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Voyages in the Southern Hemisphere, Vol. IVoyaging Accounts
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Port Famine to Falkland's Islands


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CHAP. V. The Course back from Port Famine to Falkland's Islands, with some Account of the Country.

WE weighed anchor at four o’clock in the morning, and worked to windward out of the harbour: the wind continued contrary at N.N.E. till about one o’clock the next day, when it shifted to W.S.W. and blew a fresh gale. We steered N.W. by N. four leagues, and then three leagues north, between Elizabeth and Bartholomew islands: we then steered from the islands N. by E. three leagues, to the second Narrow; and steered through N.E. ½ E. continuing the same course from the second Narrow to the first, which was a run of eight leagues. As the wind still continued to blow fresh, we steered through the first Narrow against the flood, in the direction of N.N.E.; but about ten o’clock at night, the wind dying away, the flood set us back again into the entrance of the first Narrow, where we were obliged to anchor, in forty fathom, within two cables length of the shore. The tide flows here, at the full and change of the moon, about two o’clock, and runs full six knots an hour.

At one o’clock the next morning, we weighed, with a light northerly breeze; and about three, we passed the first Narrow a second time. Having now seen the ship safe through, and being quite exhausted with fatigue, as I had been upon the deck all the preceding day, and all night, I went into my cabbin to get some rest. I lay down, and soon fell asleep; but in less than half an hour, I was awakened by the beating of the ship upon a bank: I instantly started up, and ran upon the deck, where I soon found that we had grounded upon a hard sand. It was happy for us, that at this time it was stark calm; and I immediately ordered out the boats to carry an anchor astern, where the water was deepest: the anchor took the ground, but before we could work the capstern, in order to heave the ship off to it, she went off, by the mere rising of the tide. It happened fortunately to be just low water when she went aground, and there was fifteen feet forward, and six fathom a very little way astern. The Master told me, that at the last cast of the lead, before we were aground, he had thirteen fathom; so that the water shoaled at once no less than sixty-three feet.

This bank, which has not been mentioned by any navigator who has passed the Streight, is extremely dangerous; especially as it lies directly in the fair way between Cape Virgin Mary and the first Narrow, and just in the middle between the south and north shores. It is more than two leagues long, and full as broad; in many places also it is very steep. When we were upon it, Point Possession bore N.E. distant three leagues; and the entrance of the narrow S.W. distant two leagues. I afterwards saw many parts of it dry, and the sea breaking very high over other parts of it, where the water was shallow. A ship that should ground upon this shoal in a gale of wind, would probably be very soon beaten to pieces.

About six o’clock in the morning, we anchored in fifteen fathom, the shoal bearing N.N.W. ½ W. at the distance of about half a mile. At noon, we weighed with a light breeze at N.E. and worked with the ebb tide till two, but finding the water shoal, we anchored again in six fathom and an half, at about the distance of half a mile from the south side of the shoal. The Asses Ears then bearing N.W. by W. distant four leagues, and the south point of the entrance of the first Narrow W.S.W. distant about three leagues. At this time the opening of the Narrow was shut in, and upon sending out the boats to sound, they discovered a channel between the shoal and the south shore of the Streight. The Tamar in the mean time, as she was endeavouring to come near us, was very near going on shore, having once got into three fathom, but soon after came to an anchor in the channel between the shoal and the north shore.

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© Derived from Volume I of the London 1773 Edition: National Library of Australia call no. FERG 7243, pages 41 - 43, 2004
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