thinking outside the tank

Captain Cook in Google Earth: Beached in Endeavour River

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Endeavour beached in Endeavour River - Google Earth and Johann Fritzsch engraving

I have now navigated Endeavour in Google Earth to the safety of the Endeavour River where the ship was beached to effect repairs. The screenshot above shows the ship both in Google Earth and in the engraving created by Johann Christian Fritzsch in about 1786.

Limping along and edging towards the land, Endeavour had the boats out ahead to dodge the shoals that surrounded her. At 3pm on 13Jun1770, Cook thought they had found a possible harbour, but the water proved too shallow. With sunset approaching they came to an anchor 2 miles from the shore.

Endeavour at anchor surrounded by shoals on 14Jun1770

Endeavour at anchor surrounded by shoals on 14Jun1770

At 8pm, the pinnace returned with news that 5 or 6 miles to the north was another possible place where the ship could be beached for repairs. It was already too dark to move the ship, so they waited until 6am the following morning to run down to it. On the way they encountered more shoals, at one time having only 3 fathoms of water, or 4 feet beneath the keel.

Now the wind freshened and blew onshore. Cook feared that the ship might be driven on to the coast before the boats could lay the channel. Once again they anchored, about a mile from the shore and close to the mouth of the Endeavour River.

Endeavour anchored one mile from the mouth of Endeavour River on 14Jun1770

Cook surveyed the channel himself and found it narrower and the harbour smaller than he had been told, but he thought it was “very convenient for our purpose”.

On the 15th and 16th of June, 1770, they were prevented by strong gales from moving the ship, but on the 17th it moderated sufficiently for the crew to weigh anchor and run in. They went ashore twice, driven by onshore winds, and the second time they stuck fast. Cook used this opportunity to take down various spars from the ship in order to construct a raft which they floated alongside. They also wanted to lighten the ship forward as much as possible to make it easier to beach the ship.

Finally, at 1pm on 17Jun1770, they floated the ship once more and warped her into harbour on a steep beach on the south side of the river.

Today, I added this leg of Cook’s exploration of the Australian coast to my Google Earth tour which presents his first voyage round the world.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

If you would like to follow Cook’s voyage, you will need to install the latest version of Google Earth on your computer; then go to the Captain Cook blog  and click on the links on the right-hand side of the page, under the ‘Google Earth’ heading. After the animation is loaded in Google Earth, you need to expand an entry in the Table of Contents. You will see a ‘Play’ icon which you double-click to start the animation. Don’t forget to enable your speakers to hear the spoken journal.


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