(From the Government Gazette.)
Sailing Directions for the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, from the Latitude of 14 ° 40' S., to the Latitude of 9 ° 56' S, with directions to enter by Raine's Island. By Captain Francis Blackwood, RN, commanding H.M.S. Fly.
FROM Lizard Island (the peak of which being 1200 feet in height, visible a distance of 25 miles and more, in clear weather, from a ship's deck, it in 14 ° 39' 28" south lat. ; and 145 ° 30` 45" east long.) the Great Barrier Reef is distant 11 miles in a due east direction ; from the parallel of this Island the Reef trends away to the north-west and west, without a practicable, or, at least; a safe opening for ships, till the meridian of Cape Melville be reached, when in the latitude of 13 ° 59' 20" S., long. 144 ° 34' 40" E., three good openings, one of which is nearly half a mile wide, will be discerned.
From the centre one of these openings (and they are about a mile distant from each other), Cape Melville, a very remarkable rocky headland, bears south 10 miles distant : Latitude of opening, 13 ° 59' 20" S., long., 144 ° 34' 40 " E.
The reef, which appears to follow the trend of the coast, now runs in a N.N.W. direction, to the latitude of 13 ° 27' S., long., 144 ° 8 E, in which position is a good opening of 3 miles wide, from which Cape Sidmouth bears W. by N. 27 miles, and in clear weather is distinctly visible.
The reef now takes a more northerly direction, running due north for 23 miles without a good opening, when, in the latitude of 13 ° 3' S., long., 144 ° E., another opening, of the same extent nearly (viz., 3 miles) as the one above named, exists. From this entrance, Cape Direction bears N.W. by W. ½ W. 25 miles distant, indeed the land, as far to the northward as 12 ° 20' S., is of considerable height, and may generally be made out from the Barrier Reef when in that parallel ; this also may serve as a guide for a ship that may have failed in obtaining an observation for latitude, as north of that parallel the reef stretches out to a greater distance from the land, which is no longer visible from the barrier.
From 13 0 3' S.; the barrier runs nearly due north for 40 miles, without an opening, and then trends to the N.N.E., when in the latitude of 12 ° 22' S., will be seen the wreck of the Ferguson
This ship will probably exist as a useful beacon for many years, as she is thrown completely on the top of the reef.
From 12° 22' S, the reef trends away to the N.N.E. for 18 miles, without a good opening, when that distance being run, some remarkable black rocks (which at low water show about 12 feet in height) will be seen in 12 ° 22' S. latitude, 144 ° E. longitude.
These rocks are the southern point of an extensive bay in the reefs, and if a ship clearly makes out her position by good latitude observations, she may haul up to the S. W., rounding the rocks about half a mile from the reef, and will shortly be in soundings.
This is a good entrance of three miles wide, but a careful mast-head look-out must be kept, as several sunken coral hatches exist shortly within the line of soundings, they are distinctly visible from the mast-head, till two or three o'clock in the afternoon; and it maybe observed, that as a ship steers for the land from any of the Barrier entrances, she cannot exercise too much caution in reducing sail and speed in the afternoon, for as the sun gets a-head the glare will hinder the coral patches (which up to that time are clearly visible) from being made out.
It would be safer to anchor after that time, but as that is not always necessary, I have found that with a strong glare, a look-out man on deck, or half way up the fore rigging, will often see a coral patch better than the mast-head man, whose eyes will probably be dazzled by the glittering of the water
From this entrance (Black Rocks) Sir Charles Hardy 's Isles bear N.W. by W. 30 miles distant.
In this Bay, (Wreck Bay), in the latitude of 12 ° 6' S., is Nimrod's entrance: it is narrow but safe.
The wreck of the ship Martha Ridgeway bears south four miles from it, and, as it will probably remain for some years on the Reef, may serve as a good guide for this entrance.
It will be recollected that a ship steering in for Nimrod's entrance will be completely embayed, and as there are several narrow but safe channels through the barrier, both north and south of Nimrod's entrance, she should take any one of them in preference to attempting to beat out of the Bay, which, with a contrary tide, might prove fatal.
The northern point of Wreck Bay (which has hitherto been considered a detached Reef) is in lat. 12 ° 7' S., and the southern extreme of the great detached Reef, bears from it N.E. by N. 20 miles distant.
From 12'° 7' S., the Reef runs due north for three miles, and then trends away to the N.N.W., having a small detached Reef a couple of miles from the main body.
Stead's Passage, hitherto much used, is safe but narrow, it is in lat. 11 ° 55' S., long. 143 ° 53' E., from it Sir Charles Hardy's Centre Island bears due west 21 miles distant, as however a ship taking this entrance will have several detached reefs outside of her, and in hazy weather might have a difficulty is clearly making out her position, I would strongly recommend steering for the passage by Raines' Island, which is broad and clear, and on which Government are about to erect a Beacon this season.
H.M. ship Fly will also be at anchor in the vicinity.
A ship intending to eater the Barrier by the passage of Raine's Inland, should shape a course so as to make the southern extreme of a large detached horse-shoe reef in lat. 11 ° 50' S., long. 144 ° 11' E.
While outside the Reefs a current of at least 1 mile per hour, setting to the N.W. should be allowed for, and no means omitted of ascertaining the ship's position in latitude, as should this entrance be passed during the night, the only remaining practicable passage (till Murray's Island be reached) is the Pandora's, 8 miles due north of Raise's Island.
Having sighted the breakers, which may be safely approached within a short mile, a north (compass) course will be steered along the outer edge of this detached reef, when this distance been run, Raine's Island will be seen, and a N.W. by N. course should be shaped for it.
Raine's island may be distinguished by having a quantity of coarse green vegetation on it, which shows plainly, and serves to distinguish it from Pandora's Sand Bank, on which there us no vegetation whatever.
A reef which always breaks extends from its S. E. end a good mile, and both islet and reef may be boldly approached.
Being 20 feet above the sea level, and nearly a mile in circumference, it can be just seen from the mast head of a 500 ton ship, at a distance of 10 miles.
Its N.W. extreme is in lat 11 ° 35' 10" S., long. 144 ° 6' East, measured from Fort Macquarie, Sydney, and considering the latter position to be in 151 ° 14' 54" E. from Greenwich.
The island being clearly discerned and brought to bear north. 2 or 3 miles distant, a S. W. by W. ½ W . course for 9 miles will lead into soundings of 32 fathoms coarse coral, and the reefs will have been entered by a passage of 4½ miles wide.
There is also a good channel, of 2½ miles in width, on the northern side of Raine's Island. In taking this northern channel, the N.W. extreme of the island may be approached within a mile, and a S.W. course steered when at that distance from it, by which means three or four sunken patches, having three fathoms on them, and bearing W. ½ N. four miles from the island, will be avoided.
A good mast-head look-out must be kept when entering the line of soundings, or nine miles after passing Raine's Island, as one or two sunken patches exist, on which the least water found was two fathoms.
If the reefs are entered early in the day a S.W. by W. course for thirty miles will lead to Sir Charles Hardy's Centre Island, in lat 11 ° 64' 40" S., long. 144 ° 11' E.
Should the entrance by Raine's Island be passed, Pandora's Passage, bearing due north 8 miles from Raine's Island, may be taken; it is quite safe, is 2 miles in width, and may be distinguished by a sand bank on its southern extreme, on which there is no vegetation whatever.
This Sand Bank should be rounded within a short quarter of a mile, and the ship entering should haul up to S.S.W., which will lead into good anchorage.
The latitude of it is 11 ° 26' 40" S., long. 144 ° 5' 20" E.
From Pandora's Sandbank to Murray's Island, in latitude 9 ° 56' S., there is no opening that can be recommended for shipping, the Barrier running N. by W. and N.N.W. in one unbroken line of breakers for nearly 90 miles.
Should a ship enter by Raine's Island, the Island of Mount Adolphus will bear N. 55 W. 100 miles ; and although the channel has not been surveyed, or the best direct track laid down for it, yet, having twice run across from the Barrier Reef to Mount Adolphus, and having found the passage in different parts comparatively clear by taking the precaution of once or twice anchoring, I believe that the dangers of Torres Straits may be surmounted in three days from the time of entering the Barrier at Raine's Island.
Mount Adolphus (which is situated off the northern cape of New Holland) has a good anchorage on its western side in a well sheltered bay, the southern point of which may be closely rounded in eight fathoms; for a sandy spit ( on which the least water in one small patch we found to be 2 ¼ fathoms, and having three fathoms in all other parts) at low water extends nearly across the entrance of the bay, leaving a goodly channel of deep water both north and south of the spit into the anchorage. No fresh water was found on the island.
At Raine's Island it is high water at full and change at 10, p.m., and the tide rises from 10 to 12 feet, running at the springs nearly 3 miles per hour. If sailing late in the evening, caution must be exercised by a ship steering in by Raine's Island, as the flood tide does not set directly into the Bay formed by the surrounding reefs, as in the other channels. * The variation of the compass observed on Raine's Island was 4 ° 30' east.
* Outside the Barrier no anchorage is to be obtained.
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