A blog series by Steward John Cowie from on board the Australian National Maritime Museum’s HMB Endeavour replica as it sails from Port Lincoln to Portland. See our Sail the Endeavour page to learn more about joining voyages like this.
Day 4, 13 March, 2016.
At sea, overcast, cold, moderate swell.
After passing through Backstairs Passage with the tide astern of us, we began the long passage to Victoria. The wind had moderated overnight and although still from the southeast, the ship was able to motor on an easy swell. The captain explained that he was using the opportunity to make ground and thus allow us to sail when conditions allowed. True to promise, sails were set at 1500 Endeavour came to life, rolling along with the bone in her teeth. Unfortunately, Coober Pedy still seemed our most likely destination and sail was again taken in at 2000 so that the captain’s ‘ground’ could be achieved. The engineer now seems to be his best friend!
Night found us barely making headway into a Force 6 southeasterly.
Cook’s Journal. Daily Entries.
13 March 1770
Strong gales between the SWBW and SSW with a large hollow sea from the same quarter. In the PM had frequent squals with showers of rain, in the night had several very heavy squalls attended with showers of hail which obliged us to take in our topsails during the night. Steer’d NNW untill 6 AM when seeing no land we steer’d NBE and set the main topsail close reef’d At 8 oClock Set the fore topsail single reef’d, loosed all the reefs out of the Main topsail and steer’d NEBE1/2E in order to make the land At 10 saw it bearing ENE and appear’d to be very high but being hazey over it we could see nothing distinct neither now nor at noon when by Obsern we were in the Latitude of 46°.0′ So Course and distance sail’d sence yesterday N 5° Wt 96 Miles and Longitude made from the South Cape 1°..40′ West —
Day 5, 14 March, 2016.
At sea, SE Force 6
You guessed it, Force 6 southeasterly. Sail today remained furled and the captain and engineer seem to be even closer. They talk about tacking and wearing as if the sails are set and with the ship unable to motor into the wind, each alteration of course is exactly the same. Despite the building sea, the ship is comfortable and Cook’s choice of Endeavour is demonstrated. Humour and great food remain in the menu. One or two people are feeling queasy but the majority just want to get into the rig and set sail.
Night found us not too far from where we were yesterday.
Cook’s Journal. Daily Entries
14 March 1770
In the PM had a fresh gale from the Southward attended with squals. at 2 oClock it clear’d up over the land which appear’d highand Mountainous. At half past 3 double reef’d the Topsails and haul’d in for a Bay wherein there appear’d to be good anchorage and into which I had thoughts of going with the Ship but after standing in an hour we found the distance too great to run before dark and it blowed too hard to attempt it in the night or even to keep to windward for these reasons we gave it up and bore away aLong shore. This Bay I have named duskey Bay it lies in in the Latitude of 45°..47′ So it is about 3 or 4 Miles broad at the entrance and seems to be full as deep, in it are several Islands behind which there must be shelter from all winds provided there is a sufficient depth of water. The north point of this bay when it bears SEBS is very remarkable there being off it five high peaked rocks standing up like the four fingers and thum of a mans hand on which account I have named it Point five fingers the land of this point is farther remarkable and by being the only level land near it and extend near two leagues to the northward it is pretty high, wholy cover’d with wood and hath very much the appearence of an Island by its aspect being so very different from the land behind it which is nothing but barren rocky mountains —
Day 6, 15 March, 2016.
There is no point asking you to guess where the wind is from. For most of the forenoon Endeavour continued to motor across the breeze but contrary to the gloomy forecast, the wind began to moderate quickly. Spirits lifted immediately as the sea flattened and ‘ground’ was made. The engineer is now our best friend as his shiny Caterpillars push us south.
Lectures began today on finding latitude from the meridian passage of the sun. Pity we didn’t do it over the last few days as we could have used the same latitude several times. Humour and food are still very much on the menu. This evening we landed two unwell passengers near Kingston and after ensuring they were well cared for, resumed our voyage.
Cook’s Journal. Daily Entries.
15 March 1770.
Thursday 16th [15th]
Clear weather winds at SW and SWBS a gentle breeze except in the night when we had variable light airs and calms. In the evening being about 2 Leagues from the land we sounded but had no ground with 103 fathom of line Variation pr Azth 14°.. ‘ East, pr Ampde 15°..2′ East With what wind we had we made the best of our way along shore to the NE keeping at the distance of 2 or 3 Leagues from the land At noon was we were in the Latitude of 44°..47′, haveing run only 12 leagues upon a NE1/4N Course sence yesterday at noon - Longitude made from Cape West 1°..3′ East
Day 7, 16 March, 2016.
At sea, sunny, low swell, wind SE
The wind today remains very light and the effort of keeping these ships moving is coming home to all of us. 250 years ago, Cook would have simply waited, a luxury we don’t have. On the plus side, the sea has flattened out completely and simply being on deck watching spinner dolphins and seals swim down the side seems enough. One of the great outcomes of a voyage in this stunning ship is the appreciation we have all gained for the environment, the magnificence of the sea and feel of the wind on our faces (even if it is from the southeast).
The forecast for tomorrow, west and southwest, Force 5 to 6. Lookout, we’re coming home with a wet sail!
Cook’s Journal. Daily Entries.
16 March 1770
Winds at SW a fresh breeze and clear weather Steer’d along shore NE1/4E untill Six oClock PM when we shortend sail and brought too for the night Variation pr Azths 13°..48′ East At 4 AM made sail and stood in for the land At day light saw the appearence of an Inlet into the land but upon a nearer approach found that it was only a deep vally bounded on each side by high lands upon which we bore away NE 1/4 E along shore, keeping about 4 or 5 Miles off At Noon the Northeastermost point of land in sight bore N 60° East Distant 10 Miles, our Latitude by observation was 44°.. 5′ and Longde made from Cape West 2°..8′ East
— John Cowie, Steward