Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Captain James cook sailed around Antarctica

James Cook was born in the Yorkshire village of Marton on October 27, 1728. His first experience at sea came at the age of 18 when he signed on as a deckhand aboard a Whitby collier carrying coal to London. He became an accomplished mathematician in his spare time and was actually offered a command of his own ship but refused and joined the Royal Navy as a seaman. His talents were soon recognized and after two years he became master of his own ship, the PEMBROKE, and was ordered to chart the waters of the St. Lawrence River in Canada. His work was masterful and the Admiralty recalled him to England and placed him in command of the ENDEAVOUR which was to take a number of scientists to the Pacific Ocean for observance of Venus.
     The ENDEAVOUR departed England in 1768 and after visiting Tahiti the following year he discovered New Zealand and claimed it for Great Britain. Sailing west, in 1770 he sighted the east coast of Australia. From here he sailed north and on August 22 he claimed the whole of eastern Australia as a British possession. The ENDEAVOUR returned to England in 1771 having added significantly to Britain's potential empire in the Pacific.
     One question remained...whether the unexplored part of the southern hemisphere can only be an immense mass of water or possibly contain another continent. Such speculative geography was a question which had engaged the attention not only of learned men, but of most of the maritime powers of Europe. The British Admiralty decided it was time to find out once and for all. The Admiralty promoted Cook to Commander and was told to prepare for his second voyage. He was instructed to travel south to find Bouvet's Cape Circumcision and determine whether or not it was part of the imagined continent. If so, he was to "take possession of convenient situations in the country in the name of the King of Great Britain". If not part of a continent, then he was to sail as far south as possible, circumnavigate the area and sail north whenever weather and ice made exploration impossible.

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