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Historical Records of New Zealand Vol. II.

Memoir touching the Discovery of the South Land

Memoir touching the Discovery of the South Land.

In the first place, it would appear to us most suitable to set out from Batavia about the middle of August, or the 1st of September at the latest, for divers reasons—first, to use the main part of the summer season and the long days for making discoveries, since it is unknown to us what occurrences we may meet with that might take up our time; secondly, in order to take in fresh water, firewood, &c., at the Island of Mauritius, to reach which we shall require at least a month under favourable circumstances, while we shall have to lie still there from fifteen to twenty days; the sun then declines south of the equator, which is the best season for us to sail south with the sun as far as 52 or 54 degrees; by that time we shall have got to the beginning of November, when in those southern regions the longest days are approaching, together with the most favourable weather, and northern winds from time to time. It is therefore the best season both for getting southward quickest and for making discoveries, since about that time we may sail pretty fast by day and night alike; whereas, on the other hand, at the period of the short days one can never be without certain page 15 apprehensions, and is, besides, liable to be befallen by storms, with snow, hail, and cold weather.

But if we sail hence at the time aforesaid we have from three to three and a half months' time to make this discovery with minute care, both as regards large rivers, bays, rocks, shoals, sands, shallows and depths, and the nature of the inhabitants; what commodities are obtainable and what others may be disposed of there in return: all which require a good deal of time, since such people are shy, rude, and savage, and can therefore hardly be treated with and pacified within a short period. Now, in case we should have got to the latitude aforesaid of 52 or 54 degrees without coming upon land, we should, in accordance with the preceding instructions, have to shape our course to eastward until we should meet with land, or as far as the longitude of the east side of Nova Guinea, and then sail north by west in order to fetch up Nova Guinea; or, if preferred, we might run so far to eastward till we had the Salomones Islands north of us, and then keep a northward course in order to discover the said islands, which lie spread over so vast an area that we could hardly miss them; this, considering everything, appears the best way of going to work, since we do not in the least doubt that divers strange things will be revealed to us in the Salomones Islands. The return voyage might take place along the north of Nova Guinea, then along Cheramlaeut, passing between Nova Guinea and Cheram to reach Banda or Amboina.

Further discoveries might be made by starting from the Netherlands, sailing from Cape de Bonne Esperance, and from there running directly southward as far as the 54th degree aforesaid, or until land should be met with: by so doing one would begin the discovery fully 500 miles more to westward; and, should no land be found, one might, as before mentioned, sail eastward as far as the longitude of the Salomonis Islands.

We shall now propose still another method for discovering the south land still 700 or 800 miles further westward, starting from the Netherlands.

After leaving the Netherlands one might set one's course for the Bay de Todos los Sanctus or Rio Janeiro in the Brazil, there take in refreshments and provisions of all necessaries, then run for the Strait of Lameer, keeping in with the eastern side—to wit, Staten Landt—which is a high double-jagged coast, always covered with snow; and since there is no want of westerly winds there, one might easily sail eastward along Staten Landt, and in this way come to a perfect knowledge how far the said Staten Landt extends; sailing on the said easterly course as far as the longitude of the Salomonis Islands, page 16 in which way one would become acquainted with all the utterly unknown provinces of Beach, and could return to Amboina or Banda by the aforesaid route northward of Nova Guinea.

In my opinion, it would at present be impossible to discover the south land referred to, between and starting from the Salomonis Islands, eastward to the Strait of Le Maire.

Coming from the west the voyage would be too long and too difficult, nor, owing to the westerly winds, can it be done by coming from the east through the Strait of Le Maire; but if the Netherlanders possessed some fitting refreshing-station on the coast of Chili—for example, Conseption or Chillewey—one might fit out an expedition from Chili, and run westward with the tradewind in from 12 to 15 degrees southern latitude (this being the latitude in which the Salomonis Islands are currently believed to lie), until one got sight of the Salomonis Islands, or got into the longitude in which they are marked on the globe. If in this case one could get refreshments there, it would be all the better. Starting from the Salomonis Islands aforesaid, one would have to do one's best to get to the south, and to fall in with the western winds, even if it were as far as the 50th degree, or until land were met with. Then, taking advantage of these western winds, one would have to sail eastward again as far as the Strait of Le Maire or the ancient Strait of Maggellaen, by which method one will be enabled to discover the southern portion of the world all round the globe, and find out what it consists of—whether land, sea, or icebergs; all that God has ordained there; excepting only the north side of the south land already known—viz., from 22° S.L. or from the Willems River, situated nearly south of the middle of Java, down to the Valsche Hoecq, bearing from the Island of Arnoy* east-south-east sixty miles.

The only part undiscovered would then, as just said, extend from the cape in 22 degrees south of the middle of Java, to the Valsche Hoecq, lying sixty miles east-south-east of the south side of Aru, in latitude 8 degrees 10 minutes south; but this coast forms a large bay here, and was partly discovered before as far as 17 degrees near Staten River in the year 1623, April 24; still, there is a large part left undiscovered from there to the cape in 22 degrees, since the coast there trends chiefly to west and west by south.

Now, in order to make a perfect chart of this remaining part, and further rectify certain parts imperfectly mapped before, it would be necessary to sail from Banda or Amboina eastward as far as Aru in the month of March; and from the page 17 southern extremity of Aru to shape one's course east-south-east in order to reach the Valsche Hoecq in April, which is a doubtful month as regards the wind; in which case one might easily by sounding get as near the land as time and circumstances will allow. According to the annotations of the previous discoverers, the sea is very shallow there, so that with the wind blowing hard from the west, which would make the coast there a lee shore, one would be exposed to many perils. But if one arrived in those parts in April, I think there would be no difficulty; and this could be done without much loss of time, since the discoverers sailing westward as far as 22 degrees S. lat., and coming near or along the south land, can fetch up the coast of Java on the south side, and thus could easily come back to Batavia in the month of June or July.

Written in the castle of Batavia, this 22nd day of January, 1642.


Franchoijs Jacobsen


* Aroe.