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Endeavour journal, 5 April 1769 (Series 03.221)

Notes: Page header reads: 'South Sea'
Author: Banks, Joseph, Sir, 1743-1820
Date: 5 April 1769
Series title: Series 03: The Endeavour journal of Joseph Banks, 25 August 1768 - 12 July 1771
Frame numbers:
Transcript: 5. Less wind this morn than yesterday with some showers of rain. While we were at dinner word was brought down that there was land in sight from the mast head, and found it a low Island but of much greater extent than either of those seen yesterday being from 10 to 15 leagues in circumference. Myself remaind at the mast head the whole evening admiring its extrordinary structure: in shape it appeard to be like a bow the wood and string of which was land and the parts within occupied by a large lake of water, which bore about the same proportion to the land as the void space within the bow does to the string and wood. The string of the bow was a flat beach without any signs of vegetation on it but heaps of sea weed laying in ridges as higher or lower tides had left them; this was 3 or 4 Leagues long and appeard not more than 200 yards wide in any part tho doubtless as flat objects foreshorten themselves so much it might be much more. The Horns or angles of the bow were two large tufts of Cocoa nut trees and much the largest part of its arch was filld up likewise with trees of different hights and appearances, a small part of it however was in my opinion low and like the string. Here some thought there was an opening into the Pool in the center and myself cannot say there was not, indeed it was at so great a distance that all must be conjecture.

Along the low beach or bowstring we saild within less than a league of the shore till sunsett when we judg'd ourselves about half way between the two horns, we then brought too and sounded, 130 fathom of line out and no ground; night which came on here almost instantly after sunset made us lose sight of the land before the line was well hauld in. We then steerd by the sound of the breakers which were very distinctly heard in the ship till we were clear of all.

That this land was inhabited appeard clearly by three smoaks in different parts of the Island which we saw repeated several different times, probably as signals from one to the other of our aproach. Our 2nd Lieutenant affirmed that he saw from the deck many inhabitants in the first clump of Trees, that they were walking to and fro as if on their ordinary business without taking the least notice of the ship, he saw also many houses and Canoes hauld up under the trees. To this I only say that I did not see them or know that any one else had till the ship had passd the place ½ an hour.