James Cook

15th March 2008, 19:22
Discussion thread for James Cook (https://www.shipsnostalgia.com/guides/James Cook). If you would like to add a comment, click the New Reply button

20th March 2008, 12:59
Could be just you and me Corky. Where do we start? Jeff

non descript
22nd March 2008, 19:23
I can see your line of thinking, but this is a different type of thread and is the link to this entry here (https://www.shipsnostalgia.com/guides/James_Cook) in the Shipping Directory – the post automatically appears when a Member clicks on the relevant button in the directory entry they are looking at..
My apologies if that is not what you were thinking when you posted.

24th March 2008, 02:48
Thanks Mark. Following your entry it appears there are two James Cook! The historic navigator and the ship. I am interested in the navigator and thought that the new discussion topic was about him.
PS. Glad you lost the film and not the wife.

non descript
24th March 2008, 12:48
Jeff, A nice afterthought – thank you. (Thumb)
As for Captain James Cook ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Cook), the British Navigator and Explorer, 1728 – 1779 – yes an amazing man and an impressive seaman as well as explorer. Having had the chance, some years ago, to study Mr John Harrison’s work, courtesy of the permanent exhibition of KI and K2 (and others) at Greenwich Maritime Museum and realised that both of these magnificent time pieces had been entrusted to Captain Cook – the latter unfortunately having to be retrieved from Pitcairn Island, after it has been “borrowed” by young Mr Fletcher Christian - I came to admire James Cook hugely and tried to study more of his history; so to end up on a ship named after him as almost too good to be true.

24th March 2008, 17:16
The chronometer K2 was a cheaper copy of Harrison's K1 and was actually made by a clockmaker called Larcum Kendall. Although it is engraved as such, it was never used by Captain Cook. There is an interesting history at http://www.lareau.org/chrono.html

Fletcher Christian was a bit of a blaggard, pilfering Captain Bligh's clock - of course, he was from Cockermouth, nary a stone's throw from the infamous Barrow-in-Furness, so what can I say?

John T.

PS In his younger days, the much maligned Captain Bligh was a sidekick of the great J.C.

non descript
24th March 2008, 18:50
John, thank you for your additional sound advice, and I am very grateful for your excllent and timely reminder of Mr Kendall and his involvement – Without the background, it is all a tad confusing with the alpha-numeric names of the various timepieces, and if my memory serves me correctly Harrison took seven years to build Harrison Number One or H1 and it was finally tested at sea in 1736. Some 5 years later in 1741 after 3 years of work in building and a further 2 years of testing, H2 was then made available; followed in 1755 by H3 and finally, Harrison’s real masterpiece – H4 – which took yet another 6 years in the making and should in theory have won him the prize for the Board of Longitude. It was this H4 that Mr Kendall made a copy of in 1769, and this reasonably accurate copy of John Harrison's H4 was built at an allegedly cost of £500; and it is known today as K1. Not surprisingly the huge cost was a worry to the Board and Kendall assured them that he would be able to build a similar, although less sophisticated timepiece, for close to £200. Based on this welcome financial news they gave him the order and he presented them with K2 in 1771. Unfortunately it did not work as well as the original and by the time Captain William Bligh took it away in 1787 on HMS Bounty, he was to record in his report that “it recorded a daily inaccuracy of between 1.1 and three seconds and that it had varied irregularly” – So, as much as I would like to pin the blame on that scoundrel of Pitcairn, it seems it was less than perfect before he stole it and took it off to his Island of Bounty. (Jester)

25th March 2008, 00:14
Thanks for the timely advice, Tonga.

For those interested in the subject, I can recommend the book "Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time", by Dava Sobel.

I wonder where Bligh was getting his time signals from so that he could work out the daily error of the chronometer - given the era and conditions, 1 or 2 seconds per day doesn't sound so bad - maybe he was a picky git! K2 was good enough to enable the Cumbrian pirate, Christian, to calculate that Pitcairn Island was not in the position marked on the chart and would therefore be a safe place to hide from the Royal Navy.

Tonga probably already knows this, but his islands were visited by Captain Cook, who, unaware that the locals were squabbling over the right to kill him and all his crew, named it "The Friendly Islands". I have also just discovered that the Bounty mutiny took place in Tonga, in the waters between the Ha'apai and Nomuka island groups (1789).

John T.

25th March 2008, 00:18

when you refer to Captain Bligh being a sidekick of the "Great J.C"...........i have checked the names of the disciples.......Bligh was not one of them........pity really.

i feel you have got your biblical references cross wired, somehow........a bit like your radar maintenance exam.


p.s.......... i trust your birthday went according to previous practice, and a full recovery has now been made.

my local amateur theatricals so admired your "fancy footwork" they wish to book you as Widow Twanky ( i think it was Twanky)..........next xmas.

Please advise intentions soonest.

25th March 2008, 00:30
correct me if I'm wrong.
But was'nt that famous "Clockmaker, from Barton on Humber"
all the best

non descript
25th March 2008, 00:41
I could be wrong (as I was not there) but I was always under the impression that Captain James Cook was indeed a shipmate (sidekick) of the infamous Captain Bligh. - I am told that Bligh accepted Cook's offer to be sailing master aboard HMS Resolution. On May 1, 1776, he was promoted to lieutenant, departing in June 1776, Resolution and HMS Discovery sailed south and entered the Indian Ocean via the Cape of Good Hope. During the voyage Bligh's leg was injured, but he quickly recovered. While crossing the southern Indian Ocean, Cook discovered a small island, which he named Bligh's Cap in honor of his sailing master

non descript
25th March 2008, 00:44
correct me if I'm wrong.
But was'nt that famous "Clockmaker, from Barton on Humber"
all the best

Yes Sir, he moved there at the tender age of 7 (well I guess his Dad did and he just followed) - he was was born in Foulby, near Wakefield, in West Yorkshire.

25th March 2008, 00:45
i seem to recollect reading of Bligh as sailing master under Cook surveying the present Canadian/Greenland coast.

25th March 2008, 19:50
There in Cornerbrook Newfoundland, the river is called the Humber, I was told Cook called it that, as it had the same charecteristics as the Humber in the UK.
Plus there are quite historical markers along the west coast of the US were he Hydrographed ie "Cook Inlet" Alaska,
I read he knew there was a very large river "The Columbia" in Oregon, but he did'nt go to far down it, but still he Hydrographed a huge amount of the World for his time.

27th March 2008, 14:43
I have had a long time interest in Cook with the best read being Ray Parkin's book H.M. Bark Endeavour, The Miegunyah Press, Melbourne, 1997. Parkin not only located the original construction drawings for the Endeavour and reproduced them in folio form, but also reproduced on a day by day basis, side by side, all the available diaries and logs for the 1770 voyage. This method allows contrasts between Cook and Banks and other members of the crew. Parkin's book has since been released as a paperback. This is a great read.
However, over the last few weeks I was reading Robert Clancy's book The Mapping of Terra Australis, Universal Press, Macquarie Park, 1995 and was struck by the change in the quality of maps before and after the resolution of the time keeping problem associated with measurement of longitude. Cook's charts of the pacific region (1773) published by Hawksworth when compared with those of Philipe Bauche (1752) and other French cartographers of that time clearly illustrate the leap that occurred - a mixture of an improved technology and Cook's skill.

So what did change his character and outlook on that last voyage?

27th March 2008, 16:00
".........So what did change his character and outlook on that last voyage?[/QUOTE]

Jeff, growing up a mere mile from the birthplace of Captain Cook, I too have had a lifelong interest in his exploits.

Another good read on the subject is Vanessa Collingridge's "Captain Cook", from which a TV documentary was also made. Miss Collingridge is obviously a great admirer of Cook, but gives a warts and all description of his personality change during the final voyage. While reading the book, I was eagerly expecting an explanation which I'd read years ago and never heard mentioned again, but it wasn't to be.

The explanation was that Cook had contracted syphilis years before and, by the time of the final voyage, it had affected his brain. In his writings, Cook made much of the dalliances between his crew and the Tahitians during his earlier voyages and it is known that the disease appeared on the island. Maybe it's too much to expect that Cook, being a youngish man and years away from home, kept himself aloof from the hi-jinx.

This might also explain why Cook's wife, Elizabeth, burned all his letters to her - maybe she got the hump!

Just a thought.

John T.

28th March 2008, 05:27
John, I also watched the recent TV doco on Cook and felt dissatisfied with the commentary. I did not know that Collingridge also wrote a book - so that is something else to chase up. I had heard about the syphilis theory but not much written about this. It is certainly an explanation for his behaviour. Now if Cook caught it did Joseph Banks get a dose as well?

28th March 2008, 12:36
I have not long finished reading “The Trial of the Cannibal Dog” by Anne Salmon which centres on the three Pacific voyages of Captain James Cook and with emphasis on Cook and his crew’s relationship with the people of the various Pacific Islands.
Salmon is an NZ anthropologist and historian whom has majored in studies of early European and Pacific Islander’s relationships and her book offers a different perspective to this great man’s history.

To quote from the book’s dustcover flap;

“Anne Salmon shows that the story of these epic South Sea journeys is far more than one of conquest and control. She has devoted a lifetime to the study of relations between Europeans and Polynesians and this startling, rich, stylish book is the result.
In Salmons account, Cook’s great voyages regain their dreamlike quality as they encounter the last major human communities untouched by the wider world.
Far from being little wooden islands of Englishness in a Polynesian sea, his ships and the men in them are as much changed by what happens as the islanders they meet. We see them alarmed and entranced by the islanders’ open sexuality, shocked by human sacrifice and cannibalism but also forging relationships with Pacific Island friends and lovers, acquiring tattoos and learning to speak Polynesian languages, with Cook himself granted the status of a high chief in many areas before his violent downfall.”

Several passages in the book detail the sexual relationships between the islanders and ships crew but there is also an inference that Cook, while tolerating these dalliances in the name of overall goodwill and crew stability did not himself accept the many offers of maidens made to him by the various Polynesian chiefs.

Man of steel to the end?

31st March 2008, 13:12
From Parkins book on the Endeavour: Four different recordings of the first sighting from the Endeavour of the Australian coast.

Ships Log, Thursday, April 19th, 1770.

6 o'clock, speed 3 knots, depth 4 fathoms, Course W b N, Wind SSW.

Saw the land making high, bearing from N.E.b.N. to W.bS.; dist'ce off the nearest shore, 7 or 8 leagues; out all reefs and made sail.

From Cook's journal.
We continued standing to to the westward with the wind at SSW until 8 o'clock at which time we got topgt yards aCross, made all sail and bore away along shore NE for the Easternmost land we had in sight, being at this time in the Latitude of 37 degrees 58 minutes S and Longd of 210 degrees 39 minutes West. The Southermost Point of land we had in sight which bore away from us W1/4S I judged to lay in the latitude of 38 degrees S and in the longitude of 211 degrees 07 minutes W from the meridien of Greenwich. I have named it Point Hicks, because Lieutt Hicks was the first who discovered this land.

Banks' diary
With the first daylight this morn the Land was seen, at 10 it was pretty plainly to be observed; it made sloping hills covered in Part with trees and bushes, but interspersed with large tracts of sand.

Parkinson's diary
We continued on our course, but nothing worthy of note occurred till the 19th, in the morning, and then we discovered the land of New Holland, extending a great way to the south and to the eastward. It is moderately high: part of it appeared to be flat, and covered with sand; but, the weather being foggy, we had not a good view of it. We were obliged to steer E.N.E. to clear it.