sailed from the sheltered waters of Plymouth in England on August
26th 1768, sailing alone with no other vessel as support ship. She carried 94, officers,
scientists and crew, two greyhounds plus a milking goat and stores for the voyage. As she
was originally built to carry a crew of seventeen, she must have been bursting at her
seams. The Endeavour Bark returned to port in 1771, a voyage of three years, having been
reported missing, lost to the unknown seas, but the battered Whitby built ship with
pennants flying and the great Royal Navy Ensign clearly to be seen on her quarter deck,
sailed up the Channel and anchored off the Downs. There were only 56 aboard her now, plus
the indestructible goat. The Endeavour Bark - Resolution - Adventurer and the Discovery, a
splendid quartet of Whitby built ships, commanded by Cook, conveys a maritime memorial to
his aspirations and to the skills of Whitby shipwrights.
On Captain James Cook`s third voyage, he was killed by the natives of "Owhyhee",
one of the Sandwich Islands. His body was never to be seen again, believed to be eaten by
those natives. The story of
ships after his death is largely one of neglect and indifference. These splendid vessels
which had served England well and had successfully opened up the Southern Ocean, revealed
the nature and extent of the islands of New Zealand, the continent of Australia and gone to
the very gates of Antartica, had voyaged with the greatest maritime explorer of all time and
yet were allowed to fall into oblivion. By contrast, Lord Nelson`s "Victory" had
been preserved, becoming a place to pay homage to one of England`s other great mariners.
Captain James Cook`s and the Whitby built ships, sturdy in all that came their way, should
therefore take a place alongside the "Santa Maria", the "Mayflower" as
well as the "Victory". Great ships, all of them, carving out the destiny of men
and giving historical events for the world to remember them by.
The genius of
Captain James Cook
was readily recognised by the
Admiralty after the first great voyage of discovery. Plans were made
almost immediately for a second voyage - this time to make a complete
circumnavigation in the high Antarctic latitudes. Cook had very vivid memories of near disaster while sailing through
unknown waters and his choice of ships was accepted by the Admiralty who
were very conscious of the magnitude of the undertaking.
The Navy Board purchased two vessels, the Marquis of Granby
and the Marquis of Rockingham. Both were similar types to the
Endeavour but were not really barks or barques. They could have
been classed as ship-rigged sloops-of-war and were built by Thomas
Fishburn in 1770 at Whitby. They were commissioned under the names of
Drake - Raleigh. Lord Rockford, Secretary of State,
thought the names might offend the Spanish and consulted both the King
and the Earl of Sandwich. The Earl advised him they were to be renamed
the Resolution and Adventure.
The Resolution impressed Cook greatly and he called her
ship of my choice," the fittest for service of any I have seen." She was
14 months old and her tonnage of 462 was 100 more than the Endeavour.
She had the same flat-floored, apple-cheeked hull as the Endeavour.
Her dimensions were.....
Lower deck length 110 feet 8 inches
Keel 93 feet 6 inches
Maximum beam 35 feet 3 inches and depth 13
feet l inches.
She was fitted out at Deptford with the most advanced navigational aids
of the day, including a Gregory Azimuth Compass, ice anchors and the
latest apparatus for distilling fresh water from sea water. Twelve
carriage guns and twelve swivel guns were carried. At his own expense
Cook had brass door-hinges installed in the great cabin.
The Resolution cost the Admiralty 4,151
pounds. It was originally
planned that Joseph Banks with an appropriate entourage would sail again
with Cook. A heightened waist, an additional upper deck and a raised
poop or round house were built to suit Banks, but the ship was found to
be top heavy in short sea trials. Under Admiralty instructions, the
offending structures were removed. Banks refused to travel under
"adverse conditions" and was replaced by Johann Forster and his son,
George. The conversion bill had cost a further 6,565
Her complement when she sailed from Plymouth on 13 July 1772 was 112,
and this included 20 volunteers from the Endeavour. On her second voyage
(Cooks third voyage) she again carried 112.
On his first voyage Cook had calculated longitude by the usual method
of lunars but on her second voyage the Board of Longitude spared no
expense. It sent William Wales, a highly qualified astronomer, with Cook
and entrusted a new chronometer, recently completed by Larcum Kendall
(K1), together with three chronometers made by John Arnold of Aldophi.
Kendalls K1 was remarkably accurate and was to prove to be most
efficient in determining longitude on board the Resolution.
The Resolution was
responsible for some remarkable feats and-was to prove one of the great
ships of history. She was the first ship to cross the Antarctic Circle
(17 January 1773) and crossed twice more on the voyage. The third
crossing on 3 February 1774, was the deepest penetration. As a
consequence the Resolution was instrumental in proving
Dalrymples Terra Australis Incognita (Southern Continent) to be a myth.
On his third voyage, Cook in the Resolution crossed the Arctic
Circle on 17 August 1778. Charles Clerke, who took over the command
after Cooks tragic death again crossed it on 19 July 1779.
The Resolution was back in England in 1780. She was
converted into an armed transport and sailed for the East Indies in
March 1781. She was captured by De Suffrens squadron on June 9, 1782.
His journal states he was joined by the Sylphide and her prize
the Resolution, a ship made famous by the voyages of Captain
Cook. After the action at Negapostam, the Resolution was sent
to Manila for wood, biscuit and rigging, and to enter any seaman she
found there. She sailed on July 22, 1782 and on June 5, 1783 De Suffren
expressed a notion that she had either foundered or fallen into the
hands of the English and was last seen in the Straits of Sunda. An
extract from the Melbourne Argus, February 25, 1879 says that the
Resolution ended her days as a Portuguese coal-hulk at Rio de
Janeiro, but this is unconfirmed. In the possession of Viscount Galway,
a Governor-General of New Zealand, is a ships figurehead described as
that of the Resolution. A photograph of it does not agree with
the figurehead depicted in Holmans watercolour.
It was zeal and resolution which kept Cook at his tasks and helped
him surmount so many obstacles. It is so befitting the man that such a
noble ship of his choice should have been called the Resolution.
There are 57 stamps issued which depict the Resolution, and
there is no doubt this number will be greatly increased by the
anniversary of Cooks death. The 1968 Cook Island issue is a beautiful
set, but for sheer atmosphere my choice is the 1973 Norfolk Island 35c
stamp issued for the Bicentenary of the First Crossing of the Antarctic
Circle. It has been adapted from a watercolour by William Hodges.
The Admiralty purchased two near new Whitby-built colliers for Cooks
second voyage of discovery, the Marquis of Granby, 402 tons,
and the Marquis of Rockingham, 340 tons. They were commissioned
under the names of Drake and Raleigh which
subsequently became the Resolution and Adventure.
Sir Joseph Banks had suggested a forty-gun ship or an East India
Company ship, but the Admiralty had no hesitation in following Cooks
recommendations. The ships had a larger hold than the other types and
more space between decks where the men were berthed. This allowed for a
greater amount of fresh air and light and also less damp conditions.
Cook supervised the fitting out of the ships with the help of Lord
Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty.
The Adventure, which cost the Navy 2,103
pounds, was placed under
the command of Captain Tobias Furneaux, a Devonshireman who had been
Second Lieutenant under Wallis on the Dolphin. Furneaux was an
excellent seaman but unfamiliar with Whitby ships. After refitting, the Adventure sailed at 335 tons with a
compliment of 81 men and one civilian. The Board of Longitude sent two
astronomers on the second voyage and William Bayly sailed with Furneaux.
The Adventure was a smaller edition of the Resolution,
a good looking ship but she did not achieve the fame of Cooks choice.
By mid-December 1772 the two ships had reached the Antarctic waters.
The first crossing of the Antarctic circle occurred in January 1773.
They became separated in a heavy fog when only about 75 miles from
Enderby Land but did not know that land was close. By prearrangement the
future rendevouz was to be Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand.
Furneaux visited Tasmans Van Diemens Land (Tasmania) and named
Adventure Bay. He concluded there was no strait between Van Diemens Land
and New Holland. However, astronomer Bayly insisted that there were
coastal islands and a strait. Bayly was proven correct by the ships
surgeon, George Bass who sailed through the strait which bears his name
- some 20 years later. Cook met up with Furneaux at Queen Charlotte Sound on 18 May 1773
where he found that his strict anti-scorbutic diets had not been
followed. Half of Furneauxs men had contracted scurvy and one crew
member subsequently died. By a quirk of fate it was the ships Cook,
Mortimer Mahoney, known as Murduck Mahoney. Passing on to Tahiti, the Adventure was nearly wrecked when
swept onto some reefs. She lost three anchors before getting clear.
After discovering islands named by Tasman, the Resolution
and Adventure returned to New Zealand where they once again
became separated near Cook Strait in a gale. Nine of Furneauxs men were
murdered by Maoris at Queen Charlotte Sound and he returned to England
twelve months ahead of Cook. Furneauxs Adventure returned to her Whitby owners and
sailed on for a further 35 years. In 1811 she was in the St. Lawrence
River, the scene of Cooks magnificent charting work, but Cook was not
there to guide her through the treacherous reaches. The great river was
determined to perpetuate the memory of Cook and claimed the
Adventure for all time when she was wrecked there.
his third voyage
Cook once again advised the Admiralty of the suitability of Whitby ships
for the type of exploration being undertaken and chose the Resolution
for the second time. The support vessel was the Discovery built by G. & N.
Langborn for Mr. William Herbert from whom she was bought by the
Admiralty. She was 299 tons, the smallest of Cooks ships. Her
dimensions were: lower deck 91.5", extreme breadth 27.5", depth of hold
11.5", height between decks 5.7" to 6.1". She cost 2,415
alterations. Her complement was 70: 3 officers, 55 crew, 11 marines and
Lt. Charles Clerke, who had accompanied Cook on the two previous
voyages was appointed to command the Discovery. He had become a
very perceptive observer, a devoted officer with a keen sense of duty.
At the time of sailing, England was at war with the American
colonies. Benjamin Franklin assisted with the special dispatch issued by
the Continental Congress to permit a free and unmolested voyage on the
high seas for Cooks ships. France followed suit.
The Resolution sailed from the Nore on 25 June 1776 and from
Plymouth on 12 July. She left without the Discovery as Clerke
was temporarily in a debtors prison because of debts of his brother.
The Resolution anchored in Table Bay on 18 October and the
Discovery arrived there on 10 November. At the end of the month
sail was set for the Marion, Crozet and Kerguelen Islands. The latter
was reached on Christmas Day 1776, and so Christmas Harbour was named.
Mindful of being parted from Adventure on his second voyage,
Cook set a rendezvous with the Discovery at Furneauxs
Adventure Bay in Van Diemens Land and then Ships Cove in Queen
Charlotte Sound, New Zealand.
The two ships arrived at Adventure Bay on 26 January 1777 for a brief
visit and, just as Cook missed Sydney Harbour, so he again missed one of
the worlds great harbours, nearby Storm Bay and the present site of
Hobart on the Derwent River.
On 12 February Cook had once again skirted Cape Farewell and Stephens
Island to reach his old anchorage in Ships Cove. The ships were
repaired, the men rested, and grasses and food collected.
The next call was at Tonga, the Friendly Islands, where the Captains
spent 2+ months. Cook met Fijians on Tongatapu from whom he acquired a
store of Fijian red feathers, a very highly prized possession. (The 1971
$1 stamp depicting the "Collared Lory," a red parrot, was the main
source of supply.) While he knew of the Fiji Island group, Cook did not
go there, merely passing close to the outskirts and the island of Vatoa,
as he wished to venture in the opposite direction to Tahiti.
The passage to Tahiti took four weeks and many islands were visited.
Cook realised that he must now come to grips with the main purpose of
his voyage. After a short stay he headed for New Albion, the Canadian
coast and an attempt to find the Northwest Passage. A barren atoll was
sighted on 23 December 1777, which Cook named Christmas Island when he
landed on Christmas Day. On 2 January the ships headed north to one of
Cooks most important discoveries, the Hawaiian Islands on 20 January.
In February 1778 Cook was seeking the west winds to take him to New
Albion, and on 7 March the great continent came into sight. Following
the Oregon coast Cook travelled north to what is now Nootka Sound, and
was greatly impressed with the timber, the high quality furs and the
George Vancouver, aged 19, was a midshipman on the Discovery.
He was to return in later years to explore the coastline and have his
name laid on prosperity with Vancouver Island and the City of Vancouver.
The two ships continued north along the coast to Alaska, Bering
Straits, and the Arctic Ocean. Discovery had proved to be a
very able companion ship to the Resolution. Cook was high in
praise of her as she was faster and better able to claw off a lee shore
than his own ship. After many weeks in the Arctic Ocean the rigging of
the two ships was shattered by gales and their hulls were leaking badly
from encounters with the ice. Rather than spend a dreary winter of
inactivity at Kamchatka, Cook chose to return to the Sandwich Islands
(Hawaii). His fate was decided as he could have chosen Nootka Sound,
where there was an abundance of timber and a fine anchorage.
History had spoken and, after Cooks tragic death at Kealakakua Bay,
Captain Clerke took command and Lt. Gore was appointed to take charge of
the Discovery. Another attempt was made to find the Northwest
Passage, which also failed, and the ships sailed to Petropavlosk where,
just offshore, Clerke died of tuberculosis which he had. picked up in
the debtors prison. He was 38 years old. Lt. Gore took command of the
expedition and Lt. King succeeded Gore in the Discovery. Lt.
Gore sent a letter and copies of Cooks reports to the Admiralty
overland through Siberia and Russia by dogsled, horseback and coastal
ship across the North Sea. They arrived 6 months before the two ships.
It was a fitting conclusion to this famous voyage when the ships came
home via Ireland, the Orkneys and down the old collier run from
Yorkshire to the Thames to anchor in the Nore on 4 October 1780.
Not much is known of the Discovery in her immediate years
and it is a tragedy that the last of Cooks great ships was left to rot
on the mud at Deptford, the scene of so much honour.
For the sake of these Whitby built ships, ENDEAVOUR,
RESOLUTION, ADVENTURE, DISCOVERY, along with the greatest seaman and navigator this
world has known in Captain James Cook, Whitby folk and the Society of
James Cook will never forget its proud history.
Captain James Cook timeline:
1728 : 27th October. Born at Marton in Cleveland, England
1735 : Family move to Aireyholme Farm.
1740 : Schooling at Great Ayton.
1745 : Works in Sanderson`s shop in Staithes.
1747 : Apprenticed to the Walker family of Whitby.
1748 : Servant on the "Freelove" Oct` 47 - April 48
1749 : Seaman on the "Three Brothers" June 48 - Dec 49.
1750 : Seaman on the "Mary" Feb` 50 - Oct` 50.
1751 : Seaman on the "Three Brothers" July 51 - Jan` 52.
1752 : Mate on the "Friendship" Mar` 52 - June 55.
1755 : : Joins Royal Navy on the HMS Eagle as an Able Seaman.
1757 : Master of HMS Pembroke.
1759 : Master of HMS Northumberland taking part in surveying the St.Lawrence River,Canada.
1760 : Surveys Newfoundland St.Pierre, Miquelon off the coast of Canada on HMS Grenville.
1768 : August, The Endeavour Bark, sails on first voyage.
1771 : July, the Endeavour Bark returns home.
1772 : July, the Resolution and Adventurer sail on the second voyage around the world.
1775 : July, the Resolution and Adventurer return home.
1776 : July, the Resolution and Discovery sail on the third voyage around the world.
1779 : Captain James Cook is killed in the Sandwich Islands, known today as Hawaii,
his body was never found.
1780 : October, the remnants of that fatal third voyage return home.