A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 13 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 794 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 13.
another hair’s-breadth escape, for it was near high water, and there run a short cockling sea, which must very soon have bulged the ship if she had struck; and if her direction had been half a cable’s length more either to the right or left, she must have struck before the signal for the shoal was made.  The shoals which, like these, lie a fathom or two under water, are the most dangerous of any, for they do not discover themselves till the vessel is just upon them, and then indeed the water looks brown, as if it reflected a dark cloud.  Between three and four o’clock the tide of ebb began to make, and I sent the master to sound to the southward and south-westward, and in the mean time, as the ship tended, I weighed anchor, and with a little sail stood first to the southward, and after edging away to the westward, got once more out of danger.  At sun-set we anchored in ten fathom, with a sandy bottom, having a fresh gale at E.S.E.

At six in the morning we weighed again and stood west, having, as usual, first sent a boat a-head to sound.  I had intended to steer N.W. till I had made the south coast of New Guinea, designing, if possible, to touch upon it; but upon meeting with these shoals, I altered my course, in hopes of finding a clearer channel, and deeper water.  In this I succeeded, for by noon our depth of water was gradually increased to seventeen fathom.  Our latitude was now, by observation, 10 deg. 10’ S., and our longitude 220 deg. 12’ W. No land was in sight.  We continued to steer W. till sun-set, our depth of water being from twenty-seven to twenty-three fathom:  We then shortened sail, and kept upon a wind all night; four hours on one tack and four on another.  At day-light we made all the sail we could, and steered W.N.W. till eight o’clock, and then N.W.  At noon our latitude, by observation, was 9 deg. 56’ S., longitude 221 deg.  W.; variation 2 deg. 30’ E. We continued our N.W. course till sun-set, when we again shortened sail, and hauled close upon a wind to the northward:  Our depth of water was twenty-one fathom.  At eight, we tacked and stood to the southward till twelve; then stood to the northward, with little sail, till day-light:  Our soundings were from twenty-five to seventeen fathom, the water growing gradually shallow as we stood to the northward.  At this time we made sail and stood to the north, in order to make the land of New Guinea:  From the time of our making sail, till noon, the depth of water gradually decreased from seventeen to twelve fathom, with a stoney and shelly bottom.  Our latitude, by observation, was now 8 deg. 52’ S, which is in the same parallel as that in which the southern parts of New Guinea are laid down in the charts; but there are only two points so far to the south, and I reckoned that we were a degree to the westward of them both, and therefore did not see the land, which trends more to the northward.  We found the sea here to be in many parts covered with a brown scum, such as sailors generally call spawn.  When I

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