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5 March, 1771


On 5 March, 1771, James Cook wrote “day light in the Morning error proved this [last night’s conclusion that no land was near] to be a Mistake by shewing us the land at the Distance of a bout 2 Leagues off. We had now the wind at SE, blowing fresh right upon the land. When we made the land we were standing to the westward, but thinking the other the best tack to get off on we wore and hauld off to Eastward and by now had got an offing of a bout 4 Leagues, the land at this time extending from NEBN to WSW. This part of the Coast of Africa that we fell in with lies... near to what is call'd in the Charts Point Natall, it was a steep cragy point, very much broke and look'd as if the high Cragy rocks were Islands; to the NE of this point the land in generl appeared to rise sloaping from the Sea to a moderate height, the shore Alternately Rocks and Sand. About 2 Leagues to the NE of the point appeared to be the Mouth of a River which probably may be that of St Johns. At this time the weather was very Hazey so that we had but a very imperfect View of the land which did not appear to great advantage”.


Joseph Banks wrote “Day broke and shewd us at its earliest dawn how fortunate we had been in the Calms of last night: what was then supposd to be land provd realy so and not above 5 miles from us, so that another hour would have infallibly have carried us upon it. But fortunate as we might think ourselves to be yet unshipwreckd we were still in extreme danger, the wind blew right upon the shore and with it a heavy sea ran which broke mountains high on the rocks with which it was every where lind, so that tho some in the ship thought it possible the major part did not hope to be able to get off. Our anchors and cables were accordingly prepard but the sea ran too high to allow us a hope of the Cables holding should we be drove to the Necessity of making use of them, and should we be drove ashore the Breakers gave us as little hope of saving even our lives: at last however after 4 hours spent in the vicissitudes of hope and fear we found that we got gradualy off and before night were out of Danger. The land from whence we so narrowly escapd is part of the Terra de Natal, laying between the rivers Sangue and Formis about 20 Leagues to the southward of the Bay of Natal. The shore seemd every where steep and rocky but the hills inland rose in gradual slopes spotted here and there with woods, and where it was not lookd Green and pleasant”.

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