A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 14 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 822 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 14.
boards, which, at day-break, we found had been so advantageous that we were farther from the island than we expected, and it was eleven o’clock before we reached the N.W. or lee-side, where anchorage and landing seemed practicable.  In order to obtain a knowledge of the former, I sent the master with a boat to sound, and, in the mean time, we stood on and off with the ship.  At this time four or five people were seen on the reef, which lies round the isle, and about three times that number on the shore.  As the boat advanced, those on the reef retired and joined the others; and when the boat landed they all fled to the woods.  It was not long before the boat returned, when the master informed me that there were no soundings without the reef, over which, in one place only, he found a boat channel of six feet water.  Entering by it, he rowed in for the shore, thinking to speak with the people, not more than twenty in number, who were armed with clubs and spears; but the moment he set his foot on shore, they retired to the woods.  He left on the rocks some medals, nails, and a knife, which they no doubt found, as some were seen near the place afterwards.  This island is not quite a league in length, in the direction of N.E. and S.W., and not half that in breadth.  It is covered with wood, and surrounded by a reef of coral rocks, which in some places extend two miles from the shore.  It seems to be too small to contain many inhabitants; and probably the few whom we saw, may have come from some isle in the neighbourhood to fish for turtle; as many were seen near this reef, and occasioned that name to be given to the island, which is situated in latitude 19 deg. 48’ south, longitude 178 deg. 21’ west.[1]

Seeing breakers to the S.S.W., which I was desirous of knowing the extent of before night, I left Turtle Isle, and stood for them.  At two o’clock we found they were occasioned by a coral bank, of about four or five leagues in circuit.  By the bearing we had taken, we knew these to be the same breakers we had seen the preceding evening.  Hardly any part of this bank or reef is above water at the reflux of the waves.  The heads of some of the rocks are to be seen near the edge of the reef, where it is the shoalest; for in the middle is deep water.  In short, this bank wants only a few little islets to make it exactly like one of the half-drowned isles so often mentioned.  It lies S.W. from Turtle Island, about five or six miles, and the channel between it and the reef of that isle is three miles over.  Seeing no more shoals or islands, and thinking there might be turtle on this bank, two boats were properly equipped and sent thither; but returned without having seen one.

The boats were now hoisted in, and we made sail to the west, with a brisk gale at east, which continued till the 9th, when we had for a few hours, a breeze at N.W., attended with squalls of rain.  This was succeeded by a steady fresh gale at S.E., with which we steered N.W., being at this time in the latitude of 20 deg. 20’ S. longitude 176 deg. 8’ E.

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