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Voyages in the Southern Hemisphere, Vols. II - IIIVoyaging Accounts
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Description of the Island, its Produce and Inhabitants


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CHAP. XVII. A particular Description of the Island; its Produce and Inhabitants; their Dress, Habitations, Food, domestic Life and Amusements.

WE found the longitude of Port-Royal bay, in this island, as settled by Captain Wallis, who discovered it on the 9th of June 1767, to be within half a degree of the truth. We found Point Venus, the northern extremity of the island, and the eastern point of the bay, to lie in the longitude of 149° 30’ this being the mean result of a great number of observations made upon the spot. The island is surrounded by a reef of coral rock, which forms several excellent bays and harbours, some of which have been particularly described, where there is room and depth of water for any number of the largest ships. Port-Royal bay, called by the natives Matavai, which is not inferior to any in Otaheite, may easily be known by a very high mountain in the middle of the island, which bears due south from Point Venus. To sail into it, either keep the west point of the reef that lies before Point Venus, close on board, or give it a birth of near half a mile, in order to avoid a small shoal of coral rocks, on which there is but two fathom and an half of water. The best anchoring is on the eastern side of the bay, where there is sixteen and fourteen fathom upon an ousey bottom. The shore of the bay is a fine sandy beach, behind which runs a river of fresh water, so that any number of ships may water here without incommoding each other; but the only wood for firing, upon the whole island, is that of fruit trees, which must be purchased of the natives, or all hope of living upon good terms with them given up. There are some harbours to the westward of this bay which have not been mentioned, but, as they are contiguous to it, and laid down in the plan, a description of them is unnecessary.

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© Derived from Vols. II-III of the London 1773 edition: National Library of Australia call no. FERG 7243, page 184, 2004
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