16 August 1770
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16 August 1770

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Joseph Banks



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16 August 1770

Thursday 16   By one oClock in the PM or before we saw ^high land ^from ye Masthead bearing WSW and at 2 oClock saw more land to the NW of the former makeing in hills like Islands but we judged it to be the continuation of the Main land. An hour after this we saw breakers between us and the land extending away to the Southward farther than we could see, but we thought we saw them terminate to the northward abreast of us, this however proved only any opening for soon after we saw the Reef or breakers extend away to the northward as far as we could see, upon this we hauld close upon awind which was now at ESE   we had hardly trimed our sails before the wind came to N EBEN which was right upon the Reef and of course made our clearing of it doubtfull, the northernmost of it that we could see at sun set bore from us NBE distant about 2 or 3 Leagues - hHowever this being the best tack to clear it we kept standing to the northward with all the Sail we could set untill 12 oClock at night when fearing to Stand too far up this tack we tacked and stood to the Southward having run 6 Leagues North and NBE sence Sun set. We had not stood above 2 Miles to the SSE before it fell quite Calm, we both sounded now and several times in the night but had no ground with 140 fathoms of line. A little after 4 oClock the roaring of the Surf was plainly heard and at day break the vast foaming breakers presented were too plainly to be seen not a Mile from us towards which we found the Ship was carried by the waves surprisingly fast. We had at this time not an air of wind and the depth of water was unfathomable so that there was not a possibility of Anchoring, in this distressed situation we had nothing but Providence and our the small Assistance our boats could give us to trust to, the Pinnace was under a repair and could not immediatly be hoisted out, the Yawl was put into the water and the Long-boat hoisted out and both sent ahead to tow which together with the help of our sweeps abaft got the Ships head round to the northward which seem'd to be the only way to yet keep her off the reef or at least to delay time, before this was effected it was 6 oClock and we were not above 80 or 100 Yards from the breakers, the same Sea that washed the sides of the Ship rose in a breaker prodigiously high the very next time it did rise so that between us and distruction was only a dismal Vally the breadth of one wave - and even now no ground could be felt with 120 fathoms   the Pinnace was by this time patched up and hoisted out and sent ahead to tow; still we had hardly any hopes of saving the Ship and full as little our lives as we were full 10 Leagues from the nearest Land and the boats not sufficient to carry the whole of us yet in this truly terrible situation not one man ceased to do his utmost and that with as much calmness as if no danger had been near. All the dangers we had escaped were nothing little in comparison of being thrown upon this Reef where the Ship must be dashed to peices in a Moment, a Reef such a one as is here spoke of is scarcely known in Europe it is a wall of Coral Rock rising all most perpendicular out of the unfathomable Ocean always overflowen at high-water generally 7 or 8 feet and dry in places at Low-water, the large waves of the vast Ocean meeting with so sudden a resistance makes a most terrible surf breaking mountains high especially as in our case when the general trade wind blowes directly upon it. At this critical juncture when all our endeavours seem'd too little a small air of wind sprung up, but so small that at any other time in a Calm we should not have observed it, with this and the assistance of our boats we could observe the Ship to move off from the Reef in a slanting direction, but in less than 10 Minutes we had as flat a Calm as ever when our fears were again renewed for as yet we were not above 200 Yards from the breakers - soon after our friendly breeze Viseted us again and lasted about as long as before. A small opening was see now seen in the Reef about a quarter of a Mile from us which I sent one of the Mates to examine, its breadth was not more than the length of the Ship but within was smooth water, into this place it was resolved to push her if possible haveing no other probable means Views to save her for we were still in the very jaws of distruction and it was a doubt whether or no we could reach this opening, however we soon got off it when to our surprise we found the Tide of Ebb gushing out like a Mill stream so that it was impossible to get in, we however took all the advantage possible of it and it carried us out about a 1/4 of a Mile from the breakers, but it was too narrow for us to keep in long, how ever what with the help of Ebb and our boats we by noon had got an offing of one and a half or two Miles yet we could hardly flater our selves with hopes of geting clear even if a breeze should spring up as we were by this time imbayed by the Reef and the Ship in spite of our endeavours driving before the Sea into the bight, the Ebb had been in our favour and we had reason to suppose the flood ^which was now making would be againest us  the only hopes we had was another opening we saw a bout a Mile to the Westward of us which I sent Lieutant Hick in the Small boat to examine   Latitude Observed 12°..37 St the Main land in sight distant about 10 Leagues —

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