Home > 225 Years Ago: October - December 1778

225 Years Ago: October - December 1778


On 1st October, 1778 Captain James Cook in the Resolution and Charles Clerke in the Discovery were sailing south for Samgoonoodha or English Bay on Unalaska Island, which they had visited earlier that year from 28th June to 2nd July.


Sketch of the  Harbour of Samganooda
Sketch of the Harbour of Samganooda

They arrived at the island on the 3rd. Clerke found the natives "vastly pleased to see us again… There was no kind of apprehension or diffidence subsisting between us; they run about the Ships, and we about the shore with as perfect Ease and Satisfaction as though each had been in their own premises." Cook commented how the natives brought "with them dryed Salmon and other fish which they exchanged with the Seaman for Tobacco. And altho they had but a few days before, been served every Ounce of Tobacco that was in the Ship which was not half sufficient to answer their demands, yet the Johns were as profuse in their bargains, as if we had been going into a Port in Virginia, and in less than forty eight hours lowered the Value of this article above a thousand per cent." On the 3rd the ships anchored and "the next morning the Carpenters belonging to both Ships were set to work to rip off the Sheathing of and under the Wale on he Starboard side abaft, where many of the Seams were found quite open". According to Falconer's Marine Dictionary of 1780 wales were "an assemblage of strong planks extending along a ship's side, throughout her whole length, at different heighths, and serving to reinforce the decks, and form the curves by which the vessel appears light and graceful on the water."


"As we intended to stay some time to refresh ourselves", wrote George Gilbert, AB on the Resolution, "we set up our observatories, to make observations to regulate our timekeeper which we had not done since we left King Georges Sound. We likewise sent our sails and empty casks onshore to repair them. Hurtle and Crane berries we found in great quantities, and the small bushes that were in blossom when we sailed were now full of black berries about the size of a large currant; they were very agreeable to the taste, and of a different kind from any we had ever seen but did not continue above a week or ten days after we came in, being nearly out of season."

According to John Ledyard, corporal of marines on the Resolution, "we overhauled our rigging, caulked the upper works, and then watered. We had also in the mean time set our armourers and smiths at work to cut up a spare bower anchor and work it into hatchets, spikes, and such other forms as would best answer the purposes of traffic among the tropical islands where we were now going to wait the returns of another season in order to make a second attempt for the Passage, though in fact we were well convinced already of its non-existence. Cook alone seemed bent upon a second trial." Heinrich Zimmerman, AB on the Discovery, added "Captain Cook having had about eighteen hundredweight of the broken bow-anchor of the Discovery previously mentioned, fashioned into various articles which would be useful to the natives, such as nails and knives." The anchor had been lost by Bougainville at Tahiti and purchased by Cook at Bora Bora in December 1777 for such a purpose.

The Russians Send a Present

On 7th a chief "brought the Captain a present of a cake made of Rye Flower with some Salmon baked in the middle of it, and told us it came from some people upon the Island about five Leagues distant" wrote Gilbert. "Cpt Cook immediately supposed them to be Russians who had either settled there, or were traiding upon the Island".

"In consequence of this", wrote Ledyard, "Cook was determined to explore the island. It was difficult however to fix upon a plan, that would at once answer the purposes of safety and expedition: An armed body would proceed slowly, but if they should be cut off by the Indians, the loss in our present circumstances would be irreparable, and a single person would entirely risk his life though he would be much more expeditious if unmolested, and if he should be killed the loss would be only one. The latter seemed the best, but it seemed extremely hard to single out an individual and command him to go upon such expedition, and it was therefore thought proper to send a volunteer, or none. I was at this time and indeed ever after an intimate friend of John Gore, Esq.; first lieutenant of the Resolution, a native of America as well as myself, and superior to me in command, he recommended me to Capt. Cook to undertake the expedition, with which I immediately acquiesced. Capt. Cook assured me that he was happy I had undertaken the rout as he was conscious I should persevere, and after giving me some instructions how to proceed he wished me well and desired I would not be longer absent than a week if possible, at the expiration of which he should expect me to return. If I did not return by that time he should wait another week for me, and no longer. The young chief before-mentioned and his two attendants were to be my guide."

Cook wrote that he sent "Corpl Ledyard of the Marines, an inteligent man in order to gain some further information, with orders, if he met with any Russians, or others, to endeavour to make them understand that we were English, Friends and Allies."

On 8th Thomas Edgar, Master, on the Discovery, "went with some Gentlemen to an Indian Town in the Bottom of the Bay on the North side of a very large Sound, About 17 Mile across from the Ships… The Men seem'd buisied in Stocking Fish for the Winter and making Canoes; the Women are pleasingly fair & kind in all respects… They are very Lowsy occasiond by their Slothfulness & wearing Birds & Seal skins, an excellent Harbour for Vermin. At ½ past 1 PM Captains Cooke & Clerke sent by the two Indians some Rum, two Roles & some other trifles as a present in return for the Loaves & Corporal Ledyard, of Marines, accompanied them to know from whence they came supposing a Russian Factory near." The following day he "went with some of our Gentlemen to Examine the interior parts of the Country; at 11 came to an Indian Town… It raining very hard all the Evening Obliged us to take up our Lodgings here."

On 10th Edgar "At Day Light found ourselves very Lousy, we turn'd too & Lous'd ourselves in the Best manner we could & then got our Breakfast & then set out about 10 O'Clock on our way back to the Ships… Abt 5 in the Afternoon we got on Board & heard that Ledyard the Corporal of Marines with 3 Russians… was on Board the Resolution."

Ledyard's Story

"I went entirely unarmed by the advice of Capt. Cook. The first day we proceeded about 15 miles into the interior… until we approached a village just before night." The next day he became lame "with a swelling in the feet, which rendered it extremely painful to walk; the country was also rough and hilly… we came to a large bay, which appeared to be 4 leagues over." The canoe was too small for all of them so Ledyard "submitted thus to be stowed away in bulk, and went head foremost very swift through the water about an hour, when I felt the canoe strike a beach, and afterwards lifted up and carried some distance, and then set down again, after which I was drawn out by the shoulders by three or four men". Two of them were Russians and there were others in a hut into which he was taken. "As I was much fatigued, wet and cold, I had a change of garments brought me, consisting of a blue silk shirt and drawers, a furrcap, boots and gown, all which I put on with the same chearfulness they were presented with. Hospitality is a virtue peculiar to man, and the obligation is as great to receive as to confer… One of the company then gave me to understand, that all the white people I saw there were subjects of the Empress Catharine of Russia". The next morning Ledyard "found a small sloop of about 30 tons burthen laying in a cove behind the village… I was no sooner informed that this sloop was the same in which the famous Bheering had performed those discoveries which did him so much honor, and his country such great services, than I was determined to go on board… where I remained about an hour… This little bark belonged to Kamchatka, and came from there… in order to establish a pelt and fur factory. They had been there about five years, and go over to Kamchatka in her once a year to deliver their merchandize". The next day Ledyard set off on his return "accompanied by three of the principle Russians and some attendants. We embarked at the village in a large skin boat much like our large whale-boats rowing with 12 oars… we arrived by sundown at the bay where the ships lay, and before dark I got on board with our new acquaintance. The satisfaction this discovery gave Cook, and the honor that redounded to me may be easily imagined, and the several conjectures respecting the appearance of a foreign intercourse rectified and confirmed!"

The Three Russians

According to Cook, "One of these Men was either Master or Mate of this Vessel, a nother wrote a good hand and understood figures; they were all three well behaved intelligent men, and very ready to give me all the information I could disire, but for want of an interpretor we had some difficulty to understand each other. They seemed to have a thorough knowlidge of the attempts that had been made by their Country men to Navigate the Frozen Sea, and the discoveries which had been made… I laid before them my Chart, and found they were strangers to every part of the America Coast except what lies opposite to them… they remained with me all night, Visited Captain Clerke the next Morning and then went away very well satisfied with the reception they had met, promising to return in a few days and to bring me a Chart of the Islands lying between this place and Kamtschatka."

David Samwell, surgeon on the Discovery, wrote that when they left, on 11th, "they promised to return in three days with a Map containing the latest Discoveries made by the Russians on the Coast of America. One of the three… said that he being then a Boy was with Bering in his Expedition to the coast of America & described to us the deplorable condition they were reduced to by the Scurvy to which Bering himself fell a Victim… The Russians had seen us the last time we were in this Harbour & having not the least Expectation of seeing Europeans in this Part of the World, they concluded that we could be no other than Japonese".

Gerassim Gregoriev Izmailov

On 14th, wrote Cook, "in the evening as Mr Webber and I was at an Indian Village… a Russian landed there who I found was the principal person among the Russians in this and the neighbouring islands. His name was Erasim Gregorioff Sin Ismyloff, he came in a Canoe carrying three people, attended by twenty or thirty other Canoes each conducted by one man; I took notice that the first thing they did after landing was to make a small tent for Ismyloff of materials which they brought with them, and then made others for themselves of their Canoes paddles &ca which they covered with grass, so that the people of the Village were at no trouble to find them lodging. Ismyloff invited us into his tent, set before us some dryed Salmon and berries which I was satisfied was the best cheer he had; he was a sencible intelligent man, and I felt no small Mortification in not being able to converse with him any other way then by signs assisted by figures and other Characters which however was a very great help. I desired to see him on board the next day and accordingly he came with all his attendants; indeed this was what brought him this way… I found he was very well acquainted with the Geography of these parts and with all the discoveries the Russians had made and at once pointed out the errors of the Modern Maps."

According to James King, second lieutenant on the Resolution, "The points at which we labour'd the most were, the State of the Russian colonies in this part of America, & the Discoveries they had made in these Sea's since the time of Beering, & what might be procurd at Kamchatka useful for our purpose… He Coincided with us in Opinion that there never was nor could be a communication with any part of Siberia round by the N with Kamchatka because of the constant Ice".

Clerke wrote "his business here was that of a kind of Factor or Merchant… he has travelled in France". The next day, 16th, he "had the pleasure of his Company on board the Discovery; in the Evening his Boat and retinue came for him, and he went away out of the Harbour, promising very heartily to return again on Sunday or Monday… and bring his Chart of the Seas with him."

Relationships with the Russians

The same day Samwell noted "A friendly intercourse being now established between us & the Russians Several Gentn paid them a Visit at their Factory at different times, always taking with them some Rum & Brandy of which the Russians were extravagantly fond & which while it lasted kept them in a continual State of Jollity. They treated our Gentn always as well as they could and made them presents of boots &c in return… our Destination to Sandwich Islands being now universally known, & Iron which is of the greatest Value there being very scarce in private Hands, we purchased as much of it from the Russians as we could get."

On 19th, Samwell continued, "Greg. Ismiloff returned with a Map of the Russian discoveries on the Coast of America which he presented to Captn Cook, who made him many presents among which was a Hadley's Quadrant. The use of this Ismiloff was not a perfect Master of, the 2d Lieut. of the Resolution took the pains to make him better acquainted with it every opportunity He had during his stay. Captn Cook drew up a summary Account of our Transactions since we left England & the Discoveries we had made & committed them to his Care, to be transmitted by the first opportunity the ensuing Summer to Kamtchatka & from thence by Land through Russia to England, for Lord Sandwich the 1st Lord of the Admiralty, with a Letter for Mrs Cook."

King, the second lieutenant added that Cook "gave him an Hadleys Quadrant, & explaind to him its uses for finding the Latitude & taking angles in surveying. It was certainly was to Ismyloff, who had been employd in surveying the West coast of Kamchatka, the most useful instrument that could be given him. All the Islands were placed 14 miles or more wrong in Latitude, & this was owing to their taking no account of difference of Meridians in using the Suns declination, & making improper allowances for the dip, & paying no regard to the refraction; all these points Ismyloff was readily made to comprehend, as he had been taught at Okotsk the Rudiments of Astronomy & Navigation." According to Andrew David in his book Charts and Coastal Views of Captain Cook's Voyages. Volume Three: The Voyage of the Resolution and Discovery 1776-1780 (Hakluyt Society, 1997, ISBN 0-904180-55-7) declination "is the difference between true north and magnetic north as given by the magnetic compass; it varies over the surface of the Earth… Dip is the angle between the Earth's magnetic field and the horizontal plane at the Earth's surface. It is 90° at the magnetic poles and zero at the magnetic equator. A dipping needle by Nairne was supplied to both ships."

Cook recorded that the Russian brought "the Charts Afore mentioned which he allowed me to Copy. There were two of them both Manuscripts and had every mark of being Authentick." Clerke also wanted to make a copy "but my Commodore had not completed his business with it till just upon the point of Ismyloffs departure". The Russian informed Cook "that great part of the Sea coast of the Peninsula of Kamschatka had been corrected by himself, and described the Instrument he made us of which must have been a Theodolite."

Clerke added "We shew him Mr Stæhlin's Map, which is annexed to his book… upon a superficial inspection he declared exceedingly deficient in every particular, as indeed we have found it." Cook was outraged. "If Mr Stæhlin was not greatly imposed upon what could induce him to publish so erroneous a Map? in which many of these islands are jumbled in in regular confusion, without the least regard to truth and yet he is pleased to call it a very accurate little Map? A Map that the most illiterate of his illiterate Sea-faring men would have been ashamed to put his name to."

by John Webber
"These people are rather low of Stature, but plump and well shaped... and streight long black hair, which the Men wore loose behind and cut before… some of them wear boots and all of them a kind of oval snouted Cap made of wood, with a rim to admet the head".


Leaving Unalaska Island

On 22nd Edgar "unmoor'd & hove short, carried out an Anchor to the eastward and weigh'd the Bower as did the Resolution; about half past 10 in the morning the Resolution weigh'd and in endeavouring to get out ran aground, at Noon sent the Launch to assist in carrying out her small Bower anchor."

The next day "came on board the Resolution… Jacob Ivanwitch chief of the factory… Capt. Cooke gave him a little wine for his own use, and as he was shortly going to Kamscatka, a small telescope to Major Beahm, commanding officer of all their forcs and garrisons on that coast". According to King "By Ivanowitch Captain Cook wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Admiralty, & Ismyloff gave us letters to the Governor of Kamchatka & the Commander of St Peter & St Paul, in case we should go there."

On 26th, wrote Samwell, "we sailed out of Samgoonoodha Harbour with a fine breeze and stood to the Westwd intending to get round & settle the extent of the Island."

Cook's "intention was now to proceed to Sandwich Islands to spend a few of the Winter Months provided we met with the necessary refreshments there, and then proceed to Kamtschatka, endeavouring to be there by the Middle of May next. In consequence of this resolution I gave Captain Clerke orders how to proceed in case of separation".

Death on the Discovery

The next day a storm blew up. Zimmerman recalled "On the third night every man was called to the deck; the boatswain, myself and four others were attempting to secure the tarpaulin by means of a strip of leather passed through a hole in the cloth because it threatened to tear out from constant friction with a roller over which it had to run. At that moment there arose such a terrific gust of wind that the blocks through which the ropes passed were completely tom out and by the impact of the latter we were tossed to a height one and one half times that of the deck. I was precipitated to the other side of the ship and should undoubtedly have fallen into the sea had I been thrown one foot further." According to William Harvey, midship-man on the Discovery, "In a heavy gust of wind, the fore & Main tacks gave way, which kill'd Jno McIntosh Seaman & very much hurt the Boatswn & others." Samwell added "John McIntosh the Captn's Servant was thrown down the forehatchway & killed on the Spot". The boatswain on the Discovery was Aneas Aitken. On 30th, Samwell continued, "Having had strong Gales of Wind for these four days past & being unable to get to the westward & weather the Island, to day we stood back… &… run through the Race or narrow passage which we had come through before… & to our satisfaction got into clear sea."

On 2nd November "the Wind Veered to the Southward and before night blew a Violent storm, which oblig'd us to bring to", wrote Cook. The Discovery "fired several guns, which we answered, but without knowing on what occasion they were fired. At 8 oClock we lost sight of her and did not see her again till 8 the next Morning. At 10 she joined us, and as the height of the gale was now over, and the Wind had veer'd back to WNW we made sail and resumed our course to the Southward." It was not until 7th that "there being but little wind, Captain Clerke came on board and informed me of a melancholy accident that happened on board his Ship… and that the Guns which he fired was the Signal to bring to."

The Passage South

On 9th Cook recorded "eight hours of Calm… succeeded by… fine Weather. As many people as could handle a sail Needle were set to work to repair the sails and the Carpenters to put the boats in order." Clerke had his crew "employed working up Junk, airing stores & making spun Yarn. The Carpenters repairing the Boats & the Sailmakers the Sails."

On 16th William Bayly, astronomer on the Discovery, "was confined to my Bed, by the busting of a small vessle in my Thigh. Consequently was not able to make any observations… I find the watch has altered its rate considerably - it gives the Longd too far west by two degrees at Least - During the time I was confined to my Bed Capt Clerke wound it up, daily, for me." He stayed in his bed until 25th December.

On 19th there was "a Squall of wind and rain" wrote Cook, which "increased to a very strong gale attended with rain, so as to bring us under double reefed top-sail. In lowering down the Main topsail to reef it was torn by the wind quite out of the foot rope and split in Several other parts; it had only been brought to the Yard the day before after having had a repair… I continued to steer to the Southward till daylight in the Morning of the 25th… I spread the Ships and steered to the west."

Arrival at the Hawaiian Group of Islands

According to William Ellis, Surgeon's second mate on the Discovery, they "were now in constant expectation of seeing land". And John Rickman, second lieutenant on the Discovery, noted "were then so much in want of provisions, that Capt. Clarke, much against his inclination, was under the necessity of substituting stock-fish in the room of beef".

"We fell in with a large Island", wrote Gilbert. It was Maui. "The interior parts are hilly but the shore is of a modrate height and has a very fertile and delightfull appearence".

Cook noted "the Country seemed to be both well wooded and Watered, the latter was seen falling into the Sea in several places. As it was of the last importance to procure a supply of provisions at these islands, and knowing from experience this could not be done if a free trade was allowed, that is every man allowed to trade for what he pleased, I therefore published an order prohibiting all persons from trading but such as should be appoint'd by e or Captain Clerke and these only for provisions and refreshments. Women were also forbid to be admited into the Ships, but under certain restrictions… Seeing some Canoes coming off to us I brought to".

According to Gilbert "The joy that we experienced on our arrival here is only to be conceived by ourselves or people under like circumstances; for after suffering excess of hunger and a number of other hardships most severly felt by us for the space of near ten months, we had now come into a delightfull climate were we had almost every thing we could wish for, in great profusion; and this luxury was still heightened by our having been at a shorter allowance of provisions this last passage than ever we was at before."

Clerke found the "first Man that came on board told me he knew the Ship very well & had been on board her at A'towi… & related some Anecdotes, which convinced me of his Veracity, so that this was renewing, rather than making acquaintance; and our former social feelings towards each other, immediately took place & operated to all our Satisfactions." Edgar recorded that "a Black Cat fell over Board & was Pick'd up by one of those Canoes About 2 Mile A Stern of the Ship, and Brought back to us for which the Captn Rewarded them with a Togy for their trouble." Toki was the Tahitian word for an adze or hatchet.

"Seeing no Harbour on this part of the Island", wrote Samwell, "the Ships lay to all day about 3 miles off Shore, trading with the Natives who came off in their Canoes in great Numbers… In the afternoon Ka-he-kere the King of this Island & of another which we saw to Leeward called Morotai came on board the Discovery in a large double Canoe attended by a large Train dressed in red feathered Cloaks and Caps… One of his attendants carried two iron Skewers or Daggers which we supposed they must have had from Ships who had touched here before us, but of this we could get no clear information from the Indians. Many young Women came along side & wanted much to come on board, making many lascivious Motions & Gestures, but as we lay under the forementioned restrictions in respect to our intercourse with them we could not as yet conveniently admit them into the Ships, for which they scolded us very smartly."

Cook "observed that the Ships drifted to windward; consequently there must have been a current seting in that direction. This incouraged me to ply to windward with a view to getting round the East end of the island and so have the hole lee side before us."

On 29th Edward Riou, midshipman on the Discovery, "heard that many of the natives had been complaining yesterday onboard the Resolution of the Venereal disease… & said a great many men & women were afflicted with it on Shore, and spoke of the Isle Atowi, as if we had left it at that place the Last year… it will appear it has been we ourselves that has entailed on these poor, Unhappy people an everlasting and Miserable plague."

Arrival at the Island of Hawai'i

The next day Cook "discovered another island to windward", the island of Hawai'i. On 1st December "I stood for it… The 2nd in the Morning we were surprised to see the summits of the highest [mountains] cover with snow; they did not appear to be of any extraordinary height and yet in some places the snow seemed to be of a considerable depth… As we drew near the shore, some of the Natives came off to use". Their canoes, wrote Henry Roberts, Master's mate on the Resolution, "throwing out white streamers, as emblems of peace".

According to Gilbert "we traided with them as usual till we had purchased provisions enough for five or six days, which we did in three or four hours… We then stood off about 5 or 6 Leagues from the Land and worked up along shore, to the SE keeping at that distance till our stock was expended; and then went in and traided for more… As we were not yet in want of water Capt Cook prefered this method of passing the time to going into a harbour as it was a great means of saving traid, of which he was apprehensive we should not have as much as we might have accasion for."

On the evening of the 4th Cook "observed an Eclipse of the Moon. Mr King made use of a night Telescope… and I made use of the Telescope of one of Ramsdans Sextants, which I think answers this purpose as well as any other… these observations were made only as an experiment without aiming at much niciety… Immediately after the Eclipse was over, we observed the distance of each limb of the Moon from Pollux to Arietis, the one being to the east and the other to the west. An oppertunity to observe under all these circumstances seldom happens, but when it does ought not to be omited".

A Disagreement over Refreshments

Upon arrival at the island group Ledyard had "very naturally supposed, that Cook's first object now would be to find a harbour, where our weather beaten ships might be repaired, and our fatigued crews receive the rewards due to their perseverance and toil through so great a piece of navigation as we had performed the last nine or ten months, but it was not so, and we continued laying off and on the north side of Mauwee, and particularly Owyhee until the 7th of December without any other supplies than what was brought off to us by the natives in their canoes some leagues from the shore. This conduct of the commander in chief was highly reprobated and at last remonstrated against by the people on board both ships, as it appeared very manifest that Cook's conduct was wholly influenced by motives of interest, to which he was evidently sacrificing not only the ships, but the healths and happiness of the brave [crew] men".

On the 7th, Cook "Having procured a quantity of Sugar Cane and had upon trial made but a few days before, found that a strong decoction of it made a very palatable beer, which was esteemed by every one on board, I ordered some more to be brewed, but when the Cask came to be broached not one of my Mutinous crew would even so much as taste it. As I had no montive for doing it but to save our spirit for a Colder climate, I gave my self no trouble either to oblige or persuaid them to drink it, knowing there was no danger of the Scurvy so long as we had plenty of other Vegetables; but that I might not be disapointed in my views I gave orders that no grog should be served in either Ship. My self and the Officers continued to make use of this beer whenever we could get cane to make it; a few hops, of which we had on board, was a great addition to it: it has the taste of new malt beer, and I beleive no one will d[o]ubt but it must be very wholesom, though my turbulent crew alleged it was injurious to their healths. They had no better reason to support a resolution they took on our first arrival in King Georges Sound, not to drink the spruce beer we made there, but whether from a consideration that this was no new thing or any other reason they did not attempt to carry their risolution into execution and I never heard of it till now. Every innovation whatever tho ever so much to their advantage is sure to meet with the highest disapprobation from Seamen, Portable Soup and Sour Krout were at first both condemned by them as stuff not fit for human being[s] to eat. Few men have introduced into their Ships more novelties in the way of victuals and drink than I have done; indeed few men have had the same oppertunity or been driven to the same necessity. It has however in a great measure been owing to such little innovations that I have always kept my people generally speaking free from that dreadful distemper the Scurvy."

Three days later John Watts, midshipman on the Resolution, commented "Since We have been among these Islands our Beer is finish'd. The Capn as a substitute bought a Quantity of Sugar Cane & made a Decoction of it, the People disliking it, remonstrated with ye Captn by Letter, at same time mentioning the scanty Allowance of Provisions serv'd them, which they thought might be increas'd where there was such Plenty & that bought for mere trifles. This Morning therefore ye Captn order'd the Hands aft, & told them, that it was the first time He had heard any thing relative to ye shortness of ye Allowance, that he thought they had had the same Quantity usually serv'd them at the other Islands, that if they had not enough, they should have more & that had He known it sooner, it should have been rectified. He likewise understood He said they would not drink the Decoction of Sugar Cane imagining it prejudicial to their Healths, he told them it was something extraordinary they should suppose the Decoction unwholesome when they could steal ye Sugar Cane & eat it raw without Scruple he continued to tell them that if they did not chuse to drink the Decoction he could not help it, they would be the Sufferers as they should have Grog every other day provided they drank ye Sugar Cane, but if not the Brandy Cask should be struck down into ye Hold & they might content themselves with Water, intimating to them that He did not chuse to keep turning & working among these Isles without having some Profit. He gave them 24 Hours to consider of it." The next day he added "In Consequence of the Ship's Company refusing to drink ye Decoction ye Brandy Cask was struck down into ye Hold." And the next day "Standing off & on. Punish'd Willm Griffiths, (Cooper) with 12 Lashes for starting ye Cask of Decoction which was sour. At the same time ye Captn address'd ye Ships Company, telling them He look'd upon their Letter as a very mutinous Proceeding & that in future they might not expect the least indulgence from him."

Attempting to Round the Eastern End of the Island

On 15th "the wind hapening to be at SEBS and SSE" Cook "thought [it]a good time to stretch to the Eastward in order to get round, or at least a sight of the SE end of the island." Fours days later "at one oclock in the morning it fell Calm and left us to the Mercy of a North easterly swell which hove us fast towards the land, so that long before day light we saw lights upon the Shore which was not more than a league distant. The night was dark with thunder, lightning and rain. At 3 the calm was succeeded by a breeze from the SEBE blowing in squals with rain; we stood to NE thinking it the best tack to clear the coast but had it been day-light we should have made choice of the other. At day- break the coast was seen extending from NBW to SWBW, a dreadfull surf broke upon the shore which was not more than half a league distant, it was evident we had been in the most eminent danger, nor were we yet out of danger; the wind veering more easterly so that for some time we did but just keep our distance from the coast. What made our situation more alarming was the leach rope of the Main topsail giving way, which was the occasion of the sail being rent in two and the two topgallant sails gave way in the same manner tho not half worn, by takeing a favourable oppertunity we soon got others to the yards and then we left the land a stern. The Discovery by being some distance to the North was never near the land, nor did we see her till 8 oclock."

Defective Naval Stores

Cook continued "On this occasion I cannot hilp observing, that I have always found that the bolt-ropes to our sails have not been of sufficient strength, or substance, to even half wear out the Canvas: this at different times has been the occasion of much expence of canvas and infinate trouble and vexation. Nor are the cordage and canvas or indeed hardly any other stores made use of in the Navy, of equal goodness with those in general used in the Merchant service, of this I had incontestable proof last voyage. When the Resolution was purchased for the King her standing rigging, some runing rigging, blocks and sails were also purchased along with her, and altho the most of these things had been in wear fourteen Months yet they wore longer than any of those of the same kind put on board new out of the Kings stores. The fore rigging are yet over the mast head, the brace blocks and some others in equal use still in their places and as good as ever. And yet on my return home last voyage these very blocks were condemned by the yard officers and thrown amongst other decayed blocks from which they permited my Boatswain to select them when the ship was again fited out. These evils are likely never to be redressed, for besides the difficulty of procuring stores for the Crown of equal goodness with [those] purchased by private people for their own use, it is a general received opinion amongst Naval officers of all ranks that no stores are equal in goodness to those of the Crown and that no ships are found like those of the Navy. In the latter they are right but it is in the quantity and not in the quallity of the stores, this last is seldom tried, for things are generally Condemned or converted to some other use by such time as they are half wore out. It is only on such Voyages as these we have an oppertunity to make the trial where every thing is obliged to be worn to the very utmost."

On 23rd Edgar "saw three very large Sharks about, the Men & Women Swimming too & from the Ship at the same time About ½ past 11 a large shark attackd A man in the water, as Soon as he saw him Opening his Mouth & turning on his Side to lay hold of his Thigh he struck him on the Head with His Hand. Immediately the shark swam off. the Man who was rather Elderly seem'd very much alarm'd for a little time altho many Indians saw this and Made a Hallowing at the time, the[y] do not seem to fear them as they Keptd swimming abt as if there had been None seen."

That day King "lost sight of the Discovery, & at Midnight did not see her when we wore, but as it was expect'd we should meet her no signal was made, we therefore judge that she has stood on to the Noward till Daylight, as we do not yet see her. Of late we have so often lost sight of one another, & have never made Signals depending upon meeting together in the Day time when fine Weather, as both Ships are trying to work to Win[d]ward of the East point, which made us neglect signals".

On 23rd Samwell recorded "Several Canoes came off to us with Provisions. One Indian happening to be between Decks when they went ashore in the Dusk of the Evening was left behind, & so was obliged to take up his Quarters with us till we should have an Opportunity of sending him ashore". Two days later "being Christmas Day it was kept by the People according to ancient usage from time immemorial. At night there was a general battle among them between Decks and the poor Indian was hemmed in in the thickest of them; one of the Gentn seeing him, with great difficulty got him out. The poor fellow was in the utmost Terror & apprehension tho' no one had offered to touch him; as it is natural to suppose, such a Scene of Uproar & Confusion must strike him, & he no doubt looked upon them all, as a parcell of Madmen", 225 years ago.

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 23, volume 26, number 4 (2003).

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Surf in the winter time off Maui's North Coast is exactly as depicted in Captain Cook's log.

Great reading I enjoyed it immensely.

By Timothy O'Toole on 1/9/2018 8:35:44 AM Like:0 DisLike:0

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