Civil Time, Ship’s Time and the Date Line
When Joseph Banks recorded events in his journal, he used civil time, meaning that each day begins at midnight. So 10 am comes before 2 pm on the same day. However, in the eighteenth century, naval officers used nautical or ship’s time rather than civil time. Ship’s time means that each day begins at noon. So 2 pm comes before 10 am. Hence, Captain Cook’s journal entries begin with the events of the afternoon, followed by midnight, followed by those of the morning, and end with noon.
As Endeavour was sailing westwards across the Pacific when she crossed 180° longitude on 7 October, 1769, the journal writers should have adjusted their dates for the lost day. However, they did not do so until they reached Batavia, and were told that what they thought was
10 July, 1770, was really 11 July 10 October, 1770, was really 11 October. The International Date Line was not established until 1854.
In this article I shall use civil time as recorded by Joseph Banks, unless I slip up.
The Height of Summer
On 1 January, 1770, James Cook wrote, “it will hardly be credited that in the midest of summer and in the Latitude of 35° such a gale of wind as we have had could have happen’d, which for its strength and continuence was such as I hardly was ever in before”. Endeavour had finally past around the top of the North Island of New Zealand, and began sailing southwards down the west coast. As the land was “a barren shore” with many “white sand banks”, Cook wrote on his chart The Desart Coast. Nowadays, it is called Ninety Mile Beach.
On 4 January, Cook wrote, “was about 5 Leagues from the land and a place... that had the appearence of a Bay or inlet bore East”. However, when we “were not above 3 Leagues from it and then found that it was neither a Bay nor inlet, but low land bounded on each side by higher lands which caused the deception”. Cook wrote False Bay on his chart. It is a real bay: Kaipara Harbour. Banks commented in his journal, “Stood rather nearer the land than yesterday but not near enough to see whether or not it was inhabited: indeed we were obligd to hawl off rather in a hurry for the wind freshning a little we found ourselves in a bay which it was a moot point whether or not we could get out of” it.
Endeavour was driven north again by the gales. By the 7th, she was so far north that Cape Maria Van Diemen could be seen. Light breezes meant she could sail south again, and on 8 January, Cook could see “The place we were abreast of the 4th Inst. which we at first took for a Bay or Inlet”.
As they continued south Banks wrote, “Land in sight but so faintly seen that a Landsman would scarce distinguish it from Clouds”. The next day, “a breeze of fair wind put us all into high spirits. The countrey we passd by appeard fertile, more so I think than any part of this countrey I have seen, rising in gentle slopes not over wooded but what trees there were well grown”. Cook named “a point of land” as “Woody head”.
According to Banks “we passd between the main and a small Island or rock which seemd almost totaly coverd with birds probably Gannets”. Cook named it “Gannet Island”.
On 10 January, Cook “saw the top of the peaked Mountain to the southward above the Clowds”. The next day, “this Peak we did not see it being hid in the Clowds... After it was dark saw a fire upon the shore a sure sign that the Country is inhabited. In the night had some Thunder Lightning, and rain”. The next day, Banks “had a momentary view of our great hill the top of which was thick coverd with snow, tho this month answers to July in England. How high it may be I do not take upon me to judge, but it is certainly the noblest hill I have ever seen”. Cook named it “Mount Egmont in honour of the Earl of Egmont”. John Perceval, was the 2nd Earl of Egmont and, from 1763 to 1766, the First Lord of the Admiralty.
On 14 January they passed “some high land which makes like an Island lying under the Main”. It was Kapiti, which Cook named Entry Isle. By now he was seeking somewhere suitable to go “with the Ship in order to Careen her (she being very foul) and to repair some few defects, recrute our stock of Wood, water &ca”.
Queen Charlotte Sound
The following day, Banks wrote, “in the course of the last night we were drove to the Eastward more than we had any reason to expect, so much that we found ourselves in the morn past the harbour we intended to go into. Another however was in sight into which we went... we saw some canoes who instead of coming towards us went to an Indian town or fort built upon an Island nearly in the middle of the passage”. It was Motuara. “At 2 oclock”, wrote Cook, we Anchor’d in a very snug Cove... in 11 fath[oms of] water soft ground and moor’d with the Stream anchor”. They had arrived at Ship Cove in Queen Charlotte Sound, South Island, New Zealand.
Cook continued “By this time several of the Natives had come off to the Ship in their Canoes and after heaving a few stones at us and having some conversation with Tupia some of them ventured on board where they made but a very short stay before they went into their boats again and soon after left us altogether. I then went a Shore in the bottom of the Cove accompanied by most of the Gentlemen, we found a fine stream of excellent water, and as to Wood the land is here one intire forest. Having the Saine with us we made a few hauls and caught 300 pounds weight of different sorts of fish which was were equally distributd to the Ships Compney”.
On 16 January, Cook wrote, “AM Careened the Ship scrub’d and pay’d the Larboard side... PM righted the Ship and got ready for heeling out the other side”. Beaglehole notes that “Cook could not have careened the ship in the strict technical sense”, which would have been “more than a morning’s work”.
According to Falconer’s Marine Dictionary of 1780, careening is “the operation of heaving the ship down on one side, by the application of a strong purchase to her masts, which are properly supported for the occasion, to prevent them from breaking with so great a strain. Careening is used to heave one of the ship’s sides so low in the water, as that her bottom, being elevated above it’s surface on the other side, may be cleaned from any filfth”. Whereas, heeling is “to sloop or incline to either side”. And, paying is “to daub or anoint the surface of any body, in order to preserve it from the injuries of the water, weather, &c. Thus the bottom of a ship is paid with a composition of tallow, sulphur, resin, &c.”
According to Banks, “3 Canoes and about 100 Indians came to the ship bringing their women with them, a sign tho not a sure one of peacable inclinations”. Cook was wary and “as the Ship was upon the careen I thought they might give us some trouble and perhaps hurt some of our people that were in the boats along side; for this reason I fire’d some small Shott att one of the first offenders, this made them keep at a proper distance while they stayd which was not long before they all went away”. Banks noted, “The women in these canoes and some of the men had a peice of Dress which we had not before seen - a bunch of black feathers made round and tied upon the top of their heads which it intirely coverd, making them look twice as large as they realy were”. Sydney Parkinson depicted them in his painting New Zealanders Fishing.
That afternoon, Cook “righted the Ship and got ready for heeling out the other side”.
The next morning Banks “was awakd by the singing of the birds ashore from whence we are distant not a quarter of a mile, the numbers of them were certainly very great who seemd to strain their throats with emulation perhaps; their voices were certainly the most melodious wild musick I have ever heard, almost imitating small bells but with the most tuneable silver sound imaginable to which maybe the distance was no small addition. On enquiring of our people I was told that they had observd them ever since we have been here, and that they begin to sing at about 1 or 2 in the morn and continue till sunrise, after which they are silent all day like our nightingales”. This bird was the Korimako or Bell-bird.
Meantime, Cook “Careen’d scrub’d and pay’d the Starboard side of the Ship”. In the afternoon he “righted the Ship and sent on Shore all or most of our empty Casks”
On 18 January Cook “righted the Ship and sent on Shore all or most of our empty Casks, and in the morning the Coopers went about triming them and the Carpenters went to work to black the bends, Caulk the sides and to repair other defects in the Ship, while the Seamen were employ’d in the hold, cutting Wood &ca &ca”. Falconer says the bends “were the thickest and strongest planks in a ship’s side” and that blacking “not only preserves them from the heat of the sun and the weather, but gives them a fine gloss, which makes a good appearance contrasted with the white varnish on the masts”. Caulking is to “drive a quantity of oakum, or old ropes untwisted and drawn asunder, into the seams of the planks, or into the intervals where the planks are joined to each other in the ship’s decks or side, in order to prevent the entrance of water. After the oakum is driven very hard into these seams, it is covered with hot melted pitch or resin, to keep the water from rotting it”.
Cook “made a little excursion in the Pinnace in order to take a View of the Bay [Resolution Bay], accompanied by Mr Banks and Dr Solander, We met with nothing remarkable and as we were on the west side of the Bay where the land is so closely cover’d with Wood that we could not penetrate into the Country”. Banks “shot many shaggs from their nests in the trees and on the rocks. These birds we roast or stew and think not bad provisions, so between shaggs and fish this is the place of the greatest plenty of any we have seen”.
The next day, Cook “set up the Forge to repair the braces of the Tiller and such other Iron work as was wanting. The natives came along side and sold us a quantity of large Mackerel for nails peices of Cloth and paper, and in this traffeck they never once attemptd to defraud us of any one thing, but dealt as fair as people could do”.
And the next day, he “sent part of the powder a Shore to be air’d”. Then he “set out in the Pinnace, accompanied by Mr Banks and Dr Solander, in order to survey the West Coast of the Bay, we took our rout towards the head of the Bay but it was near noon before we had got [beyond] the place we had been before... at 8 oClock [pm] we return’d on board with the Pinnace from surveying the Bay in the doing of which I met with an excellent harbour [possibly Little Waikawa Bay] but saw no Inhabitants or any Cultivated land”.
On 21 January, Cook “gave every body leave to go a Shore at the Watering place to amuse themselves as they thought proper”.
The next day he “set out in the Pinnace (accompanied by Mr Banks and Dr Solander) with a view to examining the head of the Inlet”. They landed on Arapaoa Island (formerly Arapawa), just south of nearby Blumine Island, possibly in Kaitapeha Bay. Cook wanted “to try to get upon one of the hills to View the Inlet”. He “took one man with me and climed up to the top of one of the hills”. At what is now called Cook’s Lookout, he “was abundantly recompence’d for the trouble I had in assending the hill, for from it I saw what I took to be the Eastern Sea and a strait or passage from it into the Western Sea”. Meantime, “Dr Solander and Myself”, wrote Banks, “were botanizing”.
On 24 January, Cook wrote, “In the morning the Gunner was sent a shore with the remainder of the powder to dry, and the Long-boat was sent with a gang of hands to one of the Islands to cut grass for our sheep”. In the afternoon “the Caulkers having finish’d caulking the Ship sides (a thing they have been employ’d upon ever sence we came here) they were pay’d with tar”.
The next day, according to Banks, “Dr Solander and myself (who have now nearly exhausted all the Plants in our neighbourhood) went... to search for Mosses and small things, in which we had great success gathering several very remarkable ones”.
On 26 January, Cook wrote, “made an excursion into one of the Bays which lie on the East side of the Inlet [probably East Bay] accompanied by Mr Banks and Dr Solander, upon our landing we ascended a very high hill [Bald Hill] from which we had a full View of the passage I had before descover’d... I had now seen enough of this passage to convence me that there was the greatest probabillty in the world of its runing into the Eastern Sea... I resolv’d after puting to sea to search this passage with the Ship. We found on the top of the hill a parcel of loose Stones of which we built a Pyrmid and left in it some Musquet balls, small Shott Beeds and what ever we had about us”. Banks felt that “if perchance any Europeans should find and pull it down they will be sure it is not Indian workmanship. This done we returnd to our dinners of Shags and fish which we had shot and caught in coming and were dressd by the boats crew”.
The next day Cook “got the Tiller properly secure’d which hath been the employment of the Armourers and part of the Carpenters sence we anchor’d at this place, the former in repairing and making new Iron work and the latter in fixing a Transom for the want of which the Tiller has often been in danger of being broke, the Iron braces that supply’d the want of a transom have broke every time they have been repair’d. Coopers still imploy’d repairing the Casks, some hands with the Long-boat geting on board stones to put into the bottom of the bread room to bring the Ship more by the stern while other[s] were employ’d cuting wood, repairing the rigging and fishing”. The transoms were, according to Falconer, “beams or timber extended across the stern-post of a ship, to fortify her after-part”.
Banks was frustrated. That day, “the Dr and myself went ashore but could find no plants at all. We have I beleive got all that are in our neighbourhood, tho the immense thickness of the woods which are almost renderd impassable by climbing plants intangling every way has not a little retarded us”. However, by the end of their stay in Queen Charlotte Sound the naturalists had collected 207 species, many new to them.
On 29 January, Cook “went out to the mouth of the Inlet and landed upon the West point [Cape Jackson] and from the top of a pretty high hill which is there I had a view of the Coast to the NW”. He saw “several Bays, wherein there appears to be safe anchorage for Shipping”. Then, “we errected upon the Top of the Hill a tower or pile of stones in which we left a peice of Silver Coin, some Musquet Balls Beeds &ca and left flying upon it a peice of an old pendant”. The following day, the carpenter “went into the woods with part of his people... to prepare two posts to be set up with Inscriptions upon them... seting forth the Ships name month and year”. One of the posts “was set up at the watering place [at Ship Cove] on which was hoisted the Union flag”.
The next morning, Cook “took the other [post] over to the Island” of Motuara, “having along with me Dr Munkhouse [the surgeon] and Tupia... by means of Tupia, [I] explained to the old man and several others that we were come to set up a mark upon the Island in order to shew to any ship that might put into this place that we had been here before, they not only gave their free consent to set it up, but promise’d never to pull it down. I then gave every one present one thing or a nother, to the old men I gave silver, threepenny peices dated 1763 and spike nails with the Kings broad Arrow cut deep in them things that I thought were most likely to remain long among them. After I had thus prepare’d the way for seting up the post we took it up to the highest part of the Island and after fixing it fast in the ground hoisted thereon the Union flag and I dignified this Inlet with the name of Queen Charlottes Sound and took formal posession of it and the adjacent lands in the name and for the use of his Majesty, we then drank Her Majestys hilth in a Bottle of wine”.
Not every day had fine weather. On 1 February, there was “a Strong gale from the NW attended with very much rain” in the morning, wrote Cook, followed by “a storm attended with rain and squalls which came down in excessive heavy gusts from off the high land, in one of which the hawser we had fast to the Shore brok this obliged us to let go another anchor”. As a result, added Banks, “for the first time in the Voyage we had 3 anchors down”.
They set sail from Ship Cove on 5 February. Light winds hampered their efforts. The next evening “we were carried by the rapiddity of the stream in a very short time close upon one of the Islands where we narrowly escaped being dashed againest the rocks” wrote Cook. They were close to islands called The Brothers, which lie off Cape Koamaru, Arapaoa Island. The next day he saw to the east, land trending “away SEBE about eight leagues where it ends in a point... which I have named Cape Pallisser in honour of my worthy friend Capt Pallisser”. Cook had served under Captain Palliser, whilst Master’s Mate in HMS Eagle from 1755 to 1758, and then under him as Governor of Newfoundland, whilst surveying there until 1767.
Is the northern land part of a Continent?
Cook decided to sail north “owing to a notion which some of the officers had just started that [what is now known as North Island] was not an Island founding their opinion on a suppotision that the land might extend away to the SE from between Cape Turn-again and Cape Pallisser, there being a space of about 12 or 15 Leagues which we had not seen”.
On 9 February, Cook “continued our Course along shore to the NE untill 11 oClock AM when the weather clearing up we saw Cape Turn-again bearing NBE¼E distant 7 Leagues. I then called the officers upon deck, and asked them if they were now satisfied that this land was an Island to which they answer’d in the affirmative and we hauled our wind to the Eastward”. Banks agreed, “by 11 O’Clock Cape Turnagain was in sight which convincd every body that the land was realy an Island on which we once more turnd our heads to the southward”.
Is the southern land part of a Continent?
On 11 February, Endeavour sailed south passing Cape Palliser again.
Two days later, it was calm, which gave Banks “an opportunity of going out in the boat and shooting some Albatrosses”. The following day, he was “shooting again... I had two or three oppertunities this even of seeing Albatrosses raise from the Water which they did with great ease; maybe when they are not able to do so (which I have seen) is when they are Gorgd with food”. Endeavour was abreast of a “high Snowey Mountain”, wrote Cook, which “lay behind a mountainous ridge of nearly the same height which riseth derectly from the Sea and runs parallel with the shore”. Tapuae-o-Uenuku, (formerly Tapuaenuku) lies behind the double ridge of the Kaikoura range of mountains.
On 14 February, “At 8 oClock PM a breeze sprung up at SSW with which we stretched off SE, because some on board thought they saw land in that quarter”. By 6 o’clock the following morning, they had seen “no land but that which we had left”, so “we stood to the westward”.
On 16 February, Cook saw land “bearing SBW and seemingly detached from the Coast we were upon”. The next day, “we plainly discoverd that the last mentioned land was an Island... which I have named after Mr Banks”. It was not an island, but what is now called Banks Peninsula.
“Lieutenant Gore having the morning watch at the time we first saw this Island, thought he saw land bearing SSE and SEBE, but I who was upon deck at the same time was very certain that it was only Clowds which dissipated as the Sun rose, but neither this nor the runing 14 Leagues to the South, nor the seeing no land to the Eastward of us in the Evening could satisfy Mr Gore but what he saw in the morning was or might be land altho there was hardly a possibility of its being so... I order’d the Ship to be wore and to be steer’d ESE by Compass on the other Tack, the point on which he said the land bore at this time from us... Seeing no signs of land, I thought it to no purpose standing any farther to the Southward, and therefore hauled to the Westward thinking that we were far enough to the Southward to weather all the land we had left”. Banks records some more excitement “Last night about one the officer of the watch came down to the captn with the disagreable news of land right ahead and very near, which the wind which blew strong blew directly upon; we were soon however set at ease by the Captn comeing down and telling us that it was only a white cloud. In the morn it blew hard and before noon (to our great surprize) land was indeed in sight very high and far off”.
On 22 February, Cook “condemed 60 fathoms of the best bower Cable and converted it into Junk”. According to Falconer, such junk was “cut into small portions for the purpose of making points, mats, gaskets, sennit, &ca”.
Two days later, Banks wrote, “We were now on board of two parties, one who wishd that the land in sight might, the other that it might not be a continent: myself have always been most firm for the former, tho sorry I am to say that in the ship my party is so small that I firmly beleive that there are no more heartily of it than myself and one poor midshipman, the rest begin to sigh for roast beef”.
They were now off a “point of land named Cape Saunders in honour of Sr Charles”, wrote Cook. Sir Charles Saunders was the vice-admiral commanding the fleet in the St Lawrence in 1759, in which Cook served. “north of the Cape the shore seem’d to form two or three Bays wherein there appeared to be anchorage and Shelter from SW, westerly and NW winds. I had some thoughts of bearing up for one of these places in the morning when the wind came to SW, but the fear of looseing time and the desire I had of pushing to the southward in order to see as much of the coast as possible, or if this land s[h]ould prov[e] to be an Island to get round it, prevented me”.
The weather changed for the worse. “A very hard gale at SWBW and WSW with heavy squalls attended with showers of rain and a large hollow sea”, wrote Cook on 27 February. Banks added, “no standing upon legs without the assistance of hands [we] hope however that the heart of this long-winded gale is broke”.
On 1 March, Cook wrote, “The New Moon made her appears last night and Tupia told us that this is New Years day at the Island [of Tahiti], on which account we paid him the proper compliment”. The next day, Cape Saunders was “Distant 68 Miles”. For Banks, “a heavy swell from SW made the ship very troublesome”.
On 5 March, Cook saw “high land over the low land extending to the southward as far as SWBS. We could not see this land join to that to the northward of us, there either being a total seperation, a deep bay or low land between them”. They were off Ruapuke Island, which lies between the mainland and Stewart Island. Banks noted “A point of land seen this morn which inclind much to the Westward was supposd by the no Continents the end of the land; towards even however it cleard up and we Continents had the pleasure to see more land to the Southward”.
Four days later, Banks wrote, “At the first dawn of day a ledge of rocks were discoverd right to leward and very near us, so we had much reason to be thankfull that the wind in the night had been very gentle otherwise we must in all human probability have ran right among them, at least we could have had no chance of escaping them but by hearing them as there was no moon”. Cook “named them the Traps because they lay as such to catch unwary strangers”. He named “the Southermost point of land... South Cape”.
The next day, wrote Banks, the wind “carried us round the Point to the total demolition of our aerial fabrick calld continent”. On 11 March, at 2 am, Cook “discover’d an Island bearing NWBN distant 4 or 5 Leagues... This Island I have named after Dr Solander... it is nothing but a barren rock of about a Mile in circuit remar[k]ably high”.
Cook remarked, “we thought that the land to the southward or that we have been sailing round these two days past was an Island, because there appeared an open Channel between the North part of that land and the south part of the other in which we thought we saw the small Island we were in with on the 6th instant, but when I came to lay this land down upon paper from the several bearings I had taken it appear’d that there was but little reason to suppose it an Id; on the Contrary, I hardly have a doubt but what it joins to and makes a part of the main land”. They had, in fact, rounded Stewart Island, which lies just to the south of South Island.
On 13 March, Cook wrote, “haul’d in for a Bay wherein there appear’d to be good anchorage and into which I had thoughts of going with the Ship, but after standing in an hour we found the distance too great to run before dark and it blowed too hard to attempt it in the night or even to keep to windward, for these reasons we gave it up and bore away aLong shore. This Bay I have named duskey Bay... The north point of this bay... is very remarkable there being off it five high peaked rocks standing up like the four fingers and thum of a mans hand on which account I have named it Point five fingers”. Cook was to visit Dusky Sound during his Second Voyage.
The next day, Cook “pass’d a small narrow opening in the land where there appear’d to be a very snug harbour... The Land on each side of the entrance of this harbour riseth almost perpendicular from the Sea to a very considerable height and this was the reason why I did not attempt to go in with the Ship because I saw clearly that no winds could b[l]ow there but what was either right in or right out... it certainly would have been highly imprudent in me to have put into a place where we could not have got out but with a wind that we have lately found does not blow one day in a month: I mention this because there were some on board who wanted me to harbour at any rate without in the least considering either the present or future consequences”. The harbour was Doubtful Sound. One of the people who wanted to go in was probably Banks.
As Endeavour sailed north along the coast, Banks saw, “Much snow on the ridges of the high hills”, and a bit further on, “The Mountains and some of the Vallies we observed... were wholy coverd with snow... and yet the weather is not cold”.
On 24 March, Cook wrote, “At day light we saw the low land extending... to the ESE as far as the eye could reach”.
The next day, “the wind came to north and we steer’d ESE with all the sail we could set untill dark when we shortend sail untill the morning having thick misty weather”. The following day, “At day light we saw the land bearing SEBE and an Island laying near it bearing ESE distant 5 Leagues, This I knew to be the Island seen from the Entrance of Queen Charlottes Sound”, meaning Stephens Island. Cook continued, “As we have now circumnavigated the whole of this Country it is time for me to think of quiting of it, but before I do this it will be necessary first to compleat our water especialy as we have on board above 30 Tuns of Casks empty”. He anchored in Low Neck Bay on D’Urville Island.
On 27 March, Cook wrote “At day light AM I took a boat and went to look for a watering place and a proper birth to moor the Ship in both of which I found convenient enough. After the Ship was Moord I sent an officer a shore to superintend the watering and the Carpenter with his crew to cut wood while the long-boat was employ’d carrying a shore empty casks”.
Banks, “Went ashore this morn... While Dr Solander and self botanizd, Tupia and his boy caught almost a boat load of fish by angling in 2 or 3 fathom water”. Two days later, Banks was “ill with sickness at stomack and most violent headach, a complaint which in some of our people has been succeeded by a fever”.
The following day, he was “quite recoverd except a little soreness at my stomack occasiond I suppose by reaching yesterday. The weather being fair I resolvd to climb some hill in hopes of meeting some plants in the upper regions as none had been found in the lower. I did with great dificulty, walking for more than a mile in fern higher than my head; success however answerd my wishes and I got 3 plants which we had not before seen”. Whilst on the island the naturalists collected 17 species.
Where To Sail To Next?
On 30 March, Cook “found the water &ca all on board and the Ship ready for sea and being now resolved to quit this country altogether and to bend my thoughts towards returning home by such a rout as might conduce most to the advantage of the service I am upon, I consulted with the officers upon the most eligible way of puting this in execution. To return by way of Cape Horn was what I most wish’d because by this rout we should have been able to prove the existence or non existence of a southern Continent which yet remains doubtfull; but in order to ascertain this we must have kept in a high latitude in the very depth of winter but the condition of the ship in every respect was not thought sufficient for such an undertaking. For the same reason the thoughts of proceeding directly to the Cape of Good Hope was laid a side especialy as no discovery of any moment could be hoped for in that rout. It was therefore reolved to return by way of the East Indies by the following rout: upon leaving this coast to steer to the westward untill we fall in with the East Coast of New Holland and than to follow the deriction of that Coast to the northward or what other direction it may take untill we arrive at its northern extremity, and if this should be found impractical than to endeavour to fall in with the lands or Islands discover’d by Quiros”.
The last day of March, “we got under sail and put to sea having the advantage of a fresh gale at SE and clear weather”.
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 55, volume 43, number 1 (2020).