Tuesday, 14th. Winds at South-East, a steady gale. By 2 P.M. we got out to the outermost reefs, and just fetched to Windward of one of the openings I had discover’d from the Island; we tacked and Made a short trip to the South-West, while the Master went in the pinnace to examine the Channel, who soon made the signal for the Ship to follow, which we accordingly did, and in a short time got safe out. This Channel lies North-East 1/2 North, 3 Leagues from Lizard Island; it is about one-third of a Mile broad, and 25 or 30 fathoms deep or more. The moment we were without the breakers we had no ground with 100 fathoms of Line, and found a large Sea rowling in from the South-East. By this I was well assured we were got with out all the Shoals, which gave us no small joy, after having been intangled among Islands and Shoals, more or less, ever since the 26th of May, in which time we have sail’d above 360 Leagues by the Lead without ever having a Leadsman out of the Chains, when the ship was under sail; a Circumstance that perhaps never hapned to any ship before, and yet it was here absolutely necessary. I should have been very happy to have had it in my power to have keept in with the land, in order to have explor’d the Coast to the Northern extremity of the Country, which I think we were not far off, for I firmly believe this land doth not join to New Guinea. But this I hope soon either to prove or disprove, and the reasons I have before assign’d will, I presume, be thought sufficient for my leaving the Coast at this time; not but what I intend to get in with it again as soon as I can do it with safety. The passage or channel we now came out by lies in the Latitude of 14 degrees 32 minutes South; it may always be found and known by the 3 high Islands within it, which I have called the Islands of Direction, because by their means a safe passage may be found even by strangers in within the Main reef, and quite into the Main. Lizard Island, which is the Northermost and Largest of the 3, Affords snug Anchorage under the North-West side of it, fresh water and wood for fuel; and the low Islands and Reefs which lay between it and the Main, abound with Turtle and other fish, which may be caught at all Seasons of the Year (except in such blowing weather as we have lately had). All these things considered there is, perhaps, not a better place on the whole Coast for a Ship to refresh at than this Island. I had forgot to mention in its proper place, that not only on this Island, but on Eagle Island, and on several places of the Sea beach in and about Endeavour River, we found Bamboos, Cocoa Nutts, the seeds of some few other plants, and Pummice-stones, which were not the produce of the Country. From what we have seen of it, it is reasonable to suppose that they are the produce of some lands or Islands laying in the Neighbourhood, most likely to the Eastward, and are brought hither by the Easterly trade winds. The Islands discover’d by Quiros lies in this parrallel, but how far to the Eastward it’s hard to say; for altho’ we found in most Charts his discoveries placed as far to the West as this country yet from the account of his Voyage, compared with what we ourselves have seen, we are Morally certain that he never was upon any part of this Coast. As soon as we had got without the Reefs we Shortened sail, and hoisted in the pinnace and Long boat, which last we had hung alongside, and then stretched off East-North-East, close upon a wind, as I did not care to stand to the Northward until we had a whole day before us, for which reason we keept making short boards all night. The large hollow sea we have now got into acquaints us with a Circumstance we did not before know, which is that the Ship hath received more Damage than we were aware of, or could perceive when in smooth Water; for now she makes as much water as one pump will free, kept constantly at work. However this was looked upon as trifling to the Danger we had lately made an Escape from. At day light in the morning Lizard Island bore South by West, distant 10 Leagues. We now made all the sail we could, and stood away North-North-West 1/2 West, but at 9 we steer’d North-West 1/2 North, having the advantage of a Fresh Gale at South-East; at Noon we were by observation in the Latitude of 13 degrees 46 minutes South, the Lizard Island bore South 15 degrees East, distant 58 Miles, but we had no land in sight.
August 14, 2013
Tuesday, 14th August, 1770