Captain James Cook’s famous “Voyage of Discovery” aboard H.M.B. Endeavour Come Sail Away! Click for music, if desired
What’s in a Name? “H.M.B.” stands for “His Majesty's Bark.” No, we are not saying Endeavour was a dog! A “bark” (also spelled "barque") was a name used in the 18 th century for smaller ships that didn’t fit into other categories. The word “endeavour” (more often spelled “endeavor” in the US) means: “to exert oneself to do or affect something; to make an effort; strive” (verb) “a strenuous effort” (noun) Endeavour was first built as a coal carrier named "The Earl of Pembroke," with a flat bottom, large hold, and thick hull; a solidly-built vessel, able to withstand rough weather. Captain Cook chose the ship and renamed her something more suitable for her upcoming Voyage of Discovery. The Navy refitted the ship and registered her as HM Bark Endeavour to distinguish her from a sloop of the same name. When Cook took command of his ship on May 27, 1768, he claimed, “A better ship for such service I never would wish for.”
Cook’s Three-fold Mission: 1.To observe the Transit of Venus (more on that later!) 2.To search for the fabled “Southern Continent” Pssst! Over here! G’day, mate! 3. To observe and discover new plants and animals (Banks’s idea)
The red line indicates Cook’s voyage on the Endeavour.
Meet your Captain Captain James Cook enlisted in the British Royal Navy at the age of 27 after working 10 years on a coal carrying ship. He was a skilled cartographer (maker of maps) and navigator -- due to his mad skills in math -- and known for his keen intelligence and good judgment. He kept a clean ship and a healthy crew, insisting on good hygiene, daily exercise, and a diet supplemented by sauerkraut and lime juice to prevent scurvy. Cook was respected and admired by the men on his ship for his skill as a captain and for his ability to relate to the sailors. He himself had risen through the ranks, earning his promotions, unlike many captains of his day who received their commissions due to their wealth, social status, and connections...to go farther than man had gone before ! Link to brief Biography of Captain Cook Link to Extensive biography of Cook plus more about his voyages (great site!)
Not to be confused with… But the similarity in names is no coincidence! The creator of Star Trek named his hero Captain James Kirk in honor of the famed explorer Captain James Cook. Kirk's famous voice- over at the beginning of the classic TV series explaining the mission of the USS Enterprise: "To explore new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before!" is a nod to Cook, who said of his epic voyage, "I had the ambition to not only go farther than man had gone before, but to go as far as it was possible to go." …to boldly go where no man has gone before! Captain James Kirk…!
Of course, you might know him better as played by this guy, in Hollywood’s latest version of Star Trek… To boldly go where William Shatner has gone before..
If Hollywood ever made a movie about Captain Cook, I wonder who they would get to play him…? How about me? I look Captainly!
And maybe this guy could play Joseph Banks, the young scientist that sailed with Cook… And Cuz I’m really handsome!
Joseph Banks, referred to by Nick as one of the "Gentlemen," was both a naturalist (one who studies nature) and a botanist (one who studies plants). Joseph Banks was considered to be quite the handsome and dashing young man by the ladies of his day. Rumor has it he was what today’s ladies might call a “player”! Many plants and animals found on the journey were named by him and for him. In fact, Carl Linnaeus, the Father of Taxonomy (the science of naming organisms), wanted to name Australia "Banksia"! (Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it…?) Banks went on more voyages and eventually was put in charge of the Royal Botanic Gardens (aka Kew Gardens) which are just outside of London.Kew Gardens He was knighted in 1781. To read more complete biography, try this link: Sir Joseph Banks.Sir Joseph Banks
And what about Nick Young…? An 11-year-old boy named Nick Young really did sail on the Endeavour with Cook and Banks! His name does not appear in the ship’s roster until later in the journey, leading many to speculate that he indeed stowed away. As you know, his journal is imagined, but it is based on the actual journals of Cook, Banks, and others. You can read these actual journals at this link: Endeavour JournalsEndeavour Journals
“ In October 1769, Captain James Cook and his crew first sighted the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand, south of present-day Gisborne. Cook named the prominent headland on the south side of Poverty Bay “Young Nick’s Head,” after the cabin boy Nicholas Young, who was the first to sight land from the Endeavour. “ Nick’s Legacy: Young Nick’s Head
Cook’s Legacy: Mapped: Coast of Newfoundland St. Lawrence River New Zealand Eastern Coast of Australia West Coast of Alaska Just a few of the many places names for Captain Cook: Cook Islands Cook Strait Cooktown, Australia Cook Inlet in Alaska Captain Cook, a town in Hawaii Cook Crater on the moon!
Compare Cook’s hand- drawn map of New Zealand to this satellite image. Remember, this was before Google Earth and GPS! Cook was able to make this map from his own observations and mathematical calculations. (I told you he had MAD SKILLS!!!)
He also is thought to have had good diplomatic skills, but nevertheless he was a product of a culture that thought itself superior to the indigenous people of the places he visited… Cook met his death in the Sandwich Isles (now known as Hawaii) during his Third Voyage, at the hands of the people living there. For the full story, click HERE.HERE
Despite that, Cook’s voyages added to our knowledge of science, nature, geography, and anthropology. The crew of the Endeavour were the first westerners to see a kangaroo. Can you find the part in the book where it is described…?
And don’t forget the Transit of Venus! Members of the Royal Society wanted Cook to observe the transit of Venus to help determine the distance from the sun to the earth and the Royal Navy thought this would be helpful for marine navigation. You can read all about it here: Captain Cook and the Transit of VenusCaptain Cook and the Transit of Venus If you want to learn even more, check out this site: TRANSIT OF VENUSTRANSIT OF VENUS (Extra Credit to the first student who tells me the next time this rare celestial event will occur..!) And astronomy -- don’t forget the Transit of Venus!
Still sailing: Endeavour Replica This full-scale replica of Cook’s ship is currently sailing around Australia. For a few thousand dollars, people can sign up to work as sailors – or, for a few thousand dollars more, sail along (without working) as “gentlemen”– on different legs of the journey. ( Australia Circumnavigation
The spirit of exploration lives on! How fitting that the Space Shuttle Endeavour was named in honor of Cook’s ship? She completed 25 space missions before her retirement in June, 2011. She will be exhibited at The California Science Center in Los Angeles next year. To learn more about Endeavour and the other space shuttles, check out NASA’s “Shuttle Experience” HERE.HERE The Adventure Continues…
Did you know I once flew on the Endeavour? Actually, it was just on this simulated shuttle when I was at Space Camp… but still fun, without that whole risking-your-life component! (And yes, I managed to crash it THREE times!)
But some day I hope to sail on the Endeavour replica… Meanwhile, I am very happy to embark on a journey with you, full of our own EXPLORATION!!! Be ready to “exert yourself, make an effort, and strive” – in other words, to ENDEAVOUR! All hands on deck! Full speed ahead to a great year in science!!!