An Account of the Discovery of New Caledonia, and the Incidents that happened while the Ship lay in Balade.
At sun-rise on the 1st of September, after having stood to S.W. all night, no more land was to be seen. The wind remaining in the S.E. quarter, we continued to stand to S.W. On the 2d, at five o’clock, p.m., being in the latitude 18 deg. 22’, longitude 165 deg. 26’, the variation was 10 deg. 50’ E.; and at the same hour on the 3d, it was 10 deg. 51’, latitude at that time 19 deg. 14’, longitude 165 deg. E. The next morning, in the latitude of 19 deg. 49’ longitude 164 deg. 53”, the amplitude gave 10 deg. 21’, and the azimuths 10 deg. 7’ E. At eight o’clock, as we were steering to the south, land was discovered bearing S.S.W., and at noon it extended from S.S.E. to W. by S., distant about six leagues. We continued to steer for it with a light breeze at east, till five in the evening, when we were stopped by a calm. At this time we were three leagues from the land, which extended from S.E. by S. to W. by N., round by the S.W. Some openings appeared in the west, so that we could not tell whether it was one connected land or a group of islands. To the S.E. the coast seemed to terminate in a high promontory, which I named Cape Colnett, after one of my midshipmen who first discovered this land. Breakers were seen about half-way between us and the shore; and, behind them, two or three canoes under sail, standing out to sea, as if their design had been to come off to us; but a little before sun-set they struck their sails, and we saw them no more. After a few hours calm, we got a breeze at S.E., and spent the night standing off and on.
On the 5th, at sun-rise, the horizon being clear, we could see the coast extend to the S.E. of Cape Colnett, and round by the S.W. to N.W. by W. Some gaps or openings were yet to be seen to the west; and a reef, or breakers, seemed to lie all along the coast, connected with those we discovered the preceding night. It was a matter of indifference to me, whether we plied up the coast to the S.E., or bore down to N.W. I chose the latter; and after running two leagues down the outside of the reef (for such it proved)