Great Britain. Hydrographic Office.

The China Sea directory: Comprising the coasts of China from Hong Kong to ... online

. (page 4 of 72)
Online LibraryGreat Britain. Hydrographic OfficeThe China Sea directory: Comprising the coasts of China from Hong Kong to ... → online text (page 4 of 72)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Hu-i-tau bay instead of Amoy ; and again in the N.E. monsoon have
picked themselves up off Red bay instead of Chapel island. The current
will slack a little at particular times of tide, but during the survey of this
coast in 1843 it was seldom found to inin to the southward in the
southerly monsoon, or to this northward in the N.E. monsoon. At, and
eastward of, the Pescadores islands, in the month of August, a current
was sometimes experienced of 4 knots per hour, running to the north-
ward, whilst with the ebb it slackened for two or three hours, but seldom
ceased entirely. The same has been observed in May,

jJUPJkX STRaajo*— The great oceanic current which has its origin
in the N.E. trade-drift of the North Pacific is now known to navigators
as the Japan stream, as well as by its Japanese name, Kuro siwo.* The
trade-drift, which flows to. the westward between the parallels of 9° and
20° N., on reaching the eastern shores of the Philipine islands, recurves
to the northward, forming near the northern limit of that group the

* Literally black tide or stream, so called from its peculiar colour. It is also, but less
generally, Imown as Kuro se gawa, -which signifies Black river.

B 2



Digitized by VjOOQIC



20 ^APAK STREAK. [chjlp.i.

oommenoement of the Japan atream. The maiu body of the current then
flows along the east coast of Formosat and from that island pursues a
north-easterly course through the chain of islands, lying between Formosi^
and Japan, sweeps along the sonth-eastem coasts of Japan, and continuing
in the same general direction is known to reach the parallel of SOP N.

The limits and velocit j of the Japan stream are considerably influenced
by the monsoons in the China sea, and by the prevailing winds of the
corresponding seasons in the Yellow and Japan seas ; also by the Tarious
drift currents which those periodic winds produce. These variations are
exhibited on the Adminlty current chart,* which embodies, in a graphic
form, all the most reliable information we possess.

In the N.E. monsoon the Paciflc trade-drift attains, at the commence-
ment of the Japan stream, a breadth of 400 or 500 miles, between the
northern extremity of Luzon and the meridian of 130^ E., and flows in a
course between west and N.W. The western portion of this great body
of water is pressed westward through the Bashee and Ballintang channeb,
and joins the monsoon-drift or counter current of the coast of China,
which is setting strong to the south-westward at this season into the
China sea.

Near its origin the main body of the stream is contracted, and flows to
the northward along the east coast of Formosa, being confined between
that island and the Meiaco sima group with a width of nearly 200 miles,
but northward of the latter it rapidly expands on its southern limit, where
its waters are constantly recurving to the east and south-eastf

On the south cape of Formosa the current splits, forming a branch which
passes westward of that island, up through the Pescadores channel, and
round the northern side of the island, north-eastward of which it again joins
the Japan stream. This branch has not the same steady flow as the main
stream east of Formosa, yet it is sufficient to nullify the opposing southern
tidal stream of the coast, whilst it greatly accelerates the northern stream.:^

During the S.W. monsoon the Paciflc trade-drift off Luzon has a breatdh
of only 150 miles, but is then augmented by a portion of the monsoon
drift current from the China sea, which flows north-eastward through the
Bashee and Ballintang channels at the rate of 40 miles a day ; the latter,
however, has no permanency of character, for the current in this locality
is often found setting to the north-westward. The remaining and larger
portion of the monsoon drift from the China sea passes up through
Formosa strait, and northward of Formosa is said to blend with the Japan

* See Admiralty Atlas :— Wind and Current Charts of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian
Oceans. 1872.

f For description of the Japan stream in more northern latitudes, see China Sea
Directory, voL iv., p. 23.

t See remarks on these tides on pages, 204, 248, and 250.



Digitized by VjOOQIC



cBAP.i.] YELOcrrr and tbhpsbatxjre. 21

streamy for the limit of the latter lias been known to extend ai far west-
ward as a line joining the island of Tsang^ming (off the CSUaa coast
north-westward of Formosa) with Tsn sima in the Kcfnk elrait This
western limit is yerj pereeptible^ both on aeeoont of the hif^ier tern*
peratnre of the Japan stream, and from its waters being of a daA bine or
black colonr, whilst that of ^e odder water is of apale green.

Another branch of the Ji^Mm stream flows throngh Korea strait into the
Japan sea, passing the island of Tsn sima.

Along the borders of the stream, where it chafes against the coanter-
cnrrents and torpid waters of the ocean, and along its margin near the
shore where it meets with an opposing tide, races and tide-rips are
encountered, oflken resembling heavy breakers on reefs or shoals, and
whirls and eddies are produced bj islands and inequalities in its bed.



18io 48 miles.


18 to 42 mil6s.


24 to 42 „


24 to 86 „


24 to 48 „


18 „


48 to 72 „


24 to 48 „



Weioeitjr, Temperatare. — The Japan stream increases in strength as it
advances northward, but there are many fluctuations in its rate due to
various local influences. The following is an approximation to the daily
average rates in the different parts of its course :^

May to September. Oetober to April.

Bashee channel -
East Coast of Formosa
N.E. of Formosa -
Coast of Japan

The current attains its maximum velocity south of Sikok and Kii no
oo&ima, Japan, where it has been known to run 100 miles in 24 hours.

Northward of Formosa, in the summer season, the waters of the southern
border of the current are constantly diverging to the eastward and south-
eastward at a rate varying from 18 to 30 miles a day.

A mean temperature of this current from May to September is 82^, or 7^
higher than that of the ocean, due to latitude. The maximum is 86^,
which differs 11^ or 12^ from that of the ocean. Its north-western edge
is strongly marked by a sudden thermal change in the water of from 10**
to 20^ ; but the south-eastern limit is less distinctly defined, there being a
gradual thermal approximation of current and ocean as well as of the air.

In the months of April and October hot and cold belts are found
alternating in the stream, the temperatures ef which vary from 7** to 10° ;
whilst during the winter months, viz., from November to March, the mean
temperature of the stream is 74°, which is about 4° higher than that of the
ocean.

cavtioii.— -Although a general knowledge of the currents of these parts
has been gained it is still imperfect in minor particulars. It should there-
fore ever be borne in mind that these oceanic currents have to be regarded



Digitized by VjOOQIC



22 TJDSS. [Qau!.i.

in a iwo^fold aspect, the soientific or theoretical, and .tbo practioal. .It is
higUj'Piiohable thai tbo Jifwaatreani )a«f cmmo ^otMiictei^ble deptiiy and
that it foUoira aa ahnoat nhderiating' track, -'VfUdiiiB not aUrajs ;oon«Ateiit
with B0oordJ3d obaaryiatMms,. tha £aot being ibfii, from. whatev«e cauao^ the
sur£aoe water, to the depth of aereral fieet ja cHen £i;»QidsflawiBg in. a
different direetioa. Boft it is . these upper enrrents "wYusAk ohififly..a£Gdot a
ship's oonrae, and therefore, great weight ou^ to be gix^en to.tho rematks
of experienced navigators, even thongh they may be difficult to reoencil^
with theory. . The following instaacea m^jr suffice to iUocftmybe this : In
August, .off the .coast of .China, in lat. 27 N., acocMrding. to liheory there
should have been a strong northeriy curroit, but it waa. found .by obsenra-
tion th^ there was an upper current IS feet in depth, astiiBg strongly to
the southward. It is well known that a branch of the Kuro siwo passes
up through Korea strait, but vessels crossing between Shanghai and
Nagasaki frequently find no trace of it ; and in the vicinity of the islands
southward of the gulf of Yedo, although the current may have been
setting strongly dose up to them from the westward, and is found again
directly eastward of them, even washing the coast, yet about the islands
the current frequently disappears altogether, tidal streams only ^being
perceptible. . •

TIDES. . •

COAST Of OHIV^. — The tidal wave strikes upon, the eastern coast of
China, from Hong Kong to the island of Chusan, nearly at the same
period ; it being high water on full and change day? in the neighbourhood
of the Lema islands at about 8h. 30m., and at the outer islands of the
Chusan archipelago an hour later. The rise and fall,. however, increases
considerably to the northward ; and in some instances the diurnal inequality
is great. The establishment for Hong Kong and several other places
along the coast are given in the text of this work, and also in the time
table in the appendix.

Eastward of Hong Kong, as far as Breaker point, the tides are irregular
and weak, and easily overcome by the drift current caused by the monsoon,
but after passing Breaker point the coast trends more northerly^ and the
floo^ stream is found useful to vessels bound to the northward. The rise
and fall increases, passing from 7 feet at Namoa island to 12 feet at Tong-
sang, and 20 feet at Amoy. Between Amoy and the river Min the rise of
the tide varies from 16 to 18 feet at springs, and this causes the. flood to.
enter on the north as well as on the south side of Hai-tan strait.

North of the Min the flood sets more determinately to the northward ;
it seldom, however (unless off headlands or in naiTow channels), over-
comes the current caused by the monsoon, although it has the effect of
slackening it.



Digitized by VjOOQIC



CHA^.i.] COAST OSL aSJX±j YELLOW SEA, ETC. SSi

Tb^omghe^i ^^CiiiMiiiiAroliipfllagD, aadiHienflpproaebiiigtlie MtnarMs
t9 the 'DOrtkwttr^xyf it, gieat eare aad atftentioa to the .ttdes-ie BeoeB^wf,
bnt-ad^^parHevlftr IsBtructiDns' are giveni in the body of the wodk»itoiiIy
X^ttoiiift hexe' to oftutioti tbe iumgator.that» as he approaches the ooaei to
Hie wur^ynsid of Onisap, the tidai streama inenease greatly in rapditj,
andi^QAt tihleas tiie preeautioa be taken of aeqniring a knowledge of their
set and ydocitj, his vessel is liable to become entangled amongst the
groups of this nigged archipelago. The tides attain an exoeptional and
extreme veloeitf in Hang-chn bay, page 338.



> ^ko. — Tbe tidal wave stretches upon the outer islands of
the ICorea at 8h. 30m., which is the same time it stiikes upon the outer
inlands of the east coast of China. Thence it advances up the Yellow sea
in the form of a tongue, reaching successively the Shantung peninsula at
Ih., the JSdiau-tau ^oup at lOh., the Sha-lui-tien banks at 12h., and the
heads of the gulfs of Pechili and Liautung at 4h. and 5h. ; but on all parts
of the coasts which it passes, the time of high water is retarded from
1 to 3 hours, according to the breadth of the sea. The establishment for
the entrance of the Yangtse kiang is noon, and it is only one hour later
at Sang-tau bay at the south-eastern part of the Shantung peninsula,
but in the great intervening bight of the coast to the westward it becomes
fully 6h, later. The tidal streams are rotatory in the northern part of
the Ci^usan archipelago, also off the Yangtse, where they are strong, and
130 miles northward of it, where they are weak. Around the Shantung
promontory the tides are peculiar, and along its southern coast the flood
stream sets to the westward* The rise and fall at springs off the Yangtse
is 16 feet, atKyau-chan bay 12 feet, and at Shantung promontory 6 feet.
The tides of the Yangtse estuary are fully described on page 350, those of
the Chusan archipelago and Hangchu bay on pages 330 and 338, and
those of the Shantung promontory on pages 459 and 460.

On the Korean coast there is a tidal phenomenon similar to that wl]^ch
occurs in the English and Irish channels, viz., a point of maximum rise
directly opposite where the rise is at a minimum. The place is Majori»
banks harbour in lat. 36^° N., where the rise and fall is 30 feet, whilst at
the Shantung promontory it is only 6 feet. The tidal streams on the west
coast of Korea are very strong.

About VOBBKOSA. — The tidal wave fi:om tbe Pacific strikes upon the
Philipines, the east coast of. Formosa, the Luchus, and the south coasts
of Japan about the same time, viz., 6h., full and change ; on the west
coast of Formosa from lOh. to lib., on the outer islands of the coast of
China about 8h. 30m., and on the coast itself about noon. The flood
stream enters the Bashee channel to the south-westward, and the ebb



Digitized by VjOOQIC



24k HAXING PASflULOSS* [oaAP.i.

flowf out to the norih-eastwardy and there is little doabt but thftt thqr both
modify in some degree the set of the Japaii streexn and S.W. mcHiflooii
drift current. This is espedalij the case daring springs, when the tidal
streams both south and north of Fonnosa are very strong, and will probably
account for the conflicting observations that have been made on various
occasions, but which these opposing influences have rendered difficult <^
comprehension.

Along the west coast of Formosa the flood sets to the northward and
the ebb to the southward, the former being accelerated and the latter
retarded by the branch of the Japan stream.

On the northern coast of Formosa the flood sets westward and the ebb
eastward, the eastern stream being almost constant from the same cause,
but it always slackens on the flood, and occasionally changes, for between
Kelung and Craig island the south-western stream has been found running
2 knots. There is no record of the tidal streams of the northern coast of
Lu2on, but they are stated to be always weak ; this part is exposed to the
influence of the Pacific drift-current, described on page 19, but even this
current is said to be seldom strong near the land.

The tides of the west and north coasts of Formosa are more fully
described on pages 204, 248, 250 and 255.

DIRECTIONS FOR MAKING PASSAGES.



roA»oBa to HOwo xo«o, la tbe womTm-SAST momboow.* —

There are three routes for sailing vessels making tbe passage from Singa-
pore to Hong Kong against the N.E. monsoon, viz., tbe main route, the
inner route by Cochin China, and the Palawan passage. Sailing vessels
leaving Singapore for China in February, March, and part of April may
expect a tedious, beating passage if they adopt the main route. In March,
April, or May they can proceed by the inner passage along the coast of
Cochin China, which is generally the most expeditious route in these
months.

The passage to China by the coasts of Palawan and Luzon may be fol-
lowed late in the S.W. monsoon ; also without much difficulty in October
and November ; and it has been made even in December, January, and at
every period of the N.E. monsoon.

It.was formerly the general custom for the clipper vessels employed in
the opium trade between India and China to beat up the middle of the
China sea in the strength of the N.E. monsoon, keeping as close to the
western edges of the central reefs as possible, where the current was found
to be generally in their favour. Many commanders who have been ac-

* See Admijalty Charts -.—China Sea, southern portion, Nos. 2,660a and 2,660b ; also
jQorthem portion, Nos. 2,661 A and 2,661b ; scales, d^3 mches.



Digitized by VjOOQIC



CHAP. I.] SINaAFOBE TO HOKG KOKO IK K.B« K0K800K. 25

customed to mrice their passages in that mj are strongly of opinion that
it IB the best route for vesseb later in the season than the month of Norem*
bfflr, whilst others who hare been accQstomed to proceed by the Palawan hare
just as strong opinions in fayonr of that rente.* The following remarks of
Mr. T. B. White, who was for many years in command of clipper Teasels
engaged in ihe opium trade, appear to be exceedingly Taloabl^ '"mrningh
as they furnish a balanced opinion on the respectiye advantages of the
routes. He says : ** I am sorry I cannot say much from experience in
beating up the Pakwan iu a sailing vessel, for during the entire period of
my command of the Lanrick I never onclB went that way, but always ahmg
the western edges of the shoals. I am, however, now quite certain that I
should often have made much qni<^er passages and saved much wear and
teu: by going up the Palawan. In the Fiery Crott^ although a powerful
steamer, I found it ^:eferable to take the Palawan, and always did so
during the strength of the N.E. monsoon (November to February), saving
fuel and wear and tear ; and, though a longer route, made better passages
by getting smooth water and often favourable currents. I believe nearly
all heavily-laden ships now take the Palawan from October until the end
of Febroary in preference to the main route, and a current to the north-east-
ward is generally felt the nearer the Borneo coast is kept aboard, and
usually the weather is moderate, with a rolling beam-sfrell on ; at least
that has been my experience when going up in the steamer. Mr. Beynell,
in the dipper Wdter-mtek^ usually took the Pedawan in ^e N.E. monsoon,
and made some very good passt^s. Now that it is so thoroughly well
surveyed, I consider it quite as safe as the main route."

The P. and O. Company's mail steamers, and other vessels of large
steam power, steer direct for Hong Kong against the full strength of the
monsoon. Vessels of smaller steam power may also at times, when the
monsoon is not at its height, make the pas'sage in about 10 days, by passing
west of the Anambas, where a smooth sea may be expected, and then
using sail and steam, and taking the best advantage of the wind according
to its changes. But if constant foul winds are met, it will be useless to
attempt to steam against them.

Mr Main Soiite.^The following directions f from Singapore strait to
the Natuna group apply with equal force to vessels bound either to

♦ Staff-Commander J. W. Beed, B.N.

t Compiled by Staff-Commander J. W. King, B.K., chiefly from '* Sailing Directions
between Singapore and the river Saigon,'' by Mr. A. J. Loftos, commanding the ship
Kensinffttmf pnbliahed in the << Nautical Magazine," December 1862.

iSM ^Admiralty Charts : — China sea, southern portion, i^estem sheet, No. 2,660a ;
also Flans of Tambelan islands. No. 361 ; Anamba islands, No. 1,371 ; Natuna islands,
Kos, i^8 and 3,104 J also China sea Directory, vol. ii.



Digitized by.VjOOQlC



26 MAS:iKa pamaoes. [oqap.l

the gvlf of Siftin or Saigon, or tftUog the maia rout^ or Pakwan passegi;^
daring the N.£. monaoott. . :- : :1

In December, Jaimaiy, iind Fehmary miling Ye8eel» ehoald. »Qt l^ye
the entrance . of Singapore atmit in strong N.E. win48» but aAchor on the
northern shore, under the Water ialandfl^.in QorlOfitboeiB* .In. those
months gales often ocenr at new and fall moon ; the weathevis then thick,
the rain lasting two or three days, and the current outside accelerated U>
the 8.SiK ^ E. from 2^ to 3 knots an hour. A vessel leaving the straU
then, instead of fetching St. Barbe island, would fall bodily to lee:ward
and have to work up the west coast of Borneo^ Fine weather follows,
the wind backing round to North and.N.W., and the current in the oiSng
decreasing in strength to about 1;^ knots.

Leave the Water islands with the first of the ebb and keep clean folL
Stand to the north-eastward to go through the <diannel between Soubi
island and the Great Natuna ; a passage that may without much difficulty
be made, in these months especially, at full and change, when the wind,
after a flaw hours' cahn, frequently hauls to the westward with squalls and
rain, and then veers round to the S.W. and south, blewing modwately for
about 24 hours.

After fetching liow island, in lat. B"" N. long. 107'' 48' E^ if the wind
continue easterly, take the starboard taok to the northward, paswng
westward of Low island, keeping not less than 8 miles from its dout)^
western side, to avoid the shoal water extending 2 miles from its shoircu
Give Haycock a berth of 3 or 4 miles, in passing, as the coral shoal «bout
that island extends fully 3 miles from its south-west side. Lai^e ships
should not pass eastward of Haycock at night, as the iocality.is said to
have hidden danger.

After passing Haycock there will be no difficulty in working up to the
soirt^-east point of the Great Natuna from the souttL-west, as that island
obstructs the strong N.E. current of the monsoon. Off its eoulhem shore
at night, in fine weather, the wind is off the land, but it should not be
approached nearer than 2 or 3 mUes without a good breeze,, as the water is
deep close inshore, and there is no good anchorage.

From this position the navigator, if intending to pursue his voyage by
the main route, must be guided by circumstances, and the directions given
in the second volume of the China Sea Directory ; but after arriving in
the large space of open sea in the parallel of 12^ N., northward of the
great mass of central reefs, it is advisable,. instead of beating to windward,
to make to the eastward and work up the coast of Luzon as ^ as Fiedra
point or cape Bojeador, so as to ensure fetching Hong Kong on th^ star*
board tack. It should be borne in mind that there is always much danger
in passing to windward of the Fratas, Faracelsy Scarborough| and other



Digitized by VjOOQIC



OBt^y.j.] SINaAPOBE TO HQNdh KOKG IN N.E. HOKSOON. 27

large ^boals^. o^ aecou&t of tbe stcoog, ke ameatai, aipre Mpeciallj whan

the reckoning is doubtful.

Sy »ax^wfttt :^assaffe. — If bound through the Palawan passage * the
foregoing dSrectionff must he obs^rted a& far as the Natuna group.

Vesseld-ifetchiiig to' l&srmktd of Souhi witfi a northeriy wmd should take
the Koti passage, between Pulo Panjung and Sirhassen island. The Sir-
bassen passage is also a good channel, and quite safe when the south side
of Sirliasseii island is kept aboard. The currents among these islands are
more regular ; but not so in the Api passage, where they set in various
directions, and with great Telocity to the S.W. from 16 to 19 hours at a
time ; for large ships any of the other passages are preferable to this, for
great caution and perseverance are requisite in working through, as the
Borneo coa^Jt^in from 10 to 11 fathoms water must be kept aboard to avoid
the current, and profit by the land winds.t

In taking the Koti passage, give Pulo Panjung a good berth to avoid the
dangexoua reef which surrounds it. The winds amongst these islands
and as £kt eastward as the meridian of cape Sirik are generally from north
to N.N.W.

These passages cleared, proceed to the north-eastward, endeavouring,
if not certain of the longitude, to make the Eoyal Charlotte or Louisa
shoals, whichever is the weathermost, by running on its parallel of
latitude ; and as the currents appear to be influenced by the prevailing
winds, vessels should be prepared to anticipate a set in the direction in*



'*' iSSse Admiralty Chacts :*^ChiiiaSett, soathem portion, eastern sheet, No. d,660B.
also Borneo, West coast, sheets 1 to 9. The directions for the Palawan pasnge are chiefly
by the late Capt. W. T. Bate, R.N.

f Navg. Lieutenant J. W. Reed, R.N., commanding H.M. surveying vessel B\fleman^
1866, observes : — ^l^cst steam vessels (especially those of small power) proceediag to
Ohma by the* Palawan passage agaonst the N JB. monsoon, the route by the Api passage
and the coast of Borneo presents the followmg advantages :. first, light, variable winds
andamooth water will often be found close to the Borneo coast, when a strong monsoon
is blowing 100 miles off it; and next, the Api passage route affords convenient land-
marks to lead a vessel safely and expeditiously to the entrance of the Palawan ; whereas
by the ordbary roote mndi ^ffieulty and delay frequently occurs in making Low island
and m pasmag between the Royal Charlotte and Louisa shoals.

"Steamers leaving Singapore should pass southward of Victory island, then steer to
nght the small island of St. Pierre (carefully observing and allowing for the set of the
current), and afterwards for the Api passage, keeping over towards Marundum island
mAter ihtai Api point. Having passed Marundum and Data point, the coarse is dear
lip to the entrance of the Palawan, pasE&ng between the soath Laeonia shoals and Barram
pointy and keeping as close to the Borneo coast until abreast of that point as dream*
stances may make convenient"



Online LibraryGreat Britain. Hydrographic OfficeThe China Sea directory: Comprising the coasts of China from Hong Kong to ... → online text (page 4 of 72)