Volume Vi Part 21

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[Footnote 285: The particular enumeration comes only to 46 vessels, so that the number of 64 in the text seems an oversight or transposition.--E.]

At sunrise on the 23d of February, we set sail from the island and port of _Marate_, finding seven fathom water and a sandy bottom[286]. At eleven o'clock we came to two small islands far to seawards, one called _Darata_ and the other _Dolcofallar_[287], from whence to _Swakem_ is a days sail. From noon we sailed N.W. by W. till even-song time, when we entered the channel of _Swakem_, in which, after sailing a league N.W.

we had certain shoals a-head, on which account we altered our course to W. one quarter N.W. and sometimes W. to keep free of these shoals. We continued in this course about three leagues, till we saw a great island a-head of us, when we immediately tacked towards the land, and came to an anchor between certain great _shoals of stone_ or sunken rocks, forming a good harbour named _Xabaque_[288], which in the Arabic means a net. It might be an hour before sunset when we came to anchor. This day my pilot took the sun at noon, and found our lat.i.tude _scarce_ 19 N[289]. The shoals of Swakem are so many and so intermingled, that no picture or information were sufficient to understand them, much less to sail through among them; the islands, shoals, banks, rocks, and channels are so numerous and intricate. At the entrance among these shoals, there is to seaward a shoal under water on which the sea breaks very much, and to landward a small island, these two ranging N.E. and S.W. a quarter more E. and W. the distance between being three quarters of a league.

Immediately on entering, the channel seemed large and s.p.a.cious, and the farther we advanced so much more to seaward there appeared to us an infinite number of very flat islands, shoals, sand-banks and rocks, that they could not be reckoned. Towards the land side these were not so numerous; but it is the foulest and most unnavigable channel that ever was seen, in comparison with any other sea. What ought chiefly to be attended to in this channel, is always to keep nearer to the shoals that are to seawards, and as far as possible from those to landward. The breadth of this channel in some places is about half a league, in others a quarter, and in others less than a gun-shot. In the entry to this channel we had six fathoms, and from thence to the port of _Shabak_ never less, and never more than 12. From the beginning of the shoals to _Shabak_ may be about five leagues, and their whole length eight or nine. We have then another channel, more secure for ships and great vessels; and we may likewise pa.s.s these shoals leaving them all to seaward, going very close to the main-land, which is the best and most pleasant way.

[Footnote 286: Perhaps this refers to the _west_ channel of the harbour, though not so expressed in the text.--E.]

[Footnote 287: Named Daratata and Dolkefallar in Astley.]

[Footnote 288: More properly Shabak.--Ast.]

[Footnote 289: Purchas in a side-note makes this the lat.i.tude of the harbour of _Xabaque_; but it is obvious that they had sailed a long way between noon, when the alt.i.tude was taken, and an hour before sunset, when they entered the harbour.--E.]

On the 24th, at sunrise, we set sail from the port of _Shabak_, and rowed by so narrow a channel that our fleet had to follow each other in single line a-head, being only about a cross-bow shot over in the widest parts. In this narrow channel we were never more than a cannon shot from the main-land, and sometimes little more than a cross-bow shot; having shoals, rocks and banks on every side of us, all under water, yet we had always sufficient indications to avoid them; as wherever they lay, the water over them appeared very red or very green, and where neither of these colours appeared we were sure of the clearest channel, the water, being there dark. Continuing by this channel among so many difficulties, we came to anchor at half an hour past eleven at a little low round island, in lat. 19 N. In this lat.i.tude Ptolomy places the mountain of the _Satyrs_[290]. Of this mountain the native pilots had no knowledge; but going about half a league into the land, I found the footsteps of so many kind of beasts, and such great flocks of _pianets_[291] as was wonderful. All these tracks came till they set their feet in the sea, and they occupied, the greatest part of the field. I believe the fable of the _Satyrs_ to have arisen from thence, and that they were said to inhabit these hills and mountains. It is to be noted that in the channel of four leagues from the harbour of _Shabak_ to this island, the water is never less than two and a half fathoms nor deeper than eleven, and also that the tide at this island does not ebb and flow above half a yard. It begins to flow as soon as the moon begins to ascend towards the horizon, in the same order as already mentioned respecting Socotora.

[Footnote 290: This mountain of the Satyrs may more properly be generally referred to the high range of mountains on this part of the coast, perhaps from abounding in the baboon called Simia Satyrus, or the Mandrill.--E.]

[Footnote 291: I know not what to make of the _pianets_; but the footsteps of beasts reaching to the edge of the water may probably refer to amphibious animals, while the flocks of pianets may have been water-fowl of some kind.--E.]

The 26th at sunrise we departed from the island, rowing along a reef of rocks that ran between us and the land to which it was almost parallel, all the sea between it and the land being full of shoals and banks; but to seawards there were neither shoals nor banks nor any other impediment. At nine o'clock we came to anchor at a small island encompa.s.sed by many flats and shoals, where there was a good haven. This island was a league and a half from that we left in the morning, and 5 leagues short of _Swakem_. The 27th at sunrise, we set sail from this second island, and two hours within the night we came to anchor a league and a half farther on in 28 fathoms water. The 28th we _bridled_ our oars and set sail. At nine o'clock we anch.o.r.ed about two leagues from the land in 23 fathoms, on soft sand, like ouze or mud. This morning we found some shoals under water, but the sea always shewed itself very green or red over them. Two hours after noon we set sail again, and anch.o.r.ed at night in 37 fathoms on a sandy bottom, hard by an island a league and a half short of Swakem. The coast runs N.N.W. and S.S.E.

having all along a shoal which extends near half a league into the sea.

This land differs in nothing from that formerly described. The 1st March 1541, departing from this anchorage, and having doubled a point of land made by the shoal, we approached the land inwards by a channel, and came to anchor in the haven of the city of _Swakem_.

_Swakem_ was called by the ancients the port of _Aspi_, as may be seen in the _third_ table of Africa by Ptolemy. At this day it is one of the richest cities in the East[292]. It is situated within the Arabian Gulf or Red Sea, on the coast of _Ethiopia sub Egypto_, now called the land and coast of the _Abexii_ or Abyssinians. Among famous places, this may be reckoned equal or superior to them all in _four_ things. The _first_ is the goodness and safety of the haven. The _second_ in the facility and good service for lading and unlading ships. The _third_ in its traffic with very strange and remote people of various manners and customs. The _fourth_ in the strength and situation of the city. As touching the goodness and security of the port I shall first speak.

Nature hath so formed this port that no storm from the sea can enter it in any direction. Within the haven the sea is so quiet, and runs so insensibly, that scarcely can we perceive it to have any tide. The ground is mud. The road in all places has five or six fathoms, and seven in some places; and is so large that two hundred ships may ride commodiously at anchor, besides rowing-vessels without number. The water is so clear that you may plainly perceive the bottom; and where that is not seen the depth is at least ten or twelve fathoms. The ships can be laden or unladen all round the city, merely by laying a plank from them into the warehouses of the merchants; while gallies fasten themselves to stones at the doors of the houses, laying their prows over the quays as so many bridges. Now touching the trade and navigation of this port with many sorts of people, and with strange and remote countries, I know not what city can compare with it except Lisbon: as this city trades with all India, both on this side and beyond the Ganges; with _Cambaya_, _Tanacerim_, _Pegu_, _Malacca_; and within the Straits with _Jiddah_, _Cairo_, and _Alexandria_. From all Ethiopia and Abyssinia it procures great quant.i.ties of gold and ivory. As to the strength and situation of this city enough can hardly be said; since to come to it, the inconveniences, difficulties, and dangers are so great, that it seems almost impossible: as for fifteen leagues about, the shoals, flats, islands, channels, rocks, banks, and sands, and surges of the sea, are so many and intricate that they put the sailors in great fear and almost in despair. The situation of the city is this: In the middle of a great nook or bay, is a perfectly flat island almost level with the sea and exactly round, being about a quarter, of a league in circuit, upon which the city of _Swakem_ is built; not one foot of ground on the whole island but is replenished with houses and inhabitants, so that the whole island, is a city. On two sides this insular city comes within a bow-shot of the main land, that is on the E.S.E. and S.W. sides, but all the rest is farther from the land. The road, haven, or bay surrounds the city on every side to the distance of a cross-bow shot, in all of which s.p.a.ce, ships may anchor in six or seven fathoms on a mud bottom. All around this bay there is a great shoal; so that the deep water is from the edge of the city all round to the distance of a bow-shot, and all beyond is full of shoals. In this bay there are three other islands on the land side to the north-west. The two which lie farthest in are small, but that nearest to the channel is about as large as the city.

Between this island and the main sea, there is a large and very long channel, having seven fathoms water, all along which a great navy might safely ride at anchor, without any danger of annoyance from the city, whence only their masts could be seen. When the moon appears in the horizon it is full sea, and as the moon advances it ebbs till the moon comes to the meridian, when it is dead low water; and thence it begins again to flow till the moon sets, when it is again full sea. The entire ebb and flow of the sea at this city does not exceed a quarter of a yard. The most that it rises along the coast is a yard and a half, and in some places less than three quarters of a yard. But when I made this observation it was neap tide.

[Footnote 292: This is to be understood of 1541, when visited by De Castro. Since the Turkish conquest, Mokha and other places have greater trade.--_Purch_.]


_Continuation of the Voyage from Swakem to Comol_.

We remained in the haven of Swakem from the 1st to the 9th of March 1541, when an hour before sunset we weighed from before the city, and anch.o.r.ed for the night at the mouth of the channel. We weighed again on the 10th, and came again to anchor at night, when the dew was wonderfully great. On the 11th it blew a storm from the north, so violent that it raised great mountains of sand along the sea coast, after which it dispersed them, and the air remained obscured by the sand as if it had been a great mist or smoke. We remained at anchor all this day, and on the 12th we left this channel two leagues beyond _Swakem_, and being without the channel we made sail. About a league and a half from the coast there were so many rocks, shoals, and flats, on which the sea continually broke, that we had to take in our sails and row for three hours, till we got beyond these shoals, after which we again made sail. At evening we came to anchor within the bank by a very narrow channel, a league beyond that we had been last in, and three leagues from Swakem, but the channel within the entrance was large, with clean ground, and perfectly secure in all winds.

The 13th we went out of this channel an hour before day, and about a cannon-shot to seaward we saw a long range of shoals with broken water, seeming to stretch in the same direction with the coast. At eleven o'clock the wind turned to the N.N.W. and as our course was N.W. we were unable to make way, and had to fasten our vessels to the rocks on these shoals, where we lay about three hours. About two o'clock afternoon the wind freshened at N.N.E. and we made sail N.W. But coming to the bank landward, we took in our sails and rowed into a channel within the bank, where we came to anchor. This channel is very narrow and winding, being about seven leagues beyond Swakem, whence the coast to this place runs N. and S. and then N. by W. and S. by E. I went ash.o.r.e on the 15th to observe the order and flowing of the tide, and found it was full sea when the moon was two hours past the meridian, and was dead ebb two hours after the moon set. I found likewise that the ebb and flow of the tide at this place was 22 cubits[293]. The 16th we left this channel, with the wind at north, and cast anchor half a league out at sea. The 17th we entered a very good harbour named _Dradate_ or _Tradate_, the coast from Swakem here winding N. by W. and S. by E. distance 10 leagues. The land behind the sh.o.r.e is all very low in that s.p.a.ce, but three leagues back from the coast it rises into great and high mountains. This harbour of _Tradate_, in lat. 19 50' N. 10 leagues beyond Swakem, is one of the best in the world. The entrance is about a falcon-shot across, and grows narrower inwards, but has 20 fathoms water in its whole length with a mud bottom; and a quarter of a league within the land there is a famous watering-place at certain wells, where is the best water and in greatest plenty of any place on all these coasts. The 19th we sailed at day-light, and advanced 3-1/2 leagues that day, having many shoals to seaward of us, and the coast for these 3-1/2 leagues trended N. and S. On the 20th at sunrise the wind blew from the N. and the sea was rough, for which reason we had to seek shelter within the shoal, entering by a very narrow and difficult channel. After we were in, the wind came N.N.E. and we remained all day at anchor. The 21st we left the shoal with fine weather, the wind being at W.N.W. and sailed N.

keeping about half a league from the land; and an hour after sunrise we came to a long and fair point of land called by Ptolomy the _promontory of Diogenes_. On the north side of this point is a large fine bay named _Doroo_, and at the extremity of this long bare point there is a large round tower like a pillar. At the entrance of this harbour or channel there are six fathoms water, which diminishes gradually inwards to three. The ground is hard clay, and the bay is very large with many creeks and nooks within, and many islands; many of these creeks penetrating deep into the main-land, so that in every place there may be many vessels hidden without being observed from the other branches of the harbour. A quarter of a league off to sea from the mouth of this harbour there is a shoal which defends it completely from the admission of any sea, as this shoal is above water, and has no pa.s.sage except by the entrance already mentioned, which trends E. by N. and W. by S. A cannon-shot from this bay there is a great well, but the water is very brackish.

[Footnote 293: Considering the very small rise and fall of the tide at Swakem, the text in this place ought perhaps only to have been _inches_.--E.]

On the 22d we left this harbour of Doroo at day light, proceeding by means of our oars, and found the sea very full of rocks, so that escaping from some we got foul of others, and at half past ten o'clock we had to fasten our vessels to the rocks. Proceeding onwards, we got towards evening in with the land, and having doubled a point we entered a very large bay named _f.u.xaa_, or _Fushaa_, three leagues and a half beyond _Doroo_, the coast between stretching N. and E. with a tendency towards N.W. and S.E. This bay of _Fushaa_ is remarkable by a very high sharp peaked hill, in lat. 20 15' N. In the very mouth of the harbour there are two very low points, lying N. by E. and S. by W. from each other, distant a league and half. As no great sea can enter here it is a very good harbour, having 10 and 12 fathoms water on a mud bottom, diminishing inwards to five fathoms. Along the land within the bay on the south side there are nine small islands in a row, and in other places there are some scattered islets, all very low and encompa.s.sed by shoals. The land at this bay is very dry and barren, and it has no water.

On the 25th we continued along the coast, having many rocks to seawards about a league off; and at ten o'clock we entered a very large harbour named _Arekea_, four leagues beyond _Fushaa_, the coast between running N. and S. with some tendence to N.W. and S.E. _Arekea_, the strongest and most defensible harbour I have ever seen, is 22 leagues beyond _Swakem_. In ancient times it was called _Dioscori_ according to Pliny.

In the middle of the entry to this port there is a considerable island, about a cross-bow shot in length and breadth, having a bank or shoal running from it on the south side to the main land, so shallow that nothing can pa.s.s over it. But on the north side of this island the channel is about a cross-bow shot in breadth and 15 fathoms deep, running N.W. and S.E. and on both sides this channel is very shallow and full of rocks, the fair way being in the middle. This channel is about a gun-shot in length, after which the coasts on both sides recede and form within a large fine and secure harbour, about a league long and half a league broad, deep in the middle but full of shoals near the land, and it hath no fresh water. At this place it was agreed to send back all the ships to Ma.s.sua, and to proceed with only sixteen small gallies or row boats.

Arrangements being accordingly formed, we set sail from _Arekea_ on the 30th at noon, and came to an anchor in a port called _Salaka_ four leagues beyond _Arekea_ and 96 from _Swakem_, the coast trending N. and S. with a slight deviation to N.E. and S.W. The land next the sea has many risings or hillocks, behind which there are high mountains. It must be noted that all the land from Arekea onwards close behind the sh.o.r.e puts on this uneven appearance, whereas before that it was all plain, till in the inland it rises in both into high mountains. The 31st we sailed from _Salaka_, and an hour before sunset we made fast to the rocks of a shoal a league from the land and 17 leagues from _Salaka_, being 43 leagues from Swakem. From the port of _Salaka_ the coast begins to wind very much; and from _Raseldoaer_ or _Ras al Dwaer_, it runs very low to the N.N.E. ending in a sandy point where there are 13 little hillocks or k.n.o.bs of stone, which the Moorish pilots said were graves.

From this _point of the Calmes_[294] about two leagues, the coast runneth N.N.W. to a shoal which is 43 leagues from _Swakem_. This point is the most noted in all these seas, as whoever sails from _Ma.s.sua_, _Swakem_, and other places for _Jiddah_, _Al Cossir_, and _Toro_, must necessarily make this point. The sea for the last seventeen leagues is of such a nature that no rules or experience can suffice for sailing it in safety, so that the skilful as well as the unskilful must pa.s.s it at all hazards, and save themselves as it were by chance, for it is so full of numerous and great shoals, so interspersed everywhere with rocks, and so many and continual banks, that it seems better fitted for being travelled on foot than sailed even in small boats. In the s.p.a.ce between _Salaka_ and _Ras-al-Dwaer_, but nearer to the latter, there are three islands forming a triangle, the largest of which is called _Magarzawn_, about two leagues long and very high ground, but has no water. This island bears N. and S. with _Ras-al-Dwaer_ distant three leagues. The second island lies considerably out to sea, and is called _Al Mante_, and is high land without water; the third island is all sand and quite low, being four leagues from _Salaka_ towards _Ras-al-Dwaer_, but I did not learn its name.

[Footnote 294: Meaning perhaps the sandy point near Ras-al-Dwaer. This paragraph is very obscure, and seems to want something, omitted perhaps by the abbreviator.--Astl.]

On the 2d of April 1541, casting loose from the before-mentioned shoal, which is 43 leagues beyond _Swakem_, we rowed along the coast, and entered a river called _Farate_, about four leagues from the shoal; whence setting our sails we got into a fine haven a league from thence called _Kilfit_. All this day we saw no rocks to landward, but there was a shoal to seaward. _Farate_ is a large and fair river, the mouth of which is in lat. 2140' N. Its mouth is formed by two low points about a gun-shot apart, from each of which a shoal stretches towards the middle, where only there is any pa.s.sage. The river runs from the west to the east, having very low land on both sides, without either tree or shrub or bush of any kind. At the entrance it is 30 fathoms deep, and from thence diminishes to 18 fathoms. _Kilfit_ is a fine harbour and very safe, as when once in, no wind whatever need be feared. There are at the entry two very low points bearing N.W. 1/4 N. and S.E. 1/4 S. distant near a quarter of a league. It is rather more than three leagues in circuit, and every part of it is safe anchorage, having 12 fathoms water throughout; the sh.o.r.e is however rocky. This harbour is rather more than a league from the river of _Farate_, between which is a range of mountains, one of which is higher than the others. We left _Kilfit_ on the 3d, an hour before day, and rowed along the coast till an hour before sunset, when we anch.o.r.ed in a haven called _Ras al Jidid_, or the new cape, about nine leagues from _Kilfit_. This day we saw a few shoals to seawards, but fewer than before. Two leagues from _Kilfit_ there is a very good haven named _Moamaa_; and from the _point of the shrubs_ to another very long sandy point, about two leagues distant, before the port of _Ras-al-Jidid_, the coast runs N. and S. with a small deviation to the N.W. and S.E. the distance being about three and a half leagues[295]. _Ras-al-Jidid_[296] is a small but very pleasant haven, 57 leagues beyond Swakem, and so exactly circular that it resembles a great cauldron. There are two points at its entrance bearing N. and S. and on the inside the eastern winds only can do harm. All the ground is very clean, having 18 fathoms at the mouth and 13 within; and half a league inland there is a well of water, though not very plentiful, and bitterish. This port is a large half league in circuit. It is a singularity in all the rivers or harbours which I have seen on this coast, that they have no bars or banks at their mouths, which are generally deeper than within. On the land round this port, I found certain trees which in their trunk and bark resembled cork-trees, but very different in all other respects. Their leaves were very large, wonderfully thick, and of a deep green, crossed with large veins. They were then in flower, and their flowers in the bud resembled the flowers of the mallow when in that state: But such as were opened were white, and like the white c.o.c.kle. On cutting a bough or leaf there run out a great stream of milk, as from the dug of a goat. On all this coast I saw no other trees, except a grove a little beyond Ma.s.sua, in some marshy ground near the sea. Besides these trees, there are some valleys inland producing a few capers, the leaves of which are eaten by the Moors, _who say they be appropriate to the joynts_. On the 4th of April, from sunrise till eleven o'clock, the wind blew a storm from the N.W. after which there was much and loud thunder, accompanied with hail, the stones being the largest I ever saw. With the thunder the wind veered about to every point of the compa.s.s, and at last it settled in the north. This day I carried my instruments on sh.o.r.e, when I found the variation 1-1/4 degree north-east[297], and the lat.i.tude by many observations 22 N.

Though these observations were made on sh.o.r.e with great care, so that I never stirred the instrument when once set till the end of my observations, I am satisfied there must be some error; because the great heat cracked the plate of ivory in the middle, so that there remained a great cleft as thick as a _gold portague_. On the 6th, an hour before day, we weighed from the port of _Ras-al-Jidid_, and advanced about three and a half leagues. The 7th in the morning, the wind blew fresh at N.W. and we rowed to the sh.o.r.e, where at eight o'clock we fastened our barks to certain stones of a shoal or reef, lying before a long point which hereafter I shall name _Starta_. We went in this s.p.a.ce about three leagues. About noon we made sail and proceeded in our voyage, but in no small doubts, as we saw on both sides of our course a prodigious number of shelves; we were therefore obliged to take in our sails and use our oars, by means of which we came about sunset to a good haven named _Comol_, in which we anch.o.r.ed.

[Footnote 295: This paragraph is likewise obscurely worded, and is perhaps left imperfect by the abbreviator.--Astl.]

[Footnote 296: In some subsequent pa.s.sages this harbour is called Igidid, probably to distinguish it from the point of Ras-al-Jidid.--Astl.]

[Footnote 297: It is therefore probable that in all the bearings set down in this voyage, when applied to practice, either for the uses of geography or navigation, this allowance of 1-1/4 too much to the east ought to be deducted.--E.]

From a point two leagues beyond the harbour of _Igidid_, or _Ras-al-Jidid_, to another very long and flat point may be about four leagues, these two points bearing N.W. and S.E. between which there is a large bay; within which towards the long point at the N.W. is a deep haven so close on all sides that it is safe from every wind. This point is an island; from which circ.u.mstance and its lat.i.tude it seems certainly the island named _Starta_ by Ptolomy. From thence to a great point of land over the harbour of _Comol_ the distance may be five leagues; these two points bearing N.W. by W. and S.E. by E. and between them is a large fair bay. From the port of _Igidid_ till half a league short of the harbour of _Comol_, the land close to the sh.o.r.e is all raised in small hills very close together, behind which, about a league farther inland, are very high mountains rising into many high and sharp peaks; and as we come nearer to _Comol_ these hills approach the sea, and in coming within half a league of _Comol_ they are close to the sh.o.r.e. Comol is eleven leagues beyond _Igidid_, and 68 from Swakem, and is in lat. 22 30' N. This port is in the second bay, very near the face of the point which juts out from the coast on the north-west side of this second bay. Though not large, the port of _Comol_ is very secure, as towards the seaward it has certain reefs or shoals above water which effectually defend it from all winds. The land around it is very plain and pleasant, and is inhabited by many _Badwis_[298]. The north-west point which ends the bay and covers this port is very long and fair, being all low and level, being what was named by Ptolomy the promontory of _Prionoto_ in his _third_ table of Africa, since the great mountains which range along the whole of this coast end here.

[Footnote 298: Named _Badois_ in the edition of Purchas, but certainly the _Badwis_ or _Bedouins_, signifying the _People of the Desert_, being the name by which the Arabs who dwell in tents are distinguished from those who inhabit towns.--Astl.].


_Continuation of the Voyage from the Harbour of Comol to Toro or Al Tor._

Three hours after midnight of the 7th April 1541[299], we left the harbour of _Comol_, using our oars for a small way, and then hoisting sail we proceeded along the coast; but an hour before day-light some of our barks struck upon certain rocks and shoals, on which we again struck sails and took to our oars till day-light. At day-light, being then the 8th, we came to a s.p.a.cious bay, of which to the north and north-west we could see no termination, neither any cape or head-land in that direction. We accordingly sailed forwards in that open sea or bay, but which had so many shoals on each side that it was wonderful we could make _any profit of a large wind;_ for, _now going roamour, and now upon a tack_, sometimes in the way and sometimes out of it, there was no way for us to take certain and quiet[300]. About sunset we came to a very great shelf or reef, and fastening our barks to its rocks we remained there for the night. The morning of the 9th being clear, we set sail from this shelf, and took harbour within a great shelf called _Shaab-al-Yadayn_[301]. After coming to anchor, we noticed an island to seaward, called _Zemorjete_. This port and shelf trend N.E. by E. and S.W. by W. From the _cape of the mountains_[302], to another cape beyond it on which there are a quant.i.ty of shrubs or furzes; the coast runs N.E. by N. and S.W. by S. the distance between these capes being about three and a half or four leagues. From this last point the coast of the great bay or nook winds inwards to the west, and afterwards turns out again, making a great circuit with many windings, and ends in a great and notable point called _Ras-al-Nashef_, or the dry cape, called by Ptolomy the promontory _Pentadactilus_ in his _third_ table of Africa.

The island _Zemorjete_ is about eight leagues E. from this cape; and from that island, according to the Moorish pilots, the two sh.o.r.es of the gulf are first seen at one time, but that of Arabia is a great deal farther off than the African coast. This island, which is very high and barren, is named _Agathon_ by Ptolomy. It has another very small island close to it, which is not mentioned in Ptolomy. Now respecting the shelf _Shaab-al-Yadayn_, it is to be noted that it is a great shelf far to seaward of the northern end of the great bay, all of it above water, like two extended arms with their hands wide open, whence its Arabic name which signifies _shelf of the hands_. The port of this shelf is to landward, as on that side it winds very much, so as to shut up the haven from all winds from the sea. This haven and cape _Ras-al-Nashef_ bear from each other E.S.E. and W.S.W. distant about four leagues.

[Footnote 299: In our mode of counting time, three in the morning of the 8th.--E.]

[Footnote 300: This nautical language is so different from that of the present day as to be almost unintelligible. They appear to have sailed in a winding channel, in which the wind was sometimes scant, sometimes large and sometimes contrary; so that occasionally they had to tack or turn to windward. The strange word _roamour_, which has occurred once before, may be conjectured to mean that operation in beating to windward, in which the vessel sails contrary to the direction of her voyage, called in ordinary nautical language the short leg of the tack.--E.]

[Footnote 301: Signifying in Arabic the shelf of the two hands.--Astl.]

[Footnote 302: Probably that just before named _Prionoto_ from Ptolomy, and called cape of the mountains, because the Abyssinian mountains there end.--E.]

At sunrise on the 10th we set sail to the N.N.E. the wind being fresh and the sea appearing clear and navigable. When about half a league from the point we saw, as every one thought, a ship under sail, but on drawing nearer it was a white rock in the sea, which we were told deceives all navigators as it did us. After this we stood N. by E. By nine o'clock we reached an island named _Connaka_, and pa.s.sed between it and the main-land of Africa. This island is small and barren, about half a league in circuit, and is about a league and a half from the main. It resembles a vast crocodile with its legs stretched out, and is a noted land-mark among navigators. _Connaka_ and _Zamorjete_ bear from each other N.W. by W. and S.E. by E. distant about six small leagues. About half an hour past ten, we reached a very long point of sand stretching far out to sea, called _Ras-al-nef_, which signifies in Arabic the point or cape of the nose. There is no nigh land whatever about this cape, but a vast plain field without tree or any green thing, and in the very face of the point stands a great temple without any other buildings, and on each side of it is a very clear sandy coast in manner of a bay. This cape of _Ras-al-nef_ is famous among navigators, as all their trouble and danger ends on reaching it, when they consider themselves at home and secure. We continued our course from this cape along the coast with the wind at S.E. At noon my pilot took the alt.i.tude, and found our lat.i.tude 24 10' N. at which time we were beyond _Ras-al-nef_ about three leagues, whence the lat.i.tude of that cape is 24 N. From this it appears that the ancient city of _Berenice_ was built upon this cape _Ras-al-nef_ as Ptolomy places it on this coast under the tropic of _Cancer_, making the greatest declination of the sun at this place almost 23 50'. Likewise Pliny says that at Berenice the sun at noon in the summer solstice gives no shadow to the _gnomon_, by which that city appears to have stood under the tropic.[303]

[Footnote 303: It may be presumed that the position given by Ptolomy is merely accidental, resulting from computed distances; and Pliny only speaks from the authority of Ptolomy. In all probability _Al Kossir_, to be afterwards mentioned, is the _Berenice_ of the ancients.--Astl.]

Half an hour before sunset, we came to an island called _Shwarit_, but pa.s.sing onwards a quarter of a league we came to some shelves of sand and others of rock, and anch.o.r.ed between them in a good harbour called _Sial_. These shelves and this port are 103 leagues beyond _Swakem_. On these shelves we saw a much greater quant.i.ty of sea-fowl than had been seen in any part of the Red Sea. From _Ras-al-Nashef_ to the island of _Shwarit_ may be between 16 and 17 leagues. After pa.s.sing Cape _Ras-al-Nashef_, or the N.W. point of the great bay, the coast winds very much, running into the land, and pushing out again a very long point of land called _Ras-al-nef_, which two points bear from each other N.E. and S.W. almost 1/4 more N. and S. distant about six leagues large.

From _Ras-al-nef_ forwards, the coast winds directly to the N.W. till we come to _Swarit_, the distance being between 10 and 11 leagues. In this distance the sea is only in three places foul with shoals; _first_ to seaward of the island of _Connaka_, where there is a large fair shoal rising above water in a great ridge of large rocks; and running a long way toward the land; the _second_ place is at the island of _Shwarit_, as both to the east and west of this island great shoals and flats stretch towards the main-land, so as apparently to shut up the sea entirely between that island and the main; the _third_ is at this harbour of _Sial_ where we anch.o.r.ed, where the sea is studded thick with innumerable shoals and flats, so that no part remains free. The island of Shwarit is a gun-shot in length and nearly as much in breadth, all low land, with a great green bush in the middle, and opposite to its east side there is a great rock like an island. _Shwarit_ is little more than half a league from the main-land.

From _Swakem_ all the way to _Ras-al-nef_, the countries are all inhabited by _Badwis_ or _Bedouins_, who follow the law of Mahomet, and from _Ras-al-nef_, upwards to _Suez_ and the end of this sea, the coast all belongs to Egypt, the inhabitants of which dwell between the coast of the Red Sea and the river Nile. Cosmographers in general call the inhabitants of both these regions _Ethiopians_. Ptolomy calls them Egyptian Arabs: Pomponius Mela and other cosmographers name them in general Arabs; but we ought to follow Ptolomy, as he was the prince of cosmographers. These Egyptian Arabs, who inhabit the whole country from the mountains to the sea, are commonly called _Bedwis_ or _Bedouins_, of whose customs and manner of life we shall treat in another place.

We took in our sails on the 11th of April, and proceeded on our way by rowing. At nine o'clock we entered a great bay called _Gadenauhi_[304], about 4 leagues from _Sial_, the coast between trending N.W. and S.E.

rather more to the N. and S. The land over the sea, which for some way had the appearance of a wall or trench, becomes now very mountainous and _doubled_, shewing so many mountains and so close that it was wonderful. The port or bay of _Gadenauhi_ is 107 leagues beyond _Swakem_, in lat. 24 40' N. It was low water _one hour after high noon_[305], and full sea when the moon rose above the horizon; and as the moon ascended it began to ebb, till the moon was an hour past the meridian, when it began to flow, and was full sea an hour after the moon set. By night the wind was N.W. Two or three hours after midnight we departed from _Gadenauhi_ prosecuting our voyage. In pa.s.sing between the shoal which comes from the N.W. point of the bay and the island of _Bahuto_, we stuck fast upon the shoal, and were much troubled, believing ourselves in a net or cul-de-sac; but we had no hurt or danger, and presently got into the right channel and rowed along sh.o.r.e, against the wind at N.W. till day. The 12th we rowed along sh.o.r.e, and came an hour after sunrise into a haven called _Xarmeelquiman_ or _Skarm-al-Kiman_, meaning in the Arabic a cleft or opening in the mountains. This is a small but excellent harbour, 1-1/2 league beyond _Gadenauhi_, and 108 leagues beyond _Swakem_, very much like the port of _Igidid_.

[Footnote 304: Perhaps _Wad-annawi_.--Astl.]

[Footnote 305: This strange expression, as connected with the tide which is dependent on the moon, may possibly mean when the moon was in opposition to the north; or mid-way between her setting and rising.--]

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