Captain James Cook 7
Continued on from Captain Cook Part 6
The Oceans that Captain James Cook had sailed had added a third of the world to the map. But there was one more voyage to come that would lead to his death. In 1776 he is promoted to Post Captain and is all but retired. He is confined to Greenwich hospital and is looking towards retirement. He knows he is the greatest explorer and he is frustrated. He is thinking about the last great maritime mystery of the times. The British are exporting tonnes of tea from China but the Portuguese have control of the Eastern trade routes. To get around the sea routes to China, the North West Passage was seen as the answer to a geopolitical dilemma for Britain and Empire.
Cook is invited to dinner with Lords of the Admiralty to discuss the NOrth West Passage and its discovery. James Cook has made them look good and he is asked to suggest a captain to lead an expedition to the NOrth West Passage. Captain Cook had come out of retirement and declares that he will lead the voyage of discovery to find the fabled north west passage. He had charted many of the islands of the South Pacific and the Southern Ocean. He wanted to get back to sea. He already had fame and fortune and was well known in England. He was the imperial hero. He is too driven and insecure to lay back down on his laurels.
He desperately wanted a knighthood and the reward for finding the NOrth west passage. He has only a few months to prepare and finds that the existing maps are pure fantasy. Voyage three for Cook was to be the crown in his career. He was selling copies of his journals like hot cakes. Everyone wanted to read about his exploits. He was a media superstar and there were even plays and pantomimes about him. But Captain Cook's voyage was kept secret to find the NOrth west passage. In June 1776 the expedition set sail with two ships The Resolution and the Discovery captained by James Clark. His officers and crews are keen to sail with him once again.
Cook creates a lineage of nautical surveying excellence, training Vancouver and Bligh. It takes 8 months hard sailing to reach New Zealand and his favourite anchorage, Queen Charlotte's Sound. But there is unfinished business with the local Maori tribes who had killed some crew of the Adventure years earlier. He lets the perpetrator live because he believed that the crew of the Adventurer were at fault. He encountered violence but had a sense of ethics and humanity. But as the voyage continues he starts to lose control of his emotions. He starts shouting at his men and the long voyages are taking their toll on his mental health.
James Cook is battling the wind and has missed the northern summer. He has a mean streak and takes it out on others. He gets angry at the people of Tahiti and seeks revenge. He was aware of his behaviour and was unable to stop it. Cook's wild mood swings continued and in 1777 he lands again on Tahiti. Cook lingered in the island for four months which was out of character for Captain James Cook. He sails to the continent of NOrth America and in Spring 1778 he arrives in New Albion which is now called Canada. Here Cook meets the native indian people and is amazed at their gentleness.
The Voyages of Captain James Cook Part 8 continued