In July 1766, James Cook was continuing his survey of the south coast of Newfoundland.
He left La Hune Bay at the beginning of the month to reach Fox Island Harbour, where Grenville remained for over a week while Cook went off surveying. On the 10th, they crossed to the Ramea Islands, 10 kilometres off New-foundland’s south coast. Cook anchored Grenville in Ship Cove on the south side of Ramea Island. He produced detailed sailing directions for the islands.
The Isles of Ramea, which are of various extent both for height and circuit, lay N.W. half N. near 6 leagues from the Penguin Islands, and one league from the main, they extend East and West 5 miles, and North and South 2 miles; there are several rocks and breakers about them; but more on the South side than the North; the Easternmost Island, which is the largest, is very high and hilly; and the Westernmost, called Columbe, is a remarkable high round Island, of small circuit, near to which are some rocky Islands, and sunken rocks. The harbour of Ramea, (which is a small commodious harbour for fishing vessels,) is formed by the Islands, which lie between Great Ramea and Columbe, the entrance from the Westward (which is the broadest) lies East from Columbe, give the South point of the entrance a small birth (off which are some rocks above water) and steer N.E. into the harbour, keeping the middle of the channel, which is more than a cable's length broad in the narrowest part, and anchor in Ship Cove, which is the second on the N.W. side in 5 fathoms, clear ground, and sheltered from all winds. To sail into it from the Eastward, keep the North side of Great Ramea on board until you are at the West end thereof, then steer S.W. into the harbour, keeping in the middle of the channel, wherein is 3 fathoms at low-water, and anchor as above directed. In this harbour, and about these Islands are several convenient places for erecting of stages, and drying of fish, and seem well situated for that purpose. S.E. half S. 4 miles from Ramea, are 2 rocks above water, close to each other, called Ramea Rocks: S.W. one league from these rocks is a small fishing bank, whereon is 6 fathoms water; it lies with the rocks above-mentioned, on with the West entrance of Little River, bearing N.E. and Ramea Colombe on with a high saddle hill, (called Richard's Head) on the main within the Isles of Burges, bearing nearly N.W. Nearly in the middle between Ramea and Penguin Islands, 2 leagues from the land, is a fishing bank, whereon is from 50 to 14 fathoms. To run upon the shoalest part of this bank, bring the two Ramea Rocks (which lie S.E. half S. from Ramea Islands) on with the S.W. part of the Islands, or between them and Columbe, and the entrance into Little River to bear N by E half E
Crossing back to the mainland, Grenville anchored in White Bear Bay before moving on to the Burgeo Islands, a group of many small islands, just off the south coast. The largest, on which the modern settlement of Burgeo stands, is Grandy Island. Cook anchored Grenville in Grandys Cove, off Furber Point. On 5 August, Parker’s entry in the log was “Employed as before.” This bland entry belies what happened that day, which proved a momentous one for Cook. He knew that a solar eclipse would occur that day, and that southern Newfoundland was an ideal location from which to make observations. After several days of fog, conditions improved on the day of the eclipse, and Cook was able to make his observation. He wrote up his findings and sent a report to the Royal Society (see below), which was presented at one of their meetings by John Bevis in London in April 1767.1 It brought Cook to the attention of members of that body. The eclipse is now referred to as Cook's Eclipse. The small island on which the observation was made, just south of Grandy Island, was given the name Eclipse Island.
The next day normal activities resumed, and
Cook left the Burgeo Islands, continuing the survey at Connoire Bay, before reaching La Poile Harbour on the 16 August. The British knew the inlet as Tweed's Harbour (named after one of their ships). Another ship, HMS Pearl, was waiting there when Grenville arrived.
16 August. At 7am anchored with the small bower in 16 fathoms water in Tweed's Harbour and moored with the hawser fast on shore. Found here His Majesty's ship the Pearl.
After two weeks Cook was ready to move on. Parker and the company had used the time to brew beer while Cook was out on the survey.
20 August. Fair weather. Employed on the survey and brewing.
29 August. am Got the beer on board and unmoored. At 8am weighed and came to sail.
Anchored in Harbour Le Cou on 3 September, they encountered a shallop belonging to the Hope schooner. A week later they arrived at Port aux Basques (future site for the terminal for the ferry service to Cape Breton Island), where the brig was overhauled while Cook surveyed.
16 September. am Hauled ashore and scrubbed and boot topped with tallow. Employed about the
rigging. At 6pm hauled off
17 September. At 6am hauled a shore again. Scrubbed and boot topped the other side; and employed about the rigging. The cutter employed on the survey.
Cook was now nearing the southwestern point of Newfoundland, Cape Ray. He left Port aux Basques on the 24th, and crossed to the island of St. Paul, situated in the Cabot Strait between Cape Breton Island and Newfoundland. Cook went ashore for a few hours.
Winter is not far away in late September in Newfoundland, and Cook was coming to the end of the survey season. He anchored behind Codroy Island on 28 September, and surveyed the Codroy River and the coast as far as Cape Anguille. It was then time to return to St. John’s. They left Codroy on 4 October.
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 11, volume 39, number 3 (2016).
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