A Voyage to Terra Australis
Part 5 out of 9
ascertain the limits of these vast bodies of coral, were it only on
account of the ships employed in the whale fishery; but in the view to
future settlements within the tropic, it was necessary to be known
whether these reefs might form such a barrier to the coast, as to render
it inaccessible from the eastward: if not, then the open parts were to be
Of the persons, manners, and customs of the inhabitants, little new
information could be expected. The skirts of their country had been
examined in the southern parts, and extensive collections in natural
history made there; but to the north of _Endeavour River_, the country
had been seen only at a distance. The vast interior of this new continent
was wrapped in total obscurity; and excited, perhaps on that very
account, full as much curiosity as did the forms of the shores. This part
of the subject, however, will scarcely be thought to belong to a naval
expedition; except in so much as rivers and other inlets might conduce to
obtaining the desired information.
* * *
On a general review of the various objects in Terra Australis, to which
investigation might be usefully directed at the commencement of the
nineteenth century, and in which natural history, geography, navigation,
and commerce were so much interested, the question, Why it should have
been thought necessary to send out another expedition? will no longer be
asked. But rather it will be allowed that, instead of one, there was
ample room for two or three ships; each to be employed for years, and to
be conducted with a zeal and perseverance not inferior to the examples
given by the best navigators.
On the arrival of His Majesty's ship Reliance in England, at the latter
end of 1800, the charts of the new discoveries were published, and a plan
was proposed to the Right Hon. SIR JOSEPH BANKS for completing the
investigation of the coasts of Terra Australis. The plan was approved by
that distinguished patron of science and useful enterprise; it was laid
before EARL SPENCER, then first Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty; and
finally received the sanction of HIS MAJESTY, who was graciously pleased
to direct that the voyage should be undertaken; and I had the honour of
being appointed to the command.
A VOYAGE TO TERRA AUSTRALIS.
TRANSACTIONS FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE VOYAGE TO THE DEPARTURE FROM PORT
Appointment to the Investigator.
Outfit of the ship.
Instruments, books, and charts supplied, with articles for presents and
Liberal conduct of the Hon. East-India Company.
Passage round to Spithead.
The Roar sand.
Instructions for the execution of the voyage.
French passport, and orders in consequence.
Officers and company of the Investigator, and men of science who
Account of the time keepers.
[IN ENGLAND. SHEERNESS.]
On the 19th of January 1801, a commission was signed at the Admiralty
appointing me lieutenant of His Majesty's Sloop INVESTIGATOR, to which
the name of the ship, heretofore known as the _Xenophon_, was changed by
this commission; and captain John Henry Martin having received orders to
consider himself to be superseded, I took the command at Sheerness on the
25th of the same month.
The Investigator was a north-country-built ship, of three-hundred and
thirty-four tons; and, in form, nearly resembled the description of
vessel recommended by captain Cook as best calculated for voyages of
discovery. She had been purchased some years before into His Majesty's
service; and having been newly coppered and repaired, was considered to
be the best vessel which could, at that time, be spared for the projected
voyage to Terra Australis.
The ship was in a state of re-equipment; but, on obtaining permission
from the Navy Board to fit her out in such manner as I should judge
necessary, without reference to the supplies usually allotted to vessels
of the same class, all the stores were returned, and others of the best
quality demanded, upon a more extensive scale. Such of the officers and
crew as were aged, or did not volunteer for this particular service, were
discharged; and able young men were received in lieu from His Majesty's
ship Zealand, on board of which the flag of vice-admiral Graeme was
flying at the Nore. Upon one occasion, where eleven volunteers were to be
received from the Zealand, a strong instance was given of the spirit of
enterprise prevalent amongst British seamen. About three hundred
disposable men were called up, and placed on one side of the deck; and
after the nature of the voyage, with the number of men wanted, had been
explained to them, those who volunteered were desired to go over to the
opposite side. The candidates were not less than two-hundred and fifty,
most of whom sought with eagerness to be received; and the eleven who
were chosen, proved, with one single exception, to be worthy of the
preference they obtained.
In making the various alterations required in the ship, and in performing
the duties incident to an equipment of this nature, I received the most
ready concurrence and assistance from Isaac Coffin, Esq., (now
vice-admiral Sir Isaac Coffin, Bart.) the resident naval commissioner at
Sheerness. At his suggestion I had the ship coppered two streaks higher
than before, and took on board a spare rudder, which, after being fitted,
was stowed away in pieces, ready against those accidents to which ships
employed in examining new, or little known coasts, are more peculiarly
liable. To Mr. Whidbey, the master attendant, who had served in the
expedition of captain Vancouver. I was also much indebted, for his
valuable advice and assistance in the selection of the proper stores.
Both these officers constantly took pleasure in promoting whatever could
be useful to the voyage, or add to our comfort and convenience; and in
some cases, our wants, and even wishes, were anticipated.
February 16, I was promoted to the rank of commander. On the 14th of the
following month, the guns, twelve six-pounders, with their ammunition and
a chest of fire works were received; and the provisions and stores being
all on board on the 27th, and the ship ready for sea, we dropped out to
the Nore. I was anxious to arrive upon the coasts of Terra Australis in
time to have the whole of the southern summer before me; but various
circumstances retarded our departure, and amongst others, a passport from
the French government, to prevent molestation to the voyage, had not
arrived. I took advantage of this delay to remedy an inconvenience, under
which we were otherwise likely to suffer. The quantity of provisions
necessary to be carried out did not leave room in the holds for more
water than fifty tons; but by removing ten of the long guns, and
substituting a few light carronades which could be carried on the upper
deck, ten tons more of water might be received, without reducing our
efficient strength; for the ship was too deep to admit of the guns below
being used in bad weather, whereas the carronades would be always
serviceable. My application to have this exchange made, was complied
with; and on May 20 it was effected.
On the 22nd, a set of astronomical and surveying instruments, for the use
of myself and officers, was sent down by direction of the Navy Board; as
also various articles for presents to, and barter with, the native
inhabitants of the countries to be visited, and many for our own use and
convenience. Amongst the latter were most of the books of voyages to the
South Seas, which, with our own individual collections, and the
Encyclopedia Britannica, presented by the Right Hon. Sir Joseph Banks,
formed a library in my cabin for the use of all the officers. Every chart
at the Admiralty, which related to Terra Australis and the neighbouring
islands, was copied for us under the direction of the late hydrographer,
Alexander Dalrymple, Esq.; who also enriched our stock of information by
communicating all such parts of his works as were appropriate to the
The expense to officers of an outfit for several years, was much
alleviated by the liberality of the Hon. East-India Company. The sum of
L600. was ordered by the Court of Directors, to be paid as an allowance
to the men of science, to the officers of the ship, and myself, for our
tables; and the same sum to be given at the conclusion of the voyage.
This allowance the directors were pleased to make, from the voyage being
within the limits of the Company's charter, from the expectation of our
examinations and discoveries proving advantageous to their commerce and
the eastern navigation, and partly, as they said, for my former services.
On the 26th, I received orders to proceed round to Spithead; but the
winds being generally from the westward, we did not arrive there before
the 2nd of June. A circumstance occurred during the passage, which,
amongst many others, showed the necessity there was for a regulation
since adopted, to furnish His Majesty's ships with correct charts. No
master had been appointed to the Investigator; nor was any officer on
board intimately acquainted with the navigation of the Channel; and
having been most of my life engaged in foreign voyages, I was under the
necessity, after leaving the pilot in the Downs, to trust almost wholly
to my chart, which was that of Mr. J. H. Moore. In working up under
Dungeness, on the evening of May 28, we made a trip in shore, towards the
town of Hythe, as I supposed from the chart. A little after six, the
officer of the watch had reported our distance from the land to be near
two leagues; and there being from 10 to 14 fathoms marked within two or
three miles of it, and no mention of any shoal lying in the way, I
intended to stand on half an hour longer; but in ten minutes, felt the
ship lifting upon a bank. The sails were immediately thrown aback; and
the weather being fine and water smooth, the ship was got off without
having received any apparent injury.
This sand is laid down in the Admiralty charts, under the name of the
_Roar_; and extends from Dungeness towards Folkstone, at the distance of
from two and a half, to four miles from the land. The leadsman, having
found no bottom with 15 fathoms at ten minutes before six, had very
culpably quitted the chains when his watch was out, without taking
another cast of the lead; and the ship, in going at the rate of two knots
and three-quarters, was upon the bank at twenty minutes after six; so
that it appears to be steep on the east side.
The bearings given by the azimuth compass, whilst the ship was aground,
were as under:
Dungeness light house, S. W.
Lidd church W. by S. 1/2 S.
Town of Dim, but taken to be Hythe, N. W. by N.
Cheriton church, then supposed to be Folkstone, E. N. E.
Cliffy eastern extreme of the land, near Dover, E. 1/2 N.
The distance from the town of Hythe (Dim,) was guessed to be not less
than two-and-half, nor more than four miles.
[IN ENGLAND. PORTSMOUTH.]
In consequence of this accident, we went into Portsmouth Harbour and into
dock on June 10; and it being ascertained that the ship had received no
injury, we returned to Spithead next day, and moored as before, waiting
for orders. On the 18th, commissioner Sir Charles Saxton paid the ship's
company their wages up to the end of May, with an advance of two months;
and the officers were permitted to draw bills for three months pay in
On July 17, I received the following instructions for the execution of
By the Commissioners for executing the office
of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Ireland, etc.
Whereas the sloop you command has been fitted and stored for a voyage to
remote parts; And whereas it is our intention that you should proceed in
her to the coast of New Holland for the purpose of making a complete
examination and survey of the said coast, on the eastern side of which
His Majesty's colony of New South Wales is situated; You are hereby
required and directed to put to sea the first favourable opportunity of
wind and weather, and proceed with as little delay as possible in
execution of the service above-mentioned, repairing in the first place to
_Madeira_ and the _Cape of Good Hope_ in order to take on board such
supplies of water and live stock as you may be in want of.
Having so done you are to make the best of your way to the coast of New
Holland, running down the said coast from 130 degrees of east longitude
to _Bass's Strait_; (putting if you shall find it necessary, into _King
George the third's Harbour_ for refreshments and water previous to your
commencing the survey;) and on your arrival on the coast, use your best
endeavours to discover such harbours as may be in those parts; and in
case you should discover any creek or opening likely to lead to _an
inland sea or strait_, you are at liberty either to examine it, or not,
as you shall judge it most expedient, until a more favourable opportunity
shall enable you so to do.
When it shall appear to you necessary, you are to repair to _Sydney Cove_
for the purpose of refreshing your people, refitting the sloop under your
command, and consulting with the governor of New South Wales upon the
best means of carrying on the survey of the coast; and having received
from him such information as he may be able to communicate, and taken
under your command the Lady Nelson tender, which you may expect to find
at Sydney Cove, you are to recommence your survey, by first diligently
examining the coast from Bass's Strait to King George the third's
Harbour; which you may do either by proceeding along shore to the
westward, or, in case you should think it more expedient., by proceeding
first to King George's Sound, and carrying on your survey from thence to
You are to repair from time to time, when the season will no longer admit
of your carrying on the survey, to Sydney Cove; from whence your are to
return in the execution of these instructions, so soon as circumstances
will enable you so to do.
You are to be very diligent in your examination of the said coast, and to
take particular care to insert in your journal every circumstance that
may be useful to a full and complete knowledge thereof, noting the winds
and weather which usually prevail there at different seasons of the year,
the productions and comparative fertility of the soil, and the manners
and customs of the inhabitants of such parts as you may be able to
explore; fixing in all cases, when in your power, the true positions both
in latitude and longitude of remarkable head lands, bays, and harbours,
by astronomical observations, and noting the variation of the needle, and
the right direction and course of the tides and currents, as well as the
perpendicular height of the tides; and in case, during your survey, any
_river_ should be discovered, you are either to proceed yourself in the
tender, or to direct her commander to enter it, and proceed as far up as
circumstances will permit; carefully laying down the course and the banks
thereof, and noting the soundings, going on shore as often as it shall
appear probable that any considerable variation has taken place either in
the productions of the soil or the customs of the inhabitants; examining
the country as far inland as shall be thought prudent to venture with the
small number of persons who can be spared from the charge of the vessel,
wherever there appears to be a probability of discovering any thing
useful to the commerce or manufactures of the United Kingdom.
When you shall have completely examined the whole of the coast from
Bass's Strait to King George the third's Harbour, you are, at such times
as may be most suitable for the purpose, (which may be seen on a
reference to Mr. Dalrymple's memoir, an extract of which accompanies
this,) to proceed to and explore the _north-west coast of New Holland_,
where, from the extreme height of the tides observed by Dampier, it is
probable that valuable harbours may be discovered.
Having performed this service, you are carefully to examine the _Gulf of
Carpentaria_, and the parts to the westward thereof, between the 130th
and 139th degrees of east longitude; taking care to seize the earliest
opportunity to do so, when the seasons and prevalent winds may be
favourable for visiting those seas.
When you shall have explored the Gulf of Carpentaria and the parts to the
westward thereof, you are to proceed to a careful investigation and
accurate survey of _Torres' Strait_, and when that shall have been
completed, you are to examine and survey the whole of the remainder of
the north, the west, and the north-west coasts of New Holland, and
especially those parts of the coast most likely to be fallen in with by
East-India ships in their outward-bound passages. And you are to examine
as particularly as circumstances will allow, the bank which extends
itself _from the Trial Rocks towards Timor_, in the hope that by
ascertaining the depth and nature of the soundings thereon, great
advantage may arise to the East-India Company's ships, in case that
passage should hereafter be frequented by them.
So soon as you shall have completed the whole of these surveys and
examinations as above directed, you are to proceed to, and examine very
carefully the _east coast_ of New Holland, seen by captain Cook, _from
Cape Flattery to the Bay of Inlets_; and in order to refresh your people,
and give the advantage of variety to the painters, you are at liberty to
touch at the _Fejees_, or some other of the islands in the _South Seas_.
During the course of the survey, you are to use the tender under your
command as much as possible; moving the Investigator onward from one
harbour to another as they shall be discovered, in order that the
naturalists may have time to range about and collect the produce of the
earth, and the painters allowed time to finish as many of their works as
they possibly can on the spot where they may have been begun: And when
you shall have completed the whole of the surveys and examinations as
abovementioned, you are to lose no time in returning with the sloop under
your command to England for farther orders, touching on your way, if
necessary, at the Cape of Good Hope, and repairing with as little delay
as possible to Spithead, and transmit to our secretary an account of your
During your continuance on the service above-mentioned, you are, by all
proper opportunities, to send to our secretary for our information,
accounts of your proceedings and copies of the surveys and drawings which
you shall have made, and such papers as the Naturalist and the Painters
employed on board may think proper to send home; and upon your arrival in
England you are immediately to repair to this office in order to lay
before us a full account of your proceedings in the whole course of your
voyage; taking care before you leave the sloop to demand from the
officers and petty officers the log books and journals which they may
have kept and such drawings and charts as they may have taken, and to
seal them up for our inspection.
And whereas you have been furnished with a _plant cabin_ for the purpose
of depositing therein such plants, trees, shrubs, etc., as may be
collected during the survey above-mentioned, you are, when you arrive at
Sydney Cove, to cause the said plant cabin to be fitted up by the
carpenter on the quarter deck of the sloop you command, according to the
intention of its construction; and you are to cause boxes for containing
earth to be made and placed therein, in the same manner as was done in
the plant cabin carried out by the Porpoise store ship, which plant cabin
you will find at Sydney Cove.
You are, to place the said plant cabin, with the boxes of earth contained
in it, under the charge and care of the naturalist and gardener, and to
cause to be planted therein during the survey, such plants, trees,
shrubs, etc., as they may think suitable for the _Royal Gardens at Kew_;
and you are, as often as you return to Sydney Cove, to cause the said
plants to be deposited in the governor's garden and under his charge,
there to remain until you sail for Europe: And so soon as you shall be
preparing to return home, you are to cause the small plant cabin to be
removed from the sloop's quarter deck, and the one brought out by the
Porpoise (which is something larger), to be placed there in its stead. In
this last mentioned cabin the naturalist and gardener are to place the
plants, trees, shrubs, etc., which may have been collected during the
survey, in order to their being brought home for His Majesty; and you
are, so soon as the sloop shall arrive at any port in England, to give
notice of her arrival to His Majesty's botanic gardener at Kew, and to
transmit to him a list and state of the said plants etc., which the
gardener employed under your orders is to furnish you with for that
Given under our hands the 22nd of June, 1801.
MATTHEW FLINDERS, Esq.
Commander of His Majesty's sloop
Investigator, at Spithead.
By command of their Lordships,
The instructions were accompanied with the extract of a memoir from Mr.
Dalrymple, respecting the winds and weather to be expected, principally
upon the south coast of Terra Australis. Also with the following PASSPORT
from the French government.
LE PREMIER CONSUL DE LA REPUBLIQUE FRANCAISE, sur le compte qui lui a ete
rendu de la demande faite par le LORD HAWKESBURY au Citoyen Otto,
commissaire du gouvernement Francais a Londres, d'un Passeport pour la
corvette Investigator, dont le signalement est ci-apres, expediee par be
gouvernement Anglais, sous le commandement du capitaine Matthew Flinders,
pour un voyage de decouvertes dans la Mer Pacifique, ayant decide que ce
passeport seroit accorde, et que cette expedition, dont l'objet est
d'etendre les connoissances humaines, et d'assurer davantage les progres
de la science nautique et de la geographie, trouveroit de la part du
gouvernement Francais la surete et la protection necessaires.
LE MINISTRE DE LA MARINE ET DES COLONIES ordonne en consequence a tous
les commandants des batiments de guerre de la Republique, a ses agens
dans toutes les colonies Francaises, aux commandants des batiments
porteurs do lettres de marque, et a tous a autres qu'il appartiendra, de
laisser passer librement et sans empechement, ladite corvette
Investigator, ses officiers, equipage, et effets, pendant la duree de
leur voyage; de leur permettre d'aborder dans les differents ports de la
Republique, tant in Europe que dans les autres parties du monde, soit
qu'ils soient forces par le mauvais tems d'y chercher un refuge, soit
qu'ils viennent y reclamer les secours et les moyens de reparation
necessaires pour continuer leur voyage. Il est bien entendu, cependant,
qu'ils ne trouveront ainsi protection et assistance, que dans le cas ou
ils ne se seront pas volontairement detournes de la route qu'ils doivent
suivre, qu'ils n'auront commis, ou qu'ils n'annonceront l'intention de
commettre aucune hostilite contre la Republique Francaise et ses allies,
qu'ils n'auront procure, ou cherche a procurer aucun secours a ses
ennemis, et qu'ils ne s'occuperont d'aucune espece de commerce, ni de
Fait a Paris le quatre Prairial an neuf de la Republique Francaise.
Le Ministre de la Marine et des Colonies
Par le Ministre de la Marine et des Colonies
CHes. M. JURIEN.
Signalement de la corvette.
La corvette l'Investigator est du port de 334 tonneaux. Son equipage est
compose de 83 hommes, outre cinq hommes de lettres.
Son artillerie est de 6 carronades de 12.
2 ditto de 18.
2 canons de 6.
Le soussigne, commissaire du gouvernement Francais a Londres, certifie le
signalement ci-dessus conforme a la note qui lui a ete communiquee par le
ministre de Sa Majeste Britannique.
Londres le 4 Messidor an 9.
In consequence of this passport, I received directions from the Admiralty
"to act in all respects towards French ships as if the two countries were
not at war; and," it was added, "with respect to the ships and vessels of
other powers with which this country is at war, you are to avoid, if
possible, having any communication with them; and not to take letters or
packets other than such as you may receive from this office, or the
office of His Majesty's secretary of state."
From His Grace the duke of Portland, I carried an order to the governor
of New South Wales to place the brig Lady Nelson under my command, on
arriving at Port Jackson; and also one from the Admiralty, directing the
governor, in his quality of senior naval officer, not to take the
Investigator from the purposes of the voyage; but to assist me with all
the means in his power to put them into execution.
So soon as my sailing orders were received, demands were sent on shore
for provisions to replace what had been consumed at Spithead; and they
came on board next morning, when the ship was unmoored. We were able to
stow a proportion of provisions for twelve months, bread excepted, of
which only seven months could be taken, including a part in flour. Of
salt meat I took for eighteen months, knowing that little reliance could
be had upon the colony in New South Wales for that article; and further
to guard against any detriment to the voyage from a want of provisions, I
left an application to the Admiralty for a general supply, for twelve
months; to be sent after me, and lodged in the store houses at Port
Jackson for our sole use.
Of the various extra provisions usually furnished as preservatives of
health to the crews of His Majesty's ships going upon similar service,
our supply was abundant; and the surgeon was as liberally furnished with
The complement of the Xenophon had been seventy-five men; but on the name
and destination of the ship being changed, the following establishment
was ordered. The names of the officers are added to the list, and also of
the men of science who took part in the expedition.
Astronomer, 1 John Crosley.
Naturalist, 1 Robert Brown.
Natural-history painter, 1 Ferdinand Bauer.
Landscape painter, 1 William Westall.
Their servants, 4
Gardener, 1 Peter Good.
Miner, 1 John Allen.
Commander, 1 Matthew Flinders.
Lieutenants, 2 Robert Fowler.
Samuel W. Flinders.
Master, 1 John Thistle.
Surgeon, 1 Hugh Bell.
Surgeon's assistant, 1 Robert Purdie.
Master's mates and
midshipmen 6 Thomas Evans.
Sherrard P. Lound.
Boatswain, 1 Charles Douglas.
Gunner, 1 Robert Colpits.
Carpenter, 1 Russel Mart.
Clerk, 1 John Olive.
Cook and mate, 2
Sailmaker and mate, 2
Master at arms, 1
Boatswain's mates, 2
Gunner's mate, 1
Carpenter's mates, 2
D. crew, 2
Quarter masters, 4
Able and ordinary seamen
and landsmen, 35
Master at arms, 1
Quarter masters, 2
Cook's mate, 1
Carpenter's crew, 1
Deficient of complement 7
The deficiency of seven, and the two young gentlemen more than allowed,
left the whole number of persons on board to be eighty eight, at the time
Mr. Crosley, the astronomer, brought with him an assortment of
instruments from the Board of Longitude; part for use at sea, and the
larger instruments for making observations on shore, at such ports and
bays as we might anchor in during the voyage. His time keepers were the
numbers 543 and 520, and watch 465 of Earnshaw; and the numbers 176 and
82 of Arnold. Amongst the instruments supplied to me by the Navy Board,
which were unconnected with the above and mostly intended for surveying,
was Arnold's watch number 1786, sent for the purpose of being taken up
rivers in the tender, or in boats. Its error from mean Greenwich time, at
noon July 17, was 2' 38.71" slow, and its rate of losing per day 4.41".
This error and rate were given me by Mr. Bayly, mathematical master of
the naval academy at Portsmouth, who had the kindness to take charge of
the watch during our stay at Spithead.
Departure from Spithead.
Variation of the compass.
Arrival at Madeira.
Remarks on Funchal.
Political state of the island.
Latitude and longitude.
Departure from Madeira.
The island St. Antonio.
Foul winds; and remarks upon them.
The ship leaky.
Search made for Isle Sable.
Saxemberg sought for.
Variation of the compass.
State of the ship's company, on arriving at the Cape of Good Hope.
Refitment at Simon's Bay.
Observatory set Up.
The astronomer quits the expedition.
Rates Of the time keepers.
Some remarks on Simon's Bay.
On July 18 we sailed from Spithead; and in the afternoon of the 20th,
having a light breeze from the eastward, with fine weather, our departure
was taken from the Start, bearing N. 18 deg. W. five or six leagues. On the
following day we fell in with vice-admiral Sir Andrew Mitchell, with a
detachment of four three-decked ships from the grand fleet cruising
before Brest. It was gratifying to learn from the admiral, that although
he had not dropped an anchor for seventeen weeks, there was not a
scorbutic man on board; nor any in the sick list, except from slight
The variation of the compass off St. Alban's Head, had been observed by
Mr. Thistle, the master, to be 28 deg. 43' west, from amplitude; off the
Start it was 29 deg. 34' from a western azimuth, and 29 deg. 30' from amplitude;
but on the following afternoon, where the variation should have been
nearly the same, azimuths gave 24 deg. 12' and an amplitude 23 deg. 43' west; the
mean 5 deg. 35' less than off the Start. The same compass was always used,
and the ship's head was at west (magnetic), or within one point of it, in
all the cases; but in the first observations the compass was placed on
the binnacle, and in the last, was upon the booms. In order to ascertain
clearly what effect this change of place did really produce, I took
observations a few days afterward [MONDAY 27] with every compass on
board, and Mr. Thistle did the same upon the booms, ten or twelve feet
before the main mast, where the compasses were as far removed from any
quantity of iron, as they could be placed in any part of the ship. The
head was south-west by the steering compass, our latitude was 38 deg. 1'
north, longitude 14 deg. 18' west, and the results were as under.
Variation from an azimuth compass by Walker, deg. ' deg. '
marked No 1: mean of both sides of the vane. 25 47 22 17 W.
From a ditto marked No. 2, 25 35 19 15
ditto marked No. 3, 24 41 21 27
Walker's meridional compass, 25 46 - -
Ditto used as a common azimuth, 25 51 20 35
Compass made by Adams, 25 44 21 9
Means, 25 34 20 57 W.
Thus a change of place from the binnacle to a little before the centre of
the ship, produced an alteration of 4 deg. 37' in the mean variation, the
same way as, but a less quantity than Mr. Thistle had found it off the
Start, when the ship's head was west. The true variation I judge to have
been 23 deg., and that the observations on the booms showed 2 deg. too little,
and those on the binnacle 21/2 deg. too much. The error in excess, upon the
binnacle, appeared to continue so long as the ship was in the northern
hemisphere and the head to the westward; but it diminished gradually as
we approached the equator, and the observations on the binnacle and booms
then nearly coincided. This example is sufficient to show the impropriety
of allowing a variation upon the ship's course, from observations taken
elsewhere than at the binnacle.
THURSDAY 30 JULY 1801.
We continued our course for Madeira, with fair winds. Our latitude on the
30th, was 30 deg. 5' north, longitude 15 deg. 31' west; and in the afternoon
Porto Santo was seen, bearing west-north-west; the wind then became light
and variable, and soon afterwards died away. The variation observed on
the binnacle by the master, when the head was south-west-by-south, was
22 deg. 45', but on the booms 19 deg. 51'; the true variation being as I believe,
20 deg. 51' west.
FRIDAY 31 JULY 1801.
It was calm on the 31st, and I had a boat lowered down and went round the
ship with the carpenter, to inspect the seams near the water line, for we
had the mortification to find the ship beginning to leak so soon as the
channel was cleared, and in the three last days she had admitted three
inches of water per hour. The seams appeared sufficiently bad, especially
under the counter and at the butt ends, for the leak to be attributable
to them; and as less water came in when the ship was upright than when
heeling to a beam wind, I hoped the cause need not be sought lower down.
Before hoisting up the boat, a small hawke's-bill turtle was picked up;
and between this time and that of anchoring in Funchal Road, several
others were seen, and a second, weighing about thirty pounds, was caught.
SATURDAY AUGUST 1 1801.
Aug. 1, at noon, Porto Santo bore N. 11 deg. W., and the rocky islands called
_Dezertas_, from N. 65 deg. to S. 85 deg. W. distant three leagues. The south end
of these islands lies, by our observations, in latitude 32 deg. 24' 20"
north, which differs less than one mile from its position in Mr.
Johnston's chart of the Madeiras. There being little wind next morning
[SUNDAY AUGUST 2], I went off in one of the cutters, accompanied by
Messieurs Brown and Bauer, the naturalist and natural-history painter, to
the southernmost island, called _Bujio_, which was not far distant. On
the way, I shot several birds of the puffin kind, one of which had a
fathom of small brass wire attached to its wing. The distance of the land
proved to be more considerable than was expected; and there being a
current setting southward we did not reach the shore until near three in
the afternoon, when it was necessary to think of returning.
[AT MADEIRA--FUNCHAL ROAD]
A small ledge of rocks, which projected a little from under the cliffs at
the south-west part of Bujio, afforded a landing place; but it was
impossible to ascend the top of the island. We saw no other animated
beings than a few birds something like green linnets, but which were
said, at Madeira, to have been canary birds; and the other productions
were scarcely sufficient to afford amusement even to a naturalist. The
cliffs over head showed marks of irregular stratification, and in some of
the lines there was a red tinge, apparently of iron. The base underneath
was black and honey-combed, as if it had been in the fire, resembling in
this respect the common stone at Funchal.
We left Bujio well satisfied that, so far as we could judge of the
islands, the name Dezertas, or Desert Islands, was well chosen; and soon
after dusk, reached the ship. There was then a good breeze from the
north-eastward, with which we steered for Madeira. tacking occasionally
during the night, to take advantage of the different flaws of wind. At
the following noon [MONDAY 3 AUGUST], the ship was under Brazen Head,
which forms the east side of Funchal Road; and being there becalmed, we
towed in with the boats, and came to an anchor at four o'clock, in 22
fathoms, steadying with a kedge to the north-west. In this situation,
which seems to be as good as any in the road, the bearings by compass
were as follow:
Brazen Head, S. 71 deg. E.
Punta de Cruz, on the west side, N. 85 W.
Loo Fort, distant one-third of a mile, N. 12 W.
The north-east winds usually prevail at Madeira in the summer season, and
sometimes blow very strong. To reach Funchal Read, ships are accustomed
to sail between the east end of Madeira and the Dezertas, before the
wind. They are not very desirous of passing close to Brazen Head, where
they would be becalmed, but keep off a mile or two, in the skirt of the
north-east wind, until they are off the town, or even off Punta de Cruz,
where they generally find a breeze from the south-west, which takes them
to the anchorage. This south-west wind is the sea breeze of Funchal; and
during the time we lay in the road, it usually set in at eight or nine
o'clock in the morning, and prevailed as far as three or four miles in
the offing, till sunset. A variable breeze comes off the land in the
night; at which time it is recommended to ships to pass close to Brazen
Head and tow into the road.
We found his Majesty's ship Argo lying here; and I waited upon captain
James Bowen, immediately that the ship was secured. Lieutenant Flinders
was sent, at the same time, to present my respects to the Portuguese
governor, and to ask his Excellency's permission to purchase the
necessaries of which we stood in need; as also for the scientific
gentlemen to make such an examination of the natural productions of the
island, as our short stay would allow. The first request was granted by
the governor in polite terms, and accompanied with offers of assistance;
but an answer to the second was deferred until he should see me.
This evening the ship was heeled three streaks, when it was found that
she admitted more than three inches of water per hour; whereas, when
upright, it scarcely amounted to one inch. Next morning [TUESDAY 4
AUGUST], therefore, the carpenters began caulking two seams above the
copper, all round, whilst the seamen were employed in shifting the top
masts and examining the rigging.
By the assistance of Joseph Pringle, Esq., the British consul, I procured
boats from the shore to be sent for our empty water casks; and an ox was
killed for our use, and wine prepared for embarkation. His Excellency,
the governor, had appointed noon of this day to receive my visit; and I
waited upon him in form, accompanied by the consul, who interpreted
between us. The governor repeated his offers of assistance; and on being
made to understand the nature of the excursions which our gentlemen
desired to make into the country, he granted his permission with the
utmost readiness. After I had answered some questions relative to the
settlement of political affairs in the north of Europe, we took our
leave; and were attended out by the officers in waiting, and saluted by
THURSDAY 6 AUGUST 1801.
On the 6th in the evening, our supply of provisions was received, and the
caulking of the ship completed. The scientific gentlemen returned from an
expedition towards the _Pico Ruivo_; which is the highest of a ridge of
mountains occupying the central parts of the island, and is said to be
5067 feet, or nearly an English mile, above the level of the sea. The
ascent was found to be very difficult; and this, with the heat of the
weather and limitation of their time to this evening, disabled them from
reaching the summit. It was late when they arrived at the shore; and in
embarking abreast of the town, they had the misfortune to be swamped, and
to lose the greater part of their collections and sketches, although the
boat was managed by Portuguese watermen, accustomed to the place.
The best landing is behind the Loo Rock; but the stony beach in front of
the town is usually safe in the summer time. It was so on our first
arrival, until the strong eastern winds in the offing raised so much
swell as to make it dangerous, even for people experienced in the
management of a boat in the surf.
The town of Funchal is placed at the foot of a mountain, which projects
from the great central ridge; and the houses being mostly white, they
form a strong, but agreeable contrast with the back land. At different
elevations up the side of the mountain, are scattered the country houses
of the richer inhabitants, placed amongst groups of trees and surrounded
with vines. These, with a convent dedicated to _Our Lady of the
Mountain_, which, like the houses, is white, but partly hidden by
foliage, give to the whole a picturesque and pleasing appearance from the
ships in the road. The town is larger, and there was more trade and
activity in it than I was prepared to expect in a small colony, where the
students of the college and ecclesiastics of different orders form no
inconsiderable part of the superior class of inhabitants. Several British
merchants reside at Madeira; their houses of business are at Funchal, but
their favourite residences are upon the side of the mountain. I
accompanied captain Bowen to one of these, the hospitable seat of Mr.
Murdoch, and thought it one of the prettiest places I had seen. The house
of Mr. Pringle, the consul, was my home when on shore; indeed the
politeness of our countrymen prevented me from experiencing the
accommodation afforded to strangers at a house in the town, dignified
with the name of hotel. Some of our gentlemen complained of its being
miserable enough, even without the swarms of fleas and other vermin by
which they were molested.
His Majesty's ships Argo, Carysfort, Falcon, and transports, under the
command of captain James Bowen, had arrived in Funchal Road about nine
days before us; having on board the 85th regiment under colonel Clinton.
After making their dispositions, the two commanders sent to inform the
Portuguese governor, that His Britannic Majesty, considering the
probability of an attack from the French upon the island, had sent troops
to assist in its defence; and they demanded permission for the forces to
land. A council was called by the governor; and it being agreed that even
were they inclined yet no effectual resistance could be made, the
permission was given, and a place assigned for the encampment of the
troops to the west of the town. A part of the 85th was afterwards
quartered in the Loo Fort and in that of St. Diego, which command both
the town and the road; and the men were employed in putting these
fortifications into a state of defence.
These arrangements caused no change in the administration of the
government, nor in the trade of the island; but the governor was said to
be not satisfied that his conduct would be approved. On the day of our
arrival, he received intelligence of peace being concluded between
Portugal and Spain, but that the war with France was continued; and
before we sailed, His Majesty's sloop Voltigeur brought despatches from
the Court of Lisbon, which directed the governor to receive the British
troops; and it was supposed that every thing connected with the defence
of the island would be committed to them. This was the state of things
when I took leave of captain Bowen and of colonel Clinton.
Water, wine, and fresh beef, were the supplies procured at Madeira. Wine
for the ship's company was charged at the enormous price of 5s. 8d. per
gallon, and the beef at 10d. per pound; I therefore took only small
quantities of each. For good Madeira, we paid as much as L42. the pipe.
Fruit and onions were in abundance, and probably were not of less
advantage to the health of the people than the more expensive articles.
The latitude observed in Funchal Road was 32 deg. 37' 44" north. The
longitude, as given in the Requisite Tables, is 17 deg. 6' 15" west; but in
the _Connoissance des Temps_ for 1792, it is laid down by a member of the
Academy of Sciences, probably the _Chevalier de Borda_, at 16 deg. 56' from
Greenwich. Arnold's watch No. 1736, in my care, gave 16 deg. 22' 42", and the
greatest longitude shown by any of the six time keepers was 16 deg. 54' 26".
This was given by Earnshaw's watch No. 465, which had kept an uniform
rate during fifteen months previously to its being brought on board. We
made use of this watch to reduce some lunar observations taken a few days
before arriving, and others after sailing, to the place of anchorage; and
the result was as follows:
Ten sets of distances, east and west of the moon,
taken by Mr. Crosley in Funchal Bay and afterwards,
with a Troughton's sextant, 16 deg. 59' 21" W.
Eight sets,* east and west, taken by me with a
Troughton's circle and two sextants, before and afterwards, 16 51 28
West longitude of Funchal by lunar observations, 16 55 24
[* Four of these are uncorrected for the errors of the lunar and solar
tables. They were taken Aug. 29, on which day no observation of the moon
was made at Greenwich; and the errors observed on the 27th and 30th were
so irregular, that no proportion can be made between them with any
prospect of accuracy. Were the errors of the 30th applied, the longitude
of Funchal would be 4' less.]
We were therefore induced to prefer the 16 deg. 56', in the Connoissance des
Temps, as being nearer the true longitude of Funchal from Greenwich, than
the 17 deg. 6' 15" of the Requisite Tables.
Every person had returned on board on Friday morning; and a young man, a
native of Ireland, who had been sent here sick in a French cartel,
applying to go the voyage, I ordered him to be entered, on the surgeon
reporting him to be a fit man for His Majesty's service.
FROM MADEIRA--TOWARDS THE CAPE
On quitting Funchal Road, we were taken aback, at two o'clock, by the
east-north-east wind, about two miles off Brazen Head. It blew so strong
as to make it necessary to clew down all the sails; and until next
morning [SATURDAY AUGUST 8], nothing above close-reefed top sails could
be carried with safety. At noon, the log gave 162 miles from Funchal; but
the cloudy weather did not admit of taking observations.
SUNDAY 9 AUGUST 1801
At daybreak of the 9th the island Palma was in sight, bearing S. 72 deg. E.
ten or twelve leagues. Albacores and bonitas now began to make their
appearance, and the officers and men were furnished with hooks and lines,
and our harpoons and fizgigs were prepared. This day I ordered lime juice
and sugar to be mixed with the grog; and they continued to be given daily
to every person on board, until within a short time of our arrival at the
Cape of Good Hope.
SATURDAY 15 AUGUST 1801
We carried fair, and generally fresh winds, until the 15th in the
morning, when St. Antonio, the north-westernmost of the Cape-Verde
Islands was in sight. At eight o'clock, the extremes bore N. 69 deg. E. and
S. 13 deg. W., and the nearest part was distant four miles; in which
situation no bottom could be found at 75 fathoms. A boat was observed
near the shore, and our colours were hoisted; but no notice appeared to
be taken of the ship.
The north-west side of St. Antonio is four or five leagues in length; and
rises abruptly from the sea, to hills which are high enough to be seen
fifteen, or more leagues from a ship's deck. These barren hills are
intersected by gullies, which bore marks of much water having passed down
them. By the side of one of these gullies, which was near the place where
we lost sight of the boat, there was a path leading up into the interior
of the island. The south-west and south points are low; they lie N. 14 deg.
W. and S. 14 deg. E. and are five or six miles asunder. Between them, the
land hollows back so as to form somewhat of a bay, which, if it afford
good anchorage, as it is said to do, would shelter a ship from all winds
between north and east-south-east. We did not observe any beach at the
head of the bay, perhaps from having passed at too great a distance.
No observations could be taken for fixing the situation of this island;
but in 1795, Mr. Crosley and myself made the high land near the
south-west point to lie in 17 deg. 00' north, and by uncorrected lunar
observations, in 25 deg. 12' west; which agrees well with the position of the
north-west point, as given by captain Vancouver.* The variation from
azimuth on the evening of the 14th, before making the land, was 13 deg. 51'
west, and 13 deg. 3' this evening, when four leagues to the west of it; the
compass being placed on the binnacle, and the ship's head
south-south-west (magnetic) in both cases. The true variation here, at
this time, I judge to have been 12 deg. 24' west. Captain Vancouver observed
12 deg. 32', in 1791; but it does not appear how the ship's head was
[* _Voyage round the World_, Vol. I. page 10.]
Some distant land opened from the south point of St. Antonio, at S. 75 deg.
E.; which I took to be a part of the island St. Lucia.
During the three days before making St. Antonio, the wind varied from the
regular north-east trade, to east-north-east, and as far as
south-east-by-east; and about the time of seeing the land, it dwindled to
a calm. For three days afterwards it was light, and variable between
north and south-east; after which it sometimes blew from the north-west
and south-west, and sometimes from the eastward. These variable winds,
with every kind of weather, but most frequently with rain, continued
until the 23rd [SUNDAY], in latitude 11 deg. north and longitude 23 deg. west;
when a steady breeze set in from the south-westward, and the weather
became more settled and pleasant. The clouds were sufficiently dense to
keep off the intense heat of the vertical sun, but did not often prevent
us from obtaining daily observations for the latitude and longitude. At
the same time with the south-west wind came a swell from the southward,
which made the ship plunge considerably; and so far opened her leaks,
that she again made two inches of water in the hour.
THURSDAY 27 AUGUST 1801
On the 27th, in latitude 6 deg. north and longitude 171/2 deg. west, a noddy was
caught, and next day a swallow was found dead in my sleeping cabin. This
poor little bird had been our companion for three or four days before,
and had become a favourite. It was generally seen darting past the lee
scuttles and ports, apparently after the flies which were carried out by
the streams of air; sometimes it alighted upon the boats which hung on
the ship's quarters, and more than once rested itself in the cabin where,
at length, it was found dead.
WEDNESDAY 2 SEPTEMBER 1801
The south-western winds continued to blow without intermission, and drove
us, much against my inclination, far to the eastward, towards the coast
of Africa. One or two attempts were made to go upon the western tack; but
this could not be done with any advantage until the 2nd of September,
when we were in latitude 3 deg. 50' north, and longitude 111/4 deg. west. The wind
had veered gradually round, from south-west to south, as we approached
the African coast, to the direction of which it kept at nearly a right
angle. I had not fully adverted to the probability, that the winds
blowing upon this coast would prevail to a greater extent at this season
than at any other time of the year; otherwise, as I wished to avoid
Africa, I should have passed some degrees to the westward of the
Cape-Verde Islands, and probably have carried the north-east trade to the
12th, or perhaps to the 10th degree of north latitude; and in 8 deg., or at
furthest in 6 deg., the south-east trade might have been expected.
Captain Cook, in his second voyage, experienced the same south-western
winds, and was carried so far eastward, that he crossed the equator in
longitude 8 deg. west. Monsieur de la Perouse also experienced them, and both
were here at the same season with ourselves; that is, in the months of
August and September, when the African continent had received its
greatest degree of heat.
Although I preferred to avoid Africa, it is by no means certain that a
good passage to the Cape of Good Hope may not be made, especially at this
season, by steering round the Bight of Benin with the south-west and
south winds. It is probable, that on approaching the meridian of
Greenwich the wind would be found to return to the south-west, and
perhaps more westward, and enable a ship to reach the 10th degree of
south latitude before meeting the south-east trade; in which case, the
circuit to be made before attaining the western winds beyond the southern
tropic, would be much shortened. The East-India-Company's ships bound to
St. Helena, do, I believe, now generally follow that route.
The leakiness of the ship increased with the continuance of the
south-west winds; and at the end of a week, amounted to five inches of
water an hour. It seemed, however, that the leaks were mostly above the
water's edge, for on tacking to the westward they were diminished to two
inches. This working of the oakum out of the seams indicated a degree of
weakness which, in a ship destined to encounter every hazard, could not
be contemplated without uneasiness. The very large ports, formerly cut in
the sides to receive thirty-two-pound carronades, joined to what I had
been able to collect from the dock yard officers, had given me an
unfavourable opinion of her strength; and this was now but too much
confirmed. Should it be asked, why representations were not made, and a
stronger vessel procured? I answer, that the exigencies of the navy were
such at that time, that I was given to understand no better ship could be
spared from the service; and my anxiety to complete the investigation of
the coasts of Terra Australis did not admit of refusing the one offered.
THURSDAY 3 SEPTEMBER 1801
The wind was at south when we tacked to the westward; but it shortly
veered to south-by-east, and as far as south-east-by-south, which enabled
me to look up for the small _Isle Sable_, or St. Paul, said to lie in 0 deg.
25' south, and about 181/2 deg. west. I was desirous of ascertaining the true
position of this, and of some other small islands, laid down in the
neighbourhood of the equator. They are placed so much in the tracks, both
of outward and homeward bound ships, that it was not improbable some one
of the vessels missed at different times, might have suffered shipwreck
upon them; and the hope that we might be the happy means of restoring to
their country and friends some unfortunate fellow creatures, perhaps
countrymen, was an additional incitement to look after them.
MONDAY 7 SEPTEMBER 1801
On the 7th, our latitude was 0 deg. 43' north, and we expected to cross the
equator some time in the following night. It was a part of my plan for
preserving the health of the people, to promote active amusements amongst
them, so long as it did not interfere with the duties of the ship; and
therefore the ancient ceremonies used on this occasion, were allowed to
be performed this evening; and the ship being previously put under snug
sail, the seamen were furnished with the means, and the permission, to
conclude the day with merriment. At noon next day, the latitude was 0 deg.
17' south, and longitude 17 deg. 7' west; so that the _line_ had been crossed
in nearly 17 deg., about seven in the morning [TUESDAY 8 SEPTEMBER].
From the longitude of 11 deg., we had been constantly attended by that
species of the pelican called man-of-war bird by our seamen, and
_fregate_ by the French; but not one of them was to be seen at this time,
although we were drawing near to the supposed situation of St. Paul. At
four in the afternoon, our latitude was judged to be 0 deg. 29' south; and
the course then steered was west, by compass, for a current of ten miles
to the north had fully counteracted the western variation on the two
preceding days. On the 9th [WEDNESDAY], the latitude was 0 deg. 43' south,
and longitude 18 deg. 35'. We ran northward four hours, finding the current
had not prevailed as before; and then steered in the parallel of the
island. Next day at noon [THURSDAY 10 SEPTEMBER], our situation was in 0 deg.
22' south and 20 deg. 5' west; and seeing no land, nor any signs of being in
its neighbourhood, I gave up the search after the island, and hauled
south-westward on our way to the Cape of Good Hope.
In the morning, I had observed the variation with Walker's meridional
compass, when the ship's head was W. by N. (magnetic); upon the binnacle
it gave 14 deg. 30', and on the booms 13' 0' west. Thus the difference,
arising from a change of place in the compass, appeared to diminish
sensibly as we approached the magnetic equator. The true variation I
judge to have been 13 deg. 11' west.
During the two nights of our search for St. Paul's, the quantity of sail
was so reduced that not more than ten or twelve leagues should be passed
between dusk and daylight; by which means the view astern, in the
morning, nearly reached to the horizon of the preceding evening, and any
thing, a little elevated above the surface of the water, could scarcely
escape being seen from the mast head, more especially as we were
fortunate in having distinct views towards each setting and rising sun.
The look-out, also, was particularly attended to; for at this time was
commenced the system which, in all similar cases, I intended to pursue
throughout the voyage. A part of this plan was an order to the three
warrant officers to take charge of the look-out betwixt dark and
daylight, and to be answerable for the vigilance with which it should be
executed, both in their own persons, and in those who were placed upon
the same duty under them. The leisure usually enjoyed by this class of
officers, particularly by the gunner and carpenter, I conceived to admit
of this abridgment, without injury to their ordinary sea duties.
I had twice before crossed the equator, at the respective distances of
twenty-six and seventy-three miles to the west of where our search for
the Isle of St. Paul ceased; and Mr. Thistle, the master, had crossed the
parallel of 25' south, in longitude 22 deg. 12', a few months before; indeed
if the Isle had existed between the longitudes of 20 deg. and 25 deg., it must
have been repeatedly seen. I therefore think it may be asserted, that
there is no land between 17 deg. and 25 deg. west, either in, or about the
latitude of 25' south. The track of Mons. de la Perouse cuts that
parallel in longitude 16 deg.; and he saw no other marks of the vicinity of
land than the man-of-war birds which had followed him for several days.
If the presence of these birds be any indication of land, I should
suppose that there was some lying between the 11th and 16th degrees of
west longitude; and if such an island as St. Paul exist, it will probably
be found within those limits.
Having lost all hope of finding this island, I could have wished to
recross the equator and run in the latitude of 55' north; in which
parallel the isle _Pennedo de St. Pedro_, sometimes also called St. Paul,
is said to be situate. In Arrowsmith's general chart, it is marked in 24 deg.
west longitude, whilst another authority places it to the west of 27 deg.,*
but I considered that the search might carry me as far as 29 deg., and
perhaps further; and my orders being silent with respect to these
islands, I did not think myself authorized to thus occupy so much time;
and we therefore hauled to the south-westward on the afternoon of the
10th, as before mentioned. On the following day [FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 11], a
gannet was seen, which seemed to imply that our situation of 1 3/4 deg. south,
and 211/2 deg. west, was not far removed from some island or rock; for I do not
recollect to have seen this bird at a greater distance from land than
[* _Voyage of La Perouse_, page 50 of the London translation. I am lately
informed, that Pennedo de St. Pedro lies in latitude 0 deg. 55' north, and
longitude 27 deg. 0' west; that it makes like four sail of ships, and is
covered with birds, but affords no water.]
The trade wind varied from south-south-east to east-south-east, and
commonly blew fresh, with frequent squalls. The swell from the southward,
with which these winds were for some days accompanied, caused the ship to
work so much, that she soon let in as great a quantity of water on this
tack, as she before had done on the other; I therefore judged it
advisable to alter the plan of keeping within seven points of the wind,
and to go with it upon the beam; and also to put in practice every means
of lightening the upper works, for they seemed to be very inadequate to
support the weight with which they had been unavoidably loaded. Two
eighteen-pound carronades, stern chacers, were taken off the upper deck
and struck into the hold; the spare rudder, and a variety of other things
which a want of room had obliged us to stow in the main and mizen
channels, were taken within board; and every exterior weight concentrated
as much as possible. After this was done, the tremulous motion caused by
every blow of the sea, exciting a sensation as if the timbers of the ship
were elastic, was considerably diminished; and the quantity of water
admitted by the leaks was also somewhat reduced.
SUNDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 1801
On the 13th, in latitude 4 deg. 44' south and longitude 23 deg. 17' west, a
swallow, a gannet, and two sheerwaters were seen; and from six to eight
in the evening, the officer of the watch and myself thought the water to
be much smoother than before, or than it was afterward. Had it been in an
unknown sea, I should have been persuaded that some island, or shoal, lay
at no great distance to the south-eastward of our situation at that time.
SUNDAY 20 SEPTEMBER 1801
The trade wind continued, with some little variety in its direction, to
blow fresh until the 20th, when it became light, and sometimes calm. We
were then approaching the small island Trinidad. Many gannets were seen
at twenty-four leagues off, but none at a greater distance. On the 23rd
[WEDNESDAY], the island was in sight; and at noon, when our latitude was
20 deg. 1' south, and longitude 29 deg. 13' west, a peaked hummock near the
eastern extremity bore S. 25 deg. W., nine or ten leagues. The western
extremity bore S. 29 deg. W., and at first appeared to be a bluff head; but
it afterwards assumed the form of a conical rock, and was, in all
probability, the _Nine Pin_ of captain D'Auvergne's chart. One of the
rocks called Martin Vas, was visible from the main top, and angled 49 deg.
43' to the left of the peaked hummock; its bearing was consequently very
near S. 25 deg. E.
Mons. de la Perouse, who sent a boat on shore to Trinidad, lays down the
latitude of the south-east point at 20 deg. 31' south, and longitude from
lunar observations, 28 deg. 37' west of Greenwich. The latitude appeared to
agree with our observations; but in the longitude there is some
difference. According to Earnshaw's two time keepers, No. 465 and 543,
which kept better rates than the remaining four, the longitude of the
Nine Pin is 29 deg. 251/2' west; which being reduced to the south-east point,
will place it in 29 deg. 23', or 46' west of the French navigator.* The
longitude in captain D'Auvergne's plan of Trinidad, constructed 1782, is
29 deg. 55', or 32' still further west. From two sets of distances of the
star _Altair_ to the west, and two of _Aldebaran_ east of the moon, I
made the longitude of the south-east point to be 29 deg. 19' west; the
difference from the time keepers, which I consider to have given the best
longitude, being no more than 4'.
[* The error of No. 465 was found, at the Cape of Good Hope, to be 10'
57", 2 to the east, and of No. 543, to be 39' 21", 5 east, contracted in
96 days upon their English rates. To obtain the above longitude, a
proportional part of these errors according to the number of days, has
been applied to the keepers; and the difference between them is then no
more than 2".]
THURSDAY 24 SEPTEMBER 1801
Azimuths taken upon the binnacle in the morning, with three compasses,
and the ship's head at S. W. by S., gave variation 3 deg. 54'; and in the
evening, at S. W., 3 deg. 50'; but next morning, when Trinidad was just
disappearing from the deck in the N. 60 deg. E., other azimuths then showed
the variation to be 1 deg. 35' west, the ship's head being S. S. W.; it
therefore appears, that there is a difference off the north, and off the
south-west sides of the island. From the first observations I deduce the
true variation to be 4 deg. 14' west, and from the last 1 deg. 50' west. Captain
D'Auvergne marks the variation 0 deg. 45' west, in 1782; but under what
circumstances it was ascertained, does not appear.
TUESDAY 29 SEPTEMBER 1801
The trade wind having again arisen from east-south-east, we were enabled
to make between eighty and ninety miles a day. It afterwards veered
gradually round, by the north-east and north, to the westward, and blew
fresh; so that on the 29th, our latitude was 31 deg. 2' and longitude 26 deg. 0'
west. This was 17' to the south, and about 6 deg. west of the situation
usually assigned to _Saxemberg_; an island which has been frequently
sought by the East-India, and other ships, in the place which it still
occupies in the charts; and not finding it there, they have run a few
degrees to the _eastward_, in the same parallel, but always without
success. The opportunity which presented itself of now adding 6 deg. of
longitude to the examined space, and on the opposite side, I should have
thought myself culpable in neglecting; and therefore, having placed the
ship in the supposed parallel of the island, we steered due east for it;
adopting the same regulations for the look-out at night, as when
searching for St. Paul's.
We had seen an unusual number of pintado and sooty petrels on the
preceding afternoon, as also of a brown bird, apparently one of the
sea-swallow tribe, having a white belly and the form and size of a
woodcock; and this evening it was reported to me from the mast head, and
confirmed by others on deck, that a turtle was seen lying upon the water.
These indications of land gave me some hope that the long lost Saxemberg
might be brought to light. On the following noon [WEDNESDAY 30
SEPTEMBER], the observed latitude was 30 deg. 41' and longitude 22 deg. 46'; and
nothing further had transpired to betoken the vicinity of land. Next day
[THURSDAY 1 OCTOBER], our observations gave 30 deg. 34' south, and 20 deg. 28'
west; and I then steered east-south-east, a course which should have
taken us almost directly over the supposed situation of Saxemberg, if the
same current of 11' north had prevailed, as on the preceding day. But
this not proving to be the case, our track lay a few miles to the south;
though sufficiently near for us to be satisfied of the non-existence of
the island in the place assigned to it, if that could any longer admit of
[* At the Cape of Good Hope, in 1810, His Excellency the Earl of Caledon
favoured me with the following extract from the log book of the sloop
Columbus--Long, master; returning to the Cape from the coast of Brazil.
"September 22, 1809, at five p.m., saw the island of Saxonburg, bearing
E. S. E., first about 41 leagues distant: clear weather. Steered for the
said island, and found it to be in the latitude of 30 deg. 18' south,
longitude 28 deg. 20' west, or thereabout.
"The island of Saxonburg is about four leagues in length, N. W. and S. E,
and about 21/2 miles in breadth. The N. W. end is a high bluff of about 70
feet, perpendicular form, and runs along to the south-east about 8 miles.
You will see trees at about a mile and a half distance, and a sandy
The situation of Saxemberg in the common tables and charts, was 30 deg. 45'
south and 19 deg. 40' west, almost 9 deg. of longitude too little; and therefore
it is not surprising that ships have missed it. At the time so many birds
were seen, on the 28th, the Investigator was not more than eighty miles
from the position of the island, as above given from Mr. Long.]
SUNDAY 4 OCTOBER 1801
The fresh western winds continued, with short intervals of calm, as far
as the latitude 33 deg. 23', and longitude 13 deg. 0' west; when they died away,
and a breeze sprung up from the eastward. With this wind we could do
little more than look up for the isles of Tristan d'Acunha, whose bearing
was then S. 16 deg. E., and distance seventy-seven leagues. From the
description given by sir Erasmus Gower* of the anchorage, and the
convenience with which water may be obtained, and his account of the
animals which resort there, I should not have considered it to be lost
time, had the wind made it advisable to put in at Tristan d'Acunha, for a
few days; but it veered round to the north-west, on the [TUESDAY] 6th.
and we resumed our former course to the Cape of Good Hope.
[* _Lord Macartney's Embassy to China_, by sir G. Staunton, Vol. I. p.
WEDNESDAY 14 OCTOBER 1801
In the morning of the 14th, the variation by mean of amplitude and
azimuth, was 25 deg. 10' west; the ship's head being E. by S., and our
latitude 35 deg. 4' south, and longitude 12 deg. 50' east. It is worthy of being
mentioned, that in the year 1797, and near the same place, I observed the
variation to be 19 deg. 40' west, on board His Majesty's ship Reliance; and
as the compass was upon the binnacle in both cases, the sole cause to
which I can attribute this great difference is, that the ship's head was
west, instead of E. by S. The true variation could not be far from the
mean of the two observations, since it was 26 deg. at the Cape of Good Hope.
In the English Channel, the compass on the binnacle had shown nearly 4 deg.
too much west variation, when the ship's head was at _west_; but here, it
gives at least 2 deg. too much, with the head in an opposite direction! This
difference in the two hemispheres merits particular notice; it is part of
a series of apparent anomalies in the compass which have hitherto
remained unaccounted for; but which seem reducible to one general cause,
as I have attempted to show in the Appendix No. II. to the second volume.
FRIDAY 16 OCTOBER 1801
At daybreak of the 16th, we expected to see the high land of the Cape;
but the weather being hazy, it could not be distinguished until eight
o'clock, when it bore north-east, eight leagues; being _three leagues
more_ than Earnshaw's pocket time keeper, in which we had most
confidence, led us to expect, and _four miles less_ than was given by my
uncorrected lunar observations of the 14th p.m., brought forward by the
At this time we had not a single person in the sick list, both officers
and men being fully in as good health, as when we sailed from Spithead. I
had begun very early to put in execution the beneficial plan, first
practised and made known by the great captain Cook. It was in the
standing orders of the ship, that on every fine day the deck below and
the cockpits should be cleared, washed, aired with stoves, and sprinkled
with vinegar. On wet and dull days they were cleaned and aired, without
washing. Care was taken to prevent the people from sleeping upon deck, or
lying down in their wet clothes; and once in every fortnight or three
weeks, as circumstances permitted, their beds, and the contents of their
chests and bags, were opened out and exposed to the sun and air. On the
Sunday and Thursday mornings, the ship's company was mustered, and every
man appeared clean shaved and dressed; and when the evenings were fine,
the drum and fife announced the fore castle to be the scene of dancing;
nor did I discourage other playful amusements which might occasionally be
more to the taste of the sailors, and were not unseasonable.
Within the tropics, lime juice and sugar were made to suffice as
antiscorbutics; on reaching a higher latitude, sour krout and vinegar
were substituted; the essence of malt was reserved for the passage to New
Holland, and for future occasions. On consulting with the surgeon, I had
thought it expedient to make some slight changes in the issuing of the
provisions. Oatmeal was boiled for breakfast four days in the week,
instead of three; and when rice was issued, after the expenditure of the
cheese, it was boiled on the other three days. Pease soup was prepared
for dinner four days in the week, as usual; and at other times, two
ounces of portable broth, in cakes, to each man, with such additions of
onions, pepper, etc. as the different messes possessed, made a
comfortable addition to their salt meat. And neither in this passage,
nor, I may add, in any subsequent part of the voyage, were the officers
or people restricted to any allowance of fresh water. They drank freely
at the scuttled cask, and took away, under the inspection of the officer
of the watch, all that was requisite for culinary purposes; and very
frequently two casks of water in the week were given for washing their
With these regulations, joined to a due enforcement of discipline, I had
the satisfaction to see my people orderly and full of zeal for the
service in which we were engaged; and in such a state of health, that no
delay at the Cape was required beyond the necessary refitment of the
ship, and I still hoped to save a good part of the summer season upon the
south coast of Terra Australis.
[CAPE OF GOOD HOPE. FALSE BAY]
The usual time for His Majesty's ships to leave False Bay and go round to
Table Bay, I found to be the latter end of September; but being then
unacquainted with the precise time, and knowing of the loss of the
Sceptre in Table Bay, on November 5, from a heavy gale at north-west, I
determined to go into False Bay; unless we should get previous
information that it had been quitted by the squadron. At noon, the
extremes of the land bore N. by W. 1/2 W. and E. 1/2 N. The Cape Point bore
north, three leagues; and our observed latitude being 34 deg. 32', showed the
Requisite Tables to be erroneous in the position of this point; but that
34 deg. 23', as assigned to it by captain King, was correct.*
[* See _Cook's third Voyage_, Vol. III. page 484.]
At one o'clock we hauled round the rocks which lie off the Cape Point,
and steered into False Bay. Near these rocks were two whales; and one or
more of what seamen call _thrashers_ were engaged in a furious combat
with them, at a less distance than half a mile from the ship. The sinewy
strength of the thrasher must be very great; for besides raising his tail
high out of the water to beat the adversary, he occasionally threw the
whole of his vast body several feet above the surface, apparently to fall
upon him with greater force. Their struggles covered the sea with foam
for many fathoms round.
At three o'clock we got sight of the squadron lying in Simon's Bay. It
consisted of His Majesty's ships Lancaster, Jupiter, Diomede, Imperieuse,
Hindoostan, Rattlesnake, and Euphrosyne, under the command of
vice-admiral sir Roger Curtis, Bart. The master of the Lancaster came on
board to pilot the ship to a proper berth, and I went on shore to wait
upon the vice-admiral. On showing my orders, and presenting an account of
the supplies and the work requisite to put the Investigator in the same
state as on leaving England, I found that the naval magazines could
furnish only some part, and that many articles, especially biscuit, were
not to be obtained; but with great consideration for the service on which
I was sent out, the commander in chief ordered every request to be
granted either in the articles specified, or by substitution; and a
thorough caulking, both within and without side of the ship, being the
work most essential to be done, a gang of caulkers, collected from the
squadron, was sent on board on the following morning.
SATURDAY 17 OCTOBER 1801
The water which is conducted in pipes to the wharf, for the convenience
of shipping, was said not to keep well at sea; and the master of the
Lancaster, from whom this information was obtained, recommended, as much
superior, that which drains through the sand, from the hills on the north
side of Simon's Bay. I went, accordingly, to make an examination; and
found that by sinking a cask in the sand, with the head out and the upper
hoops taken off, the water drained through the spaces between the staves,
sufficiently fast for our purpose. This plan was therefore adopted; and
the watering of the ship immediately commenced.
Having seen this, and some other duties set forward under the proper
officers, I accompanied Mr. Crosley, the astronomer, in search of a place
where the observatory and tents could be conveniently set up. The
situation chosen was near a small rill on the south side of the bay,
about three-hundred yards from the magazine; and the permission of the
military commandant being obtained, two tents, the observatory, and
astronomical instruments were landed in the afternoon, with a guard of
marines. The whole was placed under the charge of Mr. Flinders, the
second lieutenant, who was also to act as an assistant in making and
calculating the observations, for which he was qualified. The situation
of the tents was tolerably well sheltered from the south-eastern gales,
which begin to prevail at this season of the year; but the quantity of
sand put in motion by every breeze, was a great molestation, and proved
injurious to the instruments. Besides this inconvenience, there was
another attached to the situation which had not been foreseen. The road
from Simon's Town to a place called the Company's garden, led close past
the observatory; and this was the sole ride or walk in the neighbourhood,
which the inhabitants and the gentlemen belonging to the ships in the bay
could enjoy. From those of the first rank, who took their morning's ride,
to the sailor who staggered past on a Sunday, and even the slave with his
bundle of fire wood, all stopped at the observatory to see what was going
on. Ramsden's universal theodolite, set up for the purpose of observing
transits, excited its share of attention from the curious. Some wanted
information, some amusement, and all would have liked to see how the sun
appeared through the telescope.
By the end of October, our provisions and stores were received; the sails
had been examined and repaired on board the Lancaster, and were rebent;
and the caulkers having completed their work, the ship was fresh painted.
Being anxious to commence the investigation of the coasts of Terra
Australis, the stripping of the masts and reparation of the rigging were
deferred to King George's Sound, and no more was done at the ship than
necessity required; for I preferred passing the time necessary to a
complete re-equipment in a port where astronomical observations and
surveys could be at the same time usefully carried on, and the
naturalists employ themselves in a field almost unexplored, rather than
in a bay already well known, and where the surrounding country had been
so often traversed.
Mr. Crosley had been frequently unwell during the passage from Madeira;
and after trying the effect of a few days on shore, he decided to remain
at the Cape of Good Hope, and relinquish the expedition. The instruments
supplied by the Board of Longitude he agreed to leave in my care; after
having consulted with the commander in chief upon the subject, and
received his approbation. The loss of the astronomer was severely felt by
me, both from being deprived in the surveys of his more accurate
observations, and from being called upon to supply his place so far as
was in my power. The duties of commander joined to the occupation of
surveyor, left little time for other employment; but through an increase
of effort, and with the assistance of my officers, I hoped to carry on
the surveys and fulfil the most essential parts of the instructions from
the Board of Longitude, at the same time. Of these instructions, Mr.
Crosley permitted me to take a copy.
SUNDAY 1 NOVEMBER 1801
The rates of going with mean solar time of the four time keepers
committed to my charge, were deduced by Mr. Crosley from three days
observation of equal altitudes, with a sextant and quick-silver horizon,
between the 21st and 27th of October. These rates, which he left with me,
I extended to November 1, by equal altitudes taken on that day; and their
respective errors were deduced by allowing 1h 13' 40.47" to be the
longitude in time of Simon's Bay. *
[* In 1763, Mr. Mason determined the longitude of his observatory in Cape
Town, from the transit of Venus, to be 18 deg. 23' 7" east; and the
difference of longitude from thence to Simon's Bay, by the Dutch survey,
is 2' 00" east.]
Earnshaw's No. 543,
slower than mean Greenwich time at noon h ' " "
there Nov. 1, 0 14 35.33 and losing 5.33
No. 520, 34 16.62 15.84
Arnold's No. 176, 50 59.29 8.96
No. 82 -------- -----
No. 1736, watch, faster 21 20.03 17.27
The watch was intended to be taken up rivers, and to such places as the
ship did not go; and in order to gain some knowledge of its probable
performance, I wore it five days in the pocket. Its rate of losing during
that time, was from 11.59" to 8.79" per day; so that upon the average, it
lost 7" less in the pocket than when in a fixed situation; for the above
rate of 17.27" was what it kept in the box, during the last three days.
Arnold's No. 89, altered its rate on the last day, from 2.98" to
1' 18.68", without any apparent cause; no rate could therefore be fixed
for it, with any probability of its being kept. Of the excellent watch
No. 465 of Earnshaw, being Mr. Crosley's private property, we were
deprived at the same time with the astronomer; he also took with him the
reflecting circle, No. 74 of Troughton, both of which I considered to be
an addition to our loss.
So soon as the corresponding altitudes of Sunday afternoon were obtained,
I took on board the time keepers and instruments, with the tents and
observatory. The ship was then ready for sea; but the wind blew a gale
from the south-eastward, which continued until Tuesday [3 NOVEMBER 1801].
It then fell calm, and we unmoored; but before getting under way, the
same wind again set in, and obliged us to drop a second anchor.
Through the kind attention of sir Roger Curtis, the commander in chief,
the state of the ship and our provisions and stores were as complete as
when leaving Spithead. The ship's company had been regularly served with
fresh meat every day, beef and mutton alternately; vegetables were not to
be purchased, but we several times received small quantities, with
oranges and lemons, from the naval hospital in Cape Town; and a
proportion of these for a week, with a few days fresh meat, were carried
to sea. Two of my ship's company, whose dispositions required more
severity in reducing to good order than I wished to exercise in a service
of this nature, were exchanged by the vice-admiral; as also two others,
who from want of sufficient strength, were not proper for so long a
voyage. In lieu of these, I received four men of good character from the
flag ship, who made pressing application to go upon a voyage of
discovery. Mr. Nathaniel Bell, one of the young gentlemen of the quarter
deck, having expressed a wish to return to England, he was discharged;
and Mr. Denis Lacey, midshipman of the Lancaster, received in his place.
Simon's Bay is known to be a large and well-sheltered cove, in the
north-western part of the sound, called False Bay. Since the loss of the
Sceptre in Table Bay, it has been more frequented than formerly; and I
found it to be a prevailing sentiment, that were it not for the
advantages of Cape Town, Simon's Bay would, in every respect, be
preferable for the royal dockyard, and the equipment of His Majesty's
ships. It was remarked to me by an officer of discernment, captain of the
flag ship, that instances of vessels being driven from their anchors by
winds blowing into Simon's Bay, were exceedingly rare. He had observed
that the strain upon the cables with these winds, was much less than with
those of equal strength blowing off the land; and he accounted for it
from the water thrown into the bay by sea winds, rebounding from the
shore and forming what is called an under-tow, which tended to keep a
ship up to her anchors. This takes place in Simon's Bay, with the
south-east winds, but not in Table Bay with those from the north-west,
which blow into it; owing, in part, to the distance at which ships there
ride from the land, and apparently, also, from the under-tow passing out
on the eastern side of the bay, clear of the anchoring ground.
The Cape of Good Hope cannot now be supposed to furnish much of novelty
in the department of natural history, especially to transient visitors;
but it still continues to afford much amusement and instruction to
English botanists. It did so to our gentlemen, who were almost constantly
on shore upon the search; and their collections, intended for examination
on the next passage, were tolerably ample. They were sufficiently
orthodox to walk many miles for the purpose of botanising upon the
celebrated Table Mountain; for what disciple of Linnaeus could otherwise
conscientiously quit the Cape of Good Hope? In taking so early a
departure, though it were to proceed to the almost untrodden, and not
less ample field of botany, New Holland, I had to engage with the counter
wishes of my scientific associates; so much were they delighted to find
the richest treasures of the English green house, profusely scattered
over the sides and summits of these barren hills.
Departure from False Bay.
Remarks on the passage to Terra Australis.
Gravity of sea-water tried.
Cape Leeuwin, and the coast from thence to King George's Sound.
Arrival in the Sound.
Examination of the harbours.
Country, soil, and productions.
Native inhabitants: Language and anatomical measurement.
Astronomical and nautical observations.
[TOWARDS NEW HOLLAND]
WEDNESDAY 4 NOVEMBER 1801
At daybreak of November 4, a light breeze from the eastward enabled me to
quit Simon's Bay, after a stoppage of eighteen days. The high land of
Great Smit's Winkel afterwards becalmed the sails; and we were no further
advanced, at noon, than to have the Cape Point bearing south-west, at the
distance of two or three leagues. On receiving the breeze, which came
from the south-south-west, we stretched towards Cape Agulhas, veering
ship at eleven at night, on coming into 50 fathoms. This wind died away
in the morning, and remained calm till noon; the Cape Point then bore N.
W. 3/4 N., Cape False N. 3/4 E., and our latitude was 34 deg. 36'. Near this
situation, the bottom is a greenish mud, at the depth of 78 fathoms.
The report of the guns fired by the squadron in Simon's Bay, to
commemorate the escape from gunpowder treason, was distinctly heard at
one o'clock, when we were occupied in making sail to a fine breeze which
had sprung up from the south-westward. At six in the evening, it blew
fresh with cloudy weather; the extremes of the land bore from N. 20 deg. W to
W. 58 deg. E., and we took our departure for New Holland.
Lieutenant Flinders observed azimuths this evening from the binnacle with
two compasses; the ship's head was south (magnetic), and the variation
found to be 26 deg. 13' west; and in default of observations on shore, I
consider this to have been the true variation at the Cape of Good Hope in
During our run across the Agulhas Bank, I did not find any current
setting to the westward; but in the five days taken to reach the latitude
36 deg. 30' and longitude 33 deg. 38', [TUESDAY 10 NOVEMBER 1801] the ship was
set 59' to the north of the reckoning. The swell which followed after the
ship probably counteracted the effect of the usual westwardly current;
and indeed it must have done something more, if our log were correct,
since the longitude by time keepers was then 30' ahead of account.
I considered the parallel Of 37 deg. south, at this season of the year, to be
sufficiently distant from the verge of the south-east trade to insure a
continuance of western winds; and to be far enough to the north, to avoid
the gales incident to high latitudes. Having made this passage three
times before, I was satisfied of the impropriety of running in a high
southern latitude, particularly when the sun is in the other hemisphere,
and there is nothing else in view than to make a good passage; not only
from the winds there being often stronger than desired, but because they
will not blow so steadily from the westward. In the latitude of 42 deg., I
have experienced heavy gales from the north, and from the south, and even
from the eastward, in the months of June and July; allowances for lee way
were also frequent in that passage, and light winds or calms not
uncommon. The parallel of 42 deg. seems to be a very proper one, when the sun
is in his highest south declination, and from that time until the middle
of February; but in the opposite months of the year, I should prefer to
run down my easting two or three degrees even to the northward of what
was now chosen for the Investigator.
It may not be improper to anticipate upon the voyage so far as to state
what was the result of keeping in the parallel of 37 deg., in the month of
November. From the Cape of Good Hope to the island Amsterdam, the winds
were never so strong as to reduce the Investigator to close-reefed top
sails; and on the other hand, the calms amounted to no more than seven
hours in nineteen days. The average distance on the log board upon direct
courses, for we had no foul winds, was a hundred and forty miles per day;
and the Investigator was not a frigate, but a collier-built ship, and
deeply laden. In the following twelve days run, from Amsterdam to the
south-west cape of New Holland, the same winds attended us; and a hundred
and fifty eight miles per day was the average distance, without lee way
THURSDAY 12 NOVEMBER 1801
On the 12th, I took the opportunity of light winds to send down a bucket,
fitted with valves to bring up water from a depth; but having no
thermometer of a proper size to go into the bucket, I could only immerse
one after the water was brought up. In this imperfect way, the
temperature at 150 fathoms depth was found to be 63 deg.,1, differing very
little from that of the water at the surface, which was 63 deg.,8. In the
air, the thermometer stood at 63 deg.,6. The specific gravity of the water
brought up was afterwards tried at King George's Sound, and proved, at
the temperature of 69 deg., to be 1,026, taking that of the crystal-glass
bulb, with which the experiment was made, at 3,150; and the specific
gravity of the surface water, taken up at the same time, was exactly the
same. The latitude of our situation was 36 deg. 36' south, and longitude 38 deg.
23' east. The mean inclination of the dipping needle, placed upon the
cabin table, was 58 deg. 4' of the south end; and the variation, by mean of
azimuths on the preceding evening and amplitude this morning, taken on
the binnacle when the ships head was S. E. by E., magnetic, was 31 deg. 47';
but the true variation, or such as would have been obtained with the head
at north, or south, I consider to have been 29 deg. 22' west.
Throughout the passage to the island Amsterdam, we were accompanied by
some, or all of the oceanic birds usually found in these latitudes; but
not in the numbers I had been accustomed to see them further south. The
spouting of a whale was occasionally perceived, and became more frequent
on approaching the island; the number of small blue petrels was also
increased, and a few Cape hens then made their appearance.
TUESDAY 24 NOVEMBER 1801
At five in the evening of the 24th, the mean variation from three
compasses on the binnacle, was observed to be 23 deg. 7' west, with the
ship's head E. S. E., or 20 deg. 4' true. Our latitude was then 38 deg. 20'
south, longitude 76 deg. 26' east; and at eleven at night, having nearly
reached the longitude of Amsterdam, whose situation I wished to compare
with the time keepers, we hove to, in a parallel between it and the
island St. Paul. At five next morning [WEDNESDAY 25 NOVEMBER 1801], we
steered southward to make Amsterdam; but having reached its latitude, and
no land being visible, our eastwardly course was resumed. The weather was
thick, so that objects could not be distinguished beyond five or six
miles; and at noon the ship was found to have been set 23' of longitude
to the east of what the log gave. From these joint causes it must have
been that Amsterdam was not perceived, if its situation of 38 deg. 43' south
and 77 deg. 40' east, as made in His Majesty's ship Providence, in 1792, were
In passages like this, when fortunately made, it is seldom that any
circumstance occurs, of sufficient interest to be related. Our
employments were to clean, dry, and air the ship below; and the seamen's
clothes and bedding, with the sails, upon deck. These, with the exercise
of the great guns and small arms, were our principal employments in fine
weather; and when otherwise, we were wet and uncomfortable, and could do
little. It was a great satisfaction that frequent pumping of the ship was
not now required, the greatest quantity of water admitted during this
passage being less than two inches an hour. The antiseptics issued were
sour krout and vinegar, to the extent of the applications for them; and
at half an hour before noon every day, a pint of strong wort, made by
pouring boiling water upon the essence of malt, was given to each man. It
was drunk upon deck; and with half a biscuit, made a luncheon for both
officers and people. The allowance of grog was never issued until half an
hour after the dinner time.
[SOUTH COAST. CAPE LEEUWIN.]
SUNDAY 6 DECEMBER 1801
On the 6th of December, our latitude was 35 deg. 10' and longitude 114 deg. 19';
which placed us about S. W. 1/2 S. twenty-two leagues from the westernmost
isles lying off the south-west cape of New Holland, according to their
position by the French rear-admiral D'Entrecasteaux; a traced copy of
whose general chart of this coast had been furnished to me from the
hydrographical office at the Admiralty. There were no names applied in
this copy; but in the charts of the French voyage, lately published,
these islets are called _Iles St. Alouarn_.
Notwithstanding the nearness of the land there were no signs of such
proximity: no discolouring in the water, no sea weed, no new birds, and
but few of the species before seen. The current had, indeed, somewhat
changed; for while, during the three preceding days, it had set N. 12 deg. W.
twenty-seven miles per day, on an average, it was found this day to have
run N. 47 deg. E. twenty-two miles. This change, however, could scarcely be
thought a sign of land, since equal, or greater differences had occurred
during the passage, and might arise, in part, from errors in the log.
(Atlas Plate II.)
At two in the afternoon, the wind being north-westward, we hauled up to
make the south-western point of Leeuwin's Land, and bent the cables. At
seven, land was seen right ahead, bearing N. 14 deg. E., at the supposed
distance of ten leagues; and on sounding there was 85 fathoms, coral
sand. We stood for it until eleven at night, and then veered to the
south-west, in 65 fathoms, same bottom.
The examination of Nuyts' and of Leeuwin's Lands was not prescribed in my
instructions to be made at this time; but the difference of sailing along
the coast at a distance, or in keeping near it and making a running
survey, was likely to be so little that I judged it advisable to do all
that circumstances would allow whilst the opportunity offered; and I had
the pleasure to find this slight deviation approved at the Admiralty.
MONDAY 7 DECEMBER 1801
At two in the morning we had 80 fathoms, and veered towards the land. It
was seen from the mast head at five; and the highest part, the same which
had been set in the evening, bore N. 12 deg. W. This is the largest of the
before-mentioned Isles of St. Alouarn; but at half past seven we saw
hills extending from behind, and, to all appearance, joining it to the
main land. This supposed isle is, therefore, what I denominate CAPE
LEEUWIN, as being the south-western and most projecting part of Leeuwin's
Land. The highest hill lies nearly in latitude 34 deg. 19' south, and
longitude 115 deg. 6' east; it is a sloping piece of land of about six
hundred feet in elevation, and appeared to be rocky, with a slight
covering of trees and shrubs; but this cape will be best known from Mr.
Westall's sketch. (Atlas Plate XVII. View I.). A piece of lower land was
seen to the north-west, probably a continuation of the coast, and there
are some rocky islets scattered on the south side of the cape. The
largest of these islets, lying about four miles off, was passed before
eight o'clock, at the distance of seven or eight miles, and seen to be
surrounded with high and extensive breakers.
On the east side of Cape Leeuwin the land falls back north-eastward three
or four leagues, and afterwards curves to the south-east, forming a large
bight which appeared to be wholly exposed to the southern winds. The
coast-line round the upper part of this bight was not distinguishable;
but the hills at the back showed more of bare sand than of vegetable
covering. At ten o'clock a low, black projection, forming the eastern
point of the bight, bore east three miles; and the depth was 15 fathoms
upon a coarse sandy bottom. We then veered round to the south-eastward,
following the direction of the coast, with the wind at west-south-west
and weather somewhat squally; and at noon, our situation and principal
bearings were as follow:
Latitude observed, 34 deg. 32 2/3' S.
Longitude by time keepers, 115 30 E.
C. Leeuwin, furthest visible part, N. 55 W.
The low, black point, N. 4 W.
Furthest extreme of the coast ahead, S. 53 E.
The shore abreast was seven or eight miles distant; and behind it ran a
continuation of the same ridge of sandy hillocks which surrounds the
bight, and it extended to the southern extreme. Over this ridge were
perceived, here and there, the tops of some higher and less sandy hills,
standing a few miles inland; but the general aspect of the country was
that of great sterility; nor was there, as yet, any appearance of its
Soon after four we passed the noon's extreme at the distance of four
miles. It is a steep, rocky cape, named in the French chart, Point
D'Entrecasteaux; and is one of the most remarkable projections of this
coast. I make its latitude, from the bearings, to be 34 deg. 52' south, and
longitude by time keepers 116 deg. 1' east. A low rock lies two or three
miles to the east-south-east, from the point, and a patch of breakers
nearly the same distance from the south; and soon after passing the
point, two other rocks, white and rather high, were seen lying from it
five leagues to the south-east. At a quarter past seven, when the night
The two white rocks bore N. 20 deg. E.
Furthest extrem of the land, like a steep head, N. 71 deg. E.
TUESDAY 8 DECEMBER 1801
The wind was then at south-west, and we stretched onward until one in the
morning, before tacking to the north-west for the land. At daylight the
ship was found to have been carried to the eastward, and neither Point
D'Entrecasteaux nor the two white rocks were in sight; but in the N. 19 deg.
E., about eight miles, was a head not far from the extreme set in the
evening. It afterwards proved to be a smooth, steep rock, lying one mile
from the main; and is the land first made upon this coast by captain
Vancouver, who called it Cape Chatham. Its latitude is very nearly 35 deg. 3'
south, longitude 116 deg. 29' east, and it was sketched by Mr. Westall.
(Atlas Plate XVII. View 2.)
Whilst stretching in for the shore, with the ship's head
north-west-by-north (magnetic) I took azimuths with two compasses on the
binnacle; after which they were immediately placed on a stand near the
taffrel and other azimuths taken. The variation resulting from the
observations on the binacle was 5 deg. 59' west, and from those near the
taffrel 8 deg. 24' west; affording another instance of the effect produced by
changing the place of the compass. In 1803, and at twenty leagues to the
west of Cape Leeuwin, we had 10 deg. 4' variation on the binnacle, with the
head south-east; from which, and the above 5 deg. 59', the true variation off
the cape, or such as would be obtained with the ship's head at north or
south, should be 7 deg. 48' west.*
[* The mode by which these, and other observations made with the compass
on the binnacle, are reduced to what is conceived to be the true
variation, is explained in the Appendix No. II, to the second volume.]
At seven o'clock we got sight of the two white rocks, which enabled me to
take up the survey of the preceding evening; and we then bore away along
the coast at the distance of four or five miles, with a pleasant breeze
and fine weather.
Some parts of the shore between Point D'Entrecasteaux and Cape Chatham
were not distinctly seen. That which is nearest to the cape lies in the
line of N. 38 deg. W. from its outer part, and presents an intermixture of
steep cliffs and small sandy beaches, with a back land moderately high,
and better covered with wood than that before described. On the east side
of Cape Chatham the shore falls back to the northward, and makes a bight
in which is a small reef of rocks. It then projects in a cliffy head,
which lies S. 75 deg. E. seven miles from the cape, and is called Point Nuyts
in the French chart; upon the supposition, probably, that this was the
first land seen by Nuyts in 1627. Beyond this point the coast trends very
nearly east; but forms several projections, some of which are steep and
others low; and between them are sandy bights where small vessels might
obtain shelter from all northern winds. The hills lying at the back of
the shore seemed to be barren, though trees grew thickly on their eastern
sides; they are not high, but it was rare to perceive any thing of the
interior country above them.
At noon the nearest parts of the coast were a steep and a more eastern
low point, both distant about four miles; and from the bight between them
was rising the first smoke seen upon this coast. Our situation at this
time, and the principal bearings taken, were as under;
Latitude, observed to the north and south, 85 deg. 7' 5".
Longitude by time keepers, 116 50.
Point Nuyts, with Cape Chatham behind, N. 75 W.
Steep point, near the smoke, N. 15 W.
Furthest visible extreme ahead, N. 84 E.
Soon after two o'clock we passed at the distance of five miles from a
steep point which has a broad rock lying near it. This point, being
unnamed and somewhat remarkable, I call _Point Hillier_; it lies in 35 deg.
4' south and 117 deg. 9' east. The coast extends from thence nearly
east-by-south, without any considerable projection except at the furthest
extreme then visible; and on coming up with it, at half-past five, it
proved to be the Cape Howe of Vancouver. There is another Cape Howe upon
this same coast, named by Captain Cook, which makes it necessary to
distinguish this by a descriptive adjunct, and I shall therefore call it
_West_ Cape Howe. The situation of this projecting cliffy cape is in 35 deg.
81/2' south and 117 deg. 40' east. Beyond it the land trends north-by-east,
four miles, into a sandy bight, in which there is a small islet; and
further along the shore, which then stretches eastward and again becomes
cliffy, there are two others. When the cape bore N. 10 deg. W. four miles,
the highest of the Eclipse Isles was in sight, bearing E. 4 deg. N.; but "the
small detached islet," which Captain Vancouver says (Vol. I p. 32) "lies
from Cape Howe S. 68 deg. E., three leagues," could not be seen; though it
should have lain nearly in our track.*
[* This islet, seen by Captain Vancouver in the evening, must have been
the highest of the Eclipse Isles; but from the apparent difference of its
situation, was thought not to be the same on the following morning. The
change in the variation of the compass, which had taken place on altering
the direction of the ship's head, seems to have been the cause of this
[SOUTH COAST. KING GEORGE'S SOUND.]
(Atlas Plate XVII. View 3.)
The wind blew fresh at this time, and a current of more than one mile an
hour ran with us, so that, by carrying all sail, I hoped to get sight of
King George's Sound before dark. At seven we passed close on the south
side of the Eclipse Isles; but Bald Head at the entrance of the sound had
so different an appearance from what I had been led to expect, being a
slope in this point of view, that the steep east end of Break-sea Island
was at first taken for it. The error was fortunately perceived in time;
and at eight o'clock we hauled up round the head, with the wind at west,
and made a stretch into the sound. It was then dark; but the night being
fine, I did not hesitate to work up by the guidance of captain
Vancouver's chart; and having reached nearly into a line between Seal
Island and the first beach round Bald Head, we anchored at eleven o'clock
in 8 fathoms, sandy bottom.
WEDNESDAY 9 DECEMBER 1801
King George's Sound had been chosen as the proper place in which to
prepare ourselves for the examination of the south coast of Terra
Australis, and I sought to make the best use of the advantages it might
furnish. The first essential requisite was a place of secure shelter,
where the masts could be stripped, the rigging and sails put into order,
and communication had with the shore without interruption from the
elements; but this, from captain Vancouver's chart and description, I did
not expect the outer sound to afford. The facility of quitting
Princess-Royal Harbour, with such a wind as would be favourable for
prosecuting the investigation of the coast, induced me so far to prefer
it to Oyster Harbour as to make it the first object of examination; and
in the morning, after we had sounded round the ship and found her so
placed as to require no immediate movement, I went in a boat for the
purpose, accompanied by the master and landscape painter; the naturalist
and some other gentlemen landing at the same time, to botanise in the
vicinity of Bald Head.
(Atlas Plate VII. View 4.)
Seal Island, where we stopped in passing, is a mass of granite, which is
accessible only at its western end, as represented in Mr. Westall's
sketch. After killing a few seals upon the shore, we ascended the hill to
search for the bottle and parchment left by captain Vancouver in 1791;*
but could find no vestiges either of it or of the staff or pile of
stones; and since there was no appearance of the natives having crossed
over from the main, I was led to suspect that a second ship had been here
[* See his Voyage, Vol. I. Page 40]
At Point Possession, on the south side of the entrance to Princess-Royal
Harbour, we had a good view of that extensive piece of water. Wood seemed
not to be abundant near the shores; and therefore a projection two or
three miles to the south-west, which was covered with trees, first
attracted my notice. The depth of water in going to it was, however, too
little for the ship; nor was there any fresh stream in the neighbourhood.
Some person, but not captain Vancouver, had nevertheless been cutting
wood there; for several trees had been felled with axe and saw. Not far
from thence stood a number of bark sheds, like the huts of the natives
who live in the forests behind Port Jackson, and forming what might be
called a small village; but it had been long deserted. Going across from
the woody point to the north side of the harbour, we there found 3
fathoms within less than half a mile of the shore; and an increasing
depth from thence out to the entrance. The soundings in the entrance were
from 5 to 7 fathoms; but the channel was too narrow to admit of getting
in without a leading wind and much caution.
THURSDAY 10 DECEMBER 1801
On Thursday morning the master was sent to examine the north side of the
harbour for water and wood; and we got the ship under way to beat up to
the entrance, the wind blowing still from the westward. At eleven o'clock
the anchor was dropped in 6 fathoms half a mile from Point Possession;
and as I was doubtful of the master's success, I went in a boat,
accompanied by lieutenant Flinders, to examine Oyster Harbour. We carried
7 and 6 fathoms from the ship towards the entrance until Michaelmas and
Break-sea Islands were closing on with each other; after which the depth
diminished to 5, 4, 3, and 23/4 fathoms. On hauling westward we got into
six feet; but steering the other way, it deepened to seventeen, the east
side of the opening behind then in a line with the middle of some high,
flat-topped land, at the back of the harbour. Keeping in that direction,
we carried 3, 4, and 5 fathoms; and had 6 in the narrowest part of the
entrance. Within side the deep water turned on the starboard hand, but in
many parts there was not more than 3 fathoms.
As I proposed to make a new survey of King George's Sound, we landed to
take a set of angles upon the small central island; the same which
captain Vancouver describes (Vol. I. page 35), as covered with luxuriant
grass and other vegetables, and where he planted vine cuttings,
water-cresses, and the seeds of various fruits. There were no remains of
these valuable gifts, although nothing indicated the island to have been
visited since his time; and, to our disappointment, the vegetation upon
it now consisted of tufts of wiry grass and a few stunted shrubs,
supported by a thin layer of sandy soil, which was every where perforated
From the island we rowed in various directions, sounding the harbour; but
the boat could seldom approach the shore within a cable's length, or the
eighth part of a mile. On the south-west side there were two small
streams, in one of which the water was fresh, though high-coloured.
Returning to the entrance, we landed on the east side, and found a spot
of ground six or eight feet square, dug up and trimmed like a garden; and
upon it was lying a piece of sheet copper, bearing this inscription:
"August 27, 1800. Chr. Dixson--ship Elligood"; which solved the
difficulty of the felled trees and the disappearance of captain
Vancouver's bottle. On digging in this place I found that fresh water of
a high colour, but well tasted, might be obtained; wood was abundant, and
the depth of the entrance admitted of the ship being made fast to the
shore; so that this was a situation adapted to our purpose of refitment,
provided the ship could be got over the bar. This point I was desirous to
ascertain in my way on board, but the strength of the wind prevented it.
The report of the master from Princess-Royal Harbour was, that water
could be obtained at the north side by digging near the shore, at the
foot of the highest hill; but that there was no wood at a convenient
distance. I therefore sent him, next morning [FRIDAY 11 DECEMBER 1801],
to land the naturalists at the entrance of Oyster Harbour, and then to
sound the bar; and not being satisfied with his report, that there was
not so much as fourteen feet, which the ship drew when captain Vancouver
had marked seventeen, I went to the nearest head, with a theodolite and
signal flags, to direct his movements. No more, however, than _thirteen_
feet could now be found upon the shallowest part of the bar; and,
consequently, the idea of refitting in Oyster Harbour was abandoned. The
boat which brought off Mr. Brown and his party in the evening collected a
good quantity of oysters, and of the large fan muscles, from the shoals.
SATURDAY 12 DECEMBER 1801
The wind continuing foul for going into Princess-Royal Harbour, a wooding
party was sent next morning to a bight round the north side of the
entrance, where the wood was found to split better than at some other
places. Another party went to the same place with the launch, to haul the
seine, but the wind coming round to the eastward, the boat was recalled
and a kedge anchor and hawser put into it. We then weighed and ran into
the harbour under the top-sails; and at eleven anchored in seventeen feet
upon muddy ground, at one-third of a mile from the shore under the
highest hill. When the ship was moored Michaelmas Island was on with the
north, and Break-sea Island with the south point of the entrance, and the
highest hill bore N.E. by N. by compass. The least depth of water we had
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