Day 4 Cairns – Thursday Island

Carefully heaving up the anchor

Latitude; 14°39.5’S

Longitude; 145°28.8’E

Distance run in the last 10.5hrs; 50.4NM

Average speed; 4.8KN

We got underway from Cooktown and set the Main Topsail, Fore Topsail and Forecourse. The plan now is to arrive at Lizard Island and anchor tonight. Although the seas are moderate none of the crew appears to be struggling with the conditions, they all are very keen to get involved with all the sail handling. There are very few souls down below decks. The trade winds
are blowing freshly and it is pleasant to have the feeling of sailing again, rather than cruising in fair weather, as we have been very fortunate to experience in the last few weeks.

After Endeavour had spent 54 days at Cooktown repairing the damage from the reef, she finally set sail again very cautiously with the Pinnace going ahead and making soundings. It was a difficult time as they approached the edge of the reef Cook writes, ‘I saw that we were surrounded on every side with dangers, in so much that was quite at a loss which way to steer when the weather will permit us to get under sail, for me to beat back to the South-East the way we came, as the Master would have had me done, would be endless piece of work, as the winds blow constantly from that quarter and very strong, without hardly any intermission.’ Here Cook is referring to the trade winds.

On the 11th August 1770 Cook heaved too off Lizard Island and on the 12th August he went ashore. He climbed to the top of the hill where he observed the wave breakers but it was too hazy for him to see a break in the reef and so he stayed ashore the night and climbed the following morning to try again. As he was at the top of the hill the pinnace was out taking soundings between the reef breaks. They navigated their way through a passage that was 0.8NM wide now aptly named ‘Cook Passage’. It is incredible to think that they did this all through sail and from taking soundings over and over again with the lead line, these men were very brave in their approach and their patience paid off.

As night draws in we have the light from the moon, we can see Three Islands in the distance and in the darkness Lizard Island approaches. A few miles off, the Mizzen mast assisted by the Idlers hand the Main Topsail then the Foretopsail followed by the Forecourse. Next we all stand by on the anchor cable, which is coated in tar making very messy work. We are anchored by
2230 but the watch commences as the Mizzen mast furl the Main Topsail and then Foremast take over and furl the Foretopsail and the Forecourse.

In the morning everyone prepares themselves to go ashore and stand on the Peak of Lizard Island, to look out to the reefs just as Cook did.

All’s well.

Setting the Main topsail