At length we sighted an island, the coast of which was rocky and barren. Through stress of weather we were compelled to keep off the shore, steering northward until, on the third day, the weather having moderated, we hove to as near to the coast as we dared approach, and endeavoured to land a boat’s crew. In spite of breakers and a heavy sea, six of the sailors leaped overboard opposite a sandy beach, and with great difficulty reached the shore. Whilst searching for water the sailors saw four natives, who fled at their approach. They were wild, black, and entirely naked. Not finding water, the seamen regained the boat, bruised and half-drowned. Again we set sail, and next day we were off an island of considerable size, with two dangerous reefs stretching out into the sea. At length we managed to effect a landing, and fresh water being found, the ship was brought to anchor between the reefs, where some shelter was to be had, although the position of the vessel was by no means secure.
Upon this island we fell in with a race of savages totally unlike any we had previously met with. These people have no houses or garments of any kind, and, setting aside their human shape, they differ but little from brutes. They have large heads, round foreheads, and great brows. Their eyelids are always half-closed to keep the flies out of their eyes, these insects being so troublesome that no fanning will keep them away; so from their infancy being so tormented, they do never open their eyes as other people do, nor can they see far unless they hold up their heads as if they were looking at something over them. They have great bottle noses, full lips, and wide mouths.
They appeared to be quite indifferent to our landing upon their island, nor did they exhibit any fear or surprise at seeing us. We endeavoured to make them help us carry some water barrels to the boats. But though the barrels contained only six gallons each, and we put them on their shoulders, all the signs we could make to get them to carry them were useless. They stood like statues, without motion, grinning like so many monkeys. Having watered our vessel we once more put to sea.
We were now, by our reckoning, somewhere in the vicinity of New Holland, and at six o’clock in the evening we shortened sail. We were then in twenty fathoms of water, when suddenly we again found ourselves in deep water, and believed all danger at an end. But in less than an hour, without warning, our ship struck on a rock, and remained immovable. Not being near to any shore we were well aware of the gravity of our position. We feared we had struck a submerged coral reef, and all sails were immediately taken in, and the boats lowered. We had struck just before dark, and at daylight I observed land some eight miles distant. High tide was expected at about eleven o’clock, when it was hoped the vessel would float off, though we feared she would sink in deep water.