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October - December 1769


On 3 October, 1769, Endeavour was sailing west in latitude 36° 56′ South.  Cook knew from the maps he had with him that he would find either the Great Southern Continent or the land previously found by Abel Tasman in 1642, known as New Zeland.


Joseph Banks described the scene in the Great Cabin.  “Now do I wish that our freinds in England could by the assistance of some magical spying glass take a peep at our situation: Dr Solander setts at the Cabbin table describing, myself at my Bureau Journalizing, between us hangs a large bunch of sea weed, upon the table lays the wood and barnacles; they would see that notwithstanding our different occupations our lips move very often, and without being conjurors might guess that we were talking about what we should see upon the land which there is now no doubt we shall see very soon”.


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, 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, as she crossed 180° longitude on 7 October, 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.


New Zealand Sighted


On 6 October, Banks wrote,“At ½ past one a small boy who was at the mast head Calld out Land.  I was luckyly upon deck and well I was entertaind, within a few minutes the cry circulated and up came all hands, this land could not then be seen even from the tops yet few were there who did not plainly see it from the deck till it appeard that they had lookd at least 5 points wrong”.


Sydney Parkinson, the artist, wrote in his journal “About two o’clock in the afternoon one of our people, Nicholas Young, the surgeon’s boy, descried a point of land, of New Zealand, from the starboard bow, at about nine leagues distance, bearing W and by N we bore up to it and, at sunset, we had a good view of it.  The land was high, and it appeared like an island.  We regaled ourselves in the evening upon the occasion; the land was called Young Nick’s Head, and the boy received his reward”.  According to Robert Molyneux, the ship’s master, Nicholas Young was “a boy abt 12 Years of age”.  He had probably sighted not the land named after him, but some high inland hills.


First Contacts


“At day light” on 7 October, wrote Cook, “made sail in for the land... At 5 PM seeing the opening of a Bay that appear’d to run pretty far inland, hauled our wind and stood in for it, but as soon as night came on we kept plying on and off”.  Banks wrote “in many parts 3, 4 and 5 ranges of hills are seen one over the other and a chain of Mountains over all, some of which appear enormously high.  Much difference of opinion and many conjectures about Islands, rivers, inlets &c, but all hands seem to agree that this is certainly the Continent we are in search of”.


In the evening of 8 October, Cook “went a shore with a party of men in the Pinnace and yawl accom­paned by Mr Banks and Dr Solander.  We land[ed]... but seeing some of the natives on the other side of the river whome I was desirous of speaking with and finding that we could not ford the river I order’d the yawl in to carry us over and the Pinnace to lay at the entrance.  In the mean time the Indians made off; however we went as far as their hutts which lay about 2 or 3 hundred yards from the water side leaving four boys to take care of the yawl, which we had no sooner left than four men came out of the woods on the other side the river and would certainly have cut her off, had not the people in the pinnace discover’d them and called to her to drop down the stream which they did being closely pursued by the Indians; the Coxswain of the pinnace who had the charge of the Boats, seeing this fire’d two musquets over their heads, the first made them stop and look round them, but the 2d they took no notice off upon which a third was fired and killed one of them upon the spot just as he was going to dart his spear at the boat; at this the other three stood motionless for a minute or two, seemingly quite surprised wondering no doubt what it was that had thus killed their commorade: but as soon as they recover’d themselves they made off draging the dead body a little way and then left it. Upon our hearing the report of the Musquets we immidiatly repair’d to the boats and after viewing the dead body we return’d on board”.


The following morning Cook “seeing a number of the natives at the same place where we saw them last night, I went a shore with the boats, man’d and arm’d and landed on the opposite side of the river; Mr Banks, Dr Solander, and my self at first only landed and went to the side of the river, the natives being got together on the opposite side. We call’d to them in the Georges Island [Tahitian] Language, but they answered us by florishing their Weapons over their heads and danceing, as we suppos’d the war dance”.  Lieutenant John Gore described it.  “About an hundred of the Natives all Arm’d came down on the opposite side of the Salt River, drew themselves up in lines.  Then with a Regular Jump from Left to Right and the Reverse, They brandish’d Their Weapons, distort’d their Mouths, Lolling out their Tongues and Turn’d up the Whites of their Eyes Accompanied with a strong hoarse song, Calculated in my opinion to Chear Each Other and Intimidate their Enemies, and may be call’d perhaps with propriety A Dancing War Song.  It lasted 3 or 4 minutes”.


“Tupia”, wrote Banks “found that the language of the people was so like his own that he could tolerably well understand them and they him.  He immediately began to tell them that we wanted provisions and water for which we would give them Iron in exchange: they agreed to the proposal but would by no means lay by their arms which he desird them do: this he lookd upon as a sign of treachery and continualy told us to be upon our guard for they were not our freinds....  After some time Mr Green in turning himself about exposd his hanger [sword], one of them immediately snatchd it, set up a cry of exultation and waving it round his head retreated gently.  It now appeard nescessary for our safeties that so daring an act should be instantly punishd, this I pronouncd aloud as my opinion, the Captn and the rest Joind me on which I fird my musquet which was loaded with small shot”.  The surgeon, William Monkhouse (or Munkouse) also fired, and the Maori dropped dead. 


Cook decided they should “row round the head of the Bay in search of fresh water; and if possible to surprise some of the natives and to take them on board and by good treatment and presents endeavour to gain their friendship”.  They did so, and three youths were “brought on board, where they were clothed and treated with all immaginable kindness and to the surprise of every body became at once as cheerful and as merry as if they had been with their own friends; they were all three young, the eldest not above 20 years of age and the youngest about 10”.


Banks wrote, “Thus ended the most disagreable day My life has yet seen, black be the mark for it and heaven send that such may never return to embitter future reflection”.


Cook’s comment was “I am aware that most humane men who have not experienced things of this nature will cencure my conduct in fireing upon the people in this boat nor do I my self think that the reason I had for seizing upon her will att all justify me, and had I thought that they would have made the least resistance I would not have come near them, but as they did I was not to stand still and suffer either my self or those that were with me to be knocked on the head”.


The young men were returned to shore the following day.


The Naming of Poverty Bay


On 11 October, Cook “weigh’d and stood out of the Bay which I have named Endeavour Bay”.  This name was then crossed out, and replaced with “Poverty Bay because it afforded us no one thing we wanted”.  Molyneux noted that it was given this name “as it neither Furnish’d us with Provisions or water tho I believe both might be had at the SW side of the Bay where the country seems populous”.


Banks wrote “We took our leave of Poverty bay with not above 40 species of Plants in our boxes, which is not to be wonderd at as we were so little ashore and always upon the same spot; the only time we wanderd about a mile from the boats was upon a swamp where not more than 3 species of Plants were found”.  Daniel Solander later described 61 species collected at Poverty Bay.


A few hours later Cook wrote “At Noon the SW Point of Poverty Bay (which I have named Young Nicks head after the Boy who first saw this land) bore NBW distant 3 or 4 Leagues, being at this time a bout 3 Miles from the shore and had 25 fathom, the Main land extending from NEBN to South.  My intention is to fowlow the direction of the Coast to the Southward as far as the Latitude of 40° or 41° and then to return to the northward”.


In the afternoon “several Canoes came off to the Ship but kept at a distance untill one who appear’d to come from a different part came off and put along side at once and after her all the rest.  The people in this boat had heard of the treatment those had met with we had had on board before and therefore came on board without hesitation.  They were all kindly treated and very soon enter’d into a traffick with our people for George Island [Tahitian] Cloth &ca giving in exchange their paddles (having little else to dispose of) and hardly left themselves a Sufficient number to paddle a shore, nay the People in one Canoe after disposing of the Paddles offer’d to sell the Canoe”.  One person sold Banks “his patoo patoo as he calld it, a short weapon... intended doubtless for fighting hand to hand and certainly well contrivd for splitting sculls as it weigh[s] not less than 4 or 5 pounds and has sharp edges excellently polishd”.


Probably drawn on 12 October when several Maori were in Endeavour.  Sydney Parkinson wrote, “Their faces were tattow­ed, or marked either over all over, or on one side, in a very curious manner”.  Spöring was clerk to Banks and Solander, producing many coastal drawings.


As Endeavour sailed south, Cook “named Cape Table on account of its shape and figure” and a small island “I have named Isle of Portland on account of its very great resemblance to Portland in the English Channell...  In hauling round the south end of Portland we fell into shoal water and broken ground which we however soon got clear of”.  Banks commented “the ship on a sudden came into very broken ground which alarmd us all a good deal; the officers all behavd with great steadyness and in a very short time we were clear of all dangers”.


Cape Kidnappers


On 15th October, “several canoes came of with netts and other fishing implements in them; they came along side with a little invitation and offerd to trade, we gave them Otahite cloth for their fish which they were excessively fond of, often snatching it from one another.  With us they dealt tolerably fairly tho they sometimes cheated us by bargaining for one thing and sending up another when they had got their prise” wrote Banks.  “The little Tayeto, Tupias boy, was employd with several more to stand over the side and reach up what was bought: while he was doing this one of the men in a canoe seizd him and draggd him down, 2 then held him in the fore part of the Canoe and three more in her paddled off as did all the other boats.  The marines were in arms upon deck, they were orderd to fire into the Canoe which they did; at length one man dropd, the others on seeing this loosd the boy who immediately leapd into the water and swam towards the ship...  Our boat was lowerd down and took up the boy frigh[te]ned enough but not at all hurt”.


“This affair”, said Cook “occation’d my giveing this point of Land the name of Cape Kidnappers”, and “this Bay I have name’d Hawke’s Bay in honour of Sr Edward first Lord of the Admiralty”.  When Endeavour left England, Admiral Sir Edward Hawke was First Sea Lord.  He was replaced on 12 January, 1771, by John Montagu, the Earl of Sandwich. 


Return to the Northward


By 17 October, Endeavour was at latitude 40° 34′ South.  Cook, “seeing no likelyhood of meeting with a harbour and the face of the Country Vissibly altering for the worse I thought that the standing farther to the South would not be attended with any Valuable discovery, but would be loosing of time which might be better employ’d and with a greater probabillity of Success in examining the Coast to the Northward; with this View at 1PM we tacked and stood to the Northward... The Bluff head or high point of land we were abreast off at noon, I have calld Cape Turnagain because here we returnd”.


The next afternoon “a boat or Canoe came off from the Shore wherein was were five people. They came on board without shewing the least sign of fear and insisted upon staying with us the whole night...  to prevent them playing us any tricks I hoisted thier Canoe up along side: two appear'd to be chiefs, and the other three their servants...  Notwithstanding that these people had heard of the treatment the others had met with who had been on board before, yet it appear’d a little strange that they should place so much confidence in us as to put themselves wholy in our power wether we would or no, especially as the others we had meet with in this Bay had upon every occation beheaved in a quite a different manner”.


Anaura Bay


On 20 October, Cook “made sail in shore in order to look into two Bays that appear’d... the southermost we could not fetch, but in the other we anchor’d about 11 oClock in 7 fathom water a black sandy bottom...  In the Evening ... we landed and found 2 small streams of fresh water and the natives to all appearences very friendly and peaceable, on which account I resolved to stay one day at least to fill a little water and to give Mr Banks an oppertunity to Collect a little of the produce of the Country”.  The next morning “Lieutt Gore went ashore to super­intend the watering with a strong party of men, but the geting the Casks off was so very difficult on account of the surff, that it was near noon before one turn came on board”.


According to Banks, he and Solander “rangd all about the bay and were well repaid by finding many plants and shooting some most beautifull birds; in doing this we visited several houses and saw a little of their customs, for they were not at all shy of shewing us any thing we desird to see... In the evening all the boats being employd in carrying on board water we were likely to be left ashore till after dark; the loss of so much time in sorting and putting in order our specimens was what we did not like so we applied to our freinds the Indians for a passage in one of their Canoes.  They readily launchd one for us, but we in number 8 not being usd to so ticklish a convenience overset her in the surf and were very well sousd; 4 then were obligd to remain and Dr Solander, Tupia, Tayeto and myself embarkd again and came without accident to the ship well pleasd with the behaviour of our Indian freinds who would the second time undertake to carry off such Clumsy fellows”.


The following day, Banks continued, “the surf being so great on the shore that water was got with great difficulty made the Captn resolve to leave the bay this morn, which he did tho the wind was foul so the whole day was spent in turning to windward”.  According to Cook “This Bay is called by the Natives Tegadoo”.  That word is a misunderstand­ing, as the bay is called Anaura.  Possibly he mistook Te ngaru (breaking waves).


Tolaga Bay


On 23 October, Cook “found ourselves gone backwards...  Several canoes came alon[g]side and told us that there was a small bay to leward of us where we might anchor in safety and land in the boats without a surf where there was fresh water; we followed their directions and they soon brought us into a bay called Tolaga where at 1 we anchord.  Many Canoes came from the shore and all traded for fish, curiosities &c. very honestly. After dinner we went ashore and found as they had told us a small cove where the boat might land without the least surf, and water near it, so the Captn resolved to wood and water here”.  It is now called Cook’s Cove.


The next day, Cook “sent Lieutenant Gore a Shore to superintend the Cuting Wood and filling of Water with a Sufficient number of men for both purposes and all the Marines as a guard; after breakfast I went my self and remain’d there the whole day, but before this Mr Green and I took several observations of the Sun and Moon”.  In the afternoon he “set up the Armourer’s Forge to repair the Tiller braces, they being broke; by night we had got on board 12 Ton of water and two or three boat loads of wood, and this I looked upon to be a good days work”.  The ship’s armourer was Robert Taylor.  


Banks continued, “This morn Dr Solander and myself went ashore botan[i]zing and found many new plants...  In pursuing a valley bounded on each side by steep hills we on a sudden saw a most noble arch or Cavern through the face of a rock leading directly to the sea, so that through it we had not only a view of the bay and hills on the other side but an opportunity of imagining a ship or any other grand object opposite to it.  It was certainly the most magnificent surprize I have ever met with, so much is pure nature superior to art in these cases: I have seen such places made by art where from an appearance totaly inland you was led through an arch 6 feet wide and 7 high to a prospect of the sea, but here was an arch 25 yards in lengh, 9 in breadth and at least 15 in hight”.


On 25 October, Banks “Went ashore this morn and renewd our searches for plants &c. with great success.  In the mean time Tupia who staid with the waterers had much conversation with one of their preists; they seemd to agree very well in their notions of religion only Tupia was much more learned than the other and all his discourse was heard with much attention.  He askd them in the course of his conver­sation with them many questions, among the rest whether or no they realy eat men which he was very loth to beleive; they answered in the affirmative saying that they eat the bodys only of those of their enemies who were killd in war”.  The next day “it raind without intermission so hard that... neither Dr Solander or myself could go ashore”.  The next day, “Dr Solander went with the Captn to examine the bottom of the bay, myself went ashore at the watering place to collect Plants...  among other nicknacks he bought of a boys top shap’d like what boys play with in England which they made signs was to be whippd in the same manner; he found also several new plants. Myself found some plants”.  During their stay at Tolaga Bay, the naturalists collected 158 species of plants, many new to science.


Cook was also interested in plants, writing “some hands were employ’d picking of Sellery to take to sea with us, this is found here in great plenty and I have caused it to be boild with Portable Soup and Oatmeal every morning for the Peoples breakfast, and this I design to continue as long as it will last or any is to be got — because I look upon it to be very wholesome and a great Antiscorbutick”. 


The Easternmost land on this whole Coast


On 29 October, “At 4 AM Unmoor’d and at 6 Weigh’d and put to sea”, wrote Cook.  The ship sailed on north passing a “Point of land I have called East Cape because I have great reason to think that it is the Easternmost land on this whole Coast... Four Leagues to the westward of East Cape is a Bay which I have named Hicks’s Bay because Lieutt Hicks was the first who discover’d it”. Zachary Hicks was a 2nd lieutenant, whilst Cook was a 1st lieutenant.


As Endeavour sailed along the coast, Cook named “Mount Edgcomb”, now Mount Edgecumbe, and “a Cluster of small Islands... we named the Court of Aldermen” after the aldermen of the city of London.  According to Banks they “entertaind ourselves some time with giving names to each of them from their resemblance, thick and squat or lank and tall, to some one or other of those respectable citizens”.


On 3 November, Cook “saw a large opening or inlet in the land which we bore up for with an intent to come to an Anchor”. 


Mercury Bay


Cook’s “reasons for puting in here were the hopes of discovering a good Harbour and the disire I had of being in some convenient place to observe the Transit of Mercury which happens on the 9th Instant and will be wholly Visible here if the day is clear.  If we should be so fortunate as to Obtain this Observation the Longitude of this place and Country will thereby be very accuratly determined”.


Over the next few days Banks shot at birds, Endeavour’s men hauled the seine net and dredged for fish, cut wood, and got water on board.  Cook wrote “found here great quantity of sellery which is boild every day for the Ships Compney as usual”.


On 9 October, wrote Banks, “the astronomer went on shore to Observe the transit of Mercury which he did without the smallest cloud intervening to Obstruct him, a fortunate circumstance as except yesterday and today we have not had a clear day for some time”.  According to Cook “At 8 Mr Green and I went on Shore with our Instruments to Observe the Transit of Mercury which came on at 7h 20' 58" Apparent time and was Observed by Mr Green only.  I at this time was taking the Suns Altitude in order to Asertain the time”.


The following day Cook “went with two Boats accompanid by Mr Banks and the other gentlemen into the River which empties it self into the head of this Bay in order to examine it”.  Banks found “A tree in the neighbourhood on which were many shaggs nests and old shaggs setting by them confirmed our resolution; an attack was consequently made on the Shaggs and about 20 soon killd and as soon broild and eat, every one declaring that they were excellent food as indeed I think they were.  Hunger is certainly most excellent sauce, but since our fowls and ducks have been gone we find ourselves able to eat any kind of Birds (for indeed we throw away none) without even that kind of seasoning.  Fresh provision to a seaman must always be most acceptable if he can get over the small prejudices which once affected several in this ship, most or all of whoom are now by vertue of good example completely curd.  Our repast ended we proceeded down the river again”.


The next day an oyster bank was found with “as good oysters as ever came from Colchester [in Essex] and about the same size.  They were laid down under the booms and employd the ships company very well who I verily think did nothing but Eat from the time they came on board till night, by which time a large part were expended”.


On 12 November, Banks wrote “After breakfast we all went ashore to see an Indian Fort or Eppah in the neighbourhood...  We went to a bay where were two, we landed first near a small one the most beautifuly romantick thing I ever saw...  One of the Young men at our desire went up to shew their method of fighting and another went to the outside of the ditch to act assailant”. 


Cook “intended to put to sea in the morning if wind and weather will permit”.  Unfortunately, the next day “the wind at SE with rainy dirty hazey weather which continued all day, so that I could not think of sailing, but thought myself very happy in being in a good port. Saml Jones seaman having been confined on Saturday last for refuseing to come upon deck when all hands were called and afterwards refuse’d to comply with the orders of the officer on deck, he was this morning punished with 12 lashes and remited back to confinement”.


It was not until 15 November that Cook “weigh’d with a light breeze at West and clear weather, and made sail out of the Bay steering NE... the Bay Saild from which I have named Mercury Bay on accot of the observn be[ing] made there...  Before we left this Bay we cut out upon one of the trees near the watering place, the Ships Name, date &ca and after displaying the English Colours I took formal posession of the place in the name of His Majesty”.


During their stay at Mercury Bay, the naturalists collected 214 species of plants.


On 18 November, Cook pass[ed] a small Bay wherein there appear’d to Anchorage and pretty good shelter from the sea winds...  4  Miles farther to the west N West is a very conspicuous promontory or Point of land...  From this point the land trends W½ S, near one League then SSE as far as we could see...  we hauled round the point and Steer’d to the Southward”.  The bay was named Port Charles on his chart.  He named the promontory Cape Colville, after Alexander Colville, Lord Colville of Culross, who was the Rear-Admiral under whom Cook had served in Newfoundland.


River Thames


On 19 November, Cook “set out with the Pinnace and Long boat accompaned by Mr Banks, Dr Solander and Tupia. We found the Bay inlet end in a River [the Waihou] about 9 Miles above the Ship, into which we enterd... we landed on the West side in order to take a View of the lofty Trees which adorne its banks, being at this time 12 or 14 Miles within the entrance and here the tide of flood run as strong as it doth in the River Tham[e]s below bridge...  we found a tree that girted 19 feet 8 Inches, 6 feet above the Ground, and having a quadrant with me I found its length from the root to the first branch to be 89 feet...  We saw many others of the same sort several of which was half as long again were taller than the one we measured and all of them very stout; there were likewise many other sorts of very stout timber-trees all of them wholy unknown to any of us.  We... named this River the Thames on account of its bearing some resemblence to that river in england”.


According to Banks “We rowd for the ship as fast as we could but nigh[t] overtook us before we could get w[i]th[i]n some miles of it”.  He continued “Before daybreak we set out again.  It still blew fresh with mizling rain and fog so that it was an hour after day before we got a sight of the ship.  However we made shift to get on board by 7 tird enough”. 


On 22 November, Cook “went in the Pinnace over to the western shore but found their neither inhabitants or any thing else worthy of note.  At the time I left the Ship a good ma[n]y of the natives were along side and on board trafficking with our people for such trifles as they had and seem’d to behave as will as people could do, but one of them took the half hour glass out of the Bitticle and was caught in the very fact and for which Mr Hick[es], who was the Commanding officer, brought him to the gang way and gave him a Dozn lashes with a Catt of nine tails.  The rest of the people seem’d not displeased at it when they came to know what it was for, and one old man beat the fellow after he had got into his Canoe”.


Endeavour sailed slowly north, hampered by lack of wind.  On 24 November, Cook “had no sooner come to an Anchor then we caught between 90 and a hundred Breams, (a fish so called) this occationed my giveing this place the Name of Bream Bay... This Bay may likewise be known by some small Islands laying before it call’d the Hen & Chikens one of which is pretty high and terminates at top in two peeks”.


On 26 November, Cook “At 3 [PM] pass’d the point of land... which I have named Cape Brett in honour of Sr Percy... at the very point of the Cape is a high round hillock and NEBN near one Mile from this is a small high Island or Rock with a hole perced quite thro’ it like the Arch of a Bridge and this was one reason why I gave the Cape the above name because Piercy seem’d very proper for that of the Island...  On the west side of Cape Brett is a large and pretty Deep Bay... in which there appear’d to be several small Islands.  The point that forms the NW entrence I have named Point Pococke”.  Cape Brett was named after Rear-Admiral Sir Piercy Brett, one of the three lords of the Admiralty who had signed Cook’s secret instructions.  Point Pocock was named after Vice-admiral Sir George Pocock.


During their stay in the Thames area, the natural­ists collected 40 species of plants.


On 28 November, “A Fresh breeze from the Westward all this day which being right in our teeth we kept beating to wind ward with all the sail we could crowd but instead of gaining we lost ground” to Cook’s frustration.  The next day he gave up fighting the wind, “finding that we lost ground every board we made, I thought I could not do better then to bear up for the Bay which lies the to the Westward of Cape Bret, it being at this time not above 2 Leagues to leeward of us, for by puting into that Bay there we shall should gain some knowlidge of it”.


Bay of Islands


The next day, Cook anchored Endeavour off Roberton Island (Motuarohia Island).  According to Banks they were in “a most spatious and well shelterd harbour or rather collection of harbours almost innumerable formd by Islands”. 


“I went with the Pinnace and yawl Man’d and Arm’d and landed upon the Island accompan’d by Mr Banks and Dr Solander.  We had scarce landed before... we were surrounded by 2 or 3 hundred people, and notwithstanding that they were all arm’d they came upon us in such a confused Stragleing manner that we hardly suspected that the[y] meant us any harm, but in this we were very soon undeceaved for upon our indeavouring to draw a line on the sand between us and them they set up the war dance and immidiatly some of them attempted to seize the two Boats; being disapointed in this they next attempted to break in upon us upon which I fired a Musquet load[ed] with small shott at one of the forwardest of them and Mr Banks and 2 of the men fired immidiatly after...  they were at last intirely dispersed by the Ship fire[ing] a few shott over their heads...  In this skirmish only one or two of them was hurt with small Shott, for I avoided killing any one of them as much as possible and for that reason withheld our people from fireing”.


According to Banks “After this we went into the boats and rowd to another Cove in the same Island near which was a high hill from whence we might have a good view of the bay.  We climbd up it and from thence saw that the bay we were in was indeed a most surprizing place: it was full of an innumerable quantity of Islands forming as many harbours, which must be as smooth as mill pools as they Landlock one another numberless times.  Every where round us we could see large Indian towns, houses and cultivations”.


On 30 November, Cook “order’d Mathw Cox, Henry Stevens and Manl Paroyra to be punished with a dozn lashes each for leaving thier duty when a shore last night and diging up Potatoies out of one of the Plantations, the first of the three I remited back to confinement because he insisted that their was no harm in what he had done”.  On the following day, Cook “Punished Mathw Cox with half a Dozn lashes and then dismissed him”.


On 2 December, “Between 12 and 4 AM the Gunner having the Charge of the watch, he together with Alexr Simpson, Richd Littleboy and [Thomas Rossiter] found means to take, took out of the Spirit Cask on the quarter deck between 10 and 12 Gallons of Rum being the whole that was in the Cask they were caught in the very fact and part of the Rum was found in the Gunners Cabbin.  The three men I punished with 12 lashes each, but as to the Gunner who really deserved the whole upon his back is from his Drunkenness become the only useless person on board the Ship”.  The Gunner was Stephen Forwood.


The next day Cook wrote “sent two Boats to Sound the harbour and one to haul the Sain [seine net], the latter of which met with very little succes”.  In the afternoon “Mr Banks, Dr Solander and my self landed upon one of the Islands on the north side of the one the Ship lays under”.  It was Moturua.


On 5 December, Cook “weigh’d with a light breeze at SE, but had Variable light airs and sometimes calm untill near noon when a gentle breeze sprung up at North—at this time we had not got out of the Bay... I have named it the Bay of Islands on account of the great number which line its shores and these help to form several safe and Commodious harbours where in is room and depth of water sufficient for any number of Shipping... I have made no accurate survey of this Bay, the time it would have required to have done this discouraged me from attempting of it”.


During their stay in the Bay of Islands, the natural­ists collected 85 species of plants.


Nearly Shipwrecked


According to Banks “About 10 at night as we were going through the outer heads [all] on a sudden we wer[e] becalmd so that the ship would neither wear nor stay: in a moment an eddy tide took hold of us and hustled us so fast towards the land that before the Officers resolvd what was best to be done the ship was within a Cables lengh of the breakers, we had 13 fathom water but the ground so foul that they dar’d not drop an anchor.  The eddy now took another turn and set her along shore opening another bay but we were too near the rocks to trust to that: the pinnace was orderd to be hoisted out in an instant to take the ship in tow, Every man in her was I beleive sensible of the Danger we were in so no one spard to do his best to get her out fast.  The event however shewd how liable such situations must be to Confusion: they lowered down too soon and she stuck upon a gun: from this she must be thrust by main force, in doing which they had almost ove[r]set her which would have tumbled out her oars: no man thought of running in the gun: at last that was done and she was afloat, her crew was soon in her and she went to her duty.  A faint breeze of wind now sprung up off the land and with that and towing she to our great Joy got head way again...


“We were all happy in our breeze and fine clear moonlight; myself went down to bed and sat upon my cott undressing myself when I felt the ship strike upon a rock... before I could get there the danger was over; fortunately the rock was to wind ward of us so she went off without the least damage and we got into the proper channel, where the officers who had examind the bay declard there to be no hidden dangers—much to our satisfation as the almost certainty of being eat as soon as you come ashore adds not a little to the terrors of shipwreck”.


Doubtless Bay


Endeavour sailed north.  On 9 December, Cook was off “a deep Bay... the bottom of which we could but just see see and there the land appear’d to be low and level...  This Bay I have named Doubtless Bay.  The wind not permiting us to look into this Bay we steer’d for the westermost land we had in sight”.  The following day he could see “a high mountain or hill standing upon a disart [desert] shore on which account we call’d it Mount Camel... the Soil to all appearence nothing but white sand thrown up in low irregular hills lying in narrow ridges parrallel with the Shore: this ocasioned Mr Banks to give it the name it Sandy bay”.  The bay’s name was changed in 1851 to Great Exhibition Bay.


Rounding the Top of New Zealand


As Endeavour neared North Cape, the weather could be calm.  On 11 December, Cook recorded “Gentle breezes at NW and pleasent weather. Kept plying all this day, but got very little to windward”.  Banks praised the ship, “we turnd [tacked] all day without loosing any thing, much to the credit of our old Collier, who we never fail to praise if she turns as well as this”.  Two days later, “heavy squalls attended with rain... split the Main topsail in such a manner that it was necessary to unbend it and bring another to the yard...  At Noon had strong gales and hazey weather—tack’d and stood to the westwd.  No land in sight, for the first time sence we have been upon the Coast” of New Zealand.  In the evening, Cook “brought the ship under her Courses having first split the fore and Mizn Topsails”.  The next day he “Set the Topsails close reef’d and the people to work to dry and repair the damaged sails”.  


On 14 December, Cook “Saw land bearing SW being the same North-Westermost land we have seen before and which I take to be the northern extremity of this Country as we have now a large swell rowling in from the westward which could not well be was we covered by any land on that point of the compass”.  Banks agreed, “a heavy swell from the west made us almost conclude that there was no land to the Northward of us”.


The next day, Cook “stood to the westward with as much sail as the Ship could bear”.  The next day, he “got topgt yards up and set the sails, unbent the foresail to repair and brought a nother to the yard”.  And, on the next day “the people at work repairing the Sails, the most of them having been split in the late blowing weather”.  John Ravenhill was the sailmaker in charge.


On 18 December, Cook named the land they could see “North Cape judgeing it to be the northern extremity of this Country”.  Banks spotted some­thing.  “On a rock pretty near us an Indian fort was seen through our glasses which we all thought was encircled with a mud wall; if so tis the only one of the kind we have seen”. 


Two days later, Banks had “hopes of a fair wind in the morn but they soon left us and it began to blow hard with violent claps of thunder, on which we again stood out to sea”.  The following day there was “a great swell from the West”.  On the next day “the wind has come more to the Southward so that we cannot come in with the land at all”.


Christmas Time


On Christmas Eve Cook saw land “bearing SSE distant 8 Leagues... It proves to be a small Island which we take to be the Three Kings discover’d by Tasman: there are several smaller Islands or Rocks lying off the SW end and one at the NE end”.  It was, wrote Banks, “Calm most of the Day: myself in a boat shooting in which I had good success, killing cheifly several Gannets or Solan Geese so like Europaean ones that they are hardly distinguishable from them.  As it was the humour of the ship to keep Christmas in the old fashiond way it was resolvd of them to make a Goose pye for tomorrows dinner”.


On Christmas Day “Our Goose pye was eat with great approbation and in the Evening all hands were as Drunk as our forefathers usd to be upon the like occasion”.  Not surprisingly, the following day “all heads achd with yesterdays debauch”.  Cook did not record the meal in his journal. 


On 30 December, Cook “wore and stood to the SE and being pretty moderate we set the Topsails close reef’d, but the SW Sea runs so high that the Ship goes boddily to leeward.  At 6 Saw the land bearing NE distant about 6 Leagues which we judge to be the same as Tasman calls Cape Maria van Diemen”.  


Ian Boreham


Originally published in Cook's Log, page 20, volume 42, number 4 (2019).

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