Captain James Cook's journal entries

May 31st - June 6th 1770


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Thursday, 31st.
Winds Southerly and South-East; Dark, Hazey weather, with rain. In the P.M., finding no one inducement to stay longer in this place, we at 6 a.m. Weighed and put to Sea, and stood to the North-West, having the Advantage of a fresh breeze at South-South-East. We keept without the Group of Islands which lay in Shore, and to the North-West of Thirsty Sound, as there appear’d to be no safe passage between them and the Main; at the same time we had a number of Islands without us extending out to Sea as far as we could see; as we run in this direction our depth of Water was 10, 8 and 9 fathoms. At Noon the North-West point of Thirsty Sound, which I have named Pier head, bore South 36 degrees East, distant 5 Leagues; the East point of the other inlet, which Communicates with the former, as I have before mentioned, bore South by West, distance 2 1/2 Leagues, the Group of Islands above mentioned laying between us and the point. The farthest part of the Main in sight, on the other side of the inlet, bore North-West; our Latitude by Observation was 21 degrees 53 minutes South.

Friday, June 1st.
At 1/2 an hour After Noon, upon the Boat we had ahead sounding making the Signal for Shoal Water, we hauld our wind to the North-East, having at that time 7 fathoms; the Next cast 5, and then 3, upon which we let go an Anchor, and brought the Ship up. The North-West point of Thirsty Sound, or Pier Head, bore South-East, distance 6 Leagues, being Midway between the Islands which lies off the East point of the Western inlet and 3 Small Islands directly without them, it being now the first of the flood which we found to set North-West by West 1/2 West. After having sounded about the Shoal, on which we found not quite 3 fathoms, but without it deep water, we got under Sail, and hauld round the 3 Islands just mentioned, and came to an Anchor under the Lee of them in 15 fathoms, having at this time dark, hazey, rainy weather, which continued until 7 o’Clock a.m., at which time we got again under sail, and stood to the North-West with a fresh breeze at South-South-East and fair weather, having the Main land in Sight and a Number of Islands all round us, some of which lay out at Sea as far as we could See. The Western Inlet before mentioned, known in the Chart by the Name of Broad Sound, we had now all open. It is at least 9 or 10 Leagues wide at the Entrance, with several Islands laying in and before, and I believe Shoals also, for we had very irregular Soundings, from 10 to 5 and 4 fathoms. At Noon we were by Observation in the Latitude of 21 degrees 29 minutes South, and Longitude made from Cape Townshend 59 degrees West. A point of Land, which forms the North-West Entrance into Broad Sound, bore from us at this Time West, distance 3 Leagues; this Cape I have named Cape Palmerston (Latitude 21 degrees 27 minutes South, Longitude 210 degrees 57 minutes West). Between this Cape and Cape Townshend lies the Bay of Inlets, so named from the Number of Inlets, Creeks, etc., in it.

Saturday, 2nd.
Winds at South-South-East and South-East, a gentle breeze, with which we stood to the North-West and North-West by North, as the land lay, under an easey Sail. Having a boat ahead, found our Soundings at first were very irregular, from 9 to 4 fathoms; but afterwards regular, from 9 to 11 fathoms. At 8, being about 2 Leagues from the Main Land, we Anchor’d in 11 fathoms, Sandy bottom. Soon after this we found a Slow Motion of a Tide seting to the Eastward, and rode so until 6, at which time the tide had risen 11 feet; we now got under Sail, and Stood away North-North-West as the land lay. From the Observations made on the tide last Night it is plain that the flood comes from the North-West; whereas Yesterday and for Several days before we found it to come from the South-East. This is neither the first nor second time that we have observed the same thing, and in my Opinion easy accounted for; but this I shall do in another place. At sun rise we found the Variation to be 6 degrees 45 minutes East. In steering along shore between the Island and the Main, at the Distance of 2 Leagues from the Latter, and 3 or 4 from the former, our soundings were Regular, from 12 to 9 fathoms; but about 11 o’Clock we were again embarrassed with Shoal Water, but got clear without letting go an Anchor; we had at one time not quite 3 fathoms. At Noon we were about 2 Leagues from the Main land, and about 4 from the Islands without us; our Latitude by Observation was 20 degrees 56 minutes South, Longitude made from Cape Palmerston 16 degrees West; a pretty high Promontory, which I named Cape Hillsborough, bore West 1/2 North, distant 7 Miles. The Main Land is here pretty much diversified with Mountains, Hills, plains, and Vallies, and seem’d to be tollerably Cloathed with Wood and Verdure. These Islands, which lay Parrallel with the Coast, and from 5 to 8 or 9 Leagues off, are of Various Extent, both for height and Circuit; hardly any Exceeds 5 Leagues in Circuit, and many again are very small. Besides the Chain of Islands, which lay at a distance from the Coast, there are other Small Ones laying under the Land. Some few smokes were seen on the Main land.

Sunday, 3rd.
Winds between the South by East and South-East. A Gentle breeze and Clear weather. In the P.M. we steer’d along shore North-West 1/2 West, at the distance of 2 Leagues from the Main, having 9 and 10 fathoms regular soundings. At sun set the furthest point of the Main Land that we could distinguish as such bore North 48 degrees West; to the Northward of this lay some high land, which I took to be an Island, the North West point of which bore North 41 degrees West; but as I was not sure that there was a passage this way, we at 8 came to an Anchor in 10 fathoms, muddy bottom. 2 hours after this we had a tide setting to the Northward, and at 2 o’clock it had fallen 9 Feet since the time we Anchored. After this the Tide began to rise, and the flood came from the Northward, which was from the Islands out at Sea, and plainly indicated that there was no passage to the North-West; but as this did not appear at day light when we got under Sail, and stood away to the North-West until 8, at this time we discover’d low land, quite a Cross what we took for an Opening between the Main and the Islands, which proved to be a Bay about 5 or 6 Leagues deep. Upon this we hauld our wind to the Eastward round the Northermost point of the Bay, which bore from us at this time North-East by North, distance 4 Leagues. From this point we found the Main land trend away North by West 1/2 West, and a Strait or Passage between it and a Large Island or Islands laying in a Parrallel direction with the Coast; this passage we Stood into, having the Tide of Ebb in our favour. At Noon we were just within the Entrance, and by observation in the Latitude of 20 degrees 26 minutes South; Cape Hillsborough bore South by East, distant 10 Leagues, and the North point of the Bay before mentioned bore South 19 degrees West, distance 4 Miles. This point I have named Cape Conway (Latitude 20 degrees 30 minutes, Longitude 211 degrees 28 minutes), and the bay, Repulse Bay, which is formed by these 2 Capes. The greatest and least depth of Water we found in it was 13 and 8 fathoms; every where safe Anchoring, and I believe, was it properly examined, there would be found some good Harbour in it, especIally on the North Side within Cape Conway, for just within the Cape lay 2 or 3 Small Islands, which alone would shelter that side of the Bay from the South-East and Southerly winds, which seem to be the prevailing or Trade Winds. Among the many islands that lay upon this Coast there is one more Remarkable than the rest, being of a Small circuit, very high and peaked, and lies East by South, 10 Miles from Cape Conway at the South end of the Passage above mention’d.

Monday, 4th.
Winds at South-South-East and South-East, a Gentle breeze and Clear weather. In the P.M. Steerd thro’ the passage which we found from 3 to 6 or 7 Miles broad, and 8 or 9 Leagues in length, North by West 1/2 West and South by East 1/2 East. It is form’d by the Main on the West, and by Islands on the East, one of which is at least 5 Leagues in length. Our Depth of Water in running thro’ was between 25 and 20 fathoms; everywhere good Anchorage; indeed the whole passage is one Continued safe Harbour, besides a Number of small Bays and Coves on each side, where ships might lay as it where in a Bason; at least so it appear’d to me, for I did not wait to Examine it, as having been in Port so lately, and being unwilling to loose the benefit of a light Moon. The land, both on the Main and Islands, especially on the former, is Tolerably high, and distinguished by Hills and Vallies, which are diversified with Woods and Lawns that looked green and pleasant. On a Sandy beach upon one of the Islands we saw 2 people and a Canoe, with an outrigger, which appeared to be both Larger and differently built to any we have seen upon the Coast. At 6 we were nearly the length of the North end of the Passage; the North Westermost point of the Main in sight bore North 54 degrees West, and the North end of the Island North-North-East, having an open Sea between these 2 points. [This passage I have named Whitsundays Passage, as it was discover’d on the day the Church commemorates that Festival, and the Isles which form it Cumberland Isles, in honour of His Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland.] We keept under an Easey Sail and the Lead going all Night, having 21, 22, and 23 fathoms, at the distance of 3 Leagues from the land. At daylight A.M. we were abreast of the point above mentioned, which is a lofty promontory; that I named Cape Gloucester (Latitude 19 degrees 57 minutes South, Longitude 211 degrees 54 minutes West). It may be known by an Island which lies out at Sea North by West 1/2 West, 5 or 6 Leagues from it; this I called Holbourn Isle. There are also Islands laying under the Land between it and Whitsundays Passage. On the West side of the Cape the Land Trends away South-West and South-South-West, and forms a deep bay. The Sand in the bottom of this bay I could but just see from the Masthead; it is very low, and is a Continuation of the same low land as is at the bottom of Repulse Bay. Without Waiting to look into this bay, which I called Edgcumbe Bay, we continued our Course to the Westward for the Westermost land we had in sight which bore from us West by North 1/2 North, and appeared very high. At Noon we were about 3 Leagues from the Land, and by observation in the Latitude of 19 degrees 47 minutes South, Cape Gloucester bearing South 63 degrees East, distant 7 1/2 Leagues.

Tuesday, 5th.
Winds between the South and East, a Gentle breeze, and Serene weather. At 6 a.m. we were abreast of the Western point of Land above mentioned, distant from it 3 Miles, which I have named Cape Upstart, because being surrounded with low land it starts or rises up singley at the first making of it (Latitude 19 degrees 39 minutes South, Longitude 212 degrees 32 minutes West); it lies West-North-West 14 Leagues from Cape Gloucester, and is of a height sufficient to be seen 12 Leagues; but it is not so much of a Promontory as it appears to be, because on each side of it near the Sea is very low land, which is not to be seen unless you are pretty well in with the Shore. Inland are some Tolerable high hills or mountains, which, like the Cape, affords but a very barren prospect. Having past this Cape, we continued standing to the West-North-West as the land lay, under an easey Sail, having from 16 to 10 fathoms, until 2 o’Clock a.m., when we fell into 7 fathoms, upon which we hauled our wind to the Northward, judging ourselves to be very near the land; as so we found, for at daylight we were little more than 2 Leagues off. What deceived us was the Lowness of the land, which is but very little higher than the Surface of the Sea, but in the Country were some hills. At noon we were in 15 fathoms Water, and about 4 Leagues from the land. Our Latitude by Observation was 19 degrees 12 minutes South; Cape Upstart bore 38 degrees 30 minutes East, distant 12 Leagues. Course and distance sail’d since Yesterday noon North 48 degrees 45 minutes, 53 Miles. At and before Noon some very large smokes were Seen rise up out of the low land. At sun rise I found the Variation to be 5 degrees 35 minutes Easterly; at sun set last night the same Needle gave near 9 degrees. This being Close under Cape Upstart, I judged that it was owing to Iron ore or other Magnetical Matter Lodged in the Earth.

Wednesday, 6th.
Light Airs at East-South-East, with which we Steer’d West-North-West as the Land now lay; Depth of Water 12 and 14 fathoms. At Noon we were by Observation in the Latitude of 19 degrees 1 minute South, Longitude made from Cape Gloucester 1 degree 30 minutes West; Course and distance saild since Yesterday noon West-North-West, 28 Miles. In this situation we had the Mouth of a Bay all open extending from South 1/2 East to South-West 1/2 South, distance 2 Leagues. This bay, which I named Cleveland Bay, appeared to be about 5 or 6 Miles in Extent every way. The East point I named Cape Cleveland, and the West, Magnetical Head or Island, as it had much the appearance of an Island; and the Compass did not traverse well when near it. They are both Tolerable high, and so is the Main Land within them, and the whole appeared to have the most rugged, rocky, and barren Surface of any we have yet seen. However, it is not without inhabitants, as we saw smoke in several places in the bottom of the bay. The Northermost land we had in sight at this time bore North-West; this we took to be an Island or Islands, for we could not trace the Main land farther than West by North.


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