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24 October, 1770


On 24 October, 1770, James Cook wrote “In the Morning the General accompanied by the Water Fiscall [a police officer], some of the Councel and the Commodore each in their Respective boats went out into the Road on board the Oldest Captain in order to appoint him Commodore of the Fleet ready to Sail for Holland. The Ships were drawn up in two lines between which the General past to the New Commodores Ship which lay the farthest out. Each Ship as he past and repast gave him 3 Cheers and as soon as he was on board and the Dutch flag hoisted at the Main Topmast head, the other Commodore Saluted him with 21 Guns and emmidiatly after struck his Broad Pendant, which was again hoisted as soon as the General left the other Ship, he was then saluted by with 17 Guns by the new made Commodore who now hoisted a Common pendant. This Ceremony of apointing a Commodore over the Grand fleet, as they call it, we were told is Yearly perform'd. I went out in my Boat on purpose to see it accompaned by Mr Banks and Dr Solander because we were told that it was one of the grandest sights Batavia afforded, that may be too and yet it did not recompence us for our trouble. I thought the whole was but ill conducted and the fleet appear'd to be very badly man'd. This Fleet consists of 10 or 12 Sail of Stout Ships; not only these but all or most of their other Ships are perced [pierced] for 50 Guns, but have only their upper tier Mounted and these are more by half than they have men to fight... In the Evening I sent the Admiralty Packet on board the Kronenburg Capt Fredrick Kelger, Commodore who together with a nother Ship sails emmidiatly for the Cape where he waits for the remainder of the fleet”.


It was possibly this day that Joseph Banks wrote “Batavia, the capital of the Duch Dominions in India, and Generaly esteemd to be by much the finest town of those in the possession of Europeans in these parts, is situated in a low fenny plain where several small rivers which take their rise in the mountains calld Blaes Berg, about 40 miles inland, empty themselves into the sea... Few streets in the town are without canals of a considerable breadth running through, or rather stagnating in them, which canals are continued for several miles round the town, and with 5 or 6 rivers, some of which are navigable 30, 40, or maybe many more miles into the inland countrey”.

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