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Lieutenant Charles

Surveying the Buffalo River, 1847

Keith Tankard
Updated: 14 October 2009
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Lieutenant Charles Forsyth, Royal Navy and the first Harbour Master at East London, conducted extensive surveys of the Buffalo River mouth to determine its viability for use as a harbour.

His first survey commenced in April 1847, making use of long-boats from the Frederick Huth, a small coasting vessel then at anchor in the Buffalo River lagoon. There is no truth in the legend that he used the Beagle, the naval vessel associated with Charles Darwin's evolutionary expedition.

Forsyth's second survey was made in January 1848, and gave the first comprehensive report on the depth of water over the bar and in the roadstead. (See his map at the top of the page.)

In all, his reports were favourable and gave the thumbs-up for use of the Buffalo River as a port for British Kaffraria.

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