Since her return from Newfoundland late in 1766, Grenville had spent the winter moored at Deptford. During March and early April 1767, the brig was repaired and fitted out for service. At the beginning of April the pilot went on board, suggesting Grenville was about to sail, but neither the log nor the journal record the vessel unmooring and leaving Deptford. They did record an accident that happened while she was still moored at the wharf—collier The Three Sisters caught Grenville as she sailed past:
4 April. At 8pm a collier named The Three Sisters, Thomas Boyd, Master, of Sunderland in coming down the river fell athwart our hause and caried away our bow sprit cap and jib boom.
5 April am Hauled alongside the David sloop.
The Three Sisters was one of many small ships employed to transport coal from the River Tyne south via the North Sea to London. Cook, himself, had learned to sail in similar ships operating out of Whitby. It may have been at that time that Cook sailed with, or met, Thomas Boyd, the ship’s master, as it is reported that they discovered that they knew each other. It has also been suggested that they had been schoolboys together in Great Ayton. The David sloop is not recorded as being a Royal Navy vessel.
Grenville finally was able to depart on 8 April, sailing from Deptford down to Woolwich to collect her ordnance stores. By the 16 April, she was passing the Scilly Isles and heading out into the Atlantic Ocean. On 9 May, Newfoundland came into sight. The records are incomplete and somewhat sloppy with differences between the figures listed in the log and in the journal, possibly due to Michael Lane, master’s mate, being new to the task. The crossing this year was completed a couple of weeks earlier than in previous years. As a result, as they approached Newfoundland, they encountered many icebergs or “islands of ice” brought down by the Labrador Current from Greenland, Baffin Island and the Davis Strait.
Cook headed first for Capes Ray and Anguille, at the southwestern corner of Newfoundland. During his passage there he had some difficulty rounding St. Pierre et Miquelon, which Cook himself had charted four years previously. Cape Ray, the southwestern point of Newfoundland, was sighted on 14 May, and the next day Cook anchored in Codroy Road.
14 May. 12 noon Cape Ray ESE.
15 May. 7am Came to in Cod Roy Road. Stormy Point SW by S. Southern Point of Cod Roy Island W by S.
The southwest and west parts of Newfoundland had long been known to fishermen from the Basque region of northeastern Spain and southwestern France, and these people had already bestowed names on features in the area. Cook recorded many of them, often in a corrupt form of the original. Some names had even passed through an inter-mediate French language stage before Cook used them on his own charts. Cook hired pilots once again, and this year they cost him £12 16s.1 Grenville set off on the 18th to begin the survey.
18 May. At 6am weighed and came to sail. At noon Cape Anguille NE.
The vessel worked along the southern shore of St. George’s Bay to the head of the bay, St. George’s Harbour. Here Lane recorded meeting a group of Mi'kmaq, a native American people.
20 May. At 8 came to in St. Georges Harbour in 10 fathoms water. Both boats employed on the survey. Found here a tribe of the Mickmak Indians.
This reference is one of the few of Cook meeting native peoples of the region. However, there is no record that he ever met Beothuk people, the original inhabitants of Newfoundland. The Mi'kmaq people were originally from Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island, where they had lived relatively peaceably with the French Acadian settlers. When the British took over Nova Scotia the Mi'kmaq had sided with the French. As a result, in the late 1750s and early 1760s some of them had moved across to southwestern Newfound-land to avoid the authorities in Nova Scotia. They were also looking for new hunting and fishing grounds.
Grenville next sailed west along the southern side of the Port au Port Peninsula to round Cape St. George on 27 May. She passed Red Island, and entered Port au Port Bay on the 31st. Port au Port is a bay formed behind a prominent peninsula on the west coast of Newfoundland. The peninsula is connected to the mainland by an isthmus, and the bay lies to the north of the isthmus. A spit runs north from the isthmus to divide the bay partly into two.
31 May. pm working into Port aux Port. At 6 came to in 9 fathoms water, body of the Island SW by W, point of beach. Employed on the survey.
The survey of Port au Port Bay required over two weeks to complete. On 18 June Cook had moved out to survey around Shag Island, north of Port au Port, but the weather worsened, and he took refuge the next day in York Harbour in the Bay of Islands.
19 June. Employed sounding in the vessel only, it blowing too hard for the boat. At 1pm bore away for the Bay of Three Islands and at 9 anchored in York Harbour in that bay. Employed sounding the Harbour.
The Bay of Islands is a large inlet with several islands at its mouth, hence its name. The name, or a close variant, had already been applied for some years, with Basque and French versions known. The islands had been given British names three years earlier when Governor Palliser had visited the coast in Guernsey. Guernsey Island and its neighbours, Tweed and Pearl, honoured ships in Palliser’s squadron. On the 23rd, Lane’s log recorded the death of a member of the crew.
23 June. Departed the life James Surridge seaman.
James Surridge, from Chipping Ongar in Essex, had joined Grenville at Deptford earlier that year. His death was the only one recorded during Cook’s time in Newfoundland. The next day, William Howson was entered on the muster as an able seaman (AB), a volunteer and 15 years old. He must have been on board throughout, but only now was his presence admitted when he was entered in place of Surridge. The bad weather had abated and Cook returned to finish off surveying north of Port au Port. By the 29th the strong winds returned and Cook once more took refuge in the Bay of Islands.
This time Cook made for the northern and inner parts of the bay as the winds prevented his entering York Harbour. Joseph Gilbert (who would later sail in Resolution with Cook in 1772) had been the master in Guernsey during Palliser’s 1764 visit, and had charted the bay. Cook had a copy of Gilbert’s chart, on which the inner arms of the bay were called (from north to south) the River Medway, the River Thames and the River Humber. Cook now anchored by North Arm Cove at the entrance of the River Medway (now called the North Arm). By 3 July, Cook had moved on to survey the River Thames (now called the Middle Arm).
- Admiralty Minutes. 5 April 1768. ADM 3/76. Held at The National Archives (TNA), Kew.
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 9, volume 40, number 2 (2017).