A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 06 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 750 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 06.
they almost meet in the straits which are formed by two capes or promontories; that on the Arabian side being named Possidium by the ancients, but I could never learn either the ancient or modern name of that on the side of Ethiopia[270].  This strait between the promontories is called by the neighbouring people and those who inhabit the coasts of the Indian ocean Albabo[271], which signifies the gates or mouths in the Arabic language.  This strait is six leagues across, in which space there are so many islands, little islets, and rocks, as to occasion a suspicion that it was once stopped up.  By those straits, sluices, and channels, there entereth so great a quantity of water, which produces so many and great creeks, bays, gulfs, and ports, and so many islands, that we do not seem to sail between two lands, but in the deepest and most tempestuous lake of the great ocean.  Now returning to the mouths of the strait, which is the object of our description, we are to note that the land of Arabia at this place stretches out into the sea with a long and large point or promontory; and as there is a great nook or bay, it appears on coming from sea as if this cape were an island separate from the continent.  This is what was named the promontory of Possidium by Ptolemy.  Not more than a stones throw from this promontory is a small islet called the Isle of the Robones.  For Roboan[272]in Arabic signifies a pilot, and in this isle dwell the pilots who are in use to direct ships coming from sea to the ports for which they are bound within the straits.  This islet is round and quite flat, about the sixth part of a league in circuit, and the channel between it and the main land of Arabia may be crossed on foot at low water; but at one quarter-flood it becomes too deep for being waded.  To seawards from this little island about a league from the coast is an island about a league and a half in length, which has a large haven on the side towards Ethiopia secure in all winds, where a large fleet of gallies may be safely harboured; but the side of this island towards Arabia has neither harbour nor landing-place[273].  This channel is easily sailed in the middle, steering N.W. and by W. from S.E. and by E. having 11 fathoms all through.  It is all clean in every place, without flats, shoals, or any other obstruction, so that it may be passed on either side or in the middle.  The whole ground is a soft coral rock, with hardly any sand.  Being far within the channel, and going to seek the road or haven for shelter from the east winds which are here very strong, the depth somewhat diminishes, but is never less than 9 fathoms.

[Footnote 269:  Meaning Abassi, Abyssinia, or Habash.—­E.]

[Footnote 270:  The cape on the Arabian shore is called Arrah-morah, or of St Anthony, and that on the African Jebul al Mondub, or Mandab, which signifies the Mountain of Lamentation, as formerly explained respecting Bab-al-Mandub, the name of the straits—­E.]

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