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Voyages in the Southern Hemisphere, Vols. II - IIIVoyaging Accounts
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25 August 1770

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James Cook
Joseph Banks
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Passage from New South Wales to New Guinea


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Passage from New South Wales to New Guinea (continued)

As soon as it was light, we sweeped it again, and heaved it to the bows: by eight o’clock, we weighed the other anchor, got under sail, and, with a fine breeze at E.N. E. stood to the north west. At noon, our latitude, by observation, was 10° 18’ S. longitude 219° 39’ W. At this time, we had no land in sight, but about two miles to the southward of us lay a large shoal, upon which the sea broke with great violence, and part of which, I believe, is dry at low water. It extends N.W. and S.E. and is about five leagues in circuit. Our depth of water, from the time we weighed till now, was nine fathom, but it soon shallowed to seven fathom; and at half an hour after one, having run eleven miles between noon and that time, the boat which was ahead made the signal for shoal water; we immediately let go an anchor, and brought the ship up with all the sails standing, for the boat having just been relieved, was at but a little distance: upon looking out from the ship, we saw shoal water almost all round us, both wind and tide at the same time setting upon it. The ship was in six fathom, but upon sounding round her, at the distance of half a cable’s length, we found scarcely two. This shoal reached from the east, round by the north and west, as far as the south west, so that there was no way for us to get clear but that which we came. This was another hair’s-breadth escape, for it was near high water, and there run a short cockling sea, which must very soon have bulged the ship if she had struck; and if her direction bad been half a cable’s length more either to the right or left, she must have struck before the signal for the shoal was made. The shoals which, like these, lie a fathom or two under water, are the most dangerous of any, for they do not discover themselves till the vessel is just upon them, and then indeed the water looks brown, as if it reflected a dark cloud. Between three and four o’clock the tide of ebb began to make, and I sent the Master to sound to the southward and south westward, and in the mean time, as the ship tended, I weighed anchor, and with a little sail stood first to the southward, and afterwards edging away to the westward, got once more out of danger. At sunset, we anchored in ten fathom, with a sandy bottom, having a fresh gale at E.S.E.


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© Derived from Vols. II-III of the London 1773 edition: National Library of Australia call no. FERG 7243, pages 650 - 651, 2004
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To cite this page use: http://nla.gov.au/nla.cs-ss-jrnl-hv23-650