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23 August, 1770


On 23 August, 1770, James Cook wrote “we weigh'd with a light breeze at SSE and steer'd NWBW for the small Island above Mentioned having first sent the Boats ahead to sound, depth of water 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, and 3 fm... we carried all the way to the small Island a head which we reached by Noon... having but little wind Mr Banks and I landed upon it and found it to be mostly a barren Rock frequented by birds such as Boobies, a few of which we Shott and occasioned my giving it the Name of Booby Island. I made but a very short stay at this Island before I returnd to the Ship. in the mean time the wind had got to the SW and altho it blowed but very faint yet it was accompaned with a swell from the same quarter; this together with other concuring circumstances left me no room to doubt but we were got to the Westward of Carpentaria or the Northern extremety of New-Holland and had now an open Sea to the westward, which gave me no small satisfaction not only because the danger and fatigues of the Voyage was drawing near to and end, but by being able to prove that New-Holland and New-Guinea are two Seperate Lands or Islands, which untill this day hath been a doubtful point with Geographers...

This passage, which I have named Endeavours Straight after the name of the Ship, is in length NE and SW 10 Leagues and about 5 leagues broad... However take the Chart in general and I beleive it will be found to contain as few errors as most Sea Charts which have not undergone a thorough correction, the Latitude and Longitude of all or most of the principal head lands, Bays &ca may be relied on, for we seldom faild of geting an Observation every day to correct our Latitude by, and the observation for Settleing the Longitude were no less numberous and made as often as the Sun and Moon came in play, so that it was impossible for any material error to creep into our reckoning in the intermidiate times. In justice to Mr Green I must say that he was Indefatigable in making and calculating these observations which otherwise must have taken up a great deal of my time, which I could not at all times very well spare. Not only this, but by his Instructions several of the Petty officers can make and Calculate these observations almost as well as himself: it is only by such means that this method of finding the Longitude at Sea can be put into universal practice—a method that we have generally found may be depended upon to within half a degree; which is a degree of accuracy more than Sufficient for all Nautical purposes. Would Sea officers once apply themselves to the makeing and calculating these observations they would not find them so very difficult as they at first imagine, especially with the assistance of the Nautical Almanac and Astronomical Ephemeris, by the help of which the calculations for finding the Longde takes up but little more time than that of an Azimuth for find[ing] the Varin of the compass; but unless this Ephemeris is publishd for some time to come more than either one or two Years it can never be of general use in long Voyages, and in short Voyages its not so much wanting; without it the Calculations are laborious and discouraging to beginers and such as are not well Vers'd in these kind of calculations.

In the PM had light Airs from the SSW with which, after leaving Booby Island as before mentioned, we Steer'd WNW untill 5 oClock when it fell calm, and the Tide of Ebb which sets to the NE soon after makeing, we Anchor'd in 8 fathom soft sandy bottom”.


Joseph Banks wrote “In the morn calm: at nine however a small breeze sprang up on which we weighd and saild through a channel which had been found during the calm. At noon we were abreast of an Island which was white with the Dung of Birds; as we had little wind the ship was brought too we went ashore upon it and shot bobies till our ammunition was quite expended. I myself Botanizd and found some plants which I had not before seen. After we came on board the winds were variable and soon after calm and very hot. Water still continued very Shoal but the swell, which ran larger than any we had met with within the reef, gave us great hope”.

Booby Island.


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