4th April 1769
Cape Horn to Tahiti
A Steady fresh Trade and clear weather. At 1/2 past 10 a.m. saw land bearing south, distance 3 or 4 Leagues. Haul'd up for it, and soon found it to be an Island of about 2 Leagues in Circuit and of an Oval form, with a Lagoon in the Middle, for which I named it Lagoon Island. The Border of land Circumscribing this Lagoon is in many places very low and narrow, particularly on the south side, where it is mostly a Beach or Reef of rocks; it is the same on the North side in 3 places, and these disjoins the firm land and make it appear like so many Islands covered with wood. On the West end of the Island is a large Tree which looks like a large Tower, and about the Middle of the Island are two Cocoa Nutt Trees that appears above all the other wood, which as we approached the Island looked very much like a flag.
We approached the north side of this Island within a Mile, and found no Bottom with 130 fathoms of line, nor did there appear to be Anchorage about it. We saw several of the Inhabitants, the most of them men, and these Marched along the shore abreast of the Ships with long Clubs in their hands as tho' they meant to oppose our landing. They were all naked except their Privy parts, and were of a Dark Copper Colour with long black Hair, but upon our leaving the Island some of them were seen to put on a Covering, and one or two we saw in the Skirts of the Wood was Cloathed in White; these we supposed to be Women.
This Island lies in the Latitude of 18 degrees 47 minutes and Longitude 139 degrees 28 minutes West from the Meridian of Greenwich;* (* This island is Vahitahi, one of the Paumotu or Low Archipelago.) variation 2 degrees 54 minutes East. Wind East, East by South; course North 88 degrees West; distance 114 miles; latitude 18 degrees 42 minutes South, longitude 139 degrees 29 minutes West.
Joseph Banks Journal
At 10 this morn my servant Peter Briscoe saw the Land which we had almost passd by, we stood towards it and found it to be a small Island (Lagoon Island) about 1½ or 2 miles in lengh. Those who were upon the topmast head distinguishd it to be nearly circular and to have a Lagoon or pool of water in the middle which occupied much the largest part of the Island. About noon we were Close to it within a mile or thereabouts and distinctly saw inhabitants upon it of whoom we counted 24. They appeard to us through our glasses to be tall and to have very large heads or possibly much hair upon them, 11 of them walkd along the beach abreast of the ship with each a pole or pike as long again as himself in his hand and every one of them stark naked and appearing of a brown copper colour; as soon however as the ship had fairly pass'd the Island they retird higher up on the beach and seemd to put on some cloaths or at least cover themselves with something which made them appear of a light colour.
The Island was coverd with trees of many very different verdures; the Palms or Cocoa nut trees we could plainly distinguish particularly two that were amazingly taller than their fellows and at a distance bore a great resemblance to a flag. The land seemd all very low tho at a distance several parts of it appeard high yet when we came near them they provd to be clumps of Palms. Under the shade of these were the houses of the natives in places cleard of all underwood so that pleasanter groves can not be imagind, at least so they appeard to us whose eyes had so long been unus'd to any other objects than water and sky.
After dinner land was again seen which we came up with at sunset; it provd a small Island not more than ¾ of a mile in lengh but almost round, we ran within less than a mile of it but saw no signs of inhabitants nor any Cocoa nut trees, or indeed any that bore the least resemblance to Palms tho there were many sorts of trees or at least many varieties of verdure. In the neighbourhood of both this and the other Island were many birds, man of war birds and a small black sort of sterna(?) with a white spot on his head which the seamen calld Noddies but said that they were much smaller than the West Indian Noddies. While we were near the Island a large fish was taken with a towing line baited with a peice of Pork rind cut like a swallows tail the seamen calld it a King fish.
Sydney Parkinson’s Journal
Continuing our course N. westerly, between the Dolphin's first and second track, on the 4th of April, about three o'clock in the afternoon we discovered land; and after two hours failing we approached near to it. It is a flat island, extending a great length from E. to W. describing the form of a crescent; and has a sand-bank joined to it, on which the surf ran very high. In the middle of the island, there is a large salt lagoon, or lake; and at the east end of it are many palm trees. We saw clouds of smoke ascend from different parts, proceeding, as we apprehended, from fires kindled by the natives, and designed as signals to us. Night came on before we could discover the west end of the island; and not knowing but there might be more islands, we lay-to all night.
Posted by Arborfield at 07:27