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A New Voyage Round the World in the Years 1823, 24

For the Palliser Islands discovered by Captain Cook


At

the same time, we could distinguish from the mast-head the southern part of another island, lying due North, with open water between the two. We were in 14 deg. 41' 36" South latitude, and 144 deg. 55' longitude. During the night we were becalmed, but in the morning a fresh breeze sprang up directly in our teeth, and the current carried us so far to the South, that, even from the mast, we could no longer see land. Under these circumstances, to attempt to regain the Spiridow Island would have been attended by too great loss of time; so that we remained uncertain whether this and the other, which we saw in the North, were the two King George's Islands or not. I can only say, that if they really are so, their discoverer has given their geographical position very inaccurately.

The south-east trade-wind had ceased to befriend us, and shifting gusts from the north-west and south blew with such violence as frequently to tear our sails, accompanied by incessant rain and storm. The sea being at the same time remarkably calm, proved that we were surrounded by islands, and that, in consequence, the greatest caution was required in sailing, especially as the currents in this region are often very strong. We soon saw land directly before us; and as in the neighbourhood of all coral islands the depth of the sea cannot be sounded at a distance of fifty fathoms from the shore, we approached within a mile of it. This island stretches ten miles in length, from

East to West, and is only four miles broad; it appeared to be a narrow strip of land, thickly overgrown with low bushes, surrounding a lake in the centre. Sea-birds only, of which we saw a vast number, appeared to inhabit this waste. The latitude of the middle of this island we found to be 15 deg. 27', and its longitude 145 deg. 31' 12". According to the chart of Admiral Krusenstern, it may be the island called Carlshof, discovered in the year 1722, by Roggewin, the geographical position of which is given differently on almost every chart, and whose very existence has been disputed. We were now in the midst of the dangerous Archipelago, and consulted our safety by riding every night only in parts which we had surveyed during the day.

After reiterated nightly storms and rains, we shaped our course, with full sails, on the return of fine weather, due East, for the Palliser Islands discovered by Captain Cook, and reached them in a few hours. On board the Rurik, I had only seen their northern side, and I now wished, astronomically, to determine the southern. Cook mentions these islands very superficially, so that navigators have fallen into many errors concerning them. The group consists of a number of small islands connected by coral reefs, which form a circular chain, and enclose a large piece of water. When we had reached the southern point of the east Pallisers, we saw a ridge stretching ten miles westward to two small islands, and thence taking a northern direction to unite itself at a considerable distance with larger ones.

Cook, from his own account, did not approach near enough to see this ridge, and from a distance mistook the two little woody islands it embraces for the most southerly of a distinct cluster, which he calls the fourth group of Palliser Islands. I can maintain that there are only three such groups, as the map which accompanies this volume will show. At noon we found our latitude to be 15 deg. 42' 19", and the longitude 146 deg. 21' 6".

The above-mentioned two small islands on the reef lay directly North, and the southern part of the first cluster of Pallisers was no longer visible. Viewed from this spot, the smaller ones might have been mistaken by us also for part of another group, if we had not previously ascertained that they were connected with the first by means of the reef. The second and third group could also be seen from this point; the former to the S.E. the latter S.W.


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