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Posts Tagged ‘Endeavour Reef

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Whitsunday Passage to Cooktown

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Follow Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World at: http://www.hazelhurst.net/Slocum

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Captain Cook, taking Endeavour through Whitsunday Passage (named by him because 03Jun1770 was Whit Sunday), sailed through the night and arrived the following morning at: “a lofty promontory that I named Cape Gloucester”.

Joshua Slocum, a few days short of 127 years later, passes here on 26May1897. His charts show more accurately than Cook’s survey that the promontory is actually detached from the mainland and is now called Gloucester Island. The Spray hauls into the bay to the west of the island and anchors at Port Denison, close to the small town of Bowen.

Bowen at that time has a population of around 1,000; large enough to support a keen audience for Slocum’s story.

By 31May1897, the Spray, has carried Slocum safely through 350 miles of the Great Barrier Reef. Without anchoring anywhere, Slocum sails past many of the other capes, bays, and islands named by Cook:

  • Cape Upstart
  • Cape Cleveland
  • Cleveland Bay
  • Cape Richards
  • Rockingham Bay
  • Cape Grafton
  • Fitzroy Island
  • Cape Tribulation (“for here all my troubles began”)

Cook also named the Endeavour River, for it was here that H.M.Bark Endeavour was beached for repairs after she had struck a reef just north of Cape Tribulation (the reef was named unsurprisingly Endeavour Reef).

Cooktown was certainly in existence before the gold rush of the 1870s, when the settlement grew rapidly as a supply port, because Slocum reports visiting on the steamship Soushay in 1866; he didn’t see much of it at that time because he was ill with a fever.

The “lecture tour” continues when a meeting is arranged in the Presbyterian church and Slocum delivers his “story of the sea.”


The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here opens Chapter XV of Sailing Alone Around the World, and this post is a trailer for the adventure that I am retelling in Google Earth at:  http://www.hazelhurst.net/Slocum

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

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Captain Cook’s First Voyage Round The World

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The following slideshow and image gallery show screenshots taken from Captain Cook’s First Voyage Round The World, a presentation of Cook’s journal containing more than 15 hours of animation and audio.

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To view the presentation, point your web browser to http://www.hazelhurst.net/Cook/ and install the Google Earth plug-in if you don’t already have it installed.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

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If you enjoyed Cook’s voyage, you might also like Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World, a similar virtual re-enactment of a famous sea voyage by the first single-handed circumnavigator; this presentation is still under construction.

 

Captain Cook in Google Earth: a new presentation

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I have felt for a while that my presentation in Google Earth of Captain Cook‘s first voyage round the world is a little unwieldy and slow to load. Therefore, I have created a version using the Google Earth API that allows the voyage to be viewed in a web browser.

By chopping up the voyage into sections of about ten minutes duration, the audio files load much faster; and those who are reluctant to install the full Google Earth application can still view the presentation.

You can find the exploration of Australia at: www.hazelhurst.net/Cook/

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

Captain Cook in Google Earth: Endeavour River

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Hauled ashore in Endeavour River

Hauled ashore in Endeavour River

Endeavour was badly in need of repair. After feeling their way along the coast in search of a safe harbour, Cook anchored Endeavour, on 14Aug1770, one mile offshore at the entrance to a river where soundings had shown there was a sufficient depth of water.

With shoals nearby and strong onshore winds, they had to wait until the morning of the 17th before they could bring the ship into the river. Even so, they ran aground twice before warping the ship to a place where she could be hauled up on the beach.

Over the next six to seven weeks the ship was repaired to the best of the ability of the carpenter and his men. The armourer set up a forge to make nails and pieces of ironwork. Meanwhile, the crew was sustained by fishing parties in the river and by the discovery of a reef, 12 to 15 miles out at sea, where there were turtles in abundance. By way of vegetables, the crew collected purslanes, beans, cabbage palms, and a type of kale.

Mr. Molineux, the master, explored the shoals in the offing, taking soundings in search of a route out to deep water. Meanwhile, Cook visited the hills to the north and south of the harbour to take a view both of the reefs and the countryside. For some time he struggled with the decision about which way to take the ship. To return to the south, the way they had come, would be hindered by the steady south-easterly winds they would encounter. However, the route to the north was unknown, and did not look promising. If they sailed north they might, eventually, have to return to the south anyway.

As usual Cook tried to communicate with the people he met and of whom he wrote:

Their features were far from disagreeable; their voices were soft and tunable, and they could easily repeat any word after us, but neither us nor Tupia could understand a single word they said.

In addition to the people, Cook described the diverse flora and fauna, including the first kangaroos they had ever seen.


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. The time spent in Endeavour River spans about seven weeks, so I have divided it into the following sections:

  • Beaching the ship.
  • Repairing the ship.
  • Waiting for wind and tide.
  • Description of Endeavour River.

These sections are held in a folder entitled ‘Endeavour River’, and each section is a separate Google Earth tour.

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.

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.

Captain Cook in Google Earth: Endeavour Reef

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It may be true that every ship has, somewhere, a reef with her name on it. If so, then H.M.Bark Endeavour found hers at 11p.m. on 11Jun1770. The way it happened was as follows.

In the afternoon, Endeavour was sailing about 10 miles from the coast in a north-westerly direction in 12 fathoms of water. They saw two low islands ahead and, rather than sailing towards them as it grew darker, Cook headed offshore to the north-east into deeper water, or so he thought. He also wanted to know whether there were any islands further out, as documented by an earlier navigator.

At first the plan worked, the water deepening to 21 fathoms. Suddenly, at about 9 o’clock, their soundings were 12, 10, and 8 fathoms; they were heading into shoal water. Cook was about to give the order to let go an anchor, to pull them up short, when the next sounding showed deeper water. He thought they were past the danger and gave the order to ‘stand on’. What had happened was that Endeavour had narrowly missed going aground on a reef which now has the name Pickersgill Reef.

Pickersgill Reef

Endeavour passing over the tip of Pickersgill Reef at 2100 on 11Jun1770

They continued in depths of 21 fathoms for the next two hours then, a few minutes before 11 o’clock, the depth was measured as 17 fathoms. Before the man at the lead could cast the line, Endeavour struck the reef that now bears her name.

Sounding round the ship they found the deepest water astern and tried to heave her off using the anchors. This technique involves dropping the anchor some way from the ship and using a capstan to haul on the chain. A free-floating ship can easily be moved in this way, but Endeavour was stuck fast and heeling to starboard.

They tried to lighten the ship by throwing overboard her guns, ballast, casks, jars, anything in fact that they thought would help. They hauled on their anchor chains again at the next high tide but failed to free the ship, owing partly to a peculiarity of the tides in this region, in which only every other tide reaches a greater depth.

Endeavour Reef

Endeavour ran aground on Endeavour Reef about 2300 on 11Jun1770

Before the next high tide, Cook deployed his anchors in new locations and was ready at 5p.m. when the next flood started to rise. At 9 o’clock, the ship was righted but immediately began to take on water at a greater rate, more than the three working pumps could handle. The situation was becoming desperate. Cook made the decision “to risk all and heave her off.”

Dividing the men between working the pumps and heaving on the anchors, Cook had Endeavour pulled clear of the reef at 2220 on 12Jun1770. She was dragged into deeper water but soon after they felt in worse peril than ever when it seemed that the water level in the hold of the ship, which was 3 feet 9 inches when they got clear of the reef, had risen rapidly by 17 inches.

Rising water level

A mistake soon after happened, which for the first time caused fear to approach upon every man in the ship

What had happened was that the man who had the job of measuring the depth of water in the hold used the ceiling as his benchmark. When he was relieved, the next man measured the depth from the outside plank, and this created the apparent rush of water into the ship. The men “redoubled their vigour” and by 0800 the next morning, the leak was under control, but not yet repaired.

To stem the leak, the ship was fothered. This process involves the preparation of a sail by coating it with oakum, a tarred fibre, and with wool, completed with a layer of “sheep dung or other filth; horse dung for this purpose is the best” (like me, I guess you don’t want to know the source of the ‘other filth’).

The treated sail is hauled under the ship using ropes and positioned, by trial and error, over the hole in the hull. This worked well for Endeavour, and before long the leak could be managed by “one pump with ease”. The men’s spirits soared, and instead of wanting only to limp to the Hope Islands – the small low islands Cook had wanted to avoid in the first place – they thought of ranging alongshore to find a decent harbour where the ship could be beached and repairs made.


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. If you haven’t looked at the latest Google Earth yet, I can highly recommend it.

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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