ON THE 17TH [7 April] we stood in for land with a slight easterly breeze and at eight o'clock sighted perfectly all our bearing points of the day before. But we found ourselves a little further off shore than we expected, although we had kept between 64 and 45 fathoms during the night. Throughout the morning the sky was dark and overcast. The horizon was misty, so giving us the impression that the portion of coast in view was divided into an infinite number of small islands. However, when the mist disappeared we could see the entire stretch of coast from North-North-West to East. Here, as I remarked yesterday, it is lofty and tree-clad, rising steeply from the shore where the beach is not a series of arid, sterile sand-dunes, like the one that we had sailed along for most of the day. Roughly in the middle of the bay at this point on the coast, there lie two islets or rocks, longer than they are tall, which are good landmarks on account of their having openings that resemble artillery embrasures on a fortress. The sea pounds -all around them and at each of the points, but the breakers do not extend out to sea.
At half past nine, coasting the land a league off, I had the lead heaved.
I thought that we might be in 15 fathoms at that distance. but we found
only 10. Had the depth not decreased to 8 and even 6 fathoms, we would
have held our course without there being any sign of so sudden a diminution.
But in bearing away to head further out to sea, we were quite amazed to
see a rock § at water-level which we had not noticed until then and
which even the look-out men had not sighted. In order to double it, we
were obliged to steer South-West with no noticeable increase in the depth.
This rock (over which the sea breaks strongly) is surrounded by reefs
and appears to be joined to the mainland by a chain of rocks which leaves
no hope of a passage, even though the channel is more than a league across.
To the North of the rock lie two smaller ones and a reef running North-North-West.
We passed this danger at a distance of 1 1/2 leagues in 15 fathoms, rounding
it on its western side. Future navigators would be wise to be on their
guard against it on account of its distance from the mainland. As soon
* Cape Rabelais.
to the North of it, we went to stand in for the land. The depth promptly decreased, for in half an hour we passed from 15 fathoms to 12. Nevertheless, we proceeded East- North-East to enter a large bay stretching out of sight in that direction.* We entered it to the depth of 8 and 9 fathoms before sighting the land at its head and worked around it at the same depth. The coast is very low in this part and is formed [by] several shallow indentations, the shores of which consist of medium-height or, rather, very squat sand-hills.
At midday the latitude observed was 37° 1' 47" and the longitude by the chronometer was 136° 59, 12 which gave us a difference of 3° from the reckoning since leaving the Promontory.
After sunset and with our bearings finished for the day, we went on the South- South-West to South-westerly leg with a strong South-South-East to South-easterly breeze. It continued strong throughout the night. We set little sail so as not to get too far off shore and held ourselves between 25 and 35 fathoms, good sandy bottom. It would have been possible to anchor, had the breeze not been so stiff. Between midnight and four o'clock we remained hove-to, but the drift and the current took us a long way to westward. The depth increased constantly, and this decided me to go on the North-easterly leg in order to regain 20 to 25 fathoms before dawn.
* This is the long line of coast starting in Lacepede Bay and ending in Encounter Bay.