netkingcol

thinking outside the tank

Posts Tagged ‘Providential Channel

Captain Cook’s First Voyage Round The World

with one comment

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

You might also like:

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.

 

Advertisements

Captain Cook in Google Earth: a new presentation

leave a comment »

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: Cape York to the Indonesian seas

leave a comment »

The channel next to the mainland was blocked by shoals and rocks (22Aug1770)

The channel next to the mainland was blocked by shoals and rocks (22Aug1770)

Even before reaching the western edge of Cape York it was clear that there was a passage to the south-west between the mainland and some islands. Cook instructed the smaller boats to sound the first channel between the mainland and the first island. They found this to be blocked by rocks and shoals, so Cook gave the signal for them to try the next channel. Here they found not less than 5 fathoms and they sailed through to anchor a few miles beyond the entrance to the channel.

Entrance to Endeavour Strait (22Aug1770)

Entrance to Endeavour Strait (22Aug1770)

Cook looked between the mainland to the south-west and Cape Cornwall on Prince of Wales Island:

Between these 2 points we could see  no land, so that we were in great hopes that we had at last found out a passage into the Indian seas; but in order to be better informed I landed with a party of men…upon the island which lies at the south-east point of the passage…after landing I went upon the highest hill which, however was of no great height, yet no less than twice or thrice the height of the ship’s mastheads; but I could see from it no land between south-west and west-south-west…

Possession Island

Possession Island

There is ambiguity on the internet concerning the island on which Cook landed. Look at this snapshot:

Will the real Possession Island please make itself known?

Will the real Possession Island please make itself known?

Wikipedia (places named by James Cook) goes for the island at the north-east end of the passage; surely that can’t be right. There are certainly some errors in Cook’s journal, but would he go to the island that was lower than the one next to it and further away from the direction he wanted to look?

The Google Earth Borders and Labels layer plumps for a patch of very low lying reef; certainly that is wrong.

I  chose for the tour the island that is actually at the south-east end of the entrance to Endeavour Strait and is actually high enough, at 70 metres, to be ‘no less than twice or thrice the height of the ship’s mastheads’.

There was no land to the south-west

There was no land to the south-west

Even from this vantage point Cook was still objective to the point of reticence:

Having satisfied myself of the great probability of a passage thro’ which I intended to go with the ship, and therefore may land no more upon this eastern coast of New Holland…I now once more hoisted English colours, and in the name of His Majesty King George The Third took possession of the whole eastern coast.

we fired 3 volleys of small arms which were answered by the like number from the ship

we fired 3 volleys of small arms which were answered by the like number from the ship

The following day, Endeavour sailed the length of Endeavour Strait and steered north-west for the small island which Cook named Booby Island (no prizes for guessing why). On entering Torres Strait, Cook noticed the swell from the south-west. This convinced him that there was no land in that direction for some distance and therefore:

…we had got to the westward extremity of Carpentaria, or the northern extremity of New Holland, and had now and open sea to the westward; which gave me no small satisfaction, not only because the danger and fatigues of the voyage was drawing near to an end, but by being able to prove that New Holland and New Guinea are two separate lands or islands, which until this day hath been a doubtful point among geographers.


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. This leg completes my documentation of Cook’s exploration of Australia, from Point Hicks in the south to Cape York in the north.

Along the way Endeavour made an extended visit to Botany Bay, ran aground on a reef, was repaired in Endeavour river, passed outside the reef through Cook’s passage near Lizard Island, only to be nearly smashed to pieces on its outer edge a few days later. The ship was saved by being able to re-enter the reef system through Providential Channel.

Through perseverance and cautious navigation, Endeavour rounded Cape York less than a week later. Cook landed on Possession Island, from the summit of which he began to believe that he had found a passage between New Holland and New Guinea.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012
Images of Earth © Google and others

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: Cape Weymouth to Cape York

leave a comment »

James Cook was still in two minds whether or not to sail out into deep water through the passage by which they had returned to the Great Barrier Reef system. By staying among the reefs they would have to negotiate the endless shoal water with the attendant risk of hitting submerged rocks, but with the greater possibility of finding a passage between Australia and New Guinea. To pass outside the reef, with a favourable wind, and to stand off a safe distance would have been easier and faster sailing, but with a reduced chance of understanding the geography.

The fact that they might have to wait some time for a favourable wind to get outside the reef, with supplies running low, allied to Cook’s determination to answer this question of a passage separating New Guinea and Australia, led to the decision to sail north-west from their anchorage near Cape Weymouth, in other words to stay within the reef.

I now came to a fix’d resolution to keep the mainland on board, let the consequence be what it will, and in this all the officers concur’d.

Anchoring off Forbes's Isles on 19Aug1770

Anchoring off Forbes's Isles on 19Aug1770

So began the remainder of Cook’s survey of the land and sea between Cape Weymouth and Cape York (which of course wouldn’t be called that until he named it on 21Aug1770). The approach seemed to be to head for the islands that were in sight to the north and west and to dodge around the shoals that were in the way. Constantly they had one or other, and often both, of the pinnace and yawl ahead of the ship sounding, or flanking the sides of any channels they found.

Writing about their present circumstances when passing an island, Cook commented:

This island is about a league in circuit and of a moderate height, and is inhabited; to the north-west of it are several small, low islands and keys, which lay not far from the main, and to the northward and eastward lay several other islands and shoals, so that we were now incompassed on every side by one or the other, but so much does a great danger swallow up lesser ones, that these once so much dreaded spots were now looked at with less concern.

Rounding Cape Grenville on 19Aug1770

Rounding Cape Grenville on 19Aug1770

The ship rounded Cape Grenville on 19Aug1770. Cook named Sir Charles Hardy’s Isles as those lying 27 miles east of Cape Grenville, and those lying just off the cape the Cockburn Isles. Note: the Borders and Labels layer of Google Earth seems to confuse these islands, or they have been renamed since.

Bird Isles on 20Aug1770

Bird Isles on 20Aug1770

The power to name objects and places often goes to the maker or the discoverer. Sometimes it must be difficult to choose a suitable name; why else is there an innominate bone in the human body or a short alley called Extra Place amid the New York grid system of Avenues and Streets? Here is Cook at his least imaginative:

On the isles we saw a good many birds, which occasioned my calling them Bird Isles.

It has not always been easy when animating this leg of the voyage to plot the ship’s position throughout each day. The journal includes far fewer ranges and bearings than usual to significant headlands. I’m fairly confident that the following screenshot shows the position of the ship at about 0900 on Tuesday, 21Aug1770:

Having got round the south-east point of the shoal we steer’d north-west along the south-west, or inside of it, keeping a good lookout at the masthead, having another shoal on our larboard side; but we found a good channel of a mile broad between them, wherein were from 10 to 14 fathoms.

Picking a channel through the shoals on 21Aug1770

Picking a channel through the shoals on 21Aug1770

Later that day, they discovered that the northernmost lands in sight were islands (Mount Adolphus Islands) and not part of the mainland. Evidently there was a passage between these islands and the coast they were sailing past. It was too soon to be excited about discovering a strait between New Holland and New Guinea and, following the normal routine, they brought the ship to while the longboat and pinnace went ahead. The strong flood tide carried them through the passage and it soon became evident that they had reached the northernmost tip of New Holland.

Cape York on 21Aug1770

Cape York on 21Aug1770

The cape was named in honour of of his Royal Highness Edward Augustus, Duke of York, being the late brother of King George III.


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 load this tour into Google Earth you will see that I have also uploaded the final tour in this series which presents the discovery of Endeavour Strait and the landing on Possession Island, but more of that in the next post.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012
Images of Earth © Google and others

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: Lizard Island to Cape Weymouth

leave a comment »

Sailing through Cook's Passage after 2pm on 13Aug1770

Sailing through Cook's Passage after 2pm on 13Aug1770

From Lizard Island it was relatively straightforward to reach the outermost edge of the Great Barrier Reef. Soon after their arrival, the master went out in the pinnace to examine one of the openings in the reef. He signalled the ship and, shortly afterwards, Endeavour followed her through into deep water. The first sounding gave no bottom with 100 fathoms of line. The wind was blowing a gale from the south-east and, although a northerly course would have been both desirable and feasible, Cook decided to stretch out close-hauled to the east-north-east to gain some clearance.

Stretching off east-north-east

Stretching off east-north-east

Two things were noticed: first they were back in the heavy swell of the deep ocean, and second, in these conditions, it became apparent that the ship was more damaged than at first thought, as she now began to take on a quantity of water that required one pump in constant use to clear.

Cook was eager not to miss any passage that there might be between the north of New Holland (Australia) and New Guinea. As soon as he could, he sailed first north-west and then due west. Shortly after noon on Wednesday, 15Aug1770 (remembering that the ship’s log runs from noon to noon), land was sighted from the masthead bearing west-south-west, and then more to the north-west, with a reef between the ship and the land.

We saw a reef between us and the land (15Aug1770)

We saw a reef between us and the land (15Aug1770)

The wind was blowing from the east-south-east so, broadly speaking, it was blowing them towards the reef. They tacked and ran northwards hoping to clear it but, after months of steady trade winds from the south-east, it fell calm in the middle of the night. By 0400 on the morning of Thursday, 16Aug1770, they could plainly hear the roar of the pacific swell pounding on the reef only a mile away. What was worse, the sea was carrying them rapidly towards destruction on the rocks. They were 30 miles from land and with too few boats to carry all the crew to safety, should Endeavour be smashed to pieces.

The pinnace was under repair, so the yawl and the longboat were given the task of towing the ship clear. They managed to bring her head round to the north, but by 0600 they were only 80 yards from the breakers. Cook wrote:

The same sea that washed the side of the ship rose in a breaker prodigiously high the very next time it did rise, so that between us and destruction was only a dismal valley the breadth of one wave…yet in this Truly Terrible Situation not one man ceased to do his utmost and that with as much Calmness as if no danger had been near. All the dangers we had escaped from were little in comparison of being thrown upon this reef, where the ship must be dashed to pieces in a moment.

Eighty yards from the breakers at 0600 on 16Aug1770

Eighty yards from the breakers at 0600 on 16Aug1770

After hasty repairs to the pinnace, it was deployed. With this extra tow and the slightest puff of wind they pulled away to 200 yards from the reef. They saw an opening a quarter of a mile away and tried to get through. However, the ebb tide was ‘gushing out like a mill race’, so they could not gain the safety of the smooth water within the reef. Instead, the tide and another helpful wind took them 400 yards from destruction. Between this time and noon they managed to get an offing approaching 2 miles.

Soon after, though, the flood tide started to flow which carried them once more towards the reef. Their only hope of saving the voyage and their own lives appeared to be another opening in the reef one mile to their west. Lieutenant Hicks went to examine it and returned with a favourable account. With a light breeze from the east-north-east and the help of the boats they reached the opening and passed easily through, carried by the flood tide acting as another mill race which  prevented the ship from being driven against the sides. Cook called this opening in the reef Providential Channel.

Endeavour in Providential Channel on 16Aug1770

Endeavour in Providential Channel on 16Aug1770

They sailed 11 miles within the reef and anchored in 19 fathoms.

After several pages of journal in which Cook had described their adventure outside the reef, he then took the time to reflect on their circumstances and on the explorer’s dilemma: should he ‘boldly go’, facing all obstacles head-on thereby risking failure of the mission or accusations of misconduct, or should he prudently exercise so much caution that he is deemed unsuitable through timorousness to be a discoverer of new lands. He felt that, on balance, neither accusation could be levelled against him – provided he succeeded.

Reflecting on the discoverer's life

Reflecting on the discoverer's life

He was well aware of the irony of his present position:

It is but a few days ago that I rejoiced at having got without the reef; that joy was nothing when compared to what I now felt at being safe at anchor within it.

After these briefs contemplations, it was back to the usual business of surveying the world about him. He fell immediately back into the habit of reporting latitude and longitude, magnetic variation, the condition of the reef at low water, and the significant features of the land. In this case, he named Cape Weymouth and Weymouth Bay.

Cape Weymouth on 17Aug1770

Cape Weymouth on 17Aug1770


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

Images of Earth © Google and others

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.

%d bloggers like this: