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A Voyage to Terra Australis Volume 2 by Matthew Flinders

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latitude was 12 deg. 20' south.

Having been disappointed in procuring salt provisions and the means of
sending an officer to the Admiralty from Coepang, I had necessarily given
up the project of going back to the north coast of Terra Australis; but
since the decay of the ship did not appear to have advanced so rapidly as
was expected, I judged there would not be much hazard in taking this
opportunity of executing the article of my instructions, which directed
me "to examine as particularly as circumstances would allow, the bank
which extends itself from the Trial Rocks towards Timor." (Atlas, Plate
I.) Upon what authority the bank was thus described, I had no
information; but that it did not reach so far as either Timor or Rottee,
was proved by our having passed the west end of the latter island and
sounded with more than 200 fathoms without finding bottom. It seemed to
me probable, that if such a bank existed and had any connexion to the
north-east, it was more likely to be with the Sahul Shoal than with
Timor; and I therefore steered a course to get upon the line between the
two; proposing afterwards to run westward, across the line of direction
from the Rocks to Timor, so as in either case to fall in upon the bank.

We sounded every two hours, and hove to three times a day, to get a
greater depth; and in this way ran S. W. until the 16th [SATURDAY 16
APRIL 1803] at noon, to latitude 16 deg. 15' and longitude 116 deg. 45', without
finding bottom with from 100 to 240 fathoms of line. Our course was then
W. by S., sounding in the same manner, until the 21st [THURSDAY 21 APRIL
1803] in the morning, to latitude 17 deg. 45' and longitude 107 deg. 58', but
equally without success as to the bank; and I then hauled to the wind at
S. E,. in order to make the rocks themselves.

The Trial Rocks obtained their name from the English ship Trial, which
was lost upon them in 1622; but their exact situation seemed not to be
well known. Mr. Dalrymple had published a sketch of them upon the
authority of a Dutch sloop, apparently sent from Batavia expressly for
their examination; and in this they are described to lie in 19 deg. 30'
south, eighty leagues from the coast of New Holland; but Arrowsmith in
his large chart of the South Sea, laid the Trial Rocks down in 20 deg. 40'
south, and 104 deg. 30' east, or near double the distance from the coast. The
soundings of two East-Indiamen near the rocks, given in the South-Sea
chart, stamped this last position with an authority which decided my
opinion in its favour, and I accordingly steered for it.

Dull weather, with frequent heavy rain, thunder, and lightning, had
prevailed from the time of leaving Coepang, and it produced the same
effect upon the health of the ship's company as similar weather had
before done in the Gulph of Carpentaria; for we had at this time ten men
in the sick list with diarrhoea, and many others were slightly affected.
It seemed possible that the change of food, from salt provisions to the
fresh meat, fruit, and vegetables of Timor--a change by which I hoped to
banish every appearance of scurvy, might have had an influence in
producing the disease; and if so, it was avoiding Scylla to fall upon
Charybdis, and was truly unfortunate.


At noon of the 23rd, we had reached the latitude 20 deg. 50', and were in
longitude 105 deg. 13' east, without having had soundings at 100 fathoms; I
then steered a west course, lying to from eight in the evening till
daylight; and at the following noon [SUNDAY 24 APRIL 1803] we observed in
20 deg. 49' south, and the longitude was 103 deg. 49' east. This was more than
half a degree to the west of Mr. Arrowsmith's position, and we neither
had soundings at 140 fathoms, nor any thing in sight to betoken the
vicinity of land; I therefore ran N. W. to get somewhat to the north of
the latitude 20 deg. 40', and at dusk hauled up to the wind, as near to east
as the ship could lie, to make further search in that direction.

On the 25th, some tropic birds were seen; and the next day [TUESDAY 26
APRIL 1803], when our latitude was 20 deg. 36' and longitude 104 deg. 55', there
were several birds of the petrel kind about the ship; very vague signs of
land, it is true, but still they gave us hopes; and once we were
flattered with the appearance of breakers, and bore away for them, but it
was a deception. We continued to stretch eastward all the next day
[WEDNESDAY 27 APRIL 1803]; but the wind having veered from south to S.
E., a good deal of northing was made with it; and having reached the
latitude 19 deg. 53' and longitude 106 deg. 41', without finding bottom, or any
more signs of land, I tacked to the S. S. W. and gave up the search.

It should appear from our examination, that the Trial Rocks do not lie in
the space comprehended between the latitudes 20 deg. 15' and 21 deg. south, and
the longitudes 103 deg. 25' and 106 deg. 30' east. That they exist, does not seem
to admit of a doubt, and probably they will be found near the situation
assigned to them by the Dutch sloop; but no bank can extend in a line
from thence at all near to Timor. The variations of the compass observed
during our search for the Trial Rocks, were 3 deg. west with the head N. W.,
5 deg. 11' at E. by S., and 5 deg. 38' at E. S.E.; and the mean, corrected to the
meridian, will be 3 deg. 43' west, in 20 deg. 33' south and 104 deg. 20' east

From the 27th of April we steered eight days to the S. S. W., mostly with
south-eastern winds; they were sometimes light, but occasionally fresh,
and at these times the ship made five inches of water in the hour. The
diarrhoea on board was gaining ground, notwithstanding all the attention
paid to keeping the ship dry and well aired, and the people clean and as
comfortable as possible. Some of the officers began to feel its attack;
and in order to relieve them and the people, now that we had no
expectation of meeting danger, I directed the ship's company to be
divided into three watches, and put the officers to four; giving Mr.
Denis Lacy, master's mate, the charge of acting lieutenant in the fourth


On May 5, in latitude 26 deg. 24' and longitude 103 deg. 21', the south-east wind
died away, and a breeze sprung up from the opposite quarter, which veered
afterwards to the S. W., blowing fresh with squally, moist weather. Our
course was then directed for Cape Leeuwin, with the wind usually a-beam;
the sea being too high for the ship to make good way any nearer. In this
passage we were accompanied by several petrels, and amongst them by the
albatross, the first of which had been seen in the latitude 23 deg.

FRIDAY 13 MAY 1803

On the 13th, we had reached the parallel of Cape Leeuwin, and were
steering E. by S., to make it. At six in the evening, tried for soundings
with 180 fathoms, without finding ground; but after running S. 67 deg. E.
twenty-six miles, we had 75 fathoms, fine white sand; and at daylight
[SATURDAY 14 MAY 1803] the land was seen, bearing N. 23 deg. to 52 deg. E. about
eight leagues. (Atlas, Plate II.) The soundings should therefore seem not
to extend more than ten or twelve leagues to the west, or but little
further than the land will be visible in fine weather.

Our latitude at noon was 34 deg. 43', and the land of Cape Leeuwin bore from
N. 2 deg. to 22 deg. E.; the uncorrected longitude of the time keepers from Timor
made the cape four or five leagues to the east of the position before
ascertained, but when corrected, the difference was too small to be
perceptible. At six in the evening we had 40 fathoms, coral bottom, at
seven leagues from Point D'Entrecasteaux; but the weather was too thick
to take any bearings which might improve my former survey. We steered
along the coast at the distance of seven or eight leagues, with a fresh
breeze and a strong current in our favour; and on the next day [SUNDAY 15
MAY 1803] at noon I set land, which had the appearance of Bald Head, at
N. 31 deg. W., distant about five leagues. Mount Gardner and Bald Island were
distinguished in the afternoon; but the land was visible at times only,
from the haziness of the weather.


My intention in coming so near the South Coast, was to skirt along the
outer parts of the Archipelago of the Recherche, which had before been
seen imperfectly; and to stop a day or two in Goose-Island Bay, for the
purposes of procuring geese for our sick people, seal oil for our lamps,
and a few casks of salt from the lake on Middle Island. It was night
[MONDAY 16 MAY 1803] when we approached the archipelago, and I therefore
steered to make Termination Island, which is the outermost part; at four
in the morning of the 17th [TUESDAY 17 MAY 1803], it was seen about two
leagues to the N. E, and we had 62 fathoms on a bottom of white sand.
Mondrain Island was set at daylight, and the positions of many other
places were either verified or corrected, during the run to noon; at that
time we had 45 fathoms, and a reef was seen which may probably be that
marked _Vigie_, in the French chart, and is the more dangerous from the
sea breaking upon it only at times. No observation was obtained for the
latitude, but it should be 34 deg. 13' south, from the following bearings
then taken.

Western Twin, N. 5 deg. W.
A nearer isle, surrounded with breakers, N. 3 E.
Cape Arid, top of the mount on it, N. 53 E.
Middle I., highest top of the mount, N. 661/2 E.
Douglas's Isles, two appearing in one, N. 80 E.
High breakers, distant 6 miles, S. 42 E.

At one o'clock in steering for Douglas's Isles, a single breaker was seen
right ahead of the ship, lying six miles N. E. 1/2 N. of the former
dangerous reef, and about eight from the isles, in a W. by 1/2 S.
direction. We passed to the northward of it, having no ground at 25
fathoms; and as we approached to do the same by the isles, Mr. Charles
Douglas, the boatswain, breathed his last; and I affixed his name to the
two lumps of land, which seemed to offer themselves as a monument to his
memory. We hauled up close along the east side of Middle Island with the
wind at west; and at six in the evening anchored in Goose-Island Bay, in
12 fathoms, fine sand, one-third of a mile from the middle rock. and
nearly in a line between it and the north-east point of Middle Island.


In the morning, a party of men was sent to kill geese and seals upon the
rocky islets to the eastward, and another upon Middle Island to cut wood
and brooms. There was now so much more surf upon the shores of the bay
than in January of the former year, that we could not land at the eastern
beach, behind which lies the salt lake; I therefore went with the master
to the middle beach, and being scarcely able to get out of the boat from
scorbutic sores, sent him to examine the lake and make choice of a
convenient place for filling some casks; but to my surprise he reported
that no good salt could be procured, although it had been so abundant
before, that according to the testimony of all those who saw the lake, it
would have furnished almost any quantity: this alteration had doubtless
been produced by the heavy rains which appeared to have lately fallen. I
caused a hole to be dug in a sandy gully, in order to fill a few casks of
water, thinking it possible that what we had taken in at Timor might have
been injurious; but the water was too salt to be drinkable, although
draining from land much above the level of the sea. This may afford some
insight into the formation of salt in the lake; and it seems not
improbable, that rock salt may be contained in some part of Middle

We remained here three days, cutting wood, boiling down seal oil, and
killing geese; but our success in this last occupation was very inferior
to what it had been in January 1802, no more than twelve geese being now
shot, whereas sixty-five had then been procured. Mr. Douglas was interred
upon Middle Island, and an inscription upon copper placed over his grave;
William Hillier, one of my best men, also died of dysentery and fever
before quitting the bay, and the surgeon had fourteen others in his list,
unable to do any duty. At his well-judged suggestion, I ordered the
cables, which the small size of the ship had made it necessary to coil
between decks, to be put into the holds, our present light state
permitting this to be done on clearing away the empty casks; by this
arrangement more room was made for the messing and sleeping places; and
almost every morning they were washed with boiling water, aired with
stoves, and sprinkled with vinegar, for the surgeon considered the
dysentery on board to be approaching that state when it becomes


At daylight of the 21st, having a fresh breeze at N. W., we prepared to
depart, and hove short; but the ship driving before the sails were
loosed, and there being little room astern, a second bower was dropped
and a kedge anchor carried out. This last not holding after the bowers
were weighed, a stream anchor was let go; and before the ship brought up,
it was again necessary to drop the best bower. At this time we were not
more than a cable's length from the rocks of Middle Island; and the ship
being exposed to great danger with the least increase of wind, we got a
spring on the stream cable and began to heave on the best bower. In the
mean time the ship drove with both anchors ahead, which obliged me, on
the instant, to cut both cables, heave upon the spring, and run up the
jib and stay-sails; and my orders being obeyed with an alacrity not to be
exceeded, we happily cleared the rocks by a few fathoms, and at noon made
sail to the eastward.

This example proved the anchorage in the eastern part of Goose-Island Bay
to be very bad, the sand being so loose as not to hold the ship with two
anchors, though the water was smooth and the wind not more than a
double-reefed-top-sail breeze; yet further westward, between Goose Island
and the west beach, our anchor had held very well before. The most secure
situation should seem to be off the east end of the middle beach, between
it and the rock, in 4 or 5 fathoms; but I cannot answer for the ground
there being good, though to all appearance it should be the best in the

The _latitude_ observed from an artificial horizon on the middle beach
was 34 deg. 5' 23" south; and the _longitude_ of the place of observation, a
little east of that before fixed by the time keepers from King George's
Sound, (Vol. I.), will be 123 deg. 9' 37.6" east. Mr. Flinders took three
sets of altitudes between the 18th p.m. and 21st a.m., from which the
rates of the time keepers, and their errors from Greenwich time at noon
there of the 21st, were found to be as under;

Earnshaw's No. 543, slow 3h 10' 59.53" and losing 19.63" per day.
Earnshaw's No. 520, fast 1h 31' 54.28" and losing 34.07" per day.

At the first observation, the longitudes deduced from the Coepang rates
were, by

No. 543--123 deg. 33' 37.5" east,
No. 520--123 25 22.5 east;

the mean of which is 19' 52.4" more than what I consider to be the true
longitude, but on using rates equally accelerated from those at Coepang
to what were found above, the error becomes reduced to 12' 11.6" east;
which is the sum of the apparent irregularity of the time keepers from
April 8 to May 18, or in 40.2 days. The corrections applied to the
longitude during the last passage, are therefore what arise from the
equal acceleration of the rates, and from the proportional part of the
12' 11.6" of irregularity; and when thus corrected, the time keepers did
not appear to differ at Cape Leeuwin and Mount Gardner more than 1' from
the longitude of the former year.



On clearing Goose-Island Bay we steered eastward, with cloudy weather and
a fresh breeze which veered to S. S. W. A small round island, with two
rocks on its north side, was discovered in the south-eastern part of the
archipelago, and also a reef; neither of which I had before seen, nor are
they noticed by admiral D'Entrecasteaux. At 3h 40' the following bearings
were taken:

Cape Arid, top of the mount, N. 741/2 deg. W.
Cape Pasley, N. 26 W.
Two south-east isles, S. 19 W.
Reef, distant 4 or 5 miles, S. 16 E.
Small round isle, dist. 4 or 5 leagues, N. 88 E.

We passed within three miles of the round isle at dusk, and saw no other
danger near it than the two rocks, which are very distinguishable; the
weather was squally, but as I did not expect to meet with any more
dangers, we kept on, steering seven points from the wind all night, with
the precaution of having a warrant officer at the lookout. In the way to
Bass' Strait I wished to have completed the examination of Kangaroo
Island, and also to run along the space of main coast, from Cape
Northumberland to Cape Otway, of which the bad weather had prevented a
survey in the former year; but the sickly state of my people from
dysentery and fever, as also of myself, did not admit of doing any thing
to cause delay in our arrival at Port Jackson.

MONDAY 23 MAY 1803

(Atlas, Plate III.)

In the afternoon of the 23rd, being in latitude 35 deg. 10' and longitude
128 deg. 54', the variation was observed with three compasses to be 4 deg. 58'
west, when the ship's head was at magnetic east; this corrected, will be
1 deg. 46' west, agreeing with the observations on each side of this
longitude in sight of the coast. On the 26th [THURSDAY 26 MAY 1803], in
37 deg. 53' south and 135 deg. 48' east, with the head S. E. by E., the variation
was 1 deg. 33' west, or 1 deg. 17' east corrected; and in the same longitude at
the head of Port Lincoln, we had found 1 deg. 39' east. This day James
Greenhalgh, sergeant of marines, died of the dysentery; a man whom I
sincerely regretted, from the zeal and fidelity with which he had
constantly fulfilled the duties of his situation.

The winds continued to blow strong, usually between South and W. S. W.;
but the ship did not at any time leak more than five inches an hour. On
the 29th [SUNDAY 29 MAY 1803], when approaching Bass' Strait, the breeze
died away, and after some hours calm sprung up from the northward; next
day at noon [MONDAY 30 MAY 1803], our latitude was 40 deg. 25 1/3', longitude
143 deg. 8', and we sounded with 98 fathoms, no ground (Atlas, Plate VI). At
two o'clock the south end of King's Island was in sight; and at 4h 40',
when it bore N. 5 deg. to 35 deg. E, a small island was seen from the mast head,
bearing E. by S., which I at first judged must be Albatross Island; but
as no other could be seen more southward, it was probably the Black
Pyramid of Hunter's Isles, discovered in the Norfolk sloop. I much wished
to fix its relative situation to King's Island; but night coming on, the
bearing of S. 5 deg. W., in which this pyramidal lump was set at ten o'clock
with the assistance of a night glass, was the best point of connexion to
be obtained. The southern extremity of King's Island lies nearly in 40 deg.
7' south and 143 deg. 53' east; and by our run from 4h 40' to ten o'clock,
corrected for a tide setting to the south-westward, this lump of land,
which I believe to have been the Black Pyramid, will be 29' or 30' of
longitude more east: its latitude made in the Norfolk was 40 deg. 32' south.

The wind blew fresh at north, and the ship could barely lie a course to
clear Albatross Island, yet we passed without seeing it, though there was
moonlight; so that supposing it was the Black Pyramid we had set at ten
o'clock, the tide, which I calculated to turn about that time, must have
run strong to the N. E. Our least sounding between King's Island and
Hunter's Isles was 28 fathoms, on red coral sand, nine or ten miles to
the south, as I judge, of Reid's Rocks; but they were not seen, nor have
I any certain knowledge of their position. They are laid down in the
chart partly from the journal of lieutenant Murray, who saw them in going
from the Bay of Seals to Three-hummock Island; but principally from a
rough sketch of Mr. Bass, then commander of the brig Venus, who appears
to have seen King's Island, Reid's Rocks, and the Black Pyramid, all at
the same time.

It was a great mortification to be thus obliged to pass Hunter's Isles
and the north coast of Van Diemen's Land, without correcting their
positions in longitude from the errors which the want of a time keeper in
the Norfolk had made unavoidable; but when I contemplated eighteen of my
men below, several of whom were stretched in their hammocks almost
without hope, and reflected that the lives of the rest depended upon our
speedy arrival in port, every other consideration vanished; and I carried
all possible sail, day and night, making such observations only as could
be done without causing delay.


At day break, land was seen from the mast head bearing S. W. by S.,
probably Three-hummock Island; and at noon our

Latitude observed was 39 deg. 5 1/3'
Wilson's Promontory, the S. W. part, bore N. 16 1/2 E.
Curtis' largest Isle, the top, N. 51 E.

Kent's Group came in sight in the evening; and a little before nine
o'clock the centre of the larger isles was set at N. by E, when the
Pyramid was distant four miles bearing S. 1/2 W. At eleven, we passed
sufficiently near to the new rock, lying four leagues to the E. S. E. of
the group, to hear the growling of the seals; and land, apparently the
Sisters, was distinguished soon afterward in the S. E., but too
imperfectly to be known. A set of bearings here would have been
essentially useful in fixing the relative positions of these lands, which
remained in some degree doubtful; but I dared not lose an hour's fair
wind to obtain them.


On the 2nd of June we lost John Draper, quarter master, one of the most
orderly men in the ship; and it seemed to be a fatality, that the
dysentery should fall heaviest on the most valuable part of the crew. The
wind had then veered against us, to the N. E., as it had done the year
before in nearly the same situation; and it should seem that the
direction of the coast influences it to blow either from N. E. or S. W.
The weather was so hazy, that the hills at the back of the Long Beach
were not seen till the evening of the 3rd; and on the 4th [SATURDAY 4
JUNE 1803] they were still visible, about twenty leagues to the N. 31 deg. W.
A fair breeze sprung up in the night; and at noon next day, the land from
Cape Howe northward extended from S. 65 deg. to N. 72 deg. W., and a hill which
appeared to be the highest of those behind Two-fold Bay, bore W. 1 deg. S.;
our latitude was then 37 deg. 13', and longitude by time keepers 150 deg. 44'

We steered a due north course, closing a little in with the land; at
sunset [MONDAY 6 JUNE 1803] Mount Dromedary bore N. 45 deg. W., and at eight
next morning it was seen bearing S. 30 deg. W., at the distance of twenty
leagues, although the weather was hazy (Atlas, Plate VIII). The shore was
five miles off at noon, when the observed latitude was 35 deg. 17'; the outer
part of Cape George bearing N. 32 deg. E., about eight miles, and the Pigeon
House S. 77 deg. W. We passed the cape at the distance of two miles, having
then but light winds; and at dusk, Bowen's Isle in the entrance of
Jervis' Bay was set at N. 51 deg. W. Hat Hill was abreast of the ship at noon
next day; but the wind had then veered to the northward, and we beat up
until the following noon [WEDNESDAY 8 JUNE 1803] with little advantage,
our situation being then in

Latitude observed. 34 deg. 21 2/3'
Longitude by time keepers corrected, 151 12 1/2
Hat Hill bore S. 701/2 W.
Saddle Hill, on Red Point, S. 53 W.
Point Bass, S. 33 W.
North extreme, near C. Solander., N. 3 W.
Nearest shore, distant 8 or 9 miles, N. 72. W.


Whilst beating against this foul wind the dysentery carried off another
seaman, Thomas Smith, one of those obtained from governor King; and had
the wind continued long in the same quarter, many others must have
followed. Happily it veered to the southward at midnight, we passed
Botany Bay at three in the morning [THURSDAY 9 JUNE 1803], and at
daybreak tacked between the heads of Port Jackson, to work up for Sydney
Cove. I left the ship at noon, above Garden Island, and waited upon His
Excellency governor King, to inform him of our arrival, and concert
arrangements for the reception of the sick at the colonial hospital. On
the following day [FRIDAY 10 JUNE 1803] they were placed under the care
of Thomas Jamison, Esq., principal surgeon of the colony; from whom they
received that kind attention and care which their situation demanded; but
four were too much exhausted, and died in a few days. The first of them
was Mr. Peter Good, botanical gardener, a zealous, worthy man, who was
regretted by all.

Lieutenant Murray had arrived safely with the Lady Nelson, after a
somewhat tedious passage from the Barrier Reefs; he made himself an
anchor of heavy wood on the coast, for fear of accident to his sole
remaining bower, but fortunately had no occasion to use it. Besides the
Lady Nelson, we found lying in Sydney Cove H. M. armed vessel Porpoise,
the Bridgewater extra-Indiaman, the ships Cato, Rolla, and Alexander, and
brig Nautilus. The Geographe and Naturaliste had not sailed for the South
Coast till some months after I left Port Jackson to go to the northward,
and so late as the end of December, captain Baudin was lying at King's
Island in Bass' Strait; it was therefore not very probable that he should
reach the Gulph of Carpentaria by the middle of February, when I had
finished its examination, nor even at the beginning of March, when the
south-west monsoon would set in against him.

We found also at Port Jackson Mr. James Inman (the present professor of
mathematics at the Royal Naval College, Portsmouth), whom the Board of
Longitude had sent out to join the expedition as astronomer, in the place
of Mr. Crosley who had left us at the Cape of Good Hope. To this
gentleman's care I committed all the larger astronomical instruments, and
also the time keepers, after observations had been taken to compare their
longitudes with that of Cattle Point. The results obtained on the 10th
a.m., with the Goose-island-Bay rates, were,

From No. 543, 151 deg. 18' 41" east.
From No. 520, 151 16 22 east.

Cattle Point having been settled in 151 deg. 11' 49" (see Vol. I.), the mean
error of the time keepers was 5' 42.5" to the east; and as I have no
means to form an accelerating correction to the Goose-Island Bay rates,
the 5' 42.5" of error has been equally apportioned throughout the twenty
days between the two stations.

In order to re-establish the health of the ship's company, I contracted
for a regular supply of vegetables and fresh meat; and such was the
favourable change in the state of the colony in one year, that the meat,
pork one day and mutton another, was obtained at the average price of
10d. per pound, which before, if it could have been obtained, would have
cost nearly double the sum. On my application to the governor, the
commissary was ordered to supply us with two pipes of port wine; and a
pint was given daily to all those on board, as well as on shore, whose
debilitated health was judged by the surgeon to require it.

The arrangements being made which concerned the health of the ship's
company, I inclosed to the governor the report of the master and
carpenter upon the state of the ship when in the Gulph of Carpentaria;
and requested that he would appoint officers to make a survey of her
condition. A plank was ripped off all round, a little above the water's
edge; and on the 14th, the officers appointed by His Excellency made the
survey, and their report was as follows:

Pursuant to an order from His Excellency Philip Gidley King, esquire,
principal commander of His Majesty's ship Buffalo.

We whose names are hereunto subscribed, have been on board His Majesty's
ship Investigator, and taken a strict, careful, and minute survey of her
defects, the state of which we find to be as follows.

One plank immediately above the wales being ripped off all round the
ship, we began the examination on the larbord side forward; and out of
ninety-eight timbers we find eleven to be sound, so far as the ripping
off of one plank enables us to see into them, ten of which are amongst
the aftermost timbers. Sixty-three of the remaining timbers are so far
rotten as to make it necessary to shift them; and the remaining
twenty-four entirely rotten, and these are principally in the bow and the
middle of the ship.

On the starbord side forward we have minutely examined eighty-nine
timbers, out of which we find only five sound; fifty-six are so far
decayed as to require shifting, and the remaining twenty-eight are
entirely rotten. The sound timbers are in the after part of the ship, and
those totally decayed lie principally in the bow.

The stemson is so far decayed, principally in its outer part, as to make
it absolutely necessary to be shifted.

As far as we could examine under the counter, both plank and timbers are
rotten, and consequently necessary to be shifted.

We find generally, that the plank on both sides is so far decayed as to
require shifting, even had the timbers been sound.

The above being the state of the Investigator thus far, we think it
altogether unnecessary to make any further examination; being unanimously
of opinion that she is not worth repairing in any country, and that it is
impossible in this country to put her in a state fit for going to sea.

And we do further declare, that we have taken this survey with such care
and circumspection, that we are ready, if required, to make oath to the
veracity and impartiality of our proceedings.

Given under our hands on board the said ship in Sydney Cove, this 14th
June 1803.

(Signed) W. Scott, Commander of H. M. armed vessel Porpoise.

E. H. Palmer, Commander of the Hon. East-India-Company's extra ship

Thomas Moore, Master builder to the Territory of New South Wales.

I went round the ship with the officers in their examination, and was
excessively surprised to see the state of rottenness in which the timbers
were found. In the starbord bow there were thirteen close together,
through any one of which a cane might have been thrust; and it was on
this side that the ship had made twelve inches of water in an hour, in
Torres' Strait, before the first examination. In the passage along the
South Coast, the strong breezes were from the southward, and the starbord
bow being out of the water, the leaks did not exceed five inches; had the
wind come from the northward, the little exertion we were then capable of
making at the pumps could hardly have kept the ship up; and a hard gale
from any quarter must have sent us to the bottom.

The Investigator being thus found incapable of further service, various
plans were suggested, and discussed with the governor, for prosecuting
the voyage; but that which alone could be adopted without incurring a
heavy expense to government, was to employ the armed vessel Porpoise; and
as this ship was too small to carry all my complement, with the necessary
provisions, to put the remainder into the Lady Nelson, under the command
of my second lieutenant. Both vessels were at this time required for a
few weeks colonial service to Van Diemen's Land; and my people not being
in a state to fit out a new ship immediately, our final arrangements were
deferred until their return. I took this opportunity of making an
excursion to the Hawkesbury settlement, near the foot of the back
mountains; and the fresh air there, with a vegetable diet and medical
care, soon made a great alteration in the scorbutic sores which had
disabled me for four months; and in the beginning of July I returned to
the ship, nearly recovered. The sick in the hospital were also
convalescent, and some had quitted it; but one or two cases still
remained doubtful.

4 JULY 1803

On the 4th, the Porpoise arrived from Van Diemen's Land, and I requested
the governor would order her to be surveyed, that it might be duly known
whether she were, or could be in a short time made, capable of executing
the service which remained to be done. I had heard some reports of her
being unsound; and it seemed worse than folly to be at the trouble and
expense of fitting out a ship which, besides causing a repetition of the
risk we had incurred in the Investigator, might still leave the voyage
unfinished. His Excellency, with that prompt zeal for His Majesty's
service which characterised him, and was eminently shown in every thing
wherein my voyage was concerned, immediately ordered the survey to be
made; and it appeared that, besides having lost part of the copper which
could not be replaced, the repairs necessary to make her fit for
completing what remained of the voyage, could not be done in less than
twelve months; and even then this ship was, from her small size and sharp
construction, very ill adapted to this service. Other arrangements were
therefore suggested; and I received the following letter of propositions
from the governor.

Government House, Sydney, July 10, 1803.

I inclose the report of the survey on the Porpoise, and am much concerned
that the repairs and alterations of that ship will re quire so much time
to complete her fit for the service you have to execute. This being the
case, I can see no other alternatives than the following:

1. To wait the Porpoise being repaired and refitted.

2. To purchase the Rolla, and fit her.

3. To take the Lady Nelson and colonial schooner Francis.

4. Wait for the Buffalo's return from India, which will be about the next
January; or

5. Return to England and solicit another ship to complete what you have
so successfully begun.

On the first point, you will be the best able to determine how far it
would be advisable to wait so long a time for the Porpoise's repairs, nor
do I think they can be completed in a less time here.

The builder and your carpenter report to me, that the Rolla cannot be put
into the least convenient state to receive your establishment, stores,
and provisions, in less than six months. It must also be considered that
she grounded on the Brake with a full cargo; from which cause, some
defects may appear to render her useless in a shorter period than you can
finish your voyage. Added to which, I do not consider myself justified in
assuming the responsibility of giving L11,550. for little more than the
hull, masts, and rigging of that ship; nor will the master, as he informs
me, take less.

If you think the Lady Nelson and Francis schooner equal to execute what
you have to finish, they are at your service. The latter being absent
getting coals and cedar, I cannot say what state she may be in; although
she will require considerable repairs to make her fit for a long voyage.

The Buffalo is now inspecting the islands to the eastward of Java, to
ascertain whether breeding stock can be procured among them. That service
performed, she proceeds to Calcutta for a cargo of cows, and may be
expected about January, when she may want some repairs, and of course
fitting. It is my intention, if you do not fix on her, to profit by your
discovery in stocking this colony with breeding animals, by the safe and
expeditious channel you have opened through Torres' Strait.

If you do not consider waiting for the Porpoise's repairs advisable, it
is my intention to send her to England by a summer's passage round Cape
Horn; which it is thought she may perform in her present state. But
should you conceive it may ultimately forward the service you are
employed on, to go to England in her, leaving this port when you judge
proper, and taking the route most conducive to perfectioning any part of
the surveys you have commenced; I shall direct the commander of that ship
to receive you and as many of your officers and people as can be
accommodated, as passengers; and to follow your directions and give you
every assistance in every circumstance connected with the execution of
the orders you have received from my Lords Commissioners of the

You will, Sir, have the goodness to consider of the above and whatever
the result of your deliberation may be, I will most cheerfully give my
concurrence and assistance; knowing that your zealous perseverance in
wishing to complete the service you have so beneficially commenced, could
only be impeded by unforeseen and distressing circumstances; but which I
hope, for the benefit of science and navigation, will only be a temporary

I am, etc.

(Signed), Philip Gidley King.

Each of the plans proposed in the governor's letter were attended with
one common disadvantage: a delay in the completion of the surveys.
Against the last proposition there did not seem to be any other
objection; but the four first included so many more inconveniences and
difficulties, either to the voyage, or to the colony, that I saw the
necessity of concurring with the governor's opinion; notwithstanding the
reluctance I felt at returning to England without having accomplished the
objects for which the Investigator was fitted out. My election was
therefore made to embark as a passenger in the Porpoise; in order to lay
my charts and journals before the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty,
and obtain, if such should be their pleasure, another ship to complete
the examination of Terra Australis. The last service I could render to
the colony with the Investigator and my people, was to lay down an
additional pair of moorings in Sydney Cove; and that done, we left the
ship as a storehouse hulk on the 21st, and prepared for our voyage to

The Porpoise was commanded by Mr. William Scott, a senior master in the
navy; but he and the greater part of his people having expressed a wish
to be discharged, it was complied with; and the command was given to Mr.
Fowler, first lieutenant of the Investigator, and another crew of
thirty-eight men selected from the ship's company. In disposing of the
other officers and people their several inclinations were consulted. The
surgeon took his passage in the Bridgewater to India, the gunner remained
charged with the care of the Investigator's stores, and Mr. Evans,
master's mate, was left sick at the hospital; Messrs. Brown, Bauer, and
Allen stayed at Port Jackson to prosecute their researches in natural
history, until my arrival with another ship, or until eighteen months
should expire without their having received intimation that the voyage
was to be continued; nine men were discharged at their own request, and
the twenty-two remaining officers and men, including myself, embarked in
the Porpoise as passengers.

Of the nine convicts who had been received into the Investigator, one had
died; another had behaved himself so improperly, that I could not
recommend him to the governor; and the remaining seven were fully
emancipated by His Excellency from their sentence of transportation,
their conduct having been such throughout, as to receive my approbation.
Four of these were entered into the complement of the Porpoise; but I am
sorry to add, that the subsequent behaviour of two was different to what
it had been when their liberty was at stake, and that a third was
condemned to the hulks not very long after he reached England.

Being about to take leave of Port Jackson, it might be expected that I
should give some account of our colony there, and could this voyage have
appeared in due time, a chapter would have been devoted to it; but a much
later account being now before the public, dispenses me from speaking of
it in other than a few general terms. In 1803, it was progressively
advancing towards a state of independence on the mother country for food
and clothing; both the wild and tame cattle had augmented in a proportion
to make it probable that they would, before many years, be very abundant;
and manufactures of woollen, linen, cordage, and leather, with breweries
and a pottery, were commenced. The number of inhabitants was increasing
rapidly; and that energetic spirit of enterprize which characterises
Britain's children, seemed to be throwing out vigorous shoots in this new
world. The seal fishery in Bass' Strait was carried on with ardour--many
boats were employed in catching and preparing fish along the
coast--sloops and schooners were upon the stocks--various detached
settlements were in a course of establishment, and more in project. And
all this, with the commerce carried on from Sydney to Parramatta and the
villages at the head of the port, and to those on the rivers falling into
Broken and Botany Bays, made the fine harbour of Port Jackson a lively
scene of business, highly interesting to the contemplator of the rise of

In Sydney and Parramatta, houses of stone or brick were taking place of
wood and plaster; a neat church was built in the latter, and one
commenced in the former place; wharfs were constructing or repairing--a
stone bridge over the stream which runs through the town of Sydney was
nearly finished--and the whiskey, chariot, and heavy-laden waggon were
seen moving on commodious roads to different parts of the colony. In the
interior the forests were giving way before the axe, and their places
becoming every year more extensively occupied by wheat, barley, oats,
maize, and the vegetables and fruits of southern Europe; but the
following extract from the official returns in 1803, the fifteenth year
after the establishment of the colony, will show its progress in a more
ostensible manner.

Lands employed by government,
or granted to individuals 125,476 acres.
Quantity cleared of wood, 16,624
Ditto, sown with wheat, 7,118 Last ann. increase 2,165
Ditto, sown with barley, maize, etc. 5,279
Average produce of wheat lands
throughout the colony, 18 bushels/acre.

No. of horned cattle domesticated, 2,447 Last increase 594
No. of Sheep, 11,232 2,614
No. of Hogs, 7,890 3,872
No. of Horses, 352 65

The number of wild horned cattle was supposed to exceed that of
the tame, and to increase faster.
Europeans of every description,
resident in New South Wales, 7,134
Of which were victualled by government, 3,026
Number of inhabitants at Norfolk Island, 1,200

Amongst the obstacles which opposed themselves to the more rapid
advancement of the colony, the principal were, the vicious propensities
of a large portion of the convicts, a want of more frequent communication
with England, and the prohibition to trading with India and the western
coasts of South America, in consequence of the East-India-Company's
charter. As these difficulties become obviated and capital increases, the
progress of the colonists will be more rapid; and if the resources from
government be not withdrawn too early, there is little doubt of New South
Wales being one day a flourishing country, and of considerable benefit to
the commerce and navigation of the parent state.


Of the winds, currents, and navigation along the east coast of Terra
Australis, both without and within the tropic; also on the north coast.

Directions for sailing from Port Jackson, through Torres' Strait, towards
India or the Cape of Good Hope.

Advantages of this passage over that round New Guinea.


On completing the first portion of the voyage, I entered into an
explanation of the winds and currents which had been found to prevail
upon the south coast of Terra Australis; and to obtain greater
perspicuity and connection, I there anticipated upon the second portion
so far as those subjects required. This plan of assembling at the end of
each book such general observations upon the coast immediately before
examined as could not enter conveniently into the narrative, seeming
liable to no material objection, I shall follow it here; and conclude
this second part of the voyage with a statement of the winds and currents
which appear to prevail most generally along the East and North Coasts;
adding thereto such remarks, more particularly on Torres' Strait, as may
tend to the safety of navigation. This statement will include the
information gained in a subsequent passage, for the reasons which
influenced me in the former account; and the reader must not be
surprised, should he remark hereafter that I did not, in that passage,
follow very closely the directions here given; for besides that my
information was then possessed only in part, the directions are intended,
not for vessels seeking dangers, which was partly my object, but for
those desirous only of navigating these distant shores with expedition
and safety.

The East Coast, with respect to winds and currents, requires a division,
the part beyond the tropic of Capricorn being placed under different, and
almost opposite circumstances, to that within, or close to it. (Atlas,
Plate I.)

From Cape Howe, where the South Coast terminates and the East commences,
to Sandy Cape, within a degree of the tropic, the south-east trade most
generally prevails in the summer season, from the beginning of October to
the end of April; and produces sea and land breezes near the shore, with
fine weather. There are however many occasional intermissions, especially
in the southern parts, wherein gales from South or S. W., and strong
breezes between North and N. E., bring heavy rain, with thunder and
lightning; but these are usually of short duration. A sultry land wind
from the N. W. in the summer, is almost certainly followed by a sudden
gust from between S. E. and S. S. W., against which a ship near the coast
should be particularly guarded; I have seen the thermometer descend at
Port Jackson, on one of these occasions, from 100 deg. to 64 deg. in less than
half an hour.

In the winter season, from May to September, the western winds are most
prevalent, and generally accompanied with fine weather; the gales then
blow from the eastward, between north-east and south, and bring rain with
them; indeed there is no settled weather in the winter, with any winds
from the sea, and even between north-west and north there is frequent
rain, though the wind be usually light in those quarters. It is however
to be understood, that the sea and land breezes in the summer are more
regular near the tropic; and that the winter winds partake more of the
south-east trade than they do from latitude 30 deg. to Cape Howe.

It is a fact difficult to be reconciled, that whilst the most prevailing
winds blow from S. E. in summer, and S. W. in winter, upon this
extra-tropical part of the East Coast, the current should almost
constantly set to the south; at a rate which sometimes reaches two miles
an hour. Its greatest strength is exerted near to the points which
project most beyond the general line of the coast; but the usual limits
of its force may be reckoned at from four, to twenty leagues from the
land. Further out, there seems to be no constancy in the current; and
close in with the shore, especially in the bights, there is commonly an
eddy setting to the northward, from a quarter, to one mile an hour. It is
in the most southern parts that the current runs strongest, and towards
Cape Howe it takes a direction to the eastward of south; whereas in other
places, it usually follows the line of the coast.

This exposition of the winds and currents beyond the tropic, points out
the advantage of keeping at not more than three or four leagues from the
land, when sailing northward and intending to touch on the coast; but in
the winter season this must be done with caution, because gales then
often blow from the eastward. A marine barometer will here be of signal
advantage. If the weather be tolerably fine, and the mercury do not stand
above 30 inches, there is no probability of danger; but when the mercury
much exceeds this elevation and the weather is becoming thick, a gale is
to be apprehended; and a ship should immediately steer off, until it is
seen how far the wind veers to blow dead on the coast. With respect to a
rise and fall in the marine barometer, it may be taken as a general rule
upon this East Coast, that a rise denotes either a fresher wind in the
quarter where it then may be, or that it will veer more to seaward; and a
fall denotes less wind or a breeze more off the land; moreover, the
mercury rises highest with a south-east, and falls lowest with a
north-west wind; and north-east and south-west are points of mean

The shelter for ships which may be caught so suddenly as not to be able
to clear the land, are these: Two-fold Bay, for vessels of four-hundred
tons and under; Jervis and Botany Bays, Port Jackson, and Broken Bay;
Port Hunter for brigs and small craft; Port Stephens; Shoal Bay for
vessels not exceeding fifty tons; Glass-house Bay; and lastly Hervey's
Bay, by going round Break-sea Spit. All these places will be found in
Plates VI, VIII, IX, and X. of the Atlas, with particular plans of the
entrances to some of them. Directions for Port Jackson, and Botany and
Broken Bays are given by captain Hunter in his voyage; and they may be
found in Horsburgh's _East-India Directory_, Part II, p. 465-468.
Two-fold Bay is described in the Introduction to this voyage, and mention
made of Jervis, Shoal, Glass-house, and Hervey's Bays.

A ship sailing along this coast to the southward, should not, to have the
advantage of the current, come nearer than five or six leagues unless to
the projecting points; and if the distance were doubled, so as to have
the land just in sight, an advantage would be found in it; and such an
offing obviates the danger of the gales.

Whilst western winds prevail on the southern parts of the East Coast, the
south-east trade blows with most regularity within, and close to the
tropic, producing sea and land breezes near the shore, and serenity in
the atmosphere; and the further we go northward the longer does this fine
weather last, till, near Cape York, it commences with the month of April,
probably even March, and extends to the middle or end of November. How
the winds blow from November to April, I have no experience; but there is
great reason to believe that they come from the northward, and make the
wet season here, whilst dry weather prevails beyond the tropic. In Broad
Sound and Shoal-water Bay we had more northern winds than any other, in
the month of September; but these appeared to be altogether local, caused
by the peculiar formation of the coast; for they did not bring any rain,
though it was evidently near the end of the dry season, and we found the
south-east trade wind before losing sight of the land.


The North Coast appears to have the same winds, with a little exception,
as the tropical part of the East Coast. From March or April to November,
the south-east trade prevails; often veering, however, to east, and even
north-east, and producing fine weather, with sea and land breezes near
the shore. At the head of the Gulph of Carpentaria, the north-west
monsoon began to blow at the end of November; but further westward, at
the northern Van Diemen's Land, I apprehend it will set in at the
beginning of that month, and continue till near the end of March. This is
the season of heavy rains, thunder, and lightning, and should seem, from
our experience, to be the sickly time of the year.

It is thought to be a general rule, that a monsoon blowing directly in
from the sea, produces rain, and from off the land, fine weather, with
sea and land breezes; this I found exemplified on the west side of the
Gulph of Carpentaria, where the rainy north-west monsoon, which then came
off the land, brought fine weather: the rain came with eastern winds,
which set in occasionally and blew strong for two or three days together.
It seems even possible, that what may be the dry season on the North
Coast in general, may be the most rainy on the west side of the Gulph;
but of this I have doubts.

According to Dampier, the winds and seasons on the north-west coast of
Terra Australis are nearly the same as above mentioned upon the North
Coast; but he found the sea and land breezes, during the south-east
monsoon, to blow with much greater strength.

In speaking of the currents, I return to the tropical part of the East
Coast. Within the Barrier Reefs, it is not the current, for there is
almost none, but the tides which demand attention; and these, so far as
they came under my observation, have been already described, and are
marked on the charts. At a distance from the barrier there is a current
of some strength, at least during the prevalence of south-east winds; but
instead of setting southward, as I have described it to do from Sandy
Cape to Cape Howe, the current follows the direction of the trade wind,
and sets to the north-west, with some variation on either side, at the
rate of half a mile, and from thence to one mile an hour. This I found to
continue amongst the reefs of Torres' Strait, nearly as far as Murray's
Islands; but from thence onward through the strait, its direction in
October was nearly west, something more than half a mile; and so
continued across the Gulph of Carpentaria to Cape Arnhem, with a little
inclination toward the south.

Along the north coast of Terra Australis, the current seems to run as the
wind blows. In March, before the south-east monsoon was regularly set in,
I found no determinate current until the end of the month, when Timor was
in sight, and it then set westward, three quarters of a mile an hour; but
in the November following, I carried it all the way from Cape Arnhem, as
captain Bligh had done from Torres' Strait in September 1792; the rate
being from half a mile to one mile and a quarter in the hour.

The navigation along the tropical part of the East Coast, within the
Barrier Reefs, is not likely to be soon followed, any more than that
round the shores of the Gulph of Carpentaria; nor does much remain to be
said upon them, beyond what will be found in this Book II, and in the
charts; and in speaking of the outer navigation, my remarks will be more
perspicuous and useful if I accompany a ship from Port Jackson, through
Torres' Strait; pointing out the courses to be steered, and the
precautions to be taken for avoiding the dangers. It is supposed that the
ship has a time keeper, whose rate of going and error from mean Greenwich
time have been found at Sydney Cove, taking its longitude at 151 deg. 11' 49"
east; and that the commander is not one who feels alarm at the mere sight
of breakers: without a time keeper I scarcely dare recommend a ship to go
through Torres' Strait; and from timidity in the commander, perhaps more
danger is to be anticipated than from rashness. The best season for
sailing is June or July; and it must not be earlier than March, nor later
than the end of September.


On quitting Port Jackson, the course to be steered is N. E. by E. by
compass, to longitude about 1551/2 deg., when the land will be fifty leagues
off; then North, also by compass, as far as latitude 24 deg.. Thus far no
danger lies in the way; but there is then the _Cato's Bank_, a dry sand
frequented by birds and surrounded with a reef (Atlas, Plate X), and
further northward is _Wreck Reef_, both discovered in the future part of
this voyage. Wreck Reef consists of six distinct patches of coral,
extending twenty miles east and west; upon four of them there are dry
banks, also frequented by birds, and the easternmost bank is covered with
wiry grass and some shrubs, and is called _Bird Islet_. Their situations
are these:

Cato's Bank 23 deg. 6' south, 155 deg. 23' east
Bird Islet 22 111/2 155 27

The bearing and distance of these dangers must be successively worked,
and a course steered so as to leave them half a degree to the westward;
but for fear of an error in the time keeper the latitude 23 deg. 20' should
not be passed in the night. It is better to make short tacks till
daylight, than to heave to; and allowance should be made for a probable
current of one mile an hour to the north-west. A good lookout must be
constantly kept; and a confidential officer should now go to the masthead
every two hours in the day and to the fore yard at night, to listen as
well as look; for in dark nights the breakers may often be heard before
they can be seen. It will not be amiss, if the time of the day be
favourable, to make Bird Islet, which is well settled, in order to see
how the longitude by time keeper agrees; and should it err, the
difference, or more, must be added to, or subtracted from its future
longitudes; for it is most probable that the error will continue to
augment the same way, more especially if the time keeper be a good one.


(Atlas, Plate I.)

Having passed Wreck Reef, there are no other _known_ dangers near the
route for Torres' Strait, till we come to _Diana's Bank_; but as others
may exist, it will be prudent to lie to, or preferably to make short
tacks in the night, during the rest of the passage to the Strait. In
light nights, however, and moderate weather, there would be not much risk
in closely following the Cumberland's track, carrying no more sail than
will allow of the ship being conveniently hauled to the wind; but if an
unusual number of boobies and gannets be seen in the evening, there is
strong suspicion of a bank and reef being near; and the direction which
the birds take, if they all go one way as is usual in an evening, will
nearly show its bearing. The longitude of Diana's Bank, according to M.
de Bougainville, is 151 deg. 19' from Greenwich; but his longitude at the New
Hebrides, some days before, was 54' too far east, according to captain
Cook; and it is therefore most probable, that Diana's Bank lies in 15 deg.
41' south, 150 deg. 25' east.

I should steer, after passing Wreck Reef, so as to go a full degree to
the east of this position; and having so done, the next object of
attention is the Eastern Fields, reefs which lie a degree from those
where Torres' Strait may be said to commence. The position to be worked
is, Eastern Fields (Atlas, Plate XIII), north-east end, 10 deg. 2' south,
145 deg. 45' east; and from this I would pass half a degree to the eastward.
But if the Strait should be attempted without a time keeper, it will be
advisable for a ship to make that part of New Guinea lying in about 10 deg.
south and 1473/4 deg. east, which may be seen as far as twelve or fifteen
leagues in clear weather; and having corrected the dead-reckoning
longitude by this land, to allow afterwards eighteen miles a day for a
current setting to the W. N. W. The best latitude for passing the Eastern
Fields, is 9 deg. 45' to 50', steering a W. by S. course, by compass; and it
will afterwards be proper, so long as there is daylight and no reefs
seen, to carry all sail for the Pandora's Entrance, which is the best
opening yet known to the Strait. It is formed by reefs, and is eleven or
twelve miles wide, and lies, Pandora's Entrance, the middle, in 9 deg. 54'
S., 144 deg. 42' E. and it is very possible, if the Eastern Fields be passed
in the morning, to get through without seeing the breakers, and obtain a
sight of Murray's Islands before dark. But it is most probable that reefs
will be first met with; and should the latitude of the ship be then
uncertain, even to 5', the wind must be hauled until an observation can
be had, for it is by the latitude alone that the first reefs can be
distinguished one from the other.

The reefs being in sight and the latitude known, a ship will steer for
the Pandora's Entrance, if she can fetch it; but if too much to the
north, she may pass round the north end of Portlock's Reef, and haul up
S. W. for Murray's Islands, which are visible eight or ten leagues from
the deck in fine weather. (See View No. 10 in Plate XVIII. of the Atlas.)
It is best to approach these islands from the N. E. by N., following the
Investigator's track, and to anchor the first night on the north side of
the largest island, or otherwise under the reefs which lie to the
north-east; but if neither can be reached before dark, haul to the wind
and make short trips till daylight, in the space between these reefs and
Portlock's Reef.

Murray's Islands should not be passed, or quitted if the ship have
anchored there, later than ten or eleven o'clock in the morning; because
the sun will be getting ahead and obscure the sight before another good
anchorage can be secured. On passing the islands, keep the reef which
lies five miles to the north about a mile on the starbord hand, steering
W. 1/2 S. by compass, with a boat ahead; for in this part there are many
tide ripplings scarcely to be distinguished from the reefs. Having passed
the ripplings, haul a point more to the southward; and after having run
eight or ten miles, from the time that the largest island bore south,
there will be very few reefs to the northward, and Darnley's Island will
be seen. On the larbord hand there will be a great mass of reefs: and
these it is necessary to follow at the distance of two or three miles,
steering mostly W. S. W., and gradually more southward as they are found
to trend. Some small patches will occasionally be met with; but having
the boat to go ahead, and the commander, or a careful officer looking out
aloft, the Investigator's track between them may be safely followed. The
leading mark in all this part of the course, is the line of the great
south-eastern reefs; and the situation of the ship may be known at any
time, by laying down cross bearings of Murray's and Darnley's Islands on
the chart, allowing, if the ship's head be westward and the compass on
the top of the binnacle, 5 deg. of east variation.

Several low, woody isles will come in sight ahead, or on the starbord
bow; and before reaching the end of the south-eastern reefs, _Hay-way
Island_, which is the southernmost of them, will be seen to the
southwest; and here I would recommend the ship to anchor for the night.
If this island can be passed, however, before three in the afternoon, and
the sun do not obscure the sight, she may push on south-westward till an
hour before sunset; and anchor under the lee of any of those sand banks
which lie in the route, the ground being better here than in the eastern
part of the Strait.

From Half-way Island, continue to follow the Investigator's track,
steering S. W. to S. W. by W. by compass, as the small reefs and banks
will allow; and here there is no necessity for a boat to be kept ahead.
The flat top of one of the York Isles, called Mount Adolphus by captain
Bligh, will be the first high land seen, and afterwards Mount Ernest; the
cross bearings of which will show the situation on the chart, until the
Double Isle, which makes as two small hummocks, comes in sight. Steer
then for Double Isle, pass on the north side, and haul south-westward for
Wednesday Island, which will be three leagues distant. Pass it also on
the north side, about one mile, and the same by Hammond's Island, which
lies next to it. There will be an extensive reef on the starbord hand,
but the smallest distance between it and the islands is above two miles;
and a W. S. W. course by compass, will lead fair through the passage,
with soundings from 9 to 6 fathoms. Booby Isle will presently be seen
a-head, appearing at first like a white sand bank; it may be passed
within a mile or two on either side, and is the last of the dangers, if
it can be classed under them, of Torres' Strait. A ship should afterwards
steer, by compass, W. by S. thirty or forty miles; and the course may
then be directed for any part of the world.

In case the approach of night, or any other circumstance should make it
desirable, shelter may be had under the Prince of Wales' Islands, or
under Booby Isle; and if a boat be sent on shore at dusk to Booby Isle,
many birds, and perhaps some turtle' may be procured.

This passage through Torres' Strait will occupy from three to five days,
according to the freshness of the south-east trade, and the degree of
caution which a commander may see necessary to employ.* He will, of
course, sound continually, though it have not been specified; and keep a
boat ahead with sounding signals, from the time of passing Murray's Isles
till Half-way Island is in sight, and wherever else there appears to him
a necessity. Should he miss the Investigator's track in any part, which
is very possible, there is no occasion for alarm; most, if not all the
inner reefs have deep channels through them at every four or five miles,
and by these he may regain the track, with the assistance of his boat.

[* The most expeditious passage known to have been made through the
Strait, previously to the Investigator, was that of captains Bligh and
Portlock, in nineteen days; the account of which, as also, that of
Messrs. Bampton and Alt in the Introduction, a commander should
previously read with the chart before him; and if he do the same with the
passage of the Investigator, in Chapter V. of this Book II., and that of
the Cumberland in Chapter III. following, he will have a tolerably
correct notion of the dangers in Torres' Strait, and of the advantage in
pursuing the route above described.]

The following precautions must not be neglected: a strict and constant
look-out at the mast head, by the commander or his most confidential
officer, all the time that the ship is amongst the reefs--not to pass
Murray's Islands without seeing them, since they are the leading mark for
getting into the proper track--and on anchoring there, or at any other
inhabited island, a strict watch must be kept on the natives, who will
come off in canoes to barter a few cocoa-nuts, plantains, and their arms,
for hatchets and other iron ware. No boat should be sent to an island
where there are inhabitants; but if distress make it necessary, two or
three should go together, well armed; for they will certainly be
attacked, if the Indians have been able to lay a plan and collect their
strength. A British seaman will, at the same time, studiously avoid all
cause of quarrel with these poor misguided people, and not fire upon them
but where self-defence makes it indispensable.

Most of the dry sands and the uninhabited islands in the Strait appear to
be frequented by turtle; and in the month of August, September, or later,
it is probable some might be taken by landing a party of men, who should
silently watch for their coming on shore at dusk. I do not know the kind
of turtle most common in the Strait; at Booby Isle they were hawkes-bill,
which furnish the finest tortoise shell, but are small and not the best
for food.

The advantage in point of time, which this route presents to a ship bound
from the Great Ocean to India, or to the Cape of Good Hope, will be best
seen by a statement of two passages made at the same season; the one by
Torres' Strait, the other round New Guinea.

I sailed from Port Jackson in company with the Bridgewater, an extra
East-Indiaman; and we made Wreck Reef in eight days. From thence the
Bridgewater steered round Louisiade, through Bougainville's Strait,
Dampier's Strait, Pitt's Passage, and the Strait of Salayer; and arrived
at Batavia in _eighty-eight days_. I left Wreck Reef some time afterward,
in a small schooner of twenty-nine tons; took ten days to reach Torres'
Strait, three to pass through it, seventeen to reach Coepang Bay, and ten
more to pass the longitude of Java Head. Adding to these the eight days
to Wreck Reef, the passage from Port Jackson to Java Head was
_forty-eight days_, including various deviations and stoppages for
surveying; and it was principally made in a vessel which sailed no more
than four or five knots, when the Bridgewater would have gone six or
eight. The difference, nevertheless, in favour of Torres' Strait, was
forty days; so that it seems within bounds to say, that in going from
Port Jackson to India or the Cape of Good Hope, it offers an advantage
over the northern route of six weeks; and of four weeks in going from the
more eastern parts of the Great Ocean. In point of safety, I know not
whether Torres' Strait have not also the advantage; for although it be
certainly more dangerous than any one of the eastern passages, it is
doubtful whether it be more so than a four or six weeks extra navigation
amongst the straits and islands to the east and north of New Guinea,
where some new shoal, bank, or island is discovered by every vessel going
that way. For myself, I should not hesitate to prefer Torres' Strait,
were it only on this account; considering the long continuance of the
danger in one case, as being more than a counterbalance to the superior
degree of it in the other.

With respect to a passage through Torres' Strait in the opposite
direction--from the Indian Sea to the Great Ocean--it has not, to my
knowledge, been attempted; and I have some doubt of its practicability. A
ship would have an advantage in entering the strait by its least
dangerous side; but as the passage could be made only in December,
January, or February, the rainy squally weather which probably will then
prevail, would augment the danger from the reefs ten fold. The experiment
is therefore too hazardous for any except a ship on discovery; whose
business it is to encounter, and even to seek danger, when it may produce
any important benefit to geography and navigation.




Departure from Port Jackson in the Porpoise,
accompanied by the Bridgewater and Cato.
The Cato's Bank.
Shipwreck of the Porpoise and Cato in the night.
The crews get on a sand bank; where they are left by the Bridgewater.
Provisions saved.
Regulations on the bank.
Measures adopted for getting back to Port Jackson.
Description of Wreck-Reef Bank.
Remarks on the loss of M. de La Perouse.



The third volume of my log book and journal having been lost in the
events which succeeded the decay of the Investigator, I have had recourse
to a memorandum book and to officers journals to supply the dates and
leading facts contained in the first three chapters following;
fortunately, my bearings and the astronomical observations taken by
lieutenant Flinders and myself were preserved, as also were the rough
charts, with one exception; so that there are few cases where this
department of the voyage will have materially suffered. There are,
however, many circumstances related in these chapters, which either do
not enter at all, or are slightly mentioned in the officers journals; for
these, my public papers and copies of letters have principally furnished
materials, and a tolerably faithful memory has supplied the rest. It
seemed necessary to explain this, that the reader may know to what the
deficiencies and abridgments in some parts of these chapters are to be
attributed; and this being premised, I resume the narrative of our
preparations for returning to England.

20 JULY 1803

On July 20, lieutenant Fowler quitted the Investigator, with the crew
selected for him, and took the command of His Majesty's armed vessel
_Porpoise_; and on the following day I went on board with the rest of my
officers and people, to go with him as passengers. Amongst other
preparations for the voyage, a green house was set up on the quarter deck
of that ship; and the plants collected in the Investigator from the
south, the east, and north coasts of Terra Australis were deposited in
it, to be conveyed to His Majesty's botanical garden at Kew; and as we
had had the misfortune to lose the gardener of the expedition, and Mr.
Brown, the naturalist, remained behind, a man from Port Jackson was
engaged to take care of the plants during the passage.

The examination of Torres' Strait was one of the most important articles
of my instructions which had been executed only in part; and although I
could not pretend to make any regular survey in the Porpoise, it was yet
desirable to pass again through the strait, and lay down as many more of
its dangers as circumstances would admit; and this being represented to
governor King, the following paragraph was made an article in lieutenant
Fowler's orders.

"The objects which captain Flinders will have to finish in his route
through Torres' Strait, requires that he should be assisted with boats,
people, and have the entire direction of the ship as to the courses she
is to steer, making and shortening sail, anchoring, and every other
prompt attention to his directions as connected with his survey. You are
therefore further required to comply with every direction he may give
you, to enable him to execute the orders of my Lords Commissioners of the
Admiralty; and as it will be necessary that the most expeditious route
should be followed, for the purpose of ascertaining the length of time it
will take to make the voyage from hence to England, by Torres' Strait,
and to enable captain Flinders to be in England as early as possible, you
will take especial care to lose no time in getting to England by the
route captain Flinders may indicate."


In the beginning of August, the Porpoise was nearly ready to sail; and
two ships then lying in Sydney Cove, bound to Batavia, desired leave to
accompany us through the Strait. These were the Hon. East-India-Company's
extra-ship Bridgewater, of about 750 tons, commanded by E. H. Palmer,
Esq., and the ship Cato of London, of about 450 tons, commanded by Mr.
John Park. The company of these ships gave me pleasure; for if we should
be able to make a safe and expeditious passage through the strait with
them, of which I had but little doubt, it would be a manifest proof of
the advantage of the route discovered in the Investigator, and tend to
bring it into general use. On the 10th [WEDNESDAY 10 AUGUST 1803] I took
leave of my respected friend the governor of New South Wales, and
received his despatches for England; and lieutenant Fowler having given a
small code of signals to the Bridgewater and Cato, we sailed out of Port
Jackson together, at eleven o'clock of the same morning, and steered
north-eastward for Torres' Strait.

Mr. Inman had re-delivered to me the two time-keepers, with a table of
their rates deduced from equal altitudes, but the No. 543 had gone so
very irregularly, as not to be entitled to any confidence; the error of
No. 520 from mean Greenwich time at noon there on the 2nd, and its rate
of going during the twenty-five preceding days were as under:

Earnshaw's No. 520, fast, 0h 49' 54.85" and losing 33.38" per day.


(Atlas, Plate I.)

The winds were light, and mostly from the eastward during the first two
days of our quitting Port Jackson; and not being able to get far enough
from the land to avoid the southern current, it had retarded us 35' on
the 12th at noon [FRIDAY 12 AUGUST 1803], when the islands of Port
Stephens were in sight. On the following day the wind became more steady
in the south-western quarter, and as our distance from the land
increased, the current abated; and on the 15th, when the latitude was 27 deg.
27', longitude 156 deg. 22', and distance from the coast about fifty leagues,
the set was something in our favour. The wind was then at south, and our
course steered was north for twenty-four hours, then N. by W.; and on the
17th at noon [WEDNESDAY 17 AUGUST 1803] we were in latitude 23 deg. 22',
longitude 155 deg. 34', and had the wind at S. E. by S. (Atlas, Plate X.)

Soon after two o'clock, the Cato being some distance on our larbord
quarter made the signal for seeing land. This proved to be a dry sand
bank, which bore S. S. W. about three leagues; and the Porpoise sailing
faster than the other ships, they were directed to keep on their course
whilst we hauled up to take a nearer view of the bank. At three o'clock,
when it bore S. by E. five or six miles, we hove to and sounded but had
no bottom at 80 fathoms. The _Cato's Bank_, for so it was named, is small
and seemed to be destitute of vegetation; there was an innumerable
quantity of birds hovering about, and it was surrounded with breakers;
but their extent seemed very little to exceed that of the bank, nor could
any other reef near it be discovered. The situation was ascertained to be
nearly 23 deg. 6' south, and 155 deg. 23' east; and we then made sail after the
Bridgewater and Cato, to take our station ahead of them as before.

Some apprehensions were excited for the following night by meeting with
this bank but as it was more than two degrees to the eastward of the
great Barrier Reefs, we thought it unconnected with any other, like the
two discovered by captain Ball and Mr. Bampton, further towards the north
end of New Caledonia. I had, besides, steered for Torres' Strait in the
Investigator, from reefs several degrees to the westward, without meeting
with any other danger than what lay near the Barrier or belonged to the
Strait; and by the time we had rejoined the ships in the evening, the
distance run from the bank was thirty-five miles, and no other danger had
been descried. It did not therefore seem necessary to lose a good night's
run by heaving to; and I agreed with lieutenant Fowler, that it would be
sufficient to make the signal for the ships to run under easy, working
sail during the night--to take our usual station ahead--and to charge one
of the Investigator's warrant officers with the look-out on the fore
castle. These precautions being taken, and the top sails double reefed,
our course was pursued to the N. by W., with a fresh breeze and cloudy
weather; and at eight o'clock the lead was cast, but no bottom found at
85 fathoms. The Bridgewater was then about half a mile on the starbord,
and the Cato a mile on the larbord quarter; and their distance seeming to
increase at nine, when our rate of going was eight knots, the fore sail
was hauled up to keep them in sight: wind then at S. E. by E.


In half an hour, and almost at the same instant by the Investigator's
carpenter on the fore castle, and the master who had charge of the watch
on the quarter deck--breakers were seen ahead. The helm was immediately
put down, with the intention of tacking from them; but the Porpoise
having only three double-reefed top sails set, scarcely came up to the
wind. Lieutenant Fowler sprang upon deck, on hearing the noise; but
supposing it to be occasioned by carrying away the tiller rope, a
circumstance which had often occurred in the Investigator, and having no
orders to give, I remained some minutes longer, conversing with the
gentlemen in the gun room. On going up, I found the sails shaking in the
wind, and the ship in the act of paying off; at the same time there were
very high breakers at not a quarter of a cable's length to leeward. In
about a minute, the ship was carried amongst the breakers; and striking
upon a coral reef, took a fearful heel over on her larbord beam ends, her
head being north-eastward. A gun was attempted to be fired, to warn the
other vessels of the danger; but owing to the violent motion and the
heavy surfs flying over, this could not be done immediately; and before
lights were brought up, the Bridgewater and Cato had hauled to the wind
across each other.

Our fore mast was carried away at the second or third shock; and the
bottom was presently reported to be stove in, and the hold full of water.
When the surfs permitted us to look to windward, the Bridgewater and Cato
were perceived at not more than a cable's length distance; and
approaching each other so closely, that their running aboard seemed to us
inevitable. This was an aweful moment; the utmost silence prevailed; and
when the bows of the two ships went to meet, even respiration seemed to
be suspended. The ships advanced, and we expected to hear the dreadful
crash; but presently they opened off from each other, having passed side
by side without touching; the Cato steering to the north-east, and the
Bridgewater to the southward. Our own safety seemed to have no other
dependence than upon the two ships, and the exultation we felt at seeing
this most imminent danger passed, was great, but of short duration; the
Cato struck upon the reef about two cables length from the Porpoise, we
saw her fall over on her broad side, and the masts almost instantly
disappeared; but the darkness of the night did not admit of
distinguishing, at that distance, what further might have happened.

Turning our eyes toward the Bridgewater, a light was perceived at her
mast head, by which we knew she had cleared the reef; and our first
sensations were, that the commander would certainly tack, and send boats
to our assistance; but when a little reflexion had enabled us to put
ourselves in his place, it became evident that he would not choose to
come so near the reef in the night, blowing fresh as it did; and still
less to send his boats and people into the breakers, to their certain

The Porpoise had very fortunately heeled towards the reef so that the
surfs which struck against her turned-up side, flew over without washing
any thing off the decks; and the smooth appearance of the water under the
lee, afforded a prospect of being able to get the boats out on that side.
The experiment was tried with a small four-oared gig, and succeeded; but
a six-oared cutter was jerked against the sheet anchor by the violence of
the shocks, and being stove, was filled with water.

It was by no means certain how long the ship, being slightly built and
not in a sound state, might hold together; it was therefore deemed
expedient to lighten her, that she might drive further up the coral bank
and lie more easily. On sounding, the depth was found to be 17 fathoms on
the windward side, but no more than a few feet on the reef; and Mr.
Fowler ordered the main and mizen masts, and the starbord anchor to be
cut away; but on my suggesting to him the possibility of driving over the
reef, with the rise of tide, and sinking in deep water as the Pandora had
done, the lightening of the ship was not prosecuted further.

Beyond the smooth water close under the lee, there was a line of
breakers, and further on the sea appeared to be tranquil; it therefore
seemed probable that boats might approach the ship on that side, and if
this information could be conveyed to captain Palmer of the Bridgewater,
that something might be speedily done towards saving the crew; and as it
was likely that my influence with him might be greatest, and being a
passenger in the Porpoise no charge made my presence on board immediately
necessary, I proposed to make the attempt in the gig, to which Mr. Fowler
assented. The boat being obliged to lie at a little distance from the
ship, to prevent being stove, I jumped over-board and swam to her; and we
pushed through the breakers to the smooth water, receiving two or three
surfs by the way, from which we hardly escaped sinking. On examining into
the condition of the boat, I found nothing to bale out the water, and
only two oars which did not belong to it; and instead of the proper crew
of four men, there were only three; but under the thwarts were stowed
away three others, the armourer, a cook, and a marine, who did not know
how to handle an oar. These last were set to baling with their hats and
shoes, and we rowed towards the Bridgewater's light, keeping under the
lee of the breakers. That ship was standing from us, and I saw that any
attempt to get nearer before she tacked would be fruitless; and even
afterwards, it was much to be doubted whether, with two awkward oars and
an overloaded boat, we could make any way against the sea on the windward
side of the reef; I therefore determined to remain under the lee of the
breakers until she should approach, and to lie near the Porpoise; that in
case of her going to pieces before morning, we might save some of the
people. In rowing back we met the cutter, which the men in her, having
got the leak partly stopped, had pushed off without an officer, and were
going they scarcely knew whither; they furnished us with a third oar, and
I desired them to keep close to the gig, near the wreck, until morning.
We found the bottom here to be coral rock, and the water so shallow, that
a man might stand up in many places without being over head.

I wished to have got on board the ship, to let them know of the boats
being safe and what we had discovered of the reef; but the breakers
between us, and the darkness of the night cut off all hope of
communication before morning. They burned blue lights every half hour, as
a guide to the Bridgewater; but her light was lost to us in the boats at
eleven o'clock, and after two in the morning [THURSDAY 18 AUGUST 1803] it
was no longer seen from the Porpoise. At that time it appeared to be low
water, and the ship lay so much more quiet than before, that the
apprehension of her going to pieces before daylight had much subsided; to
be prepared, however, for the next flood, Mr. Fowler employed his people
during the night in making a raft of the spare top masts, yards, etc.,
with short ropes all round it, by which the people might hold on; and a
cask of water, with a chest containing some provisions, a sextant, and
the Investigator's log books, were secured upon the raft.

In the small gig we were quite drenched, the south-east wind blew fresh
and cold., and the reflexions excited by the great change so suddenly
made in our situation. with the uncertainty of what had befallen the Cato
and even the Bridgewater, did not tend to make this long night pass more
agreeably. My thoughts were principally occupied in devising plans for
saving ourselves, under the apprehension that we might see no more of the
Bridgewater; but not to discourage the people, I spoke of every body
getting on board that ship in the morning, and of continuing our voyage
to England, as not at all doubtful.

Of the poor Cato, we could neither see nor hear any thing. It appeared
that captain Park, when meeting the Bridgewater on opposite tacks,
stopped setting his main sail and bore away to leeward had he persevered,
both ships must have come upon the reef together; but by his presence of
mind on this occasion, the Bridgewater weathered the breakers and escaped
the impending danger. When the Cato struck the reef, it was upon the
point of a rock, under the larbord chess tree; and she fell over to
windward, with her decks exposed to the waves. In a short time the decks
and holds were torn up, and every thing washed away; and the sole place
left, where the unfortunate people could hope to avoid the fury of the
sea, was in the larbord fore channel, where they all crowded together,
the greater part with no other covering than their shirts. Every time the
sea struck the Cato, it twisted her about upon the rock with such violent
jerks, that they expected the stern, which was down in the water, would
part every moment. In this situation, some lashing themselves to the
timber heads, others clinging to the chain plates and dead eyes, and to
each other, captain Park and his crew passed the night; their hope being,
that the fore castle of the ship might hold upon the rock till morning,
and that the Bridgewater would then send her boats to save them. From the
Porpoise they entertained no hope; and until the signal lights were seen,
they thought her gone to pieces.

At the first dawning of day, I got on board the Porpoise by the help of
the fallen masts. Every body was in good spirits at seeing the ship hold
together so well, and finding the boats safe; for the gig, with all in
her, had been given up for lost, some one having thought he saw her sink
in the breakers. With the daylight appeared a dry sand bank, not more
than half a mile distant, sufficiently large to receive us all with what
provisions might be got out of the ship; and the satisfaction arising
from this discovery was increased by the Bridgewater being perceived
under sail, and though distant, that she was standing towards the reef.
On the other side, the appearance of the poor Cato, with the people
waving to us from the bowsprit and fore castle, the only parts above
water, was truly distressing.

The reef seemed to be a mile in breadth, and it extended in an east and
west direction to a distance beyond what could be distinguished from the
Porpoise's deck; but there were in it several wide, and apparently deep
openings, by which the Bridgewater might run to leeward, and there anchor
or lie to, whilst sending her boats to our assistance. Having made these
remarks, I left Mr. Fowler and his people getting up water and
provisions; and went to the bank for the purpose of being ready to go off
in the gig so soon as that ship should be near enough, and pointing out
to captain Palmer the means by which he might take on board the two crews
and what else might be saved; but he went upon the other tack soon
afterward, and no more was seen of him during the day.

A number of sea-birds eggs scattered over the bank, showed that it was
above high-water mark, and I sent the gig back with this intelligence to
lieutenant Fowler. Seeing that the Bridgewater did not approach, he
ordered the boat to lie opposite to the Cato; and captain Park and his
men, throwing themselves into the water with any pieces of spar or plank
they could find, swam to her through the breakers; and were then taken to
the Porpoise where they received food and some clothing. Several were
bruised against the coral rocks, and three young lads were drowned. One
of these poor boys, who, in the three or four voyages he had made to sea,
had been each time shipwrecked, had bewailed himself through the night as
the persecuted Jonas who carried misfortune wherever he went. He launched
himself upon a broken spar with his captain; but having lost his hold in
the breakers, was not seen afterwards.

At low water, which happened about two o'clock, the reef was dry very
near to the Porpoise, and both officers and men were assiduously employed
in getting upon it provisions and their clothes; they were brought from
thence by the boats, for the depth was several feet at a distance round
the bank. Before dark, five half hogsheads of water, some flour, salt
meat, rice, and spirits were landed, with such of the pigs and sheep as
had escaped drowning; and every man from both ships had got on shore.
Some of the Cato's sailors appeared in officers uniforms, given to them
in the Porpoise; and I was pleased to see that our situation was not
thought so bad by the people, as to hinder all pleasantry upon these
promotions. Those who had saved great coats or blankets shared with the
less fortunate, and we laid down to sleep on the sand in tolerable
tranquillity, being much oppressed with fatigue; and except from those of
the Cato's men who had been bruised or cut by the rocks, there was not a
complaining voice heard on the bank.

The Porpoise's two cutters and the gig were hauled up to high-water mark;
but the latter not having been well secured, and the night tide rising
higher than was expected, it was carried away, to our great loss. In the
morning [FRIDAY 19 AUGUST 1803], we had the satisfaction to see the ship
still entire, and thrown higher up the reef; the Cato had gone to pieces,
and all that remained was one of the quarters, which had floated over the
front ledge of the reef, and lodged near our bank. Of the Bridgewater
nothing could be seen; and many fears were entertained for her safety.

For the better preservation of discipline, and of that union between the
crews of the Porpoise and Cato and passengers of the Investigator, so
necessary in our circumstances, it was highly expedient that they should
be put on the same footing and united under one head. The Porpoise was
lost beyond a possibility of hope, and the situation of the commander and
crew thereby rendered similar to that of their passengers; I therefore
considered myself authorised and called upon, as the senior officer, to
take the command of the whole; and my intention being communicated to
lieutenant Fowler, he assented without hesitation to its expediency and
propriety, and I owe to captain Park a similar acknowledgement. The
people were then assembled upon the top of the bank; and I informed the
seamen of the Cato, one or two of whom had shown signs of discontent at
being ordered to work, that as they doubtless expected to be fed from our
provisions, so they must exert themselves to save as much as possible;*
and although they were not in the King's pay, yet as a magistrate acting
within the jurisdiction of the Admiralty, I would punish all deviations
from obedience and good conduct in them, the same as amongst our own
seamen. I ordered the Cato's men, who had saved nothing, to be quartered
in the messes of our people, in the proportion of one to three; and
directed lieutenant Fowler, who had charge of the provisions, to victual
all alike. The surgeon of the Porpoise was ordered to examine the
wounded, and give in a list of those really incapable of duty; and a
large party, consisting of as many men as the two cutters could contain,
went off to the wreck under the command of Mr. Fowler, to disembark
provisions and stores.

[* When a merchant ship is lost, the seamen not only cease to be in pay,
but lose all wages due to them after the last delivery of the cargo; and
the sole interest they have to save the stores, even of their own ship,
is for the preservation of themselves, or the prospect of being rewarded
by the owners or insurers.]

A top-sail yard was set up and secured as a flag staff on the highest
part of the bank, and a large blue ensign hoisted to it with the union
downward, as a signal to the Bridgewater. We expected, if no accident had
happened, that she would come to relieve us from our critical situation
so soon as the wind should be perfectly moderate; but I judged it most
prudent to act as if we had no such resource, and this was justified by
the event. Captain Palmer had even then abandoned us to our fate, and
was, at the moment, steering away for Batavia, without having made any
effort to give us assistance. He saw the wrecks, as also the sand bank,
on the morning after our disaster, and must have known that the reef was
not all connected, since it is spoken of by him as lying in patches; but
he did not seek to ascertain whether any of the openings were passable
for the Bridgewater, and might enable him to take those on board who had
escaped drowning. He bore away round all; and whilst the two hapless
vessels were still visible from the mast head, passed the leeward
extremity of the reef, and hove to for the night. The apprehension of
danger to himself must then have ceased; but he neither attempted to work
up in the smooth water, nor sent any of his boats to see whether some
unfortunate individuals were not clinging to the wrecks, whom he might
snatch from the sharks or save from a more lingering death; it was safer,
in his estimation, to continue on his voyage and publish that we were all
lost, as he did not fail to do on his arrival in India.*

[* Against a British seaman filling a respectable situation, these are
heavy charges; but Mr. Palmer is himself the authority. The following
extracts from his account are taken from a Calcutta paper, the _Orphan_
of Feb. 3, 1804.

The Bridgewater, he says, "was just beginning to draw off, when the
Porpoise was scarcely a ship's length to leeward, settling with her head
towards us, and her broadside upon the reef; her foremast was gone and
the sea breaking over her. At this moment we perceived the Cato within
half a cable's length, standing stem on for us. I hailed to put their
helm a-starboard, by which means she just cleared us, and luffed up under
our stern; had she fallen on board of us the consequences must have been
dreadful indeed." On the 18th, "When the day was broke, we had the
mortification to perceive the Cato had shared the fate of the Porpoise;
the bow and bow sprit of the latter only at intervals appearing through
the surf. (The Porpoise and Cato were mistaken for each other.) The
latter lay with her bottom exposed to the sea, which broke with
tremendous fury over her; not a mast standing. Finding we could not
weather the reef, and that _it was too late had it been in our power to
give any assistance_; and still fearing that we might be embayed or
entangled by the supposed chain or patches; all therefore that remained
for us to do was either by dint of carrying sail to weather the reef to
the southward, (meaning the Cato's Bank,) or, if failing in that, to push
to leeward and endeavour to find a passage through the _patches of reef_
to the northward. At ten a.m., we found by chronometer we had got
considerably to the westward; and that it would be impossible, with the
wind as it was then blowing strong from the S. E. with a heavy sea, to
weather the southern reef; we therefore determined, while we had the day
before us, to run to the westward of the northern reef."

"At two p.m. we got sight of the reef bearing N. N. E. At five p.m. _we
could perceive the wrecks, and ascertained the westernmost extent of the
reef_ to lay in 155 deg. 42' 30" east longitude."

"_After passing the reef we lay too for the night_; and in the morning we
lost sight cc of it, having drifted to the northward."

Such is the substantial part of Mr. Palmer's account, omitting his own
fears and congratulations, and his "most painful reflexions on the
sufferings of the shipwrecked." Nothing is said of the sand bank; but I
have been favoured with a copy of the journal of Mr. Williams, third mate
of the Bridgewater, and the following passages are taken from it.

"At half past seven a.m. (Aug. 18.) saw the reef on our weather bow, and
from the mast head we saw the two ships, and to leeward of them a _sand
bank_. The weather abated much, we set all our sails, and every man
rejoiced that they should have it in their power to assist their
unfortunate companions; as there was every probability of our going
within two miles of the reef. The morning threatened; but before the wind
increased we had time to satisfy ourselves if there were any still in
existence; we had nothing to apprehend but what could be seen before we
approached so near. The ships were very distinctly to be seen from aloft,
and also from the deck; but instead of rendering them any succour, the
captain ordered the ship to be put on the other tack, and said it was
impossible to render them any relief. What must be the sensations of each
man at that instant? Instead of proceeding to the support of our
unfortunate companions, to leave them to the mercy of the waves, without
knowing whether they were in existence, or had perished! From the
appearance of the wrecks, there was every probability of their existing;
and if any survived at the time we were within sight, what must have been
their sensations on seeing all their anxious expectations of relief

"Until our arrival at Bombay, nothing particular occurred, except my
being sent on shore at Tillicherry with the account of the loss of the
Porpoise and Cato; an account that served for the moment to blind the
people. In executing this service, I did, for the first time to my
knowledge, neglect my duty, and gave a contrary account; but for this
reason--I was convinced that the crews of those ships were on the reefs,
and that this was an erroneous account made by captain Palmer to excuse
his own conduct. I left it on shore for the perusal of the inhabitants,
after relating the story as contrary as possible. This was the cause of
many words; and at length ended with my quitting the ship, and forfeiting
my wages and a part of my clothes."

Such was the conduct of Mr. Palmer towards His Majesty's ship Porpoise,
and towards the Cato which had given way in the moment of danger that he
might be saved. But the officers and crews of the Porpoise and Cato
reached England in safety; whilst captain Palmer and the Bridgewater, who
left Bombay for Europe, have not been heard of, now for many years. How
dreadful must have been his reflexions at the time his ship was going
down! Lieutenant Tucker of the navy, who was first officer of the
Bridgewater, and several others as well as Mr. Williams, had happily
quitted the ship in India.]

The wind blew fresh from the south-eastward on the 18th, and 19th, but on
the two following days it was moderate with fine weather; we worked hard
on board the Porpoise, and by the 22nd [MONDAY 22 AUGUST 1803] had got
most of the water and provisions secured in a large tent made with spars
and sails; each mess of officers and men had also their private tent; and
our manner of living and working had assumed the same regularity as
before the shipwreck. One of the men whose liberty governor King had
granted at my request, being guilty of disorderly conduct, the articles
of war were publicly read, and the man punished at the flag staff. This
example served to correct any evil disposition, if such existed; the men
worked cordially together, and in all respects we preserved the same
discipline and order as on board His Majesty's ships.

Our prospects of receiving succour from the Bridgewater having become
very feeble, after two days of moderate weather had elapsed, I called a
council of all the officers, to deliberate upon the best means of
relieving ourselves from the precarious situation in which our
misfortune, and captain Palmer's want of energy and humanity had left us
exposed; and it was finally determined, that an officer and crew in the
largest of the two six-oared cutters, should endeavour to get to Sandy
Cape, sixty-three leagues distant, and from thence along the coast to
Port Jackson; and pray His Excellency, the governor, to send vessels to
carry us either back to that port or on towards England. But as the safe
arrival of the cutter at that season of the year, when strong winds
usually prevail from the southward, was a subject of much apprehension;
it was resolved that two decked boats, capable of transporting every
person remaining on the bank, except one officer and boat's crew, should
be immediately laid down by the carpenters, to be built from what was
already and might be still further saved from the wreck; and that, if the
officer in the cutter did not return with assistance in two months, the
boats should then, or as soon after as they could be ready to sail,
proceed to Port Jackson. The first and principal means, however, through
which our deliverance was to be expected, being the safe arrival of the
cutter, the choice of an officer to conduct her was next considered.
Lieutenant Fowler proposed, and it seemed to be the general wish, that I
should undertake the execution of the task; and being satisfied that the
preservation of order on the bank, and the saving of the stores would be
left in good hands, the hope of being instrumental to the general safety
induced me readily to comply. But to provide against sickness and the
various accidents which might arise from the natives of the coast or
otherwise, it was necessary that two officers should be in the boat; and
captain Park of the Cato being desirous of returning to Port Jackson, to
make the necessary statements relative to the loss of his ship, he was
appointed my second with the general approbation.

The smaller cutter with an officer, his second, and a boat's crew, I
proposed should remain with the stores, and in charge of my charts and
books for a few weeks longer than the two months; and then go to Port
Jackson also, should no vessel arrive before that time. This precaution
was necessary, lest any unforeseen occurrence should delay my return to
the bank beyond two months, though not prevent it altogether; that the
charts, journals, and papers might still be found there, to be taken on
to England if wanted. I designed my brother, lieutenant Flinders, for
this service; but Mr. Fowler claiming it as the post of honour, I too
much respected the principle that influenced him not to accede to his
request; and therefore ordered, that the former officer and Mr. John
Aken, master of the Investigator, should take charge of the decked boats,
with a master's mate in each capable of conducting them to Port Jackson,
should illness or any accident happen to either of the officers.


By the evening of the 23rd, the Porpoise was well nigh emptied of all the
most essential things; and on a survey being made, there was found
sufficient water and provisions on the bank to serve ninety-four men,
which was our number, for three months, even at full
allowance; although many casks were stove in the hold by the bulging of
the larbord side, and much dry provisions spoiled by the salt water. The
principal contents of the warrant officers store rooms, as well as the
sails., rigging, and spars, were also on shore. My books, charts, and
papers had suffered much damage, from the top of the cabin being
displaced when the mizen mast fell; all such papers as chanced to be
loose on the night of the shipwreck were then washed away by the surfs,
and amongst them a chart of the west side of the Gulph of Carpentaria and
part of the North Coast, upon which I had been occupied in the afternoon.
Part of my small library shared the same fate; but the rest of the
charts, with my log and bearing books and astronomical observations were
all saved, though some of them in a wet and shattered state. The rare
plants collected on different parts of the south, the east, and north
coasts of Terra Australis, for His Majesty's botanic garden at Kew, and
which were in a flourishing g state before the shipwreck., were totally
destroyed by the salt water; as were the dried specimens of plants.
Fortunately, the naturalist and natural-history painter, who remained at
Port Jackson, had put on board only a small part of their collection of
specimens; the great mass, with the preserved birds, quadrupeds, and
insects being kept for a future opportunity. Mr. Westall. the landscape
painter, had his sketches and drawings wetted and partly destroyed in his
cabin; and my little collection in mineralogy and conchology was much
defaced, and one-half lost.


The carpenters were employed until the evening of the 25th, in preparing
the cutter for her intended expedition; and the rest of the people in
adding to the stores on the bank. As the Porpoise became lighter, the sea
threw her higher up on the reef, and she was much shaken; but we hoped
the timbers and beams would hold together, at least until the next spring
tides, and that every thing would be got out. Of the Cato, nothing but a
few scattered fragments had remained for several days before.

Before leaving Wreck Reef, it will be proper to say something of the sand
bank to which we were all indebted for our lives; and where the greater
part of the officers and people were to remain in expectation of my
return from Port Jackson. In the annexed view of it, Mr. Westall has
represented the corals above water, to give a better notion of their
forms and the way they are seen on the reefs; but in reality, the tide
never leaves any considerable part of them uncovered. The length of the
bank is about one hundred and fifty fathoms, by fifty in breadth, and the
general elevation three or four feet above the common level of high
water; it consists of sand and pieces of coral, thrown up by the waves
and eddy tides on a patch of reef five or six miles in circuit; and being
nearly in the middle of the patch, the sea does no more, even in a gale,
than send a light spray over the bank, sufficient, however, to prevent
the growth of any other than a few diminutive salt plants. On its north
and north-west sides, and at one or two cables length from the reef,
there is from 18 to 25 fathoms on a bottom of coral sand; where the
Bridgewater might have anchored in safety, so long as the wind remained
between S. W. and E. S. E., and received every person from the wrecks,
with provisions for their subsistence. The latitude of the bank was found
to be 22 deg. 11' south, and longitude by the time keeper No. 520, reduced up
from an observation on the afternoon preceding the shipwreck, 155 deg. 3';
but this was afterwards found to require correction. This excellent time
keeper did not seem to have been affected by the violent motion of the
ship; but No. 513 stopped, and Arnold's watch No. 1736 was spoiled by the
salt water.

In searching for something wherewith to make a fire on the first night of
our landing, a spar and a piece of timber, worm eaten and almost rotten,
were found and burnt. The timber was seen by the master of the Porpoise,
who judged it to have been part of the stern post of a ship of about four
hundred tons; and I have thought it might, not improbably, have belonged
to _La Boussole_ or _L'Astrolabe_. Monsieur de la Perouse, on quitting
Botany Bay, intended to visit the south-west coast of New Caledonia; and
he might have encountered in the night, as we did, some one of the
several reefs which lie scattered in this sea.* (Atlas, Plate I.) Less
fortunate than we were, he probably had no friendly sand bank near him,
upon which his people might be collected together and the means of
existence saved out of the ships; or perhaps his two vessels both took
the unlucky direction of the Cato after striking, and the seas which
broke into them carried away all his boats and provisions; nor would La
Perouse, his vessels, or crews be able, in such a case, to resist the
impetuosity of the waves more than twenty-four hours. If such were the
end of the regretted French navigator, as there is now but too much
reason to fear, it is the counterpart of what would have befallen all on
board the Porpoise and Cato, had the former ship, like the Cato, fallen
over towards the sea instead of heeling to the reef.

[* La Perouse says, in his letter to M. de Fleurieu, dated Feb. 7, 1789
from Botany Bay, "You will doubtless be glad to learn, that I have not
allowed this misfortune (the massacre of captain De l'Angle and eleven
others at the Navigator's Isles) to derange the plan of the remaining
part of my voyage." This plan, as expressed in a preceding letter of
Sept. 7, 1787, at Avatscha, was to "employ six months in visiting the
Friendly Islands to procure refreshments, _the south-west coast of New
Caledonia_, the island of Santa Cruz of Mendana, the southern coast of
the land of the Arsacides, with that of Louisiade as far as New Guinea."
_Voyage of La Perouse_, Translation, London, 1799, VOL. II. p. 494-5,
502-3. As La Pe/rouse did not reach the Friendly Isles, it is probable
that he began with New Caledonia; and that upon the south-west coast, or
in the way to it, disaster befel him.]

An opinion that La Perouse had been lost in this neighbourhood, induced
me when examining the main coast to seek carefully at every place,
amongst the refuse thrown upon the shores, for indications of shipwreck
to windward; and could the search have been then prosecuted to the 15th,
or 12th degree of latitude, I am persuaded it would not have been in
vain. Besides the extensive reefs which skirt the western side of New
Caledonia, and the Barrier Reefs on the opposite coast of New South
Wales, we are now acquainted with the six or eight following distinct
banks of coral in the sea between them, exclusive of Wreck Reef and the
Cato's Bank.

Two reefs discovered by Bougainville.
Bature de Diane, by the same.
Two reefs further westward, by the Investigator.
Booby Shoal, towards New Caledonia, by captain H. L. Ball.
Bellona's Shoal, by the ship of that name.
Bampton's Shoal, an extensive reef with two small islands.

There are also the islets and shoals seen by the ship Sovereign, which
are probably a part of those that extend so far from the northwest end of
New Caledonia; and all these, with some others further northward, lie in
the space comprehended between Louisiade and New Guinea on the north--New
Caledonia to the east--New South Wales to the west--and a line drawn from
Sandy Cape to the Isle of Pines on the south. Few ships have passed
through this sea without making the discovery of some new bank of coral;
and it is probable that several other patches of reef, yet unknown, will
be found in it, especially on the Caledonian side. This space might be
very appropriately called the _Corallian Sea_.


Departure from Wreck-Reef Bank in a boat.
Boisterous weather.
The Coast of New South Wales reached, and followed.
Natives at Point Look-out.
Landing near Smoky Cape; and again near Port Hunter.
Arrival at Port Jackson on the thirteenth day.
Return to Wreck Reef with a ship and two schooners.
Arrangements at the Bank.
Account of the reef, with nautical and other remarks.



(Atlas, Plate X.)

On August 26, the largest cutter being ready for her expedition, was
launched and named the _Hope_. The morning was fine, and wind light from
the southward; and notwithstanding the day, which in the seaman's
calendar is the most unfortunate of the whole week to commence a voyage,
I embarked for Port Jackson with the commander of the Cato. We had a
double set of rowers, making in all fourteen persons, with three weeks
provisions and two half hogsheads of water; so that the Hope was loaded
rather too deeply. At eight in the morning, we pushed off amidst the
cheers and good wishes of those for whom we were going to seek relief; an
ensign with the union downward, had hitherto been kept hoisted as a
signal to captain Palmer of our distress; but in this moment of
enthusiasm a seaman quitted the crowd, and having obtained permission,
ran to the flag staff, hauled down the ensign, and rehoisted it with the
union in the upper canton. This symbolical expression of contempt for the
Bridgewater and of confidence in the success of our voyage, I did not see
without lively emotions.

We made sail to the westward under the lee of the reef, and passed two
openings in it of nearly a mile wide. The second league brought us
abreast of a dry sand bank, smaller than that quitted; and at noon we
came to a third, lying ten miles west of Wreck-Reef Bank. Having then
lost the breeze, we stopped to cook our dinner on shore; and in the mean
time I shot as many noddies as would give all the boat's crew a meal. On
quitting this third bank, which is near the western extremity of Wreck
Reef, we crossed into the open sea; and a breeze springing up at
south-east, made sail towards Sandy Cape. Many hump-backed whales were
playing about the boat during the whole time we remained under the lee of
the reef, but they did not follow us further.

Nothing but clear water was visible at sunset, nevertheless we ran
cautiously in the dark, looking out for breakers; the night was fine, and
we made good progress by means of the oars, at which the twelve men took
watch and watch, as Mr. Park and myself did at the helm: it was for this
purpose, and to guard against accidents, that I had taken so many men in
the boat.


At day break the wind was E. S. E., and no land in sight; the boat was
going four knots, and at noon our latitude by log was 23 deg. 6' and the
distance made from Wreck-Reef Bank, ninety miles. The wind freshened in
the afternoon, and a cross sea rose which obliged us to reef the sails,
and made the boat very wet. At four we close reefed and hauled to the
wind, but this was not enough; the increased hollowness of the waves
caused the boat to labour so much, that every plunge raised an
apprehension that some of the planks would start from the timbers. Having
no other resource, we emptied one of the two casks of water, threw
over-board the stones of our fire place and wood for cooking, as also a
bag of pease and whatever else could be best spared; the boat was then
somewhat more easy; and before dark, the hollow swell had so far subsided
that we kept two points from the wind, and again went along in tolerable

This hollow sea was probably caused by a weather tide setting out of some
passage between the reefs to the north-westward; and the succeeding
smooth water by the tide having turned to leeward, or otherwise from the
boat having passed across the stream; it is at least certain, that the
southern part of the Barrier Reefs, seen by captain Swain of the ship
Eliza, was somewhere to the north-west of our situation at that time. To
avoid all these reefs, and to counteract the effect of a north-western
current, I kept a S. S. W. course all the following night.


We had fine weather next morning, with a moderate breeze at north-east;
and at noon, the distance run in the preceding twenty-four hours was
ninety-one miles by the log, and the observed latitude 24 deg. 53' south: the
lead was put over-board., but no bottom found at 50 fathoms. Our
situation being to the south of Sandy Cape, we steered a point more west,
in the hope of seeing the land before night; it being my intention to
keep near the coast from thence to Port Jackson, that by landing, or
running the boat on shore, we might escape foundering at sea should a
gale of wind come on. At sunset, the land was visible to the westward at
the distance of four or five leagues, and we then hauled up south,
parallel to the coast; the night was fine, the wind light and fair, and

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