The New Zealand Reader
Tasman's Log. *
Tasman's Log. *
Journal or description by me, Abel Jansen Tasman, of a voyage from the Town of Batavia in the East Indies, concerning the discovery of the Unknown South Land. In the year 1642, on the 14th of August. May it please Almighty God to give hereto His blessing. Amen.
On the fourteenth of August, Anno 1642, we set sail from the haven of Batavia, with our two ships: to wit, the cruiser Heemskerk and the cargo ship the Zeehaan. The wind N.E., with good weather. On the same date, in the evening, the Zeehaan ran aground on Rotterdam Island, but got off again without serious damage in the night; and we proceeded on our voyage toward the Strait of Sunda.
15 August. At night we came to anchor in front of Anjer in 22 fathoms. We set our ship to rights throughout; for she was in such disorder that it was not possible to go to sea with her so.
16 August. The wind still E.: a steady breeze. The current runs strong out of the Strait of Sunda. In the evening, with the land wind, we hove our anchors up, and got under sail, and steered our course to pass between the Prince Islands and Krakatau.†
4 September. In the night, about the end of the first watch,‡ we saw land, and lay by all night under easy canvas.
* [These extracts have been translated from the Amsterdam edition of 1860, which appears to be the first unabridged edition of the log.]
† [This, and not Krakatoa, is the name of the place where the great volcanic eruption of 1883 occurred.]
‡ [12 p.m. The night and day on board ship are divided into six watches of four hours each, the first watch beginning at eight in the evening. Each watch is divided into eight parts, called by Tasman "glasses," because the time was measured by a sand-glass, which was turned every half-hour; and the half-hours are counted by strokes on the bell, from one up to eight bells in each watch. The crew is divided into two parties, called "watches," which come on duty alternately every four hours. But, in order not to have the same set of men always on duty at the same hours of the day and night, the sixth watch, from 4 to 8 p.m., is divided into two short watches of two hours each, so as to make seven reliefs in the twenty-four hours. These short watches are called on an English ship the "dog watches," and on a Dutch ship the "flat-foot watches." The bells in the dog watches go 1, 2, 3, 4; 1, 2, 3, 8. On Tasman's ships the second or middle watch of the night was called the "dog watch," but the glasses or bells were counted straight through from 1 up to 8. "Morning watch" means the third watch, from 4 to 8 a.m.]
5 September. In the morning we saw that it was the Island of Mauritius. We turned and kept on towards it, and came to anchor there about nine o'clock. We had* the latitude of 20° and longitude 67° 2′. By our reckoning we were still 200 miles to the east of the Mauritius when we came in sight of it.
* [In the original log the distances are given in Dutch miles, of 15 to a degree of the equator; and the longitudes are reckoned east—never west—from the Peak of Teneriffe, which lies 16° 46′ west from Greenwich. In this Reader the distances have been reduced to nautical miles, of 60 to a degree of the equator, and the longitudes reckoned east or west from Greenwich, to suit English maps. But, as in Tasman's time navigators could not find out their longitude exactly, his longitudes often disagree with those of our maps. Here he gives 67° 2′ (but afterwards, 8th October, 62° 1′) for 57° 45′. His error grew less as he went east. Off Tasmania his error by way of excess was about 1° 50′, and on the New Zealand coast about 1° 47′.]
24 November. Good weather and clear sky. At noon we found latitude 42° 25′, and longitude 146° 45′. Course held, E.b.N.; and distance‡, 120 miles. The wind from the S.W. and afterwards from the S.: a sleepy topsail breeze. In the afternoon, about 4 o'clock, we saw land. We had it E.b.N. of us, and distant, as we reckoned, about 40 miles; it was very high land. Towards the evening we saw three more high mountains to the E.S.E., and two more to the N.E., but not so high as the most southerly one. Here the compass had no variation.§
In the first watch of the night, when three glasses were out,|| and the wind was in the S.E., we headed away from the coast, and sounded in 100 fathoms, fine white sand with small shells. Later on we sounded once again, and got coarse black sand with pebbles. In the night we had a gentle breeze from the S.E.
* [A real of eight, or piece of eight, was a silver coin, worth about 5s. English.]
† [Rack, arrack, or raki, is any kind of spirit. The rack carried by these ships was no doubt rum, which was then and is still made in great quantities at the Mauritius. A mutchkin was about half a pint.]
‡ [The distance given each day at noon is the distance in a straight line from the position at noon on the previous day.]
§ [The variation of the compass at any place is the angular difference between magnetic north and true north. It is found by observation at sunset.]
|| [9.30. p.m.]
This land is the first land that we have met with in the South Sea, and is unknown as yet to any European people. So we have given this land the name of Anthoony van Diemenslandt, in honour of His Excellency the Governor-General our exalted superior, who has sent us out to make these discoveries; and the islands lying round about, so far as they are known to us, we have called after Their Excellencies the Council of the Indies.
12 December. Good weather, and the wind S.S.W. and S.W.: this with a steady breeze. At midday we found latitude 42° 38′, and longitude 168° 31′. Course E.; and sailed 152 miles. The heavy swell † from the S.W. still continues, so that there is no great land to be looked for to the south of this spot. Variation 7° easterly.
13 December. Observed latitude 42° 10′, longitude 171° 42′. Course E.b.N.; and sailed 144 miles. The wind S.S.W.: the same with a topsail breeze.
Towards the middle of the day we saw a great land uplifted high.‡ We had it S.E. of us, about 60 miles away. We shaped our course S.E., straight on towards the land. At noon we fired a gun and let the white flag fly, whereupon the officers of the Zeehaan came on board; and with them we resolved to stand in for the land as fast as possible, for the reasons which are all fully explained in the minutes of this day's date.
* [The error is about 1° 50′, practically the same as Tasman had on the New Zealand coast.]
† [Captain Cook afterwards observed the same swell, and drew the same inference.]
‡ [The Southern Alps. From the top of any high hill overlooking Cook Strait the opposite coast often looks as though it were hanging in the air, with the sky-line apparently visible underneath the land.]
In the first watch, when four glasses were out,* we set our course due east. Variation 7° 30′ easterly.
14 December. At midday we found latitude 42° 10′, and longitude† 172° 17′. Course held, E.; and distance sailed, 48 miles. We were about 8 miles from the shore. It was a very high double land; but we could get no sight of the uppermost parts of the mountains for the thick clouds. We shaped our course parallel to the shore, onward towards the north. We were so near that one could see the surf continually breaking against the land. In the afternoon we sounded about 8 miles from shore, in 55 fathoms, waxy sand: no current. Towards the evening we saw a low point† about 12 miles from us N.E.b.N. It was nearly dead calm as we drifted towards it. In the middle of the afternoon we sounded in 25 fathoms, waxy sand. All night long we were drifting further in calm, with a sea running from the W.N.W., and so got quite close to the land in 28 fathoms, good holding-ground. Then, lest we should drift any closer to the shore because of the calm, we anchored with one stream anchor, in the morning watch, and waited for the land breeze.
* [10 p.m.]
† [Almost certainly 172° 44′ or 172° 47′. In Tasman's figures. 189° 3′ should apparently be 189° 30′ or 33′.]
† [Cape Foulwind.]
Here it was plain to behold that in this country the land towards the water was barren, with neither men nor any smoke to be seen. And, as we saw no signs or traces of ships or boats, we inferred that the inhabitants could not possess any. Variation in the evening 8° easterly.
16 December. At six glasses,§ before it was day, we sounded in 60 fathoms, good holding-ground; when the most northerly cape that we had in sight lay 12 miles to the N.E.b.E. of us; and the nearest shore 6 miles to the S.E. of us. We drifted in calm, with good weather and smooth water. Latitude by account at noon 40° 58′; mean longitude 173° 8′. Course steered, N.N.E. Distance sailed, 44 miles. In the evening, at the going-down of the sun, we had variation 9° 23′ easterly. We got the wind, with an improving breeze, S.W. We observed that the most distant visible promontory|| of the coast bore E.b.N. of us. More-over it dropped so abruptly that we made no doubt of its being the end of the land.
We summoned our Council, and the under steersmen as well; and resolved with them to run on to the N.E. and E.N.E until the expiration of the first watch; and then, if the weather remained settled and the wind unaltered, to steer full-and-by;¶ as may be seen at greater length in the minutes of to-day's date.
* [The Steeples.]
† [Karamea Bight.]
‡ [Really about 41°45′.]
§ [3 a.m.]
|| [Cape Farewell.]
¶ [I.e., close-hauled.]
** [10.30 to 11 p.m.]
We sounded once in the first watch, and again in the dog watch, in 60 fathoms, beautiful grey sand. In the second glass of the morning watch* we got a bit of a breeze from the S.W., and immediately turned towards the shore.
17 December. In the morning at sunrise we were about 4 miles from the shore, and saw smoke rising in several places, where fire had been kindled by the inhabitants. At that time we had the wind southerly, off the land; but the weather afterwards went round to the eastward. At noon, by reckoning, we had the latitude of 40° 32′, and 174° 1′ longitude; and we had sailed 48 miles on a course N.E.b.E. In the afternoon, wind W., and course E.b.S. along a low sandy shore, with good dry weather, in 30 fathoms depth, black sand. One may easily feel his way along this coast at night by the lead on the bottom.
We accordingly ran towards this sandy point,† to 17 fathoms; where we anchored at sunset, because it had fallen dead calm. We then had the northernmost point of the dry sandspit W.b.N. of us. There was also high ground extending‡ to E.b.S.; and the point of the reef was to the S.E. of us. Here, inside this point or narrow sandbank, we saw a great open bay, quite 12 to 16 miles wide. To the east of the narrow sandspit the bank extends fully 4 miles from it, 6, 7, and 8 to 9 feet deep. This is a sand reef that lies under water and projects E.S.E. from the aforementioned point. Variation in the evening 9° easterly.
* [4.30 to 5 a.m.]
† [Farewell Spit.]
‡ [To D'Urville Island; not recognised as an island by Tasman.]
In the afternoon our captain Ide't Jerksen and Pilot-Major Francis Jakobsen, in the launch, attended by the Zeehaan's jolly-boat, with the chapman Gilsemans and one of their under steersmen, went on ahead, to search along the shore for an anchorage and watering-place.
At the going-down of the sun, as it was almost calm, we let go our anchor in 15 fathoms, good holding-ground. In the evening, about an hour after sunset, we saw plenty of lights on shore, and four boats of some kind between us and the land, two of which turned out to be our own. When both our boats returned on board, they reported that no-where could they find less than 13 fathoms water; and that they had been still two miles from shore when they lost the sun, which was hidden behind the hills.
Our boats' crews had scarcely been on board again one glass when the people in the two canoes began to call to us with a gruff hollow voice; but we could not in the least understand any of it. Nevertheless we shouted back to them, in token of reply. Whereupon they began again, several times. Howbeit they came no nearer than the range of a stone-piece.* They blew moreover many times on an instrument that gave a sound like the Moorish trumpets; and we let one of our sailors, who could play on the trumpet, play them some airs by way of answering them back. The Zeehaan's people made their under steersman do the like. (He had joined as trumpeter; but at the Mauritius, by the council of the fort and of the ships, he was appointed under steersman.) After these performances had been repeated several times on either side, as the evening was closing in darker and darker, the people in the canoes finally gave it up and paddled away.
* [A small cannon carrying a stone ball instead of an iron one, and shingle instead of grape.]
19 December. Early in the morning one of these people's vessels, with thirteen men in it, came within about a cable's length* of our ship. They shouted several times, something that we could not understand, for their speech bore no resemblance to the vocabulary with which we had been provided by H.E. the Governor-General and the Council of the Indies; but this is not to be wondered at, as the vocabulary is of the language of the Solomon Islands.
These people, so far as we could see, were of middle height, but gruff of voice and big of bone. Their colour was between brown and yellow. They had black hair, drawn upwards at the back and fast bound on the very crown of the head, in the same manner and fashion as the Japanese. Moreover their hair was quite as long and as thick as the Japanese have it; and there was a large thick white feather standing upright in it.
Their vessels consisted of a pair of long narrow pontoons, a short distance apart, over which were laid some planks or other seats, so that one could see through between the water and the boat. Their paddles were a good fathom long, narrow and sharp-pointed. With these boats they could get over the ground smartly.
Some of these people had their clothing seemingly of matting, some of cotton; others were naked: as indeed were almost all of them from the waist upward.
We made signs to them many times that they should come on board; and we showed them some white linen and some sheath knives, out of what had been supplied to us for cargo. Yet they came no nearer, but finally paddled back again.
Meanwhile the officers of the Zeehaan, on the summons of the previous evening, had presented themselves on board our ship. A council was accordingly held, at which it was resolved to run as close to the shore as we could go; since there was a good anchorage, and these folk were to all appearance desirous of our friendship.
* [About a furlong.]
Immediately after the drafting of this resolution, we saw seven more canoes coming from the land; one of which, with a high bow tapering to a sharp point, manned with seventeen hands, passed behind the Zeehaan; while a second, wherein were thirteen stalwart men, came in front of the ship, not half a cable's length from us. We made signs and showed them white linen, &c., as before. But they continued to lie still all the same.
Then the captain of the Zeehaan sent his quartermaster, with his jolly-boat and six men, to carry orders to the under steersman of the Zeehaan. If any of these people wanted to come on board, he was not to let too many of them come over the side at once; but was to be circumspect, and quite on his guard. When the Zeehaan's boat started for the ship, the men in the canoe that was nearest to us shouted and made signs with their paddles to the other that was lying behind the Zeehaan; but what their meaning might be we could not tell. Just as the Zeehaan's boat started on her way back from the ship, they that were lying ahead of us, between the two ships, began to pull so furiously towards her that just about halfway to our ship they struck the Zeehaan's boat on the side with their stem, so violently as nearly to swamp her. Then the foremost rascal in that villainous canoe thrust the quartermaster Cornelius Joppen in the neck several times with a long blunt pike so savagely that he was forced to fall overboard. Meanwhile the rest of them, with short thick wooden clubs, which we took at first to be heavy round-pointed parangs,* and with their paddles, fell upon the crew of the jolly-boat and overpowered them. In this affray three of the Zeehaan's people were left dead, and a fourth hurt even to death by the rough treatment he met with. The quartermaster and two other sailors swam for our ship; so we sent our launch to meet them, and they were taken into her alive.
* [Big knives shaped like half of a "spade" on a playing card, and used by the Malays instead of tomahawks, slashers, and bill-hooks.]
Our captain, Ide't Jerksen-Holman, with our launch well manned and armed, rowed to the Zeehaan's boat, which those accursed ruffians, luckily for us, had set adrift, and immediately returned on board with her, having found in her one of the dead men and one mortally wounded.
We raised our anchors and got under sail, because we deemed that we could not make any friendship here with this people; nor would water or refreshments be obtainable. When our anchors were up, and we were under sail, we saw twenty-two canoes under the land, eleven of which, swarming with savages, were coming off towards us. We kept quiet until some of the foremost of them were near enough for us to fire upon them; when we gave them one or two shots with our pieces out of the gunroom, but without success. The Zeehaan's people fired too, and hit one man in the biggest canoe, who was standing with a small white flag in his hand, so that he fell down. We also heard the rattle of the grape in and against the canoe; but what further effect it may have had remains unknown to us. As soon as they had received this shot, they retreated with haste towards land; two of them setting sails after the fashion of a tingangh.* They then remained lying under the shore, without paying us any more visits.
About noon Captain Gerrit Jansen and Senior Gilsemans a second time came on board. We ordered their upper steersman to be fetched as well; when we convened the Council and resolved as follows:—
Whereas the detestable conduct of these natives towards four of the Zeehaan's crew, as exhibited to us this morning, teaches us to hold the inhabitants of this country for enemies; we shall therefore proceed eastward along the coast, following the trend of the land in order to see whether we can anywhere find a convenient place at which some refreshment and water, may be procurable; as is stated more fully in the minutes.
* [A Javanese boat. Hence our word "dinghy."]
At this den of murderers, to which, by-the-by, we have given the name of Murderers' Bay,* we lay anchored in south latitude 40° 50′, and longitude 174° 44′. From this position we set our course E.N.E.† At noon, latitude by account 40° 57′, longitude 174° 55′. Sailed 8 miles‡ on a southerly course. In the afternoon the wind from the W.N.W.
Then, by the advice of our steersmen, approved by our own judgment, we proceeded N.E.b.N. At night we let her go on, as it was clear weather; though about an hour after midnight we sounded in 25 or 26 fathoms, hard sand. The wind presently shifted to the N.W. We sounded again, and, finding only 15 fathoms, we immediately went about, to wait for daylight, and steered to the west: exactly the opposite course to the one on which we had run in. Variation 9° 30′ easterly.
This is the second§ land that has been sailed past and discovered by us. We have given this country the name of Staten Land, in honour of Their Highnesses the States-General of the United Provinces. For this land may possibly prove to be continuous with Staten Land [to the east of Tierra del Fuego], though this is uncertain. It seems to be a very fine country; and we presume that it is part of the coast of the mainland of the Unknown South Continent.
We have given this track the name of Abel Tasman's Track, since he is the first that has sailed over it.
* [Afterwards called Massacre Bay, now Golden Bay; but the identification depends on the view taken of the errors of latitude and longitude in the log.]
† [Apparently a merely temporary course to clear Separation Point.]
‡ [From the position at noon on the 18th.]
§ [The first being Tasmania. See November 25.]
21 December. At night in the dogwatch we got the wind westerly, with a steady breeze, and let her run towards the north in hopes that the land which we had had on the N.W. of us the day before might fall away before us to the north. But after breakfast we arrived over against that coast again, and found that it extended towards the N.W. When near the shore† we went about; and, as the gale began to freshen, we steered a south-westerly course across towards the southern shore.
* [Apparently Stephen Island.]
† [Apparently near Whanganui or Waitotara.]
22 December. The wind N.W.b.N., and still a heavy gale, so that there was no prospect of getting under sail and making headway against it; indeed, we had hard enough work to hold to our anchor where we lay, and save our ship at all. Here we lay in south latitude* 40° 50′, and longitude 175° 51′. Course held, S.W.b.S. and distance 24 miles. In the night we got the wind so strong from the N.W. that we had to strike the topmasts and let go yet another anchor. The Zeehaan began to drag her anchors, but she let go one anchor more.
23 December. Still dark, misty, drizzling weather: the wind N.W. and W.N.W.; and still such a storm that we could make no progress, to our great regret.
24 December. Still rough, unsettled weather, the storm continuing from the N.W.; but in the morning, having a spell of calm, we flew the white flag and fetched the officers of the Zeehaan on board. We put it before them that, since the tide flowed from the S.E., there must probably† be some channel in that direction, and would it not be best, so soon as wind and weather would let us, to explore it and see whether any fresh water can be obtained there, as may be seen at greater length in the resolution drawn up on that occasion.
* [Probably about 40° 45′ and 174° 4′.]
† [So near was Tasman to the discovery of Cook Strait.]
‡ [Apparently Karioi—north of Kawhia.]
29 December. This morning at daybreak we took in our bonnets,* so that we could lower the foresail into the bow. At noon we made out our reckoning as latitude 37° 17′, and longitude† 174° 14′, as we had been running to the westward again. The course we had been steering was N.W.; and distance, 64 miles.
* [Additional strips of canvas laced to the upper or lower edge of a sail to make it larger.]
† [This seems to require an addition of about 25′.]
‡ [As this is the true latitude of Cape Maria van Diemen, and as Tasman's latitudes are generally 5′ too high, it seems likely that Cape Reinga is the cape to which he gave the name of Cape Maria van Diemen.]
§ [This might be said of either cape.]
5 January. In the morning we were still drifting in calm; but about nine o'clock we got a little breeze from the S.E. In consultation with the officers of the Zeehaan we found it advisable to steer for the island. About noon we sent our launch, in charge of the pilot-major, along with the Zeehaan's cutter, in charge of the chapman Gilsemans, to the island to find out whether there was any water to be got. In the evening the gentlemen returned on board, and reported that they had approached quite close to the land, exercising the utmost caution not to be overpowered or surprised by the Natives. They had been into a safe but small cove, where they found good fresh water, which ran down from a steep range of hills in great abundance; but the sea was running so high as to make it dangerous—indeed, absolutely impossible—to fetch any water from that place. Consequently the gentlemen had made their way further round the island to ascertain whether they could find any other convenient place. From several places on the shore there were seen by them, on the highest ridge, some thirty or thirty-five persons—men of tall stature, as well as they could see from such a distance—with sticks or clubs, who shouted to them with gruff, loud voices, which our people could not at all understand. In walking they took immensely long steps and strides. While they were rowing round the island these people occasionally showed themselves to them in small parties on the tops of the hills. Our party accordingly, inferring from the manner of the islanders—as, indeed, there is good reason to believe—that they intended to attack them in canoes, determined to keep the boats page 22and the small arms quite ready for action. Howbeit on that island there could be very few, if any more, inhabitants than had shown themselves, for our people, in rowing round the island, saw no land anywhere that was either built upon or cultivated except near the fresh water in front of which they had rowed; and there, high up on either side of the running stream, it was laid out in square enclosures here and there, after the fashion of our fatherland, green and beautiful; though what was the crop remained unknown to them on account of the distance. It was quite possible for all those people to have their dwelling-places near that fresh water. In that same cove they also saw two canoes lying drawn up on the beach, one seaworthy and the other in pieces, but they saw no other vessel. When our people and the boat returned on board, we immediately did all we could to get close to the land, where we anchored in the evening a short cannon-shot from the shore in 40 fathoms, good ground, and made immediate preparations for fetching water on the following day. This island* lies in the south latitude of 34° 25′, and 173° 54′ mean longitude.
* [In the oldest available copy of Tasman's chart this island is named Three Kings Island; its true latitude is 34° 8′ to 10′, and longitude 172° 6′ to 9′. Tasman is here 16′ too high in his latitude. It seems most likely that he wrote, or meant to write, 34° 15′, in which case his error was about 6′. He could hardly, even with his crude appliances, have made an error of 16′ of latitude in the short distance from Cape Reinga to the Three Kings. The error appears to be more than 5′ but certainly less than 16′ at Karioi, and probably there is a constant error of 5′ or 6′ all along. The longitudes agree very well with the final position at the Three Kings and show a constant error of about 1° 47′ all up the coast. But when he states his distance from the shore he usually greatly underestimates it.]
Towards midday we got under sail,* and by noon we had the island nearly 12 miles due south of us. In the evening at sunset it was some five-and-twenty miles or more to the S.S.W., the rocks and the island lying S.W. and N.E. of each other.("Journal of Voyage to the Unknown South Land, 1642").
* [Thus Tasman left New Zealand without effecting a landing anywhere.]