In mid-1767, James Cook and his survey vessel, Grenville, were charting the West coast of Newfoundland. They were carefully making their way north when, on 29 June, strong winds returned, and Cook took refuge in the Bay of Islands.
29 June. It blowing very hard obliged to put in the bay in the Bay of Three Islands.
By 3 July, Cook had moved on to survey the River Thames (now called the Middle Arm).
3 July. Employed surveying and sounding the River Thames.
On 9 July, Cook anchored between the Shag Rocks and North Head, as he began leaving the Bay of Islands to sail north. The next day, he entered Bonne Bay (Cook called it Good Bay), the next large inlet to the north. It divides into two arms, and Cook moved to anchor off Woody Point at the entrance to the South Arm. Cook set about surveying this beautiful bay. By the 20th, Cook had completed the survey and resumed his journey up the coast, surveying as he moved northward. On the 27th, Grenville anchored in Ingornachoix Bay, a wide bay lying to the south of the prominent Point Riche.
27 July. At 9pm came to in Ingrenachoise in 10 fathoms water. Rocky Point [of] island NNW½W. Found riding here a New England sloop.
At first, Cook anchored off the western end of an island in the bay, which partly obscures three inlets lying further east. The names of the inlets honour three British naval heroes of the period. Keppel Island and Keppel Harbour were named after Augustine Keppel, one of the naval officers who had captured Havana in 1762. The inlet to the north of Keppel Island was named Port Saunders after Sir Charles Saunders, who had commanded the British fleet at Quebec, and who had transferred Cook to HMS Northumberland. The third and southern inlet was called Hawke’s Harbour after Sir Edward Hawke, who had led the British victory at Quiberon Bay in 1759. It is not clear if Cook applied these names.
Grenville was next moved into Hawke’s Harbour. Whilst there, another of Palliser’s ships, Favourite, came in. She was a 16-gun sloop built at Shoreham in 1757, under the command of William Hamilton, with Edward Pulliblank as master.
6 August. Employed surveying and sounding. am Came in here His Majesty’s ship Favourite.
Cook left Hawke’s Harbour and rounded Point Riche to anchor in Port au Choix. While Michael Lane, Cook’s deputy, remained with the vessel, Cook went off to survey St. John’s Bay, now known as St John Bay. Lane hauled Grenville ashore to clean and pay her bottom. During the stay here, the small boat from another of Palliser’s ships, HMS Merlin, arrived. She was a 304-ton sloop with 10 guns built in Rotherhithe in 1757, under the command of John Hamilton with William Paterson as master.
19 August. am The boat went away in order to survey and sound the Bay of St. Johns.
24 August. pm Anchored here a shallop from the Merlin sloop.
The northern end of St. John Bay is Point Ferolle, so Cook had reached his 1764 turning point, and could now return south. He was close to the Labrador coast at this point, and the log mentions a group of mountains visible in the distance, which the British had named Our Ladies Bubbies. They include Colline’s Black Mountain and Colline White East and lie just inside present-day Quebec, close to the Labrador border:
26 August. Employed sounding St. John’s Bay both in the vessel and boat. At 12 noon Our Ladies Bubbies NE By N.
Cook rejoined Grenville, and headed south so that he could finish the survey of the Bay of Islands, where the southernmost arm, the River Humber, remained to be examined. Grenville anchored in York Harbour on 30 August.
30 August. At 9pm came to in York Harbour in 35 fathoms water, and moored with a hawser fast ashore.
8 September. am The boat went up the River Humber in order to survey and sound ditto.
The nature of the terrain and the vegetation cover of Newfoundland made access to the island’s interior difficult, and Cook rarely made any excursions. He now undertook a three-day trip up the Humber River, and reached Deer Lake. The updated map of Newfoundland that Cook and Lane would produce is essentially one depicting the coastline. However, it does show the upper reaches of the Humber River, for which Cook wrote directions.
The River Humber at about 5 leagues within the entrance, it becomes narrow, and the stream is so rapid in places for about 4 leagues up to a lake, that it is with great difficulty a boat can be got up it; and at some times quite impracticable; this lake which stretches N.E.½N is in length 7 or 8 leagues, and from 2 to 5 miles broad. The banks of this river, and the shores of the lake are well clothed with timber, such as are common in this country. This river is said to abound with salmon, in which has been formerly a very great salmon fishery.
Cook returned to Lark Harbour and rejoined Grenville, which was prepared for the voyage home. Cook finished off the survey along the southern edge of the bay. The Hope schooner, under William Stanford with John Turner master, joined them there on the 21st. Grenville and Hope tried to leave together on the 24th, but winds forced them back in to anchor again in Lark Harbour. They managed to leave on 27 September. Cook had finished the survey for the year, and began his return to Britain via St. John’s.
Types of Vessel
Grenville was a brig, “a merchant-ship with two
masts… Amongst English seamen, this vessel is distinguished by having her main-sail set nearly in the plane of her keel; whereas the main-sails of larger ships are hung athwart, or at right angles with the ship's length, and fastened to a yard which hangs parallel to the deck: but in a brig, the foremost edge of the main-sail is fastened in different places to hoops which encircle the main-mast, and slide up and down it as the sail is hoisted or lowered: it is extended by a gaff above, and by a boom below.”
Hope, was a schooner, “a small vessel with two masts, whose main-sail and fore-sail are suspended from gaffs reaching from the mast towards the stern; and stretched out below by booms, whose foremost ends are hooked to an iron, which clasps the mast so as to turn therein as upon an axis, when the after-ends are swung from one side of the vessel to the other.”
Favourite and Merlin were sloops, “a small vessel furnished with one mast, the main-sail of which is attached to a gaff above, to the mast on its foremost edge, and to a long boom below; by which it is occasionally shifted to either quarter.”
The shallop from Merlin was “a sort of large boat with two masts, and usually rigged like a schooner.”
All definitions are from William Falconer’s Marine Dictionary (1780).
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 31, volume 40, number 3 (2017).