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16 September, 1770


On 16 September, 1770, James Cook wrote “we Steerd WSW and at 9 oClock west, at which time we saw the Island Rotte right ahead [Rote or Roti Island]... We continualy saw upon it smooks by Day and fires in the night and in many places houses and plantations. I was strongly importune'd by some of my officers to go to the Dutch settlement at Concordia [Kupang] on this Island for refreshments, but this I refuse'd to comply with, knowing that the Dutch look upon all Europeans with a jealous eye that come a mong these Islands and our necessities were not so great to oblige me to put into a place where I might expect to be but indifferently treated... we Steer'd WNW untill 2 o'Clock when being pretty near the North end of Rotte we hauld up NNW in order to go between it and Anaboa [Semau Island], after steering 3 Leagues upon this Course we edge'd away NW and west and by 6 oClock we were clear of all the Islands... At the West end of the Passage between Rotte and Anaboa are two small Islands [Landu and Tebui], the one lays near the Rotte shore and the other off the SW point of Anaboa, there is a good Channell between the two of 5 or 6 Miles broad which we came through... clear of the Islands we steer'd a west Course”.


Joseph Banks wrote “Trade rather fresher than yesterday. Soon after breakfast the small Island of Rotte [Rote or Roti Island] was in sight and soon after the opening appeard plain which at last convincd our old unbeleivers that the Island we has so [long?] been off was realy Timor. Soon after dinner we passd the Streights [Rote Strait]. The Island of Rotte was not mountanous or high like Timor but consisted of Hills and vales: on the East End of it some of our people saw Houses but I did not: the North side had frequent sandy beaches near which grew some few of the Fan Palm, but the greatest part was coverd with a kind of brushy trees which had few or no leaves upon them. The opening between Timor and the Island calld by Dampeir Anabao we plainly saw which appeard narrow. Anabao [Semau Island] itself lookd much like Timor, only was rather less high: we saw on it no signs of cultivation, but as it was misty and we were well on the other side of the streights, which we judgd to be 5 Lgs over, we saw it but very indifferently. Off the Western end of it was a small low sandy Island [Tebui] coverd with trees; before night however we had left all behind us.

About 10 O’Clock a Phænomenon appeard in the heavens in many things resembling the Aurora Borealis but differing materialy in others [Aurora Australis]: it consisted of a dull reddish light reaching in hight about 20 degrees above the Horizon: its extent was very different at different times but never less than 8 or 10 points of the compass. Through and out of this passd rays of a brighter colourd light tending directly upwards; these appeard and vanishd nearly in the same time as those of the Aurora Borealis, but were entirely without that trembling or vibratory motion observd in that Phænomenon. The body of it bore from the ship SSE: it lasted as bright as ever till near 12 when I went down to sleep but how much longer I cannot tell”.

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