We steered westward all night, and in the morning, the weather being still thick, our view of New Hanover was very imperfect; but we saw, about eight leagues to the westward of it, six or seven small islands, which I called the Duke of Portland’s Islands, two of which are pretty large. I now perceived by the swell of the sea that we were clear of all the land, and I found Saint George’s Channel to be a much better and shorter passage, whether from the eastward or the westward, than round all the land and islands to the northward; the distress, therefore, which pushed me upon this discovery, may probably be, in its consequences, of great advantage to future navigators, especially as there can be no doubt but that refreshments of every kind may easily be procured from the natives who inhabit either of the coasts of the channel, or the islands that lie near them, for beads, ribbands, looking-glasses, and especially iron tools and cutlery-ware, of which they are immoderately fond, and with which, to our great misfortune, we were not furnished.
Queen Charlotte’s Foreland, the south-west part of New Hanover, lies in latitude 2 deg. 29’ S., longitude 148 deg. 27’ E.; and the middle of Portland’s Islands in latitude 2 deg. 27’ S., longitude 148 deg. 3’ E. The length of this, streight or channel, from Cape Saint George to Cape Byron, the southwest extremity of New Ireland, is above eighty leagues; the distance from Cape Byron to Queen Charlotte’s Foreland is about twelve leagues, and from the foreland to Portland’s Islands about eight leagues; so that the whole length of Saint George’s Channel is about one hundred leagues, or three hundred miles.
Though we cleared the streight in the morning of Sunday the 13th of September, we had no observation of the sun till the 15th, which I could not but greatly regret, as it prevented my being so exact in my latitude and longitude as might be expected. The description also of the country, its productions and people, would have been much more full and circumstantial, if I had not been so much enfeebled and dispirited by sickness, as almost to sink under the duty that for want of officers devolved upon me, being obliged, when I was scarcely able to crawl, to keep watch and watch, and share other duties with my lieutenant, whose health also was, greatly impaired.