A blog series by Steward Bill Ellemor from on board the Australian National Maritime Museum’s HMB Endeavour replica as it sails from Geelong to Adelaide. See our Sail the Endeavour page to learn more about joining voyages like this.
Day Two, Wednesday 10 February 2016
As dawn broke we could see the Airey’s Inlet lighthouse and nearby Lorne. A little later evidence of the recent Otway bushfire could also be seen along the Great Ocean Road coast. As lunchtime approached, the Cape Otway lighthouse came into view; we passed it at about 1230. It seemed a lazy sort of afternoon—sunny and pleasant, gently pitching over a long swell—with no sail handling to do so light duties all round. Many caught up on some sleep. Finally, however, at around 1930 the engines were powered down and by 2000 we were at last under sail. Everyone breathed a sigh. Ahhh!
On this voyage we were planning to re-enact a famous encounter between Matthew Flinders on Investigator, and Nicholas Baudin on le Geographe (this will be heavily modified because the One and All has pulled out, but that’s a story for another day.) Partly because of this, yesterday’s question concerned an encounter that might have been. Jean Francois-Marie de Surville was a French explorer who set out from the India to search for Terra Australis Incognita at around the time Cook was sailing south from Tahiti. Cook had no preconceptions about what he might find, but de Surville certainly did.
One theory at the time, based on the flimsiest of evidence, was that there was a Jewish nation in the south Pacific waiting to be discovered—and traded with. So convinced was he of this notion that his ship was loaded with goods intended for the purpose of setting up a trade forthwith. His plan was to sail around the top of New Guinea, then south down what is now the Coral and Tasman Seas to a predetermined latitude, then sail along it until he found the great south land. The land he encountered was of course the west coast of New Zealand. He proceeded to follow this coast northwards.
Cook, meanwhile, had reached the east coast of New Zealand and was following and mapping this coast in a northwards direction. They were bound to meet—but didn’t. As they approached the far northern tip of New Zealand’s north island a storm came through from the west. For Cook, travelling towards the storm, the logical thing to do was to head away from the coast to minimise danger. For de Surville the logical choice was to pass quickly around close to the headland and find shelter. Even so, they were probably close enough to have seen one another had conditions been clearer.
Now today’s question: Whose death was the last to occur on Endeavour’s return voyage?
– Bill Ellemor, Steward