29th August 1770

[Off South Coast of New Guinea]
Continued standing to the Northward, with a fresh gale at East by South and South-East until 6 o'clock, having very irregular and uncertain soundings from 24 to 7 fathoms. At 4 we made the Land from the Mast head, bearing North-West by North, and which appear'd to be very low. At 6 it extended from West-North-West to North-North-East, distant 4 or 5 Leagues. At this time hauld close upon a wind to the Eastward until 7 o'clock, then Tack'd and stood to the Southward until 12, at which time we wore and stood to the Northward until 4, then lay her Head off until daylight, when we again saw the Land, and stood North-North-West directly for it, having a fresh gale at East by South. Our Soundings in the night were from 17 to 5 fathoms, very irregular, without any sort of Rule with respect to our distance from the Land. At 1/2 past 6 a small low island, laying about a League from the Main, bore North by West, distant 5 miles; this island lays in the Latitude of 8 degrees 13 minutes South, Longitude 221 degrees 25 minutes West. I find it laid down in the Charts by the Name of St. Bartholomew or Whermoysen. We now steer'd North-West by West, West-North-West, West by North, West by South, and South-West by West, as we found the land to lay, having a Boat ahead of the Ship sounding; depth of water from 5 to 9 fathoms.

When in 7, 8 or 9 fathoms we could but just see the Land from the Deck; but I did not think we were at above 4 Leagues off, because the land is exceeding low and level, and appeared to be well cover'd with wood; one sort appeared to us to be Cocoa Nutt Trees. By the Smookes we saw in different parts as we run along shore we were assured that the Country is inhabited. At Noon we were about 3 Leagues from the land, the Westermost part of which that we could see bore South 79 degrees West; our Latitude by Observation was 8 degrees 19 minutes South, Longitude 221 degrees 44 minutes West. The Island, St. Bartholomew, bore North 74 degrees East, distant 20.* (* The ship was now off the south coast of New Guinea, and near what is known as Princess Marianne Strait, which separates Frederick Henry Island from the main island. All this coast is very shallow, but very imperfectly charted to the present day.)

Joseph Banks Journal
During the whole night our soundings were as irregular as they had been in the even, but never less than 7 and never so shoal for any time. In the morn the land was seen from the Deck which was uncommonly low but coverd very thick with wood. At 8 it was not more than two Lgs from us but the water had gradualy [shoald] since morn to 5 fathm and was at this time as muddy as the River Thames, so it was thought not Prudent to go any nearer at present and accordingly we stood along shore, seeing fires and here and there large Groves of Cocoa nut trees in the neighbourhood of which we supposd the Indian villages to be situated. In the Eve tho we kept the same distance from the Land we got into less than 4 fathm and we got upon a wind, we were very long before we could deepen it; the Bank however which was soft mud provd inimitably regular.

Sydney Parkinson Journal
On the 29th, we stood in for the land of New Guinea, which looked very flat, and was covered with trees, among which we saw a great many palms that over-topped the rest; but whether there were cocoa-nuts we could not get near enough, for the shoals, to determine. We saw an opening which had the appearance of a river’s mouth; and many smokes on the land. In the afternoon we were abreast of a point of land, which we supposed was that distinguished in the maps by the name of Cape Valsch, or False Cape: From this cape the land continued low, but did not tend to the S. E. as we expected. We could not keep near the shore, the soundings being only from five to ten fathoms, at three or four leagues distance from. land. The water was very white and muddy, like that of a river, and had a sandy bottom. Latitude 8° 19’.

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