Captain James Cook 6
Continued on from Captain Cook Part 5
Captain James Cook draws up a route that he intends to take to find the great southern land. His real agenda is to chart the islands of the Pacific Ocean. He knows that there is no southern land. The ships for the next voyage are readied and he once again sails for the other side of the world, maybe never to return. Once again, James Cook leaves Plymouth with two ships, the Resolution and the Adventure. Cook is to make studies of latitude and longitude. In geographical terms, the zero longitude point is at Greenwich Observatory in England. Sailors had to tell longitude with a clock set to Greenwich time. But it demands a clock so reliable that it is not possible to have one. John Harrison had invented a new time piece that would keep the most accurate time ever recorded. James Cook is carrying Harrison's new clock to try and determine if he could record accurate longitude.
In the southern ocean the resolution and adventure enter the ice floes. William Hodges paints wonders in his images of the ice and the antarctic circle. Cook wanted to prove a point because he was criticised for not going far enough to find the great southern land. On the ship the men were frozen without ships or gloves. The two ships are separated and the Adventure sails to Tasmania and then sails to Queen Charlotte Sound. Cook also sails for New Zealand and checks his astromical calculations against the Harrison clock. Cook finds that the Harrison clock is remarkably accurate.
James Cook is aghast at the affect of the contact between his crews and the native Maoris. He is disappointed that his men have corrupted the natives of New Zealand. He feels better when he is out at sea, in control of his universe. The Adventure is slowing him down and is rife with scurvy. The Captain of the Adventure is not looking after the health of his men, and giving them vitamin C. Cook was fastidious about the health of his men and carried all sorts of dietary supplements. He kept the ships clean and tidy and during all his voyages lost no men to scurvy.
Cook continues to search for the great southern land and finds nothing. He turns north back to Tahiti but has trouble with his men who treat the locals badly. He has to beat his men. The captain of the Adventure takes on board a Tahitian man who would become a superstar in London when he returns. Cook takes the chart that Tupaia had drawn and discovers more islands and then obsessively charts all the islands he discovers. After four months of charting in the Pacific, Cook sails for new Zealand once again. In late november 1773 he sails south once again and he misses the Adventure which sails back to England.
Cook is far to the south exploring the southern ocean once again in the Resolution. There was mist and snow and ice mast high came floating by as green as emerald. He reaches 71 degrees South and cannot sail further south and he turns north back into warmer water. He took the myth of the great southern land and completely explodes it. It was a scientific triumph. But Captain Cook had become seriously ill and exhausted. He is so ill that many think he is dying. He turns west to the New Hebrides and back to Queen Charlotte Sound. Cook is becoming increasingly unpredictable. He make one final push over to South Georgia Island.
He blows the myth of the great southern land out of the water. Cook has acheived his ambition to go as far south as man has gone. Flaws are beginning to show in this discovery genius that will ultimately lead to this death.
The Voyages of Captain James Cook Part 7 continued