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Voyages in the Southern Hemisphere, Vols. II - IIIVoyaging Accounts
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20 September 1770

Endeavour Voyage Maps
James Cook
Joseph Banks

Description of the Island of Savu


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CHAP. XI. A particular Description of the Island of Savu, its Produce and Inhabitants, with a Specimen of their Language.

THIS island is called by the natives SAVU; the middle of it lies in about the latitude 10° 35’ S., longitude 237° 30’ W.; and has in general been so little known that I never saw a map or chart in which it is clearly or accurately laid down. I have seen a very old one, in which it is called Sou, and confounded with Sandel Bosch. Rumphius mentions an island by the name of Saow; and he also says that it is the same which the Dutch call Sandel Bosch: but neither is this island, nor Timor, nor Rotte, nor indeed any one of the islands that we have seen in these seas, placed within a reasonable distance of its true situation. It is about eight leagues long from east to west; but what is its breadth, I do not know, as I saw only the north side. The harbour in which we lay is called Seba, from the district in which it lies: it is on the north west side of the island, and well sheltered from the south west trade wind, but it lies open to the north west. We were told, that there were two other bays where ships might anchor; that the best, called Timo, was on the south west side of the south east point: of the third we learnt neither the name nor situation. The sea-coast, in general, is low; but in the middle of the island there are hills of a considerable height. We were upon the coast at the latter end of the dry season, when there had been no rain for seven months; and we were told that when the dry season continues so long, there is no running stream of fresh water upon the whole island, but only small springs, which are at a considerable distance from the sea-side: yet nothing can be imagined so beautiful as the prospect of the country from the ship. The level ground next to the seaside was covered with cocoa-nut trees, and a kind of palm called Arecas; and beyond them the hills, which rose in a gentle and regular ascent, were richly clothed, quite to the summit, with plantations of the fan-palm, forming an almost impenetrable grove. How much even this prospect must be improved, when every foot of ground between the trees is covered with verdure, by maize, and millet and indico, can scarcely be conceived but by a powerful imagination, not unacquainted with the stateliness and beauty of the trees that adorn this part of the earth. The dry season commences in March or April, and ends in October or November.

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© Derived from Vols. II-III of the London 1773 edition: National Library of Australia call no. FERG 7243, pages 681 - 682, 2004
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