12th & 13th August 1770
12th. When I immediately went upon the highest hill on the Island,* (* Lizard Island.) where, to my Mortification, I discover'd a Reef of Rocks laying about 2 or 3 Leagues without the Island, extending in a line North-West and South-East, farther than I could see, on which the sea broke very high.* (* This was the outer edge of the Barrier Reefs.) This, however, gave one great hopes that they were the outermost shoals, as I did not doubt but what I should be able to get without them, for there appeared to be several breaks or Partitions in the Reef, and Deep Water between it and the Islands. I stay'd upon the Hill until near sun set, but the weather continued so Hazey all the time that I could not see above 4 or 5 Leagues round me, so that I came down much disappointed in the prospect I expected to have had, but being in hopes the morning might prove Clearer, and give me a better View of the Shoals. With this view I stay'd all night upon the Island, and at 3 in the Morning sent the Pinnace, with one of the Mates I had with me, to sound between the Island and the Reefs, and to Examine one of the breaks or Channels; and in the mean time I went again upon the Hill, where I arrived by Sun Rise, but found it much Hazier than in the Evening. About Noon the pinnace return'd, having been out as far as the Reef, and found from 15 to 28 fathoms water. It blow'd so hard that they durst not venture into one of the Channels, which, the Mate said, seem'd to him to be very narrow; but this did not discourage me, for I thought from the place he was at he must have seen it at disadvantage. Before I quit this Island I shall describe it. It lies, as I have before observed, about 5 Leagues from the Main; it is about 8 Miles in Circuit, and of a height sufficient to be seen 10 or 12 Leagues; it is mostly high land, very rocky and barren, except on the North-West side, where there are some sandy bays and low land, which last is covered with thin, long grass, Trees, etc., the same as upon the Main. Here is also fresh Water in 2 places; the one is a running stream, the water a little brackish where I tasted it, which was close to the sea; the other is a standing pool, close behind the sandy beach, of good, sweet water, as I daresay the other is a little way from the Sea beach. The only land Animals we saw here were Lizards, and these seem'd to be pretty Plenty, which occasioned my naming the Island Lizard Island. The inhabitants of the Main visit this Island at some Seasons of the Year, for we saw the Ruins of Several of their Hutts and heaps of Shells, etc. South-East, 4 or 5 Miles from this Island, lay the other 2 high Islands, which are very small compared to this; and near them lay 3 others, yet smaller and lower Islands, and several Shoals or reefs, especially to the South-East. There is, however, a clear passage from Cape Flattery to those Islands, and even quite out to the outer Reefs, leaving the above Islands to the South-East and Lizard Island to the North-West.
13th. At 2 P.M. I left Lizard Island in order to return to the Ship, and in my way landed upon the low sandy Isle mentioned in coming out. We found on this Island* (* Eagle Island.) a pretty number of Birds, the most of them sea Fowl, except Eagles; 2 of the Latter we shott and some of the others; we likewise saw some Turtles, but got none, for the reasons before mentioned. After leaving Eagle Isle I stood South-West direct for the Ship, sounding all the way, and had not less than 8 fathoms, nor more than 14. I had the same depth of Water between Lizard and Eagle Isle. After I got on board the Master inform'd me he had been down to the Islands I had directed him to go too, which he judged to lay about 3 Leagues from the Main, and had sounded the Channel between the 2, found 7 fathoms; this was near the Islands, for in with the Main he had only 9 feet 3 Miles off, but without the Islands he found 10, 12, and 14 fathoms. He found upon the islands piles of turtle shells, and some finns that were so fresh that both he and the boats' crew eat of them. This showed that the natives must have been there lately. After well considering both what I had seen myself and the report of the Master's, I found by experience that by keeping in with the Mainland we should be in continued danger, besides the risk we should run in being lock'd in with Shoals and reefs by not finding a passage out to Leeward. In case we persever'd in keeping the Shore on board an accident of this kind, or any other that might happen to the ship, would infallibly loose our passage to the East India's this Season,* (* In November the wind changes to the North-West, which would have been a foul wind to Batavia.) and might prove the ruin of both ourselves and the Voyage, as we have now little more than 3 Months' Provisions on board, and that at short allowance. Wherefore, after consulting with the Officers, I resolved to weigh in the morning, and Endeavour to quit the Coast altogether until such time as I found I could approach it with less danger. With this View we got under sail at daylight in the morning, and stood out North-East for the North-West end of Lizard Island, having Eagle Island to windward of us, having the pinnace ahead sounding; and here we found a good Channell, wherein we had from 9 to 14 fathoms. At Noon the North end of Lizard Island bore East-South-East, distant one Mile; Latitude observed 14 degrees 38 minutes South; depth of water 14 fathoms. We now took the pinnace in tow, knowing that there were no dangers until we got out to the Reefs.* (* From the 13th to the 19th the language used in Mr. Corner's copy of the Journal is quite different from that of the Admiralty and the Queen's, though the occurrences are the same. From internal evidences, it appears that Mr. Corner's copy was at this period the first written up, and that Cook amended the phrases in the other fair copies.)
Joseph Banks Journal
12th. Great Part of yesterday and all this morn till the boat returnd I employd in searching the Island. On it I found some few plants which I had not before seen; the Island itself was small and Barren; on it was however one small tract of woodland which abounded very much with large Lizzards some of which I took. Distant as this Isle was from the main, the Indians had been here in their poor embarkations, sure sign that some part of the year must have very setled fine weather; we saw 7 or 8 frames of their huts and vast piles of shells the fish of which had I suppose been their food. All the houses were built upon the tops of Eminences exposd intirely to the SE, contrary to those of the main which are commonly placd under the shelter of some bushes or hill side to break off the wind. The officer who went in the Boat returnd with an account that the sea broke vastly high upon the reef and the swell was so great in the opening that he could not go into it to sound. This was sufficient to assure us of a safe passage out, so we got into the boat to return to the ship in high spirits, thinking our danger now at an end as we had a passage open for us to the main Sea. In our return we went ashore upon a low Island where we shot many birds; on it was an Eagles nest the young ones of which we killd, and another built on the ground by I know not what bird, of a most enormous magnitude--it was in circumference 26 feet and in hight 2 feet 8 built of sticks; the only Bird I have seen in this countrey capable of building such a nest seems to be the Pelecan. The Indians have been here likewise and livd upon turtle, as we could plainly see by the heaps of Callipashes which were pild up in several parts of the Island.
13th. Our Master who had been sent to leward to examine that Passage went ashore upon a low Island where he slept. Here he saw vast plenty of turtle shells, and so great plenty had the Indians had when there that they had hung up the finns with the meat left on them in trees, where the sun had dryd them so well that our seamen eat them heartily. He saw also two spots clear of grass which had lately been dug up; they were about 7 feet long and shaped like a grave, for which indeed he took them.
Sydney Parkinson Journal
13th. Ship stood out for the opening we had seen in the reef and about 2 O'Clock passd it. It was about ½ a mile wide. As soon as the ship was well without it we had no ground with100 fathm of Line so became in an instant quite easy, being once more in the main Ocean and consequently freed from all our fears of shoals etc. Sydney Parkinson Journal On the 13th, in the morning, we weighed anchor, and stood to the eastward, close to one of the high islands which we had passed before, and so on through a break of the reef, which was about half a mile wide. This reef, which the captain discovered from the top of the last-mentioned island, ran farther than the eye could reach, on the outermost side of all the rest, like a wall, and the sea broke very high upon it: We found no sounding in the passage, latitude 14° 38’, and we stood to the N. E. in order to get out to sea, intending to keep to the north-ward on the morrow.
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