Friday, 7th. As I was not able to satisfy myself from any Chart what land it was we saw to Leeward of us, and fearing it might trend away more Southerly, and the weather being hazey so that we could not see far, we steer’d South-West, which Course by 4 o’Clock run us out of sight of the land; by this I was assured that no part of it lay to the Southward of 8 degrees 15 minutes South. We continued standing to the South-West all night under an Easey sail, having the advantage of a fresh gale at South-East by East and East-South-East, and clear moon light; we sounded every hour, but had no bottom with 100 and 120 fathoms of line. At daylight in the Morning we steer’d West-South-West, and afterwards West by South, which by Noon brought us into the Latitude of 9 degrees 30 minutes South, and Longitude 229 degrees 34 minutes West, and by our run from New Guinea ought to be in sight of Wessels Isle, which, according to the Chart is laid down about 20 or 25 Leagues from the coast of New Holland; but we saw nothing, by which I conclude that it is wrong laid down; and this is not to be wonder’d at when we consider that not only these Islands, but the lands which bound this Sea have been discover’d and explored by different people and at different times, and compiled and put together by others, perhaps some Ages after the first discoveries were made. Navigation formerly wanted many of these helps towards keeping an Accurate Journal which the present Age is possessed of; it is not they that are wholy to blame for the faultiness of the Charts, but the Compilers and Publishers, who publish to the world the rude Sketches of the Navigator as Accurate surveys, without telling what authority they have for so doing; for were they to do this we should then be as good or better judge than they, and know where to depend upon the Charts, and where not. Neither can I clear Seamen of this fault; among the few I have known who are Capable of drawing a Chart or Sketch of a Sea Coast I have generally, nay, almost always, observed them run into this error. I have known them lay down the line of a Coast they have never seen, and put down Soundings where they never have sounded; and, after all, are so fond of their performances as to pass the whole off as Sterling under the Title of a Survey Plan, etc. These things must in time be attended with bad Consequences, and cannot fail of bringing the whole of their works in disrepute. If he is so modest as to say, Such and such parts, or the whole of his plan is defective, the Publishers or Vendures will have it left out, because they say it hurts the sale of the work; so that between the one and the other we can hardly tell when we are possessed of a good Sea Chart until we ourselves have proved it.
September 7, 2013
Friday, 7th September, 1770