A Continuation of a Voyage to New Holland/Chapter 5


The wind seeming to incline to east, as might be expected according to the season of the year, I rather chose to shape my course as these winds would best permit than strive to return the same way we came; which, for many leagues, must have been against this monsoon: though indeed, on the other hand, the dangers in that way we already knew; but what might be in this by which we now proposed to return we could not tell.


We were now in a channel about 8 on 9 leagues wide, having a range of islands on the north side, and another on the south side, and very deep water between, so that we had no ground. The 22nd of April in the morning I sent my boat ashore to an island on the north side, and stood that way with the ship. They found no ground till within a cable's length of the shore, and then had coral rocks; so that they could not catch any fish, though they saw a great many. They brought aboard a small canoe, which they found adrift. They met with no game ashore save only one party-coloured parakeet. The land is of an indifferent height; very rocky, yet clothed with tall trees, whose bare roots run along upon the rocks. Our people saw a pond of salt-water but found no fresh. Near this island we met a pretty strong tide but found neither tide nor current off at some distance.


On the 24th, being about 2 leagues from an island to the southward of us, we came over a shoal on which we had but 5 fathom and a half. We did not descry it till we saw the ground under us. In less than half an hour before the boat had been sounding in discoloured water, but had no ground. We manned the boat presently and towed the ship about; and then sounding had 12, 15, and 17 fathom, and then no ground with our hand-lead. The shoal was rocky; but in 12 and 15 fathom we had oazy ground.


We found here very strange tides that ran in streams, making a great sea; and roaring so loud that we could hear them before they came within a mile of us. The sea round about them seemed all broken, and tossed the ship so that she would not answer her helm. These ripplings commonly lasted 10 or 12 minutes, and then the sea became as still and smooth as a mill-pond. We sounded often when in the midst of them, and afterwards in the smooth water; but found no ground, neither could we perceive that they drove us any way.

We had in one night several of these tides that came most of them from the west; and, the wind being from that quarter, we commonly heard them a long time before they came; and sometimes lowered our topsails, thinking it was a gust of wind. They were of great length from north to south, but their breadth not exceeding 200 yards, and they drove a great pace: for though we had little wind to move us, yet these would soon pass away and leave the water very smooth, and just before we encountered them we met a great swell but it did not break.


The 26th we saw the island Ceram; and still met some ripplings, but much fainter than those we had the 2 preceding days. We sailed along the island Ceram to the westward, edging in withal, to see if peradventure we might find a harbour to anchor in where we might water, trim the ship, and refresh our men.

In the morning we saw a sail to the north of us, steering in for the west end of Ceram, as we likewise were. In the evening, being near the shore on the north side of the island, I stood off to sea with an easy sail; intending to stand in for the shore in the morning, and try to find anchoring to fill water, and get a little fish for refreshment. Accordingly in the morning early I stood in with the north-west point of Ceram; leaving a small island, called Bonao, to the west. The sail we saw the day before was now come pretty nigh us, steering in also (as we did) between Ceram and Bonao. I shortened sail a little for him; and when he got abreast of us not above 2 miles off I sent my boat aboard. It was a Dutch sloop, come from Ternate, and bound for Amboina: my men whom I sent in the boat bought 5 bags of new rice, each containing about 130 pounds, for 6 Spanish dollars. The sloop had many rare parrots aboard for sale which did not want price. A Malayan merchant aboard told our men that about 6 months ago he was at Bencola, and at that time the governor either died or was killed, and that the commander of an English ship then in that road succeeded to that government.

In the afternoon, having a breeze at north and north-north-east, I sent my boat to sound and, standing after her with the ship, anchored in 30 fathom water oazy sand, half a mile from the shore, right against a small river of fresh water. The next morning I sent both the boats ashore to fish; they returned about 10 o'clock with a few mullets and 3 or 4 cavallies, and some pan-fish. We found variation here 2 degrees 15 minutes east.

When the sea was smooth by the land-winds we sent our boats ashore for water; who, in a few turns, filled all our casks.

The land here is low, swampy and woody; the mould is a dark grey, friable earth. Two rivers came out within a bow-shot of each other, just opposite to the place where we rode: one comes right down out of the country; and the other from the south, running along by the shore, not musket-shot from the seaside. The northernmost river is biggest, and out of it we filled our water; our boats went in and out at any time of tide. In some places the land is overflown with fresh water, at full sea. The land hereabouts is full of trees unknown to us, but none of them very large or high; the woods yield many wild fruits and berries, such as I never saw elsewhere. We met with no land animals.


The fowls we found were pigeons, parrots, cockadores, and a great number of small birds unknown to me. One of the master's mates killed 2 fowls as big as crows; of a black colour, excepting that the tails were all white. Their necks were pretty long, one of which was of a saffron-colour, the other black. They had very large bills much like a ram's horn; their legs were strong and short, and their claws like a pigeon's; their wings of an ordinary length: yet they make a great noise when they fly, which they do very heavily. They feed on berries, and perch on the highest trees. Their flesh is sweet; I saw some of the same species at New Guinea, but nowhere else.



May the 3rd at 6 in the morning we weighed, intending to pass between Bonao and Ceram; but presently after we got under sail we saw a pretty large proa coming about the north-west point of Ceram. Wherefore I stood to the north to speak with her, putting aboard our ensign. She, seeing us coming that way, went into a small creek and skulked behind a point a while: at last discovering her again I sent my boat to speak with her; but the proa rowed away and would not come nigh it. After this, finding I could not pass between Bonao and Ceram as I purposed, I steered away to the north of it.

This Bonao is a small island lying about 4 leagues from the north-west point of Ceram. I was informed by the Dutch sloop before mentioned that, notwithstanding its smallness, it has one fine river, and that the Dutch are there settled. Whether there be any natives on it or not I know not, nor what its produce is. They further said that the Ceramers were their mortal enemies; yet that they were settled on the westermost point of Ceram in spite of the natives.

The next day as we approached the island Bouro there came off from it a very fragrant scent, much like that from King William's Island; and we found so strong a current setting to the westward that we could scarce stem it. We plied to get to the southward, intending to pass between Bouro and Keelang.

In the evening, being near the west end of Bouro, we saw a brigantine to the north-west of us, on the north side of Bouro, standing to the eastward. I would not stand east or west for fear of coming nigh the land which was on each side of us, namely Bouro on the west, and Keelang on the east. The next morning we found ourselves in mid-channel between both islands; and having the wind at south-west we steered south-south-east, which is right through between both. At 11 o'clock it fell calm; and so continued till noon; by that time the brigantine which we saw astern the night before was got 2 or 3 leagues ahead of us. It is probable she met a strong land-wind in the evening which continued all night; she keeping nearer the shore than I could safely do. She might likewise have a tide or current setting easterly, where she was; though we had a tide setting northwardly against us, we being in mid-channel.

About 8 at night the brigantine which we saw in the day came close along by us on our weather-side: our guns were all ready before night, matches lighted, and small arms on the quarter-deck ready loaded. She standing one way and we another; we soon got further asunder. But I kept good watch all the night and in the morning saw her astern of us, standing as we did. At 10 o'clock, having little wind, I sent the yawl aboard of her. She was a Chinese vessel laden with rice, arrack, tea, porcelain, and other commodities, bound for Amboina. The commander said that his boat was gone ashore for water, and asked our men if they saw her; for she had been wanting for 2 or 3 days, and they knew not what was become of her. They had their wives and children aboard, and probably came to settle at some new Dutch factory. The commander also informed us that the Dutch had lately settled at Ampoulo, Menippe, Bonao, and on a point of Ceram. The next day we passed out to the southward between Keelang and Bouro. After this we had for several days a current setting southerly, and a great tumbling sea, occasioned more by the strong current than by winds, as was apparent by the jumping of its waves against each other; and by observation I found 25 miles more southing than our course gave us.


On the 14th we discovered the island Misacomba, and the next day sailed along to the west on the north side of the island. In some charts it is called Omba; it is a mountainous island, spotted with woods and savannahs; about 20 leagues long and 5 or 6 broad. We saw no signs of inhabitants on it. We fell in nearest to the west end of it; and therefore I chose to pass on to the westward, intending to get through to the southward between this and the next isle to the west of it, or between any other 2 islands to the west, where I should meet with the clearest passage; because the winds were now at north-east and east-north-east, and the isle lies nearly east and west; so that if the winds continued I might be a long time in getting to the east end of it, which yet I knew to be the best passage. In the night, being at the west end and seeing no clear passage, I stood off with an easy sail, and in the morning had a fine land-wind, which would have carried us 5 or 6 leagues to the east if we had made the best of it; but we kept on only with a gentle gale for fear of a westerly current. In the morning, finding we had not met with any current as we expected, as soon as it was light we made sail to the westward again.

After noon, being near the end of the isle Pentare which lies west from Misacomba, we saw many houses and plantations in the country, and many coconut-trees growing by the seaside. We also saw several boats sailing across a bay or channel at the west end of Misacomba, between it and Pentare. We had but little wind, and that at north, which blows right in with a swell rolling in withal; wherefore I was afraid to venture in, though probably there might be good anchoring and a commerce with the natives. I continued steering to the west, because, the night before at sun-setting, I saw a small round high island to the west of Pentare, where I expected a good passage.


We could not that day reach the west end of Pentare, but saw a deep bay to the west of us, where I thought might be a passage through, between Pentare and Laubana. But as yet the lands were shut one within another, that we could not see any passage. Therefore I ordered to sail 7 leagues more westerly, and lie by till next day. In the morning we looked out for an opening but could see none; yet by the distance and bearing of a high round island called Potoro, we were got to the west of the opening, but not far from it. Wherefore I tacked and stood to the east, and the rather, because I had reason to suppose this to be the passage we came through in the Cygnet mentioned in my Voyage round the World; but I was not yet sure of it because we had rainy weather, so that we could not now see the land so well as we did then. We then accidentally saw the opening at our first falling in with the islands; which now was a work of some time and difficul to discover. However before 10 o'clock we saw the opening plain; and I was the more confirmed in my knowledge of this passage by a spit of sand and 2 islands at the north-east part of its entrance. The wind was at south-south-west and we plied to get through before night; for we found a good tide helping us to the south. About 7 or 8 leagues to the west of us we saw a high round peaked mountain, from whose top a smoke seemed to ascend as from a volcano. There were 3 other very high peaked mountains, 2 on the east and one on the west of that which smoked.

In our plying to get through between Pentare and Laubana we had (as I said) a good tide or current setting us to the southward. And it is to be observed that near the shores in these parts we commonly find a tide setting northwardly or southwardly as the land lies; but the northwardly tide sets not above 3 hours in 12, having little strength; and sometimes it only checks the contrary current which runs with great violence, especially in narrow passes such as this between 2 islands. It was 12 at night before we got clear of 2 other small islands that lay on the south side of the passage; and there we had a very violent tide setting us through against a brisk gale of wind. Notwithstanding which I kept the pinnace out, for fear we should be becalmed. For this is the same place through which I passed in the year 1687, mentioned in my Voyage round the World, only then we came out between the western small island and Laubana, and now we came through between the two small islands. We sounded frequently but had no ground. I said there that we came through between Omba and Pentare: for we did not then see the opening between those 2 islands; which made me take the west side of Pentare for the west end of Omba, and Laubana for Pentare. But now we saw the opening between Omba and Pentare; which was so narrow that I would not venture through: besides I had now discovered my mistake, and hoped to meet with the other passage again, as indeed we did, and found it to be bold from side to side, which in the former voyage I did not know.


After we were through we made the best of our way to Timor, and on May the 18th in the morning we saw it plain, and made the high land over Laphao the Portuguese factory, as also the high peak over our first watering-place, and a small round island about midway between them.

We coasted along the island Timor, intending to touch at Babao, to get a little water and refreshments. I would not go into the bay where we first watered, because of the currents which there whirl about very strangely, especially at spring tides which were now setting in; besides, the south-east winds come down in flaws from the mountains, so that it would have been very dangerous for us.


Wherefore we crowded all the sail we could to get to Babao before night, or at least to get sight of the sandy island at the entrance of the bay; but could not. So we plied all night; and the next morning entered the bay.

There being good ground all over this bay we anchored at 2 o'clock in 30 fathom water, soft oazy ground. And the morning after I sent my boat ashore with the seine to fish. At noon she returned and brought enough for all the ship's company. They saw an Indian boat at a round rocky island about a mile from them.

On the 22nd I sent my boat ashore again to fish: at noon she returned with a few fish, which served me and my officers. They caught one whiting, the first I had seen in these seas. Our people went over to the rocky island and there found several jars of turtle, and some hanging up a-drying, and some cloths; their boat was about a mile off, striking turtle. Our men left all as they found. In the afternoon a very large shark came under our stern; I never had seen any near so big before. I put a piece of meat on a hook for him but he went astern and returned no more. About midnight, the wind being pretty moderate, I weighed and stood into the bottom of the bay, and ran over nearer the south shore, where I thought to lie and water, and at convenient times get fish for our refreshment. The next morning I sent my pinnace with 2 hogsheads and 10 barrecoes for water; they returned at noon with the casks full of water; very thick and muddy, but sweet and good. We found variation 15 minutes west.


This afternoon, finding that the breezes were set in here, and that it blew so hard that I could neither fish nor fill water without much difficulty and hazard of the boat; I resolved to be gone, having good quantity of water aboard. Accordingly at half an hour after 2 in the morning we weighed with the wind at east by south, and stood to sea. We coasted along by the island Roti which is high land, spotted with woods and savannahs. The trees appeared small and shrubby, and the savannahs dry and rusty. All the north side has sandy bays by the sea. We saw no houses nor plantations.


The next day we crowded all the sail we could to get to the west of all the isles before night but could not; for at 6 in the evening we saw land bearing south-west by west. For here are more islands than are laid down in any charts that I have seen. Wherefore I was obliged to make a more westerly course than I intended till I judged we might be clear of the land. And when we were so I could easily perceive by the ship's motion. For till then, being under the lee of the shore, we had smooth water; but now we had a troubled sea which made us dance lustily. This turbulent sea was occasioned in part by the current; which, setting out slanting against the wind, was by it raised into short cockling seas. I did indeed expect a south-west current here but not so very strong as we found it.

On the 26th we continued to have a very strong current setting southwardly; but on what point exactly I know not. Our whole distance by log was but 82 miles, and our difference of latitude since yesterday noon by observation 100 miles, which is 18 miles more than the whole distance; and our course, allowing no leeway at all, was south 17 degrees west, which gives but 76 miles difference of latitude, 24 less than we found by observation. I did expect (as has been said) we might meet a great current setting to the south yesterday, because there is a constant current setting out from among those islands we passed through between Timor and the isles to the west of it, and it is probable, in all the other openings between the islands, even from the east end of Java to the end of all that range that runs from thence, both to the east and west of Timor; but, being got so far out to sea as we were, though there may be a very great current, yet it does not seem probable to me that it should be of so great strength as we now found: for both currents and tides lose their force in the open sea where they have room to spread; and it is only in narrow places or near headlands that their force is chiefly felt. Besides, in my opinion, it should here rather set to the west than south; being open to the narrow sea that divides New Holland from the range of islands before mentioned.

The 27th we found that in the last 24 hours we had gone 9 miles less south than the log gave: so that it is probable we were then out of the southern current which we felt so much before. We saw many tropic-birds about us. And found variation 1 degree 25 minutes west.


On June the 1st we saw several whales, the first we had at this time seen on the coast: but when we were here before we saw many; at which time we were nearer the shore than now. The variation now was 5 degrees 38 minutes west.


I designed to have made New Holland in about the latitude of 20 degrees, and steered courses by day to make it, but in the night could not be so bold; especially since we had sounding. This afternoon I steered in south-west till 6 o'clock; then, it blowing fresh and night coming on, I steered west-south-west till we had 40 fathom; and then stood west, which course carries alongshore. In the morning again from 6 to 12 I steered west-south-west to have made the land but, not seeing it, I judged we were to the west of it. Here is very good soundings on this coast. When we passed this way to the eastward we had, near this latitude of 19 degrees 50 minutes 38 fathom, about 18 leagues from the land: but this time we saw not the land. The next morning I saw a great many scuttle-fish bones which was a sign that we were not far from the land. Also a great many weeds continually floating by us.

We found the variation increase considerably as we went westward. For on the 3rd it was 6 degrees 10 minutes west; on the 4th, 6 degrees 20 minutes, and on the 6th, 7 degrees 20 minutes. That evening we saw some fowls like men-of-war-birds flying north-east, as I was told; for I did not see them, having been indisposed these 3 or 4 days.


On the 11th we found the variation 8 degrees 1 minute west; on the 12th, 6 degrees 0 minutes. I kept on my course to the westward till the 15th, and then altered it. My design was to seek for the Tryal Rocks; but, having been sick 5 or 6 days without any fresh provision or other good nourishment aboard, and seeing no likelihood of my recovery, I rather chose to go to some port in time than to beat here any longer; my people being very negligent when I was not upon deck myself; I found the winds variable, so that I might go any way, east, west, north, or south; wherefore it is probable I might have found the said rocks had not sickness prevented me; which discovery (whenever made) will be of great use to merchants trading to these parts.


From hence nothing material happened till we came upon the coast of Java. On the 23rd we saw Princes Isle plain, and the mouth of the Straits of Sunda. By my computation the distance between Timor and Princes Isle is 14 degrees 22 minutes. The next day in the afternoon, being abreast of Crockadore Island, I steered away east-north-east for an island that lies near midway between Sumatra and Java but nearest the Java shore; which is by Englishmen called Thwart-the-way. We had but small winds till about 3 o'clock when it freshened, and I was in good hopes to pass through before day: but at 9 o'clock the wind fell and we got but little. I was then abreast of Thwart-the-way, which is a pretty high long island; but before 11 the wind turned, and presently afterward it fell calm. I was then about 2 leagues from the said island; and, having a strong current against us, before day we were driven astern 4 or 5 leagues. In the morning we had the wind at north-north-west; it looked black and the wind unsettled: so that I could not expect to get through. I therefore stood toward the Java shore, and at 10 anchored in 24 fathom water, black oazy ground, 3 leagues from the shore. I sounded in the night when it was calm, and had 54 fathom, coarse sand and coral.


In the afternoon before we had seen many proas; but none came off to us; and in the night we saw many fires ashore. This day a large proa came aboard of us, and lay by our side an hour. There were only 4 men in her, all Javians, who spoke the Malayan language. They asked if we were English; I answered we were; and presently one of them came aboard and presented me with a small hen, some eggs and coconuts; for which I gave some beads and a small looking-glass, and some glass bottles. They also gave me some sugarcane, which I distributed to such of my men as were scorbutic. They told me there were 3 English ships at Batavia.

The 28th at 2 in the afternoon we anchored in 26 fathom water; presently it fell calm and began to rain very violently and so continued from 3 till 9 in the evening. At 1 in the morning we weighed with a fine land-wind at south-south-east; but presently, the wind coming about at east, we anchored; for we commonly found the current setting west. If at any time it turned it was so weak that it did us little good; and I did not think it safe to venture through without a pretty brisk leading gale; for the passage is but narrow, and I knew not what dangers might be in the way, nor how the tide sets in the narrow, having not been this way these 28 years, and all my people wholly strangers: we had the opening fair before us.


While we lay here 4 Malayan proas came from the shore, laden with coconuts, plantains, bananas, fowls, ducks, tobacco, sugar, etc. These were very welcome, and we purchased much refreshment of them. At 10 o'clock I dismissed all the boats, and weighed with the wind at north-west. At half an hour past 6 in the evening we anchored in 32 fathom water in a coarse sort of oaze. We were now past the island Thwart-the-way, but had still one of the small islands to pass. The tide began to run strong to the west; which obliged me to anchor while I had soundings, for fear of being driven back again or on some unknown sand. I lay still all night. At 5 o'clock the next morning the tide began to slacken: at 6 I weighed with the wind at south-east by east, a handsome breeze. We just weathered the Button; and, sounding several times, had still between 30 and 40 fathom. When we were abreast of the Button, and about 2 leagues from the westermost point of Java, we had 34 fathom, small peppery sand. You may either come between this island and Java, or, if the wind is northerly, run out between the island Thwart-the-way and this last small island.

The wind for the most part being at east and east by south I was obliged to run over towards the Sumatra shore, sounding as I went, and had from 34 to 23 fathom. In the evening I sounded pretty quick, being got near the Sumatra shore; and, finding a current setting to the west between 8 and 9 o'clock, we anchored in 34 fathom. The tide set to the west from 7 in the evening to 7 this morning; and then, having a small gale at west-south-west, I weighed and stood over to the Java shore.

In the evening, having the wind between east-north-east and south-east by east, we could not keep off the Java shore. Wherefore I anchored in 27 fathom water, about a league and a half off shore. At the same time we saw a ship at anchor near the shore, about 2 mile to leeward of us. We found the tide setting to the westward, and presently after we anchored it fell calm. We lay still all night and saw many fires ashore. At 5 the next morning, being July the 1st, we weighed and stood to the north for a seabreeze: at 10, the wind coming out, I tacked and had a fine brisk gale. The ship we saw at anchor weighed also and stood after us. While we passed by Pulo Baby I kept sounding and had no less than 14 fathom. The other ship, coming after us with all the sail she could make, I shortened sail on purpose that she might overtake us but she did not. A little after 5 I anchored in 13 fathom good oazy ground. About 7 in the evening the ship that followed us passed by close under our stern; she was a Dutch fly-boat; they told us they came directly from Holland, and had been in their passage six months. It was now dark, and the Dutch ship anchored within a mile of us. I ordered to look out sharp in the morning; that so soon as the Dutchman began to move we might be ready to follow him; for I intended to make him my pilot. In the morning at half an hour after 5 we weighed, the Dutchman being under sail before; and we stood directly after him. At 8, having but little wind, I sent my boat aboard of him to see what news he had brought from Europe. Soon after we spied a ship coming from the east, plying on a wind to speak with us, and showing English colours. I made a signal for my boat, and presently bore away towards her; and, being pretty nigh, the commander and supercargo came aboard, supposing we had been the Tuscany galley which was expected then at Batavia. This was a country ship belonging to Fort St. George, having come out from Batavia the day before, and bound to Bencola. The commander told me that the Fleet frigate was at anchor in Batavia Road, but would not stay there long: he told me also that His Majesty's ships commanded by Captain Warren were still in India, but he had been a great while from the coast and had not seen them. He gave me a chart of these straits from the Button and Cap to Batavia, and showed me the best way in thither. At 11 o'clock, it being calm, I anchored in 14 fathom good oazy ground.


At 2 o'clock we weighed again; the Dutch ship being under sail before, standing close to Mansheters Island; but, finding he could not weather it, he tacked and stood off a little while, and then tacked again. In the meantime I stood pretty nigh the said island, sounding, but could not weather it. Then I tacked and stood off, and the Dutch stood in towards the island; and weathered it. I, being desirous to have room enough, stood off longer and then went about, having the Dutch ship 4 points under my lee. I kept after him; but as I came nearer the island I found a tide setting to the west, so that I could not weather it. Wherefore at 6 in the evening I anchored in 7 fathom oazy ground, about a mile from the island: the Dutch ship went about 2 miles further, and anchored also; and we both lay still all night. At 5 the next morning we weighed again, and the Dutch ship stood away between the island Cambusses and the main; but I could not follow because we had a land-wind. Wherefore I went without the Cambusses, and by noon we saw the ships that lay at the careening island near Batavia. After the land-wind was spent, which we had at south-east and south-south-east, the seabreeze came up at east. Then we went about; and, the wind coming afterward at east-north-east, we had a large wind to run us into Batavia Road: and at 4 in the afternoon we anchored in 6 fathom soft oaze.