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13 August, 1770


On 13 August, 1770, James Cook wrote “we got under sail at day light and stood out NE... having the Pinnace a head sounding, in this channell we had from 9 to 14 fathom. At Noon... We now took the Pinnace in tow knowing that there was no danger till we got out to the Reefs without the Island... By 2 oClock we just fetched to windward of one of the Channels in the outer Reef I had seen from the Island, we now tacked and made a short trip to the SW while the Master in the Pinnace examine'd the channell, he soon made the Signal for the Ship to follow which we accordingly did and in a short time got safe out, we had no sooner got without the breakers than we had no ground with 150 fathom of line and found a well growen Sea rowling in from the SE, certain signs that nither land nor shoals were in our neighbourhood in that direction, which made us quite easy at being free'd from fears of Shoals &ca—after having been intangled among them more or less ever sence the 26th of May, in which time we have saild 360 Leagues without ever having a Man out of the cheans [chains] heaving the Lead when the Ship was under way, a circumstance that I dare say never happen'd to any ship before and yet it was absolutely necessary. It was with great regret I was obliged to quit this coast unexplored to its No[r]thern extremity which I think we were not far off, for I firmly believe that it doth not join to New Guinea [the island], however this I hope yet to clear up being resolved to get in with the land again as soon as I can do it with safety and the reasons I have before assigned will I presume be thought sufficient for my haveing left it at this time... As soon as we were without the reef we brought too and hoisted in the boats, than stood off an[d] on upon a wind all night as I did not care to run to leeward untill we had a whole day before us. We now began to find that the Ship had received more damage than we immagined and soon felt the effect the high rowling sea had upon her by increasing her leaks consideably so that it was as much as one Pump could keep her free kept continualy at work; however this was looked upon as trifleing to the danger we had lately made our escape from”.

The channel is now called Cook’s Passage.


Joseph Banks wrote “Ship stood out for the opening we had seen in the reef [Cook’s Passage] and about 2 O’Clock passd it. It was about ½ a mile wide. As soon as the ship was well without it we had no ground with100 fathm of Line so became in an instant quite easy, being once more in the main Ocean and consequently freed from all our fears of shoals &c”.

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