Tuesday, 5th. P.M., had the winds at South-West and West-South-West, a fresh breeze. At 3 o’Clock we return’d on board, and after dinner Visited another part of the Bay, but met with nothing new. By the evening all our Empty Casks were fill’d with water, and had at the same time got on board a large quantity of Sellery, which is found here in great Plenty. This I still caused to be boild every morning with Oatmeal and Portable Soup for the Ship’s Company’s breakfast. At 4 a.m. weigh’d with a light breeze at South-East, but had Variable light Airs and sometimes Calm until near Noon, when a Gentle breeze sprung up at North. At this time we had not got out of the Bay; our Latitude by Observation was 35 degrees 9 minutes South. This Bay I have before observed, lies on the West side of Cape Brett: I have named it the Bay of Islands, on account of the Great Number which line its shores, and these help to form Several safe and Commodious Harbours, wherein is room and Depth of Water sufficient for any number of Shipping. The one we lay in is on the South-West side of South-Westermost Island, that lies on the South-East side of the Bay. I have made no accurate Survey of this Bay; the time it would have requir’d to have done this discouraged me from attempting it; besides, I thought it quite Sufficient to be able to Affirm with Certainty that it affords a good Anchorage and every kind of refreshment for Shipping, but as this was not the Season for roots, we got only fish. Some few we Caught ourselves with hook and line and in the Sean, but by far the greatest part we purchased of the Natives, and these of Various sorts, such as Sharks, Stingrays, Breams, Mullet, Mackerel, and several other sorts. Their way of Catching them is the same as ours, viz., with Hook and line and Seans; of the last they have some prodidgious large made all of a Strong Kind of Grass. The Mackerel are in every respect the same as those we have in England, only some are larger than any I ever saw in any other Part of the World; although this is the Season for this fish, we have never been able to Catch one with hook and line. The inhabitants of this Bay are far more numerous than at any other place we have yet been in, and seem to live in friendship one with another, although it doth not at all appear that they are united under one head. They inhabited both the Islands and the Main, and have a Number of Hippas, or Strong Holds, and these are all built in such places as nature hath in a great part fortified, and what she hath left undone the people themselves have finished. It is high water in this Bay at full and change of the Moon about 8 o’clock, and the tide at these times rises and falls upon a perpendicular 6 or 8 feet. It appears, from the few Observations I have been able to make of the Tides on the Sea-Coast, that the flood comes from the Southward, and I have lately had reasons to think that there is a current which comes from the Westward and sets along shore to the South-East or South-South-East, as the Land lays.
December 5, 2012
Tuesday, 5th December, 1769