CAPTAIN JAMES COOK
Captain James Cook (1728 – 1779) was an English explorer, navigator and cartographer, ultimately rising to the rank of Captain in the Royal Navy. Cook was the first to map Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean during which he achieved the first European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands as well as the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand.
The Endeavour was Captain James Cook’s sailing vessel. Between 1768 and 1771 the famous navigator and cartographer, whose aim was to study the ocean around the southern degree of latitude, undertook his first expedition with this vessel.
His ship Endeavour was a Whitby Cat type and made it up to 368 tons submerged displacement. The overall length was about 32 meters and the width nearly 9 meters. She was able to reach a speed up to 5 knots.
The flat design of the Endeavour’s hull was remarkable. Thereby she was indeed comparatively slow but, if need be, she was able to easily be stranded on the beach for repairs without requiring a dry dock. She had a crew of 70 men and was able to hold 24 passengers. The vessel was armed with 10 deck canons and 12 swivel guns.
In 1767 the Royal Society of London petitioned King George III for a ship to send to the South Seas. Here they wished to view the transit of the planet Venus across the Sun, due to take place on 3 June 1769. This important event had international co-operation with over 150 observers taking part around the world. Astronomers hoped that by compiling all their results the distance of the earth from the Sun could be calculated.