks and sholes were seen ahead, on which the ship was put upon a wind off shore. While we were at supper she went over a bank of 7 or 8 fathom water which she came upon very suddenly; this we concluded to be the tail of the Sholes we had seen at sunset and therefore went to bed in perfect security, but scarce were we warm in our beds when we were calld up with the alarming news of the ship being fast ashore upon a rock, which she in a few moments convincd us of by beating very violently against the rocks. Our situation became now greatly alarming: we had stood off shore 3 hours and a half with a plesant breeze so knew we could not be very near it: we were little less than certain that we were upon sunken coral rocks, the most dreadfull of all others on account of their sharp points and grinding quality which cut through a ships bottom almost immediately. The officers however behavd with inimitable coolness void of all hurry and confusion; a boat was got out in which the master went and after sounding round the ship found that she had ran over a rock and consequently had Shole water all round her. All this time she continued to beat very much so that we could hardly keep our legs upon the Quarter deck; by the light of the moon we could see her sheathing boards etc. floating thick round her; about 12 her false keel came away.

Sydney Parkinson Journal
On the 10th, we continued our course to the north-west; and, about nine o’clock in the morning, we sailed down a reef of coral-rocks. Our water shoaled very soon, from twenty-one to eight fathoms; which alarmed us very much: every countenance expressed surprize, and every heart felt some trepidation. About eleven, the ship struck upon the rocks, and remained immoveable. We were, at this period, many thousand leagues from our native land, (which we had left upwards of two years,) and on a barbarous coast, where, if the ship had been wrecked, and we had escaped the perils of the sea, we should have fallen into the rapacious hands of savages. Agitated and surprised as we were, we attempted every apparent eligible method to escape, if possible, from the brink of destruction. The sails were immediately handed, the boats launched, the yards and topmasts struck, and an anchor was carried to the southward: the ship striking hard, an-other anchor was dispatched to the south-west. Night came on, which providentially was moon-light, and we weathered it out as patiently as possible, considering the dreadful suspense we were in.

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