On 1 October, 1772, Captain Cook in Resolution and Captain Furneaux in Adventure were sailing in company in the South Atlantic towards the Dutch colony of Cape Town at Table Bay.
The next day, Tobias Furneaux wrote, “Caulkers employed caulking the Quarter Deck”. On the same day in Resolution, Isaac Smith, a master’s mate wrote, “Carpenters Employed Caulking & Painting the Boats”. The next day, “Carpenters Empd Caulking the Ship & Painting the Boats”.
On 5 October, Johann Reinhold Forster in Resolution “saw a bird called the Albatross & likewise a species of Petrel, commonly called Pintada birds or Cape Pidgeons (Procellaris capensis). They are quite speckled above with brown or black on their backs & wings; the head is black & the belly white”. They were probably the Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans) and the species now called the Cape Petrel (Daption capenes).
According to William Bayly, the astronomer in Adventure, on 10 October, “The Surgeon & Lieutenant of Marines had some words & I belive some blows were given by the Surgeon”. Thomas Andrews was the surgeon. James Scott was in charge of the marines. He was a Second Lieutenant.
On the evening 11 October, there was, wrote Forster, “an Ecclipse of the Moon of which only the End could be observed”. He listed the telescopes used by those involved: James Cook, a refracting four-foot telescope; William Wales the astronomer, a quadrant; Third Lieutenant Richard Pickersgill, a three-foot telescope; Joseph Gilbert (the master), the naked eye; William Harvey (a midshipman), a quadrant; Forster, a two-foot achromatic telescope.
The next day he wrote, “We brought to for the Adventure, so as we had frequently in the course of our passage & as it was almost calm, we hoisted out the boat to try the Current, but we found none... we began to try whether we could shoot some birds & we had the good luck to get some”. According to Harvey, “The Adventure being up with us, sent ye Boat onboard of Her for some Paint ours being stowed away & Could not gett at it”.
On 13 October, Robert Palliser Cooper, First Lieutenant in Resolution “Sent the Boat with Mr Wales on board the Adventure to compare the Watches”. Resolution had two timepieces, one by Larcum Kendall, and one by John Arnold. Adventure had two of John Arnold’s chronometers.
On 17 October, Cooper wrote, “Saw a Sail [i.e. a ship] bearing SSW standing to the Eastward. Made the signal to Adventure which she answered. The ship hoisted Dutch Colours”. The next day he “Saw the Dutch Ship on the Starb[oar]d”. The next morning “the Dutch Ship astern... we have the advantage of [her] in Sailing”.
On 20 October, Cooper wrote, “hoisted a boat out & sent her on board [Adventure] with Mr Wales to compare the Watches”. Forster was also in the boat. He “went on board the Adventure, & there we heard, that a few days ago they had seen our Ship put about & suspected there was a Man overboard: & really such a thing had been thought at first on board the Resolution, as two or three people affirmed to have seen a man floating; but upon calling all hands on deck &calling over their Names, we missed none & suspected then it must have been some Seal: & Capt Furneaux told, he really with his people saw something swimming, but they soon discovered it to be a Sea-Lion”. John Wilby, a seaman in Adventure, noted, “The Resolution’s Boat came on Board: People in High Spirits and very Healthy”.
Forster continued, “We had now already began to serve to the Ships company the 2d Vat with Sower Kraut, or of pickled & fermented sliced Cabbage. This food is extremely wholesome on account of its antiscorbutic Quality both as a fresh Vegetable & as an Acid... we found the people liked it immediately & but few found fault with it, & I must confess being very much used to it in Prussia, Germany & Russia I found it one of our best dishes”.
Also that day, Cooper “Punish’d Philip Brotherson Drummer with ½ a Dozen [lashes] for theft”. He was a marine.
On 23 October, Furneaux wrote, “Employed painting the Boats”. Cooper wrote, “Hoisted the Boat out which went with the Messrs Forsters &ca shooting”. According to Forster, “Mr Charles Cleck, I & my Son [George] went out a shooting”.
Two days later in Adventure, Bayly wrote, “the first Lieutt taken with relapse of the Gout of which he has been confined to his cabbin this 3 Weeks past but had been able to walk a little for some days”. He was Joseph Shank.
On 29 October, Cooper wrote, “very cloudy ahead & many Imaginary appearances of Land which very soon Vanish’d”.
The next day Furneaux “made land bearing SEbE 9 Leagues distant and within a few hours of the time expected. We stood for Table Bay ‘till it was dark, then stood off and on ‘till morning and then made sail for the Bay. About 7 we anchored in six fathom Water after a passage of Seventyseven days from St. Jago, which is reckoned long, but was overpaid by the continual fine weather we had, not meeting with a Calm exceeding Six hours, or more wind than we could wish for. On our arrival, the Resolution saluted the Governor with 13 Guns, which were returned with an equal number”.
On Cook’s previous visit to Cape Town in March 1771, he had met the ailing Governor Tulbagh, who died later that year. As the replacement governor had not yet arrived, Tulbagh’s second-in-command was the temporary governor. Cook wrote, “I waited upon the Governor Baron Plettenberg, who told me that he had received Instructions from Holland relating to these two Sloops and that I might be assured of every assistance the place could afford”.
We get an inkling of Cook’s preparation for this voyage in the following passage in his journal for this day. “I was told before I left England by some gentlemen who were well enough acquainted with the Navigation between England and the Cape of Good Hope, that I sail’d at an improper season of the year and that I should meet with much Calm weather, near and under the line... on the contrary, we hardly met with any Calms”.
“Our people all in perfect Health and spirits”, wrote Charles Clerke, Second Lieutenant in Resolution, “owing I believe in a great measure to the strict attention of Captain Cook to their cleanliness and every other article that respects their Welfare”.
On 1 November, Gilbert “Sent the different Instruments belonging to the Astronomer on shore and people to fix Tents for His Observations. Read the Articles of War &c to the Ships Company”. Furneaux “Erected a Tent ashore for the Sick & Waterers”. Cook and several others, “fix’d our selves at Mr Brands, the usual residence of most Officers belonging to English ships”. Cook had met him in March 1771.
Henry Wight joined Adventure as an able bodied seaman (AB) in place of William Lanyon, who had been promoted to midshipman on 10 September, following the death of Samuel Kempe. The musters at the time do not record why Wight was at Cape Town, nor where he was born.
The next day, Cooper wrote, “Came in a Dutch Indiaman from Middleburgh [Holland], about 4 months on her passage, had buried 105 men & now 80 Sick of the Scurvy”. The next day “Came in a Dutch Indiaman from Zealand in Holland, had a Passage of 23 Weeks during which she buried 41 men & bro’t in here 43 Sick of the Scurvy”.
On 5 November, Cooper “Punish’d Michl [Michael] Flinn Seaman 1 dozen for Insolence to his Officer”. Two days later, Furneaux “got 29 pigs of Iron ballast in the bread-room”. Three days later he “Punished Thos Freeman & Bonaventure Sommerfield for neglect of duty”. Thomas Freeman was a sailor. Bonaventure Sommerfield was a marine.
On 11 November, Gilbert “Punish’d Jno Innell, Terrill, Frazier and Emanl Peterson with a dozen lashes each for leaving the boat when on duty”. John Innell, Edward Terrell and Emmanuel Peterson were sailors. John Frazer was a corporal in the marines.
In the logs there is a variety of names for Terrill. Cooper wrote Richd Tyrrell. Burr wrote Ricd Tyrrell. Smith wrote Edward Terral. Clerke wrote Edward Tyrill. The sailor appears on the muster mostly as Edwd Tyrrell, but sometimes as Edwd Tirrell or Edwd Tirrill.
On 17 November, Cooper wrote, “Came on board the Governor. Mann’d Ship, Saluted him with Cheers & 15 Guns at his coming on board & going away, both Salutes were return’d by the Dutch Commodore of the Indiamen”.
On 16 November, First Lieutenant Shank in Adventure wrote to Cook “As my Ill state of health will not admit of my proceeding on our intended Voyage to the South Seas, must beg your Leave to quit, so as to be Enabled to Return home”. Cook wrote to “the Surgeons of His Majestys Sloops Resolution & Adventure”, who were James Patten and Thomas Andrews, respectively. “You are hereby Required and Directed to examine into the Nature of his Complaint, and Report to me your opinion thereon and how far you think his Request is reasonable”. The surgeons replied, “he has for Several Months past been off sick with a Slow Nervous Fever of Violent Rheumatic pains, which has greatly reduced and emaciated him; we are therefore of Opinion that his Request to quit is not only reasonable but absolutely Necessary for the establishment of his Health”.
Cook wrote to Shank, “You have my leave to quit the Sloop Adventure”. Two days later, Cook promoted Arthur Kempe, Second Lieutenant in Adventure to the position of First Lieutenant. Cook also promoted James Burney, an able bodied seaman (AB) in Resolution to the position of Second Lieutenant in Adventure. He had been a midshipman in his previous Navy ship, Aquilon, and had passed his lieutenant’s certificate on 7 January, 1772. Burney’s place in Resolution was taken by Richard Gilbert, who joined her as an AB at Cape Town. He was from Boston, Lincolnshire.
As the ships’ men were in good health, Cook “thought to have made my stay here very short, but as the Bread we wanted was unbaked and the Spirit, which I found scarce, to be collected from different parts of the Country it was the 18th of November before we had got everything onboard”.
During their stay, Cook had allowed the men “to go onshore 10 or 12 at a time to refresh themselves”. John Elliott, a midshipman in Resolution, recorded in his journal: “Immediately behind the Cape Town arises a range of mountains of immence height, and quite flat in the Top, resembling a Table, and hence the Bay receives the name of Table Bay. Mr Grindal, Mitchel, Roberts and Myself attempted to go to the Top, but by the time we got halfway up, we found ourselves enveloped in a thick Fog, and began to consider ourselves in not a very safe situation. Therefore returned, after experiencing much difficulty in obtaining the height we did”. His companions were the midshipmen Bowles Mitchell and Henry Roberts, and the sailor Richard Grindall.
Willian Hodges, the artist in Resolution, was rarely mentioned by Cook in his journals, as was the case with most of the other men in the ship. The first occasion was when Hodges joined the ship at Plymouth, and the second time was at Cape Town.
Cook wrote, “Mr Hodges employed himself here in Drawing a View of the Town and Port adjacent in Oyle Colours, which was properly packed up with some other and left with Mr Brand, in order to be forwarded to the Admiralty, by the first Ship that should [sail] for England”.
The oil painting was exhibited in 1774 at the Free Society of Artists, London. Hodges produced a water-colour of Table Mountain and Cape Town as a study for the oil painting.
In his memoirs, John Elliott, an AB in Resolution, wrote “myself, Mr Roberts and Mr Smith were, when off Watch, employed in Capt. Cook’s Cabbin either copying, drawings for him, or drawing for ourselves, under the Eye of Mr Hodges”. Henry Roberts was a midshipman, and Isaac Smith was a master’s mate.
Francis Masson appeared on Resolution’s musters as “Fras Mason, Gardener”. He is not mentioned by Cook in his journal. Masson departed from the ship on 22 November, when the ships left Cape Town. He had been sent out by King George III, at the suggestion of Joseph Banks, to collect living plant specimens, and to prepare them for export back to England.
According to George Forster, he and his father undertook “botanical excursions in the country about the town... We daily brought home ample collections of vegetables and animals, and were much surprised to find a great number... unknown to natural historians”. They climbed “Table mountain”. They gathered such “an abundant harvest” that they became concerned “that with all our efforts, we alone would be unequal to the task of collecting, describing, drawing, and preserving (all at the same time) such multitudes of species, in countries where every one we gathered would in all probability be a non-descript. It was therefore of the utmost importance... to find an assistant well qualified to go hand in hand with us in our undertakings”.
At Cape Town, the Forsters and Masson met other liked-minded people, including Carl Thunberg and Anders Sparrman, two Swedish naturalists who had studied under Carl Linnaeus at Uppsala University. Sparrman had already sailed to China as a ship’s doctor in a Swedish East Indiaman, returning with many descriptions of the animals and plants he had encountered. He was now in Cape Town as a tutor, but also to study the nature of the country. He later wrote that they “offered me my voyage gratis, with part of such natural curiosities as they might chance to collect, on condition of my assisting them with my poor abilities”. He “could not help wishing that a Swede likewise might have the opportunity of making a visit to the South Pole and the continent supposed to be in the vicinity of it”.
Permission was requested from Cook, who “consented and he embarqued with us... as an assistant to Mr Forster who bore his Expences onboard and allowed him a Yearly Stupend [stipend]”. Anders Sparrman appeared on Resolution’s musters as “Andreas Sparrman, Mr Forster’s Servant”. Servant in the 18th century was used for an employee.
Wales and Bayly worked together taking many astronomical observations. The results, wrote Cook, “shewed that Mr Kendals Watch had answered beyond all expectations by pointing out the Longitude of this place to one minute of time to what it was observed by Messrs Mason & Dixon”. In 1761 Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon observed the Transit of Venus at the Cape, and in 1769 Dixon observed the Transit at Norway with Bayly. Of the other chronometers, wrote Cook, “little can be said in favour of the one of Mr Arnolds on board of us, but one of those on board the Adventure promises fair to answer the purpose intended”.
On 21 November, Furneaux wrote, “Completed our provisions for 2 years at whole allowance and two & half years of Spirits. Received some live sheep for the people [i.e. the sailors] and a large quantity of vegetables”.
On 22 November Cooper wrote, “Came on board the Captain, also Messrs Forsters & Mr Anders Sparrman Native of Sweden who they have engaged to their assistance during the Voyage in the Botanical Service”. The next day, Cook “At 3 pm weighed and came to Sail with the Adventure in Company. Saluted the Garrison with 15 guns which compliment was returned”.
Also that day, Cook wrote to Furneaux, “In case of Seperation after leaving the Cape of Good Hope, and before we arrive in the latitude of 50° South, the first Rendezvous shall be in that Latitude and in the Longitude, of the Cape, viz., 18° 23’ East of Greenwich, where you are to cruize Seven Days. Not meeting me in that time, you are to proceed as above directed”.
On 24 November, Gilbert wrote, “Served to the Ships Company Fearnought Jackets and Trowsers allowed them by the Government”. Fearnought is the name of the thick woollen cloth. Such items had also been issued to the men of Endeavour in January 1769 as the ship approached Tierra del Fuego.
The next day, Gilbert noted, “The Machine out to work for Distilling fresh water every day”. According to Sparrman, “There is seldom any extravagance with fresh water on sea voyages; but now particularly, with the uncertainty of the next landfall, every drop had to be carefully preserved. An armed sentry was placed on duty by the water-casks, and although he certainly allowed the people a thirst-quencher on the spot, he did not permit any water to be taken below deck. The Captain himself set an example by washing and shaving with seawater. Mr Irvine’s improved machine for the distillation of fresh water was kept working”.
That night, a storm “shipped several Seas through my Skuttel, which was by no means tight”, wrote Forster. “My quilt was therefore very wet”. A scuttle is a window in a ship.
27 November “was George’s birthday & we were all very happy”. Unfortunately, for Forster, “The next morning between 4-5 I was suddenly driven out of my bed by a flood of Saltwater rushing down upon my head through the seams, when they were washing the deck”. Later that morning they “begun to bring our Cape plants in order, & find that this business will give us full employment for a long while: for the number is great, & the plants in very little order”.
On 29 November, Furneaux saw “at 8 [pm] the Resolution about 1 mile, at 2 am burnt false fires but had no answer. At 4 saw the Resolution three miles on our lee quarter”.
On the last day of November, Wales wrote, “About 12 oClock it was discovered that the ship was almost knee deep in Water between Decks; but on sounding the Well not more than about 20 Inches was there; and on examination it was found that the Inside scuttle of the Boatswain’s store room had given way, which being on ye Lee side of the ship was almost constantly under water. Both hand Pumps were instantly set to work, & one of the quartermasters volontarily offered to go over the side and force in the outside scuttle, which he effected after being three times washed up into ye fore chains”.
December began, according to Cook, with “hard gales and fair Weather”. On 2 December, Furneaux wrote, “the Cutter’s covering was blown overboard in a squall and lost”. The next day, wrote Forster, “the great Seas, the rain, the cold killed us this week 3 great pigs & a couple of Sheep, with two small pigs”.
On 4 December, Cooper wrote that during some gales “the ship has work’d the Oakum out of the Seams in general that there is scarce a dry Bed in the Ship & very weak in the Upper Works”. Two days later, he noted, “The Sailmaker employ’d repairing the Mainsl & the Carpenters building a Sail Room between the Main & Fore Hatchways, the ones forward leaking so much as to damage all the Sails”.
On 6 December, Forster recorded, “We had now lost 6 large hogs, since we left the Cape”. The same day, Cook wrote to Furneaux, “For the better encouragement of the Company of his Majesty’s Sloop under your Command, and in order to enable them the better to withstand the present intence cold weather, you are hereby required and directed to serve to each man an additional half-allowance of spirit or wine on such days as you shall think the same necessary, and also to cause an allowance of Wheat or Oatmeal to be boil’d for breakfast on Mondays, in addition to the usual allowance boil’d for dinner; you are to keep an exact account (attested by the proper officers)”.
Two days later, Cook commented, “the Sea runs very high, this together with the Weather which we think very cold, makes great distruction among our Hogs, Sheep and Poultry, not a night passes without some dying, with us, however, they are not wholy lost for we eat them notwithstanding”. The next day, noted Forster, “Our Ewes intended as presents to the Inhabitants of New Zeeland or New Holland, began to be ill, trembled, panted, had swollen knees, from cold & the bruizes received by the rolling of the Ship”. He also saw “two Penguins” and “small bits of Snow. The Library I had in the Steerage was by the rolling of the Ship & its original bad contrivance so far reduced, that it wanted a general Reparation, for fear the Bulkhead might tumble out with all of them”.
On 11 December, Furneaux “made the Signal for seeing Land which proved to be a large Island of Ice. Began to serve Sour Krout to the Ships Company”.
Wales thought the island to be “at least twice as high above the Water as our Top Gallt Mast head, and appeared to be like those which I saw in Hudson’s Straights in every respect, except that its top & sides were quite smooth & straight, & I never saw any there which were so”. Wales was at Hudson’s Bay in 1769 to observe the Transit of Venus.
That day, Forster saw “a large mass of Ice quite cubical or like a parallelepipedon, of a huge size... it had all he appearance of a table Land, & great many thought it to be such: the Adventure made signal for seeing Land, but when we came nearer we saw plainly that it was Ice. Its height above water was at least as high again as our Main Topmast-head which us 102 feet”.
He continued, “it is generally proved, that Ice swimming in water is ⅞ of its heighth under water, consequently the Mass of this Mountain of Ice must have been 1400 feet under water: which is allmost incredible... the breadth of this piece of Ice seemed to be equal to its height, & the length the double of its height; so that the whole Mass was... 40 feet long, 200 feet wide & 1600 feet deep”.
He went on, “It is difficult to conceive where & i[n] what manner these huge Masses could be formed: as it is well ascertained, they consist of fresh water, & must therefore come from some Land or other. The motion of these enormous bodies is very slow, for what wind could operate on a body, which is so deep under water, & of such immense bulk? & if the currents did not carry them away they would not stirr at all: For I really think they move scarcely a mile in 12 hours unless carried by strong Currents”.
In the afternoon, “it grew foggy & began to rain, which made it necessary to make a Signal for the Adventure to come under our Stern, that we might not part company with her... The Thermometer on deck was 34° [Fahrenheit], my one in the Cabin 41°... We saw a new bird of the Procellaria kind, something less than the Fulmar, allover of a snowy white, bill & legs black”. It was a Snow Petrel (Pagodroma nivea).
The next day, 12 December, Cook “was oblig’d to proceed with great caution on account of the Ice Islands, six of which we pass’d this day, some of them near two miles in circuit and 60 feet high and yet the sea broke quite over them, such was the force and height of the waves which broke against them and ex[h]ibits a view, which for a few moments is pleasing to the eye, but when one reflects on the danger this occasions the mind is fill’d with horror, for was a ship to get against the weather side of one of these Islands when the sea runs high she would be dashed to pieces in a moment”.
Lieutenant Pickersgill wrote more dramatically, “we saw a Prodigious number of Ice Islands... the sea was so thick with them that it was with the utmost difficulty we could steer clear of them — good God! had a gale of wind now come on, what a miserable situation thus surrounded with dangers on all sides, we had better been amongst so many rocks, for there had the ships been lost, there was still a prospect of saving our lives, but here if we went against an Ice Island there is nothing but immediate death for had we lived to have got upon the Island the cold is so severe and the damp which the Ice occasions so different from the Northern [hemisphere] Ice that no human being could possible live two hours where as to the northward people has lived weeks”.
Forster saw “every where large Isles of Ice. Some weeds had been seen floating. The Thermometer on deck was 31½°, in my Cabin 40°. It was hazy & foggy: & no [astronomical] observation had been made for two days. Some expected now soon land... every one wished to be the first to announce the Sight of Land”.
On 13 December, Forster wrote, “The Ice increased very much, about 4 o’clock more than 15 large lumps of Ice were in sight & before 8 o’clock more than 20 were in Sight. In the Afternoon at about 3 o’clock we passed a piece of Ice full of small black spots, which seemed to move & shift their places, & when we examined it by our Telescopes, we saw likewise no more but black spots, however some pretended to have seen birds fly off from the Island of Ice... thought others still were of opinion the black spots were Seals... We tacked towards night, & came in the night again on the former tack. At last about 6 o’clock Mr Pickersgill the 3d Lieutenant after having been repeatedly up to the Masthead, he saw plainly land. I got up, came on deck & saw an immense Field of Ice before me & a great many huge Lumps of it, & behind them when it cleared up I saw some appearance of hills... We can not yet determine whether the pretended Land is such or only a bank of Clouds”.
Cook commented, “some on board thought they saw Land also over the Ice bearing SWbS. I even thought so myself, but changed my opinion upon more narrowly examining these Ice Hills and the various appearances they made when seen through the haze, for at this time it was both hazy and cloudy in the Horizon, so that a distant Object could not be seen distinct[ly]”.
Furneaux wrote, “On Monday the 14th of December in Latde 56°South and about four degrees to the Eastward of the Cape [of Good Hope] we were intirely stopt by the Ice which intirely covered the surface of the water so that there was no part to be seen for half the Compass to the Southward from the Masthead, which in all probability extends to the [South] Pole”. Cooper wrote, “Bro’t too under the Ice & hoisted out the Jolly Boat & sent her on board the Adventure”. Forster “went on board the Adventure, fetched Capt: Fourneaux & the new Lieut. Mr Burney on board & we kept him for a couple of hours, after having breakfasted together”.
Cook gave Furneaux fresh orders. “In case of separation by bad Weather or any other unavoidable Accident you are first to look for me where you last saw me; not finding me in three days, you are to proceed agreeable to former Orders”. Cook also agreed with Furneaux “some other matters for the better keeping Company and after breakfast he return’d to his Sloop and we made sail along the Ice, but before we hoisted the boat in we took up several pieces which yeilded fresh Water, at Noon had a good observation both for determining the Latitude and Longitude by the Watch”.
The ships “made again Sail towards the bank we supposed to be Land”, wrote Forster. “We saw several shoals of Pinguins passing the Ship – some were skipping about like Skip-jacks; others dived, & when at a distance looked at us”. They were probably Chinstrap Penguins (Pygoscelis antarcticis).
On 15 December, Cooper wrote, at 9 am “Bro’t too, hoisted the Jolly Boat to try the Current... It came on Thick Fog. Fire’d a Swivel [gun] & Musquets for the Boat, & beat the Drums. At 11 spoke the Adventure which our Boat had got on board of. She came on board [Resolution], hoisted her in”. Forster was in the boat. He explained what happened. “The weather grew so foggy whilst we were about making these Experiments on the Sea, that we did not know where either of the Ships was, though we had seen both a little while before & were between them both, which was scarce ¼ of a mile distance of either. We haled therefore the Adventure & they answered & we rowed hereupon towards her, we found every thing well & went away after having haled the Resolution & having fired a gun in order to know where she was, & then we put off again, & it cleared so much up, that we just saw we were close near her”.
That night, wrote Cook, “Betwixt 12 at night and 7 in the Morn 4 Inches thick of Snow fell on the Decks the Thermometer most of the time five degrees below the Freezing point so that our Rigging and sails were all decorated with Icikles”.
According to Pickersgill, on 16 December, “we had less wind and much snow, we still perused our course to the eastward following the edge of the Ice without any hopes of a passage; passing thro’ a variety of Islands, which took a variety of Shapes such as old Churches, Castles, old ruins, Houses, Towns and Towers”.
Two days later, Forster “made three Observations relative to the Ice. The first was that when the Sky along the horizon appeared white, it was a pretty certain sign of great Quantities of Ice towards that Quarter... & it seems to be nothing more than the reflexion of the white & snowy Ice. The second remark we made on the blue colour of the Ice, which is caused by the reflexion of the Seawater on its lower parts, so that this blue grows gradually fainter in proportion as it is distant from the Surface of the Sea... Lastly, I observed that pieces that were at least 40 or 50 feet above water were however well formed of Strata of 4, 5 or 6 Inches high, which seems to confirm in some measure my opinion of the formation of Ice by the Snow, which forms these Strata gradually, & makes them discernible”.
Cook wrote, “the gale freshened and brought with it snow and sleet which freezed on our Rigging and Sails as it fell, the Wind however veer’d more & more to the NE which inabled us to clear the Field Ice, though at the same time it carried us among the Islands which we had enough to do to keep clear of, of two evils I thought this the least. Dangerous as it is sailing a mongest the floating Rocks in a thick Fog and unknown Sea, yet it is preferable to being intangled with Field Ice under the same circumstances. The danger to be apprehended from this Ice is the geting fast in it where beside the damage a ship might receive might be detaind some time... I have two Men onboard that have been in the Greenland trade [i.e. whalers], the one of them was in a Ship that lay nine Weeks and the other in one that lay Six Weeks fast in this kind of Ice, which they call Pack’d Ice; what they call field Ice, is thicker, and the whole field, be it ever so large, consists of one piece, whereas this, which I call field Ice, from its immence extent, consists of many pieces of various sizes both in thickness and Surface, from 30 or 40 feet square to 3 or 4, packed close together and in places heaped one upon another, and I am of opinion would be found too hard for a Ships side that is not properly armed against it”.
Cook continued, on 18 December, “as we had now sail’d above 30 leagues along the edge of the Ice without finding a passage to the south, I determined to run 30 or 40 leagues to the East, afterwards endeavour to get to the southward and if I met with no land or other impediment to get behind the Ice and put the matter out of all manner of dispute”.
That day, Cooper wrote, “Boil’d some Malt for the people affected with the Scurvy to drink, that disorder having made its appearance”. Wales added, “I am unhappy in being one of them”.
On 20 December, Smith wrote, “The Captain ordered a Quantity of Red Baize [cloth] to be Converted for to lengthen the arms of the Fearnought jackets & to make Caps for the Seamen, on Account of the great Severity of the Weather”. Cooper recorded, “Thick Fog with hard Snow. Fir’d a Swivel [gun] to let the Adventure know where we was which the Adventure answered”. Forster was perhaps delighted to write, “Towards evening the weather cleared up & we had Sunshine; a Phænomenon that seemed to us a novelty, having been deprived of the salutary influence of this luminary during many days & being long involved in haze, snow & fog. The Sun set in a bank of haze”.
The next day, Cook decided that with “the Weather clearing up, we hauld again to the Southward, the Course I now intend to Steer till I meet with Interruption... Had a Meridian observation to day which we have not had for some days past”.
On 23 December, Cook, “Having not much Wind and the day being such as would be called a tolerable good Winters day in England Cap Furneaux dined with us and returned on board in the evening”. That day, Furneaux “Punished John Lane Drummer with a dozen lashes for disrespect to his officer”. John Lane was a marine. The next morning, Furneaux “Read the Articles of War & Abstract [of the late Act of Parliament] to the Ship’s Company”.
On 25 December, Cook wrote, “at noon I brought the Sloops under a snug sail, seeing that the Crew were inclinable to celebrate the day in their own way, for which purpose they had been hording up liquor for some time past, I also made some addition to their allowance, had as many of the Officers and Petty Officers to dinner in the Cabbin as we [could] find room for, and the rest were entertain’d in the Gunroom, and mirth and good humor reigned throughout the whole Ship; the Crew of our consort seem’d to have kept Christmas day with the same festivity, for in the evening they rainged alongside of us and gave us three Cheers”. According to Forster, “we passed the Christmas-festivity with good chear among good friends & good Company”.
On 27 December, Cook “hoisted out a Boat from which Mr Forster shott a Penguin”. It was a Chinstrap Penguin. According to Forster, “We hoisted out the boats, & I went with Mr Clarck [Lieutenant Clerke] & my Son a Shooting, we met with no birds, but heard soon that they haled us from the Ship informing us there were Pinguins in sight, we turned towards them, but before we came within Shot, they began to skip away & dive with such velocity, that though we exerted ourselves as much as possible in order to overtake them we must however give over the chase... We then saw a shoal of Pinguins near [Resolution], we made towards them, but they skipped away just as the former had done... we soon discovered a solitary Pinguin & when near enough fired at it with Shot No 3”.
Three days later, Cook “hauled to the Northward for an Island of Ice, thinking if there were any loose peices about it to take some on board to convert into fresh Water: at 4 brought too close under the lee of the Isld where we did not find what we wanted, but saw upon it about 90 Penguins”. The number came from midshipman Bowles Mitchell, who wrote, “Pass’d an ice island which had 86 Pengwins upon it (I counted them)”. Forster “fired two balls at them”. Cook “fired two 4 pound Shott at them, the one struck the Ice near them and the other went over the Island, but they seemed quite undisturbed at both”.
On 31 December, at latitude 59° 58’ South, Cook “seeing some loose Ice ahead we hauled three point more to the north in order to avoide it but the very reverse happened, for after standing an hour NBW the Ice was so thick about us that we were obliged to tack and Stand back to the Southward... it was not long before we got clear of the ice but not before we had receved several hard knocks for the pieces were of the largest sort... at Noon had strong gales and Clowdy hazy Weather and only one Ice Island in sight, indeed they are now become so familiar to us that they are generaly pass’d unnoticed”.
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 39, volume 45, number 4 (2022)
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