Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Early Australian Voyages by John Pinkerton

Part 3 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

These had proas made of one tree, well dug, with outriggers on one
side; they were but small, yet well shaped. We endeavoured to
anchor, but found no ground within a mile of the shore. We kept
close along the north side, still sounding till we came to the
north-east end, but found no ground, the canoes still accompanying
us, and the bays were covered with men going along as we sailed.
Many of them strove to swim off to us, but we left them astern.
Being at the north-east point, we found a strong current setting to
the north-west, so that though we had steered to keep under the high
island, yet we were driven towards the flat one. At this time three
of the natives came on board. I gave each of them a knife, a
looking-glass, and a string of beads. I showed them pumpkins and
cocoa-nut shells, and made signs to them to bring some aboard, and
had presently three cocoa-nuts out of one of the canoes. I showed
them nutmegs, and by their signs I guessed they had some on the
island. I also showed them some gold dust, which they seemed to
know, and called out "Manneel, Manneel," and pointed towards the
land. A while after these men were gone, two or three canoes came
from the flat island, and by signs invited us to their island, at
which the others seemed displeased, and used very menacing gestures
and, I believe, speeches to each other. Night coming on, we stood
off to sea, and having but little wind all night, were driven away
to the north-west. We saw many great fires on the flat island. The
last men that came off to us were all black as those we had seen
before, with frizzled hair. They were very tall, lusty, well-shaped
men. They wear great things in their noses, and paint as the
others, but not much. They make the same signs of friendship, and
their language seems to be one; but the others had proas, and these
canoes. On the sides of some of these we saw the figures of several
fish neatly cut, and these last were not so shy as the others.

Steering away from Cave's Island south-south-east, we found a strong
current against us, which set only in some places in streams, and in
them we saw many trees and logs of wood, which drove by us. We had
but little wood aboard; wherefore I hoisted out the pinnace, and
sent her to take up some of this drift-wood. In a little time she
came aboard with a great tree in tow, which we could hardly hoist in
with all our tackles. We cut up the tree and split it for firewood.
It was much worm-eaten, and had in it some live worms above an inch
long, and about the bigness of a goose-quill, and having their heads
crusted over with a thin shell.

After this we passed by an island, called by the Dutch St. John's
Island, leaving it to the north of us. It is about nine or ten
leagues round, and very well adorned with lofty trees. We saw many
plantations on the sides of the hills, and abundance of cocoa-nut
trees about them, as also thick groves on the bays by the seaside.
As we came near it three canoes came off to us, but would not come
aboard. They were such as we had seen about the other islands.
They spoke the same language, and made the same signs of peace, and
their canoes were such as at Cave's Island.

We stood along by St. John's Island till we came almost to the
south-east point, and then, seeing no more islands to the eastward
of us, nor any likelihood of anchoring under this, I steered away
for the main of New Guinea, we being now, as I supposed, to the east
of it, on this north side. My design of seeing these islands as I
passed along was to get wood and water, but could find no anchor
ground, and therefore could not do as I purposed; besides, these
islands are all so populous, that I dared not send my boat ashore,
unless I could have anchored pretty nigh; wherefore I rather chose
to prosecute my design on the main, the season of the year being now
at hand, for I judged the westerly winds were nigh spent.

On the 8th of March we saw some smoke on the main, being distant
from it four or five leagues. It is very high, woody land, with
some spots of savannah. About ten in the morning six or seven
canoes came off to us. Most of them had no more than one man in
them. They were all black, with short curled hair, having the same
ornaments in their noses, and their heads so shaved and painted, and
speaking the same words as the inhabitants of Cave's Island before

There was a headland to the southward of us, beyond which, seeing no
land, I supposed that from thence the land trends away more
westerly. This headland lies in the latitude of 5 degrees 2 minutes
south, and meridian distance from Cape Mabo 1,290 miles. In the
night we lay by, for fear of overshooting this headland, between
which and Cape St. Manes the land is high, mountainous and woody,
having many points of land shooting out into the sea, which make so
many fine bays; the coast lies north-north-east and south-south-

The 9th, in the morning a huge black man came off to us in a canoe,
but would not come aboard. He made the same signs of friendship to
us as the rest we had met with; yet seemed to differ in his
language, not using any of those words which the others did. We saw
neither smoke nor plantations near this headland. We found here
variation 1 degree east.

In the afternoon, as we plied near the shore, three canoes came off
to us; one had four men in her, the others two apiece. That with
the four men came pretty nigh us, and showed us a cocoa-nut and
water in a bamboo, making signs that there was enough ashore where
they lived; they pointed to the place where they would have us go,
and so went away. We saw a small round pretty high island about a
league to the north of this headland, within which there was a large
deep bay, whither the canoes went; and we strove to get thither
before night, but could not; wherefore we stood off, and saw land to
the westward of this headland, bearing west-by-south-half-south
distance about ten leagues, and, as we thought, still more land
bearing south-west-by-south, distance twelve or fourteen leagues,
but being clouded, it disappeared, and we thought we had been
deceived. Before night we opened the headland fair, and I named it
Cape St. George. The land from hence trends away west-north-west
about ten leagues, which is as far as we could see it; and the land
that we saw to the westward of it in the evening, which bore west-
by-south-half-south, was another point about ten leagues from Cape
St. George; between which there runs in a deep bay for twenty
leagues or more. We saw some high land in spots like islands, down
in that bay at a great distance; but whether they are islands, or
the main closing there we know not. The next morning we saw other
land to the south-east of the westernmost point, which till then was
clouded; it was very high land, and the same that we saw the day
before, that disappeared in a cloud. This Cape St. George lies in
the latitude of 5 degrees 5 minutes south; and meridian distance
from Cape Mabo 1,290 miles. The island off this cape I called St.
George's Isle; and the bay between it and the west point I named St.
George's Bay. [Note:- No Dutch drafts go so far as this cape by ten
leagues.] On the 10th, in the evening, we got within a league of
the westernmost land seen, which is pretty high and very woody, but
no appearance of anchoring. I stood off again, designing, if
possible, to ply to and fro in this bay till I found a conveniency
to wood and water. We saw no more plantations nor cocoa-nut trees;
yet in the night we discerned a small fire right against us. The
next morning we saw a burning mountain in the country. It was
round, high, and peaked at top, as most volcanoes are, and sent
forth a great quantity of smoke. We took up a log of driftwood, and
split it for firing; in which we found some small fish.

The day after we passed by the south-west cape of this bay, leaving
it to the north of us. When we were abreast of it I called my
officers together, and named it Cape Orford, in honour of my noble
patron, drinking his Lordship's health. This cape bears from Cape
St. George south-west about eighteen leagues. Between them there is
a bay about twenty-five leagues deep, having pretty high land all
round it, especially near the capes, though they themselves are not
high. Cape Orford lies in the latitude of 5 degrees 24 minutes
south, by my observation; and meridian distance from Cape St.
George, forty-four miles west. The land trends from this cape
north-west by west into the bay, and on the other side south-west
per compass, which is south-west 9 degrees west, allowing the
variation, which is here 9 degrees east. The land on each side of
the cape is more savannah than woodland, and is highest on the
north-west side. The cape itself is a bluff-point, of an
indifferent height, with a flat tableland at top. When we were to
the south-west of the cape, it appeared to be a low point shooting
out, which you cannot see when abreast of it. This morning we
struck a log of driftwood with our turtle-irons, hoisted it in, and
split it for firewood. Afterwards we struck another, but could not
get it in. There were many fish about it.

We steered along south-west as the land lies, keeping about six
leagues off the shore; and, being desirous to cut wood and fill
water, if I saw any conveniency, I lay by in the night, because I
would not miss any place proper for those ends, for fear of wanting
such necessaries as we could not live without. This coast is high
and mountainous, and not so thick with trees as that on the other
side of Cape Orford.

On the 14th, seeing a pretty deep bay ahead, and some islands where
I thought we might ride secure, we ran in towards the shore and saw
some smoke. At ten o'clock we saw a point which shot out pretty
well into the sea, with a bay within it, which promised fair for
water; and we stood in with a moderate gale. Being got into the bay
within the point, we saw many cocoa-nut-trees, plantations, and
houses. When I came within four or five miles of the shore, six
small boats came off to view us, with about forty men in them all.
Perceiving that they only came to view us, and would not come
aboard, I made signs and waved to them to go ashore; but they did
not or would not understand me; therefore I whistled a shot over
their heads out of my fowling-piece, and then they pulled away for
the shore as hard as they could. These were no sooner ashore, than
we saw three boats coming from the islands to leeward of us, and
they soon came within call, for we lay becalmed. One of the boats
had about forty men in her, and was a large, well-built boat; the
other two were but small. Not long after, I saw another boat coming
out of the bay where I intended to go; she likewise was a large
boat, with a high head and stern painted, and full of men. This I
thought came off to fight us, as it is probable they all did;
therefore I fired another small shot over the great boat that was
nigh us, which made them leave their babbling and take to their
paddles. We still lay becalmed; and therefore they, rowing wide of
us, directed their course towards the other great boat that was
coming off. When they were pretty near each other I caused the
gunner to fire a gun between them, which he did very dexterously; it
was loaded with round and partridge shot; the last dropped in the
water somewhat short of them, but the round shot went between both
boats, and grazed about one hundred yards beyond them. This so
affrighted them that they both rowed away for the shore as fast as
they could, without coming near each other; and the little boats
made the best of their way after them. And now, having a gentle
breeze at south-south-east, we bore into the bay after them. When
we came by the point, I saw a great number of men peeping from under
the rocks: I ordered a shot to be fired close by, to scare them.
The shot grazed between us and the point, and, mounting again, flew
over the point, and grazed a second time just by them. We were
obliged to sail along close by the bays; and, seeing multitudes
sitting under the trees, I ordered a third gun to be fired among the
cocoa-nut-trees to scare them; for my business being to wood and
water, I thought it necessary to strike some terror into the
inhabitants, who were very numerous, and (by what I saw now, and had
formerly experienced) treacherous. After this I sent my boat to
sound; they had first forty, then thirty, and at last twenty fathom
water. We followed the boat, and came to anchor about a quarter of
a mile from the shore, in twenty-six fathom water, fine black sand
and ooze. We rode right against the mouth of a small river, where I
hoped to find fresh water. Some of the natives standing on a small
point at the river's mouth, I sent a small shot over their heads to
frighten them, which it did effectually. In the afternoon I sent my
boat ashore to the natives who stood upon the point by the river's
mouth with a present of cocoa-nuts; when the boat was come near the
shore, they came running into the water, and put their nuts into the
boat. Then I made a signal for the boat to come aboard, and sent
both it and the yawl into the river to look for fresh water,
ordering the pinnace to lie near the river's mouth, while the yawl
went up to search. In an hour's time they returned aboard with some
barrecoes full fresh of water; which they had taken up about half a
mile up the river. After which I sent them again with casks,
ordering one of them to fill water, and the other to watch the
motions of the natives, lest they should make any opposition. But
they did not, and so the boats returned a little before sunset with
a tun and a half of water; and the next day by noon brought aboard
about six tuns of water.

I sent ashore commodities to purchase hogs, &c. being informed that
the natives have plenty of them, as also of yams and other good
roots; but my men returned without getting anything that I sent them
for, the natives being unwilling to trade with us. Yet they admired
our hatchets and axes, but would part with nothing but cocoa-nuts,
which they used to climb the trees for; and so soon as they gave
them our men, they beckoned to them to be gone, for they were much
afraid of us.

The 18th I sent both boats again for water, and before noon they had
filled all my casks. In the afternoon I sent them both to cut wood;
but seeing about forty natives standing on the bay at a small
distance from our men, I made a signal for them to come aboard
again, which they did, and brought me word that the men which we saw
on the bay were passing that way, but were afraid to come nigh them.
At four o'clock I sent both the boats again for more wood, and they
returned in the evening. Then I called my officers to consult
whether it were convenient to stay here longer, and endeavour a
better acquaintance with these people, or go to sea. My design of
tarrying here longer was, if possible, to get some hogs, goats,
yams, or other roots, as also to get some knowledge of the country
and its product. My officers unanimously gave their opinions for
staying longer here. So the next day I sent both boats ashore
again, to fish and to cut more wood. While they were ashore about
thirty or forty men and women passed by them; they were a little
afraid of our people at first, but upon their making signs of
friendship, they passed by quietly, the men finely bedecked with
feathers of divers colours about their heads, and lances in their
hands; the women had no ornament about them, nor anything to cover
their nakedness but a bunch of small green boughs before and behind,
stuck under a string which came round their waists. They carried
large baskets on their heads, full of yams. And this I have
observed amongst all the wild natives I have known, that they make
their women carry the burdens while the men walk before, without any
other load than their arms and ornaments. At noon our men came
aboard with the wood they had cut, and had caught but six fishes at
four or five hauls of the seine, though we saw abundance of fish
leaping in the bay all the day long.

In the afternoon I sent the boats ashore for more wood; and some of
our men went to the natives' houses, and found they were now more
shy than they used to be, had taken down all the cocoa-nuts from the
trees, and driven away their hogs. Our people made signs to them to
know what was become of their hogs, &e. The natives pointing to
some houses in the bottom of the bay, and imitating the noise of
those creatures, seemed to intimate that there were both hogs and
goats of several sizes, which they expressed by holding their hands
abroad at several distances from the ground.

At night our boats came aboard with wood, and the next morning I
went myself with both boats up the river to the watering-place,
carrying with me all such trifles and iron-work as I thought most
proper to induce them to a commerce with us; but I found them very
shy and roguish. I saw but two men and a boy. One of the men, by
some signs, was persuaded to come to the boat's side, where I was;
to him I gave a knife, a string of beads, and a glass bottle. The
fellow called out, "Cocos, cocos," pointing to a village hard by,
and signified to us that he would go for some; but he never returned
to us: and thus they had frequently of late served our men. I took
eight or nine men with me, and marched to their houses, which I
found very mean, and their doors made fast with withies.

I visited three of their villages, and, finding all the houses thus
abandoned by the inhabitants, who carried with them all their hogs,
&c., I brought out of their houses some small fishing-nets in
recompense for those things they had received of us. As we were
coming away we saw two of the natives; I showed them the things that
we carried with us, and called to them, "Cocos, cocos," to let them
know that I took these things because they had not made good what
they had promised by their signs, and by their calling out "Cocos."
While I was thus employed the men in the yawl filled two hogsheads
of water, and all the barrecoes. About one in the afternoon I came
aboard, and found all my officers and men very importunate to go to
that bay where the hogs were said to be. I was loth to yield to it,
fearing they would deal too roughly with the natives. By two
o'clock in the afternoon many black clouds gathered over the land,
which I thought would deter them from their enterprise; but they
solicited me the more to let them go. At last I consented, sending
those commodities I had ashore with me in the morning, and giving
them a strict charge to deal by fair means, and to act cautiously
for their own security. The bay I sent them to was about two miles
from the ship. As soon as they were gone, I got all things ready,
that, if I saw occasion, I might assist them with my great guns.
When they came to land, the natives in great companies stood to
resist them, shaking their lances, and threatening them, and some
were so daring as to wade into the sea, holding a target in one hand
and a lance in the other. Our men held up to them such commodities
as I had sent, and made signs of friendship, but to no purpose, for
the natives waved them off. Seeing, therefore, they could not be
prevailed upon to a friendly commerce, my men, being resolved to
have some provision among them, fired some muskets to scare them
away, which had the desired effect upon all but two or three, who
stood still in a menacing posture, till the boldest dropped his
target and ran away. They supposed he was shot in the arm; he and
some others felt the smart of our bullets, but none were killed, our
design being rather to frighten than to kill them. Our men landed,
and found abundance of tame hogs running among the houses. They
shot down nine, which they brought away, besides many that ran away
wounded. They had but little time, for in less than an hour after
they went from the ship it began to rain; wherefore they got what
they could into the boats, for I had charged them to come away if it
rained. By the time the boat was aboard and the hogs taken in it
cleared up, and my men desired to make another trip thither before
night; this was about five in the evening, and I consented, giving
them orders to repair on board before night. In the close of the
evening they returned accordingly, with eight hogs more, and a
little live pig; and by this time the other hogs were jerked and
salted. These that came last we only dressed and corned till
morning, and then sent both boats ashore for more refreshments
either of hogs or roots; but in the night the natives had conveyed
away their provisions of all sorts. Many of them were now about the
houses, and none offered to resist our boats landing, but, on the
contrary, were so amicable, that one man brought ten or twelve
cocoa-nuts, left them on the shore after he had shown them to our
men, and went out of sight. Our people, finding nothing but nets
and images, brought some of them away, which two of my men brought
aboard in a small canoe, and presently after my boats came off. I
ordered the boatswain to take care of the nets till we came at some
place where they might be disposed of for some refreshment for the
use of all the company. The images I took into my own custody.

In the afternoon I sent the canoe to the place from whence she had
been brought, and in her two axes, two hatchets (one of them
helved), six knives, six looking-glasses, a large bunch of beads,
and four glass bottles. Our men drew the canoe ashore, placed the
things to the best advantage in her, and came off in the pinnace
which I sent to guard them; and now, being well-stocked with wood
and all my water-casks full, I resolved to sail the next morning.
All the time of our stay here we had very fair weather, only
sometimes in the afternoon we had a shower of rain, which lasted not
above an hour at most; also some thunder and lightning, with very
little wind; we had sea and land breezes, the former between the
south-south-east, and the latter from north-east to north-west.

This place I named Port Montague in honour of my noble patron: it
lies in the latitude of 6 degrees 10 minutes south, and meridian
distance from Cape St. George 151 miles west. The country
hereabouts is mountainous and woody, full of rich valleys and
pleasant fresh-water brooks. The mould in the valleys is deep and
yellowish, that on the sides of the hill of a very brown colour, and
not very deep, but rocky underneath, yet excellent planting land.
The trees in general are neither very straight, thick, nor tall, yet
appear green and pleasant enough; some of them bore flowers, some
berries, and others big fruits, but all unknown to any of us; cocoa-
nut trees thrive very well here, as well on the bays by the sea-
side, as more remote among the plantations; the nuts are of an
indifferent size, the milk and kernel very thick and pleasant. Here
is ginger, yams, and other very good roots for the pot, that our men
saw and tasted; what other fruits or roots the country affords I
know not. Here are hogs and dogs; other land animals we saw none.
The fowls we saw and knew were pigeons, parrots, cockatoos, and
crows like those in England; a sort of birds about the bigness of a
blackbird, and smaller birds many. The sea and rivers have plenty
of fish; we saw abundance, though we caught but few, and these were
cavallies, yellow-tails, and whip-rays.

We departed from hence on the 22nd of March, and on the 24th, in the
evening, we saw some high land bearing north-west half-west, to the
west of which we could see no land, though there appeared something
like land bearing west a little southerly, but not being sure of it,
I steered west-north-west all night, and kept going on with an easy
sail, intending to coast along the shore at a distance. At ten
o'clock I saw a great fire bearing north-west-by-west, blazing up in
a pillar, sometimes very high for three or four minutes, then
falling quite down for an equal space of time, sometimes hardly
visible, till it blazed up again. I had laid me down, having been
indisposed these three days; but upon a sight of this, my chief mate
called me; I got up and viewed it for about half an hour, and knew
it to be a burning hill by its intervals: I charged them to look
well out, having bright moonlight. In the morning I found that the
fire we had seen the night before was a burning island, and steered
for it. We saw many other islands, one large high island, and
another smaller but pretty high. I stood near the volcano, and many
small low islands, with some shoals.

March the 25th, 1700, in the evening we came within three leagues of
this burning hill, being at the same time two leagues from the main;
I found a good channel to pass between them, and kept nearer the
main than the island. At seven in the evening I sounded, and had
fifty-two fathom fine sand and ooze. I stood to the northward to
get clear of this strait, having but little wind and fair weather.
The island all night vomited fire and smoke very amazingly, and at
every belch we heard a dreadful noise like thunder, and saw a flame
of fire after it the most terrifying that ever I saw; the intervals
between its belches were about half a minute, some more, others
less; neither were these pulses or eruptions alike, for some were
but faint convulsions, in comparison of the more vigorous; yet even
the weakest vented a great deal of fire; but the largest made a
roaring noise, and sent up a large flame, twenty or thirty yards
high; and then might be seen a great stream of fire running down to
the foot of the island, even to the shore. From the furrows made by
this descending fire, we could, in the day time, see great smoke
arise, which probably were made by the sulphurous matter thrown out
of the funnel at the top, which tumbling down to the bottom, and
there lying in a heap, burned till either consumed or extinguished;
and as long as it burned and kept its heat, so long the smoke
ascended from it; which we perceived to increase or decrease,
according to the quantity of matter discharged from the funnel: but
the next night, being shot to the westward of the burning island,
and the funnel of it lying on the south side, we could not discern
the fire there, as we did the smoke in the day when we were to the
southward of it. This volcano lies in the latitude of 5 degrees 33
minutes south, and meridian distance from Cape St. George, three
hundred and thirty-two miles west.

The easternmost part of New Guinea lies forty miles to the westward
of this tract of land; and by hydrographers they are made joining
together; but here I found an opening and passage between, with many
islands, the largest of which lie on the north side of this passage
or strait. The channel is very good, between the islands and the
land to the eastward. The east part of New Guinea is high and
mountainous, ending on the north-east with a large promontory, which
I named King William's Cape, in honour of his present Majesty. We
saw some smoke on it, and leaving it on our larboard side, steered
away near the east land, which ends with two remarkable capes or
heads, distant from each other about six or seven leagues: within
each head were two very remarkable mountains, ascending very
gradually from the sea-side, which afforded a very pleasant and
agreeable prospect. The mountains and the lower land were
pleasantly mixed with woodland and savannahs; the trees appeared
very green and flourishing, and the savannahs seemed to be very
smooth and even; no meadow in England appears more green in the
spring than these. We saw smoke, but did not strive to anchor here,
but rather chose to get under one of the islands (where I thought I
should find few or no inhabitants), that I might repair my pinnace,
which was so crazy that I could not venture ashore anywhere with
her. As we stood over to the islands, we looked out very well to
the north, but could see no land that way; by which I was well
assured that we were got through, and that this east land does not
join to New Guinea; therefore I named it Nova Britannia. The north-
west cape I called Cape Gloucester, and the south-west-point Cape
Anne; and the north-west mountain, which is very remarkable, I
called Mount Gloucester.

This island which I called Nova Britannia, has about 4 degrees of
latitude: the body of it lying in 4 degrees, and the northernmost
part in 2 degrees 32 minutes, and the southernmost in 6 degrees 30
minutes south. It has about 5 degrees 18 minutes longitude from
east to west. It is generally high mountainous land, mixed with
large valleys, which, as well as the mountains appeared very
fertile; and in most places that we saw, the trees are very large,
tall and thick. It is also very well inhabited with strong well-
limbed negroes, whom we found very daring and bold at several
places. As to the product of it, I know no more than what I have
said in my account of Port Montague; but it is very probable this
island may afford as many rich commodities as any in the world: and
the natives may be easily brought to commerce, though I could not
pretend to it under my present circumstances.

Being near the island to the northward of the volcano, I sent my
boat to sound, thinking to anchor here, but she returned and brought
me word, that they had no ground till they met with a reef of coral
rocks about a mile from the shore, then I bore away to the north
side of the island, where we found no anchoring neither. We saw
several people, and some cocoa-nut trees, but could not send ashore
for want of my pinnace, which was out of order. In the evening I
stood off to sea, to be at such a distance that I might not be
driven by any current upon the shoals of this island, if it should
prove calm. We had but little wind, especially the beginning of the
night; but in the morning I found myself so far to the west of the
island, that the wind being at east-south-east, I could not fetch
it, wherefore I kept on to the southward, and stemmed with the body
of a high island about eleven or twelve leagues long, lying to the
southward of that which I before designed for. I named this island
Sir George Rook's Island.

We also saw some other islands to the westward, which may be better
seen in my draft of these lands than here described; but seeing a
very small island lying to the north-west of the long island which
was before us, and not far from it. I steered away for that, hoping
to find anchoring there; and having but little wind, I sent my boat
before to sound, which, when we were about two miles' distance from
the shore, came on board and brought me word that there was good
anchoring in thirty or forty fathom water, a mile from the isle, and
within a reef of the rocks which lay in a half-moon, reaching from
the north part of the island to the south-east; so at noon we got in
and anchored in thirty-six fathom, a mile from the isle.

In the afternoon I sent my boat ashore to the island, to see what
convenience there was to haul our vessel ashore in order to be
mended, and whether we could catch any fish. My men in the boat
rowed about the island, but could not land by reason of the rocks
and a great surge running in upon the shore. We found variation
here, 8 degrees 25 minutes west.

I designed to have stayed among these islands till I got my pinnace
refitted; but having no more than one man who had skill to work upon
her, I saw she would be a long time in repairing (which was one
great reason why I could not prosecute my discoveries further); and
the easterly winds being set in, I found I should scarce be able to
hold my ground.

The 31st, in the forenoon, we shot in between two islands, lying
about four leagues asunder, with intention to pass between them.
The southernmost is a long island, with a high hill at each end;
this I named Long Island. The northernmost is a round high island
towering up with several heads or tops, something resembling a
crown; this I named Crown Isle from its form. Both these islands
appeared very pleasant, having spots of green savannahs mixed among
the wood-land: the trees appeared very green and flourishing, and
some of them looked white and full of blossoms. We passed close by
Crown Isle, saw many cocoa-nut trees on the bays and sides of the
hills; and one boat was coming off from the shore, but returned
again. We saw no smoke on either of the islands, neither did we see
any plantations, and it is probable they are not very well peopled.
We saw many shoals near Crown Island, and reefs of rocks running off
from the points a mile or more into the sea: my boat was once
overboard, with design to have sent her ashore, but having little
wind, and seeing some shoals, I hoisted her in again, and stood off
out of danger.

In the afternoon, seeing an island bearing north-west-by-west, we
steered away north-west-by-north, to be to the northward of it. The
next morning, being about midway from the islands we left yesterday,
and having this to the westward of us, the land of the main of New
Guinea within us to the southward, appeared very high. When we came
within four or five leagues of this island to the west of us, four
boats came off to view us, one came within call, but returned with
the other three without speaking to us; so we kept on for the
island, which I named Sir R. Rich's Island. It was pretty high,
woody, and mixed with savannahs like those formerly mentioned.
Being to the north of it, we saw an opening between it and another
island two leagues to the west of it, which before appeared all in
one. The main seemed to be high land, trending to the westward.

On Tuesday, the 2nd of April, about eight in the morning, we
discovered a high-peaked island to the westward, which seemed to
smoke at its top: the next day we passed by the north side of the
Burning Island, and saw smoke again at its top, but the vent lying
on the south side of the peak, we could not observe it distinctly,
nor see the fire. We afterwards opened three more islands, and some
land to the southward, which we could not well tell whether it were
islands or part of the main. These islands are all high, full of
fair trees and spots of great savannahs, as well the Burning Isle as
the rest; but the Burning Isle was more round and peaked at top,
very fine land near the sea, and for two-thirds up it: we also saw
another isle sending forth a great smoke at once, but it soon
vanished, and we saw it no more; we saw also among these islands
three small vessels with sails, which the people of Nova Britannia
seem wholly ignorant of.

The 11th, at noon, having a very good observation, I found myself to
the northward of my reckoning, and thence concluded that we had a
current setting north-west, or rather more westerly, as the land
lies. From that time to the next morning we had fair clear weather,
and a fine moderate gale from south-east to east-by-north: but at
daybreak the clouds began to fly, and it lightened very much in the
east, south-east, and north-east. At sun-rising, the sky looked
very red in the east near the horizon, and there were many black
clouds both to the south and north of it. About a quarter of an
hour after the sun was up, there was a squall to the windward of us;
when on sudden one of our men on the forecastle called out that he
saw something astern, but could not tell what: I looked out for it,
and immediately saw a spout beginning to work within a quarter of a
mile of us, exactly in the wind: we presently put right before it.
It came very swiftly, whirling the water up in a pillar about six or
seven yards high. As yet I could not see any pendulous cloud, from
whence it might come, and was in hopes it would soon lose its force.
In four or five minutes' time it came within a cable's length of us,
and passed away to leeward, and then I saw a long pale stream coming
down to the whirling water. This stream was about the bigness of a
rainbow: the upper end seemed vastly high, not descending from any
dark cloud, and therefore the more strange to me, I never having
seen the like before. It passed about a mile to leeward of us, and
then broke. This was but a small spout, not strong nor lasting; yet
I perceived much wind in it as it passed by us. The current still
continued at north-west a little westerly, which I allowed to run a
mile per hour.

By an observation the 13th, at noon, I found myself 25 minutes to
the northward of my reckoning; whether occasioned by bad steerage, a
bad account, or a current, I could not determine; but was apt to
judge it might be a complication of all; for I could not think it
was wholly the current, the land here lying east-by-south, and west-
by-north, or a little more northerly and southerly. We had kept so
nigh as to see it, and at farthest had not been above twenty leagues
from it, but sometimes much nearer; and it is not probable that any
current should set directly off from a land. A tide indeed may; but
then the flood has the same force to strike in upon the shore, as
the ebb to strike off from it: but a current must have set nearly
along shore, either easterly or westerly; and if anything northerly
or southerly, it could be but very little in comparison of its east
or west course, on a coast lying as this doth; which yet we did not
perceive. If therefore we were deceived by a current, it is very
probable that the land is here disjoined, and that there is a
passage through to the southward, and that the land from King
William's Cape to this place is an island, separated from New Guinea
by some strait, as Nova Britannia is by that which we came through.
But this being at best but a probable conjecture, I shall insist no
farther upon it.

The 14th we passed by Scouten's Island, and Providence Island, and
found still a very strong current setting to the north-west. On the
17th we saw a high mountain on the main, that sent forth great
quantities of smoke from its top: this volcano we did not see in
our voyage out. In the afternoon we discovered King William's
Island, and crowded all the sail we could to get near it before
night, thinking to lie to the eastward of it till day, for fear of
some shoals that lie at the west end of it. Before night we got
within two leagues of it, and having a fine gale of wind and a light
moon, I resolved to pass through in the night, which I hoped to do
before twelve o'clock, if the gale continued; but when we came
within two miles of it, it fell calm: yet afterwards by the help of
the current, a small gale, and our boat, we got through before day.
In the night we had a very fragrant smell from the island. By
morning light we were got two leagues to the westward of it; and
then were becalmed all the morning; and met such whirling tides,
that when we came into them, the ship turned quite round: and
though sometimes we had a small gale of wind, yet she could not feel
the helm when she came into these whirlpools: neither could we get
from amongst them, till a brisk gale sprang up: yet we drove not
much any way, but whirled round like a top. And those whirlpools
were not constant to one place but drove about strangely: and
sometimes we saw among them large ripplings of the water, like great
over-falls making a fearful noise. I sent my boat to sound, but
found no ground.

The 18th Cape Mabo bore south, distance nine leagues; by which
account it lies in the latitude of 50 minutes south, and meridian
distance from Cape St. George one thousand two hundred and forty-
three miles. St. John's Isle lies forty-eight miles to the east of
Cape St. George; which being added to the distance between Cape St.
George and Cape Mabo, makes one thousand two hundred and ninety-one
meridional parts; which was the furthest that I was to the east. In
my outward-bound voyage I made meridian distance between Cape Mabo
and Cape St. George, one thousand two hundred and ninety miles; and
now in my return, but one thousand two hundred and forty-three;
which is forty-seven short of my distance going out. This
difference may probably be occasioned by the strong western current
which we found in our return, which I allowed for after I perceived
it; and though we did not discern any current when we went to the
eastward, except when near the islands, yet it is probable we had
one against us, though we did not take notice of it because of the
strong easterly winds. King William's Island lies in the latitude
of 21 minutes south, and may be seen distinctly off Cape Mabo.

In the evening we passed by Cape Mabo; and afterwards steered away
south-east half-east, keeping along the shore, which here trends
south-easterly. The next morning, seeing a large opening in the
land, with an island near the south side; I stood in, thinking to
anchor there. When we were shot in within two leagues of the
island, the wind came to the west, which blows right into the
opening. I stood to the north shore, intending, when I came pretty
nigh, to send my boat into the opening and sound, before I would
venture in. We found several deep bays, but no soundings within two
miles of the shore; therefore I stood off again, then seeing a
rippling under our lee, I sent my boat to sound on it; which
returned in half an hour, and brought me word that the rippling we
saw was only a tide, and that they had no ground there.

Book of the day: