History | 5 July 2017How Captain Cook Chose the Right Ship Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Captain Cook put a lot of thought into the ships he took out on voyages. These ships had to be built right to withstand the conditions they would encounter. Captain Cook did not believe that just any ship would do. In the passage below he talks about choosing the ships for his second voyage, after a very successful first on the Endeavour. Get more in The Voyages of Captain James Cook. Soon after my return home in the Endeavour, it was resolved to equip two ships, to complete the discovery of the Southern Hemisphere. The nature of this voyage required ships of a particular construction, and the Endeavour being gone to Falkland’s Isles as a store-ship, the Navy-board was directed to purchase two such ships as were most suitable for this service. At this time various opinions were espoused by different people, touching the size and kind of vessels most proper for such a voyage. Some were for having large ships, and proposed those of forty guns, or East India Company’s ships. Others preferred large good sailing frigates, or three- decked ships, employed in the Jamaica trade, fitted with round-houses. But of all that was said and offered to the Admiralty’s consideration on this subject, as far as has come to my knowledge, what, in my opinion, was most to the purpose, was suggested by the Navy-board. As the greatest danger to be apprehended and provided against, on a voyage of discovery, especially to the most distant parts of the globe, is that of the ship’s being liable to be run a-ground on an unknown, desert, or perhaps savage coast; so no consideration should be set in competition with that of her being of a construction of the safest kind, in which the officers may, with the least hazard, venture upon a strange coast. A ship of this kind must not be of a great draught of water, yet of a sufficient burden and capacity to carry a proper quantity of provisions and necessaries for her complement of men, and for the time requisite to perform the voyage. She must also be of a construction that will bear to take the ground; and of a size, which in case of necessity, may be safely and conveniently laid on shore, to repair any accidental damage or defect. These properties are not to be found in ships of war of forty guns, nor in frigates, nor in East India Company’s ships, nor in large three-decked West India ships, nor indeed in any other but North-country-built ships, or such as are built for the coal-trade, which are peculiarly adapted to this purpose. In such a vessel an able sea-officer will be most venturesome, and better enabled to fulfil his instructions, than he possibly can (or indeed than would be prudent for him to attempt) in one of any other sort or size. Upon the whole, I am firmly of opinion, that no ships are so proper for discoveries in distant unknown parts, as those constructed as was the Endeavour, in which I performed my former voyage. For no ships of any other kind can contain stores and provisions sufficient (in proportion to the necessary number of men,) considering the length of time it will be necessary they should last. And, even if another kind of ship could stow a sufficiency, yet on arriving at the parts for discovery, they would still, from the nature of their construction and size, be less fit for the purpose. Hence, it may be concluded, so little progress had been hitherto made in discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere. For all ships which attempted it before the Endeavour, were unfit for it; although the officers employed in them had done the utmost in their power. It was upon this consideration that the Endeavour was chosen for that voyage. It was to those properties in her that those on board owed their preservation; and hence we were enabled to prosecute discoveries in those seas so much longer than any other ship ever did, or could do. And, although discovery was not the first object of that voyage, I could venture to traverse a far greater space of sea, til then unnavigated; to discover greater tracts of country in high and low south latitudes, and to persevere longer in exploring and surveying more correctly the extensive coasts of those new-discovered countries, than any former navigator perhaps had done during one voyage. In short, these properties in the ships, with perseverance and resolution in their commanders, will enable them to execute their orders; to go beyond former discoverers; and continue to Britain the reputation of taking the lead of nations, in exploring the globe. These considerations concurring with Lord Sandwich’s opinion on the same subject, the Admiralty determined to have two such ships as are here recommended. Accordingly two were purchased of Captain William Hammond of Hull. They were both built at Whitby, by the same person who built the Endeavour, being about fourteen or sixteen months old at the time they were purchased, and were, in my opinion, as well adapted to the intended service, as if they had been built for the purpose. The largest of the two was four hundred and sixty-two tons burden. She was named Resolution, and sent to Deptford to be equipped. The other was three hundred and thirty-six tons burden. She was named Adventure, and sent to be equipped at Woolwich. Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: The first-ever illustrated account of Captain James Cook’s epic eighteenth-century voyages, complete with excerpts from his vivid journals.This is history’s greatest adventure story. In 1766, the Royal Society chose prodigal mapmaker and navigator James Cook to lead a South Pacific voyage. His orders were to chart the path of Venus across the sun. That task completed, his ship, the HMS Endeavour, continued to comb the southern hemisphere for the imagined continent Terra Australis. The voyage lasted from 1768 to 1771, and upon Cook’s return to London, his journaled accounts of the expedition made him a celebrity. After that came two more voyages for Cook and his crew, followed by Cook’s untimely murder by natives in Hawaii. The Voyages of Captain James Cook reveals Cook’s fascinating story through excerpts from his journals, as well as illustrations, photography, and supplementary writings. During Cook’s career, he logged more than 200,000 miles – nearly the distance to the moon. And along the way, scientists and artists traveling with him documented exotic flora and fauna, untouched landscapes, indigenous peoples, and much more. In addition to the South Pacific, Cook’s voyages took him to South America, Antarctica, New Zealand, the Pacific Coast from California to Alaska, the Arctic Circle, Siberia, the East Indies, and the Indian Ocean. When he set out in 1768, more than one-third of the globe was unmapped. By the time Cook died in 1779, he had created charts so accurate that some were used into the 1990s. The Voyages of Captain James Cook is a handsome illustrated edition of Cook’s selected writings spanning his Pacific voyages, ending in 1779 with the delivery of his salted scalp and hands to his surviving crewmembers. It’s bound to enthrall anyone who appreciates history, science, art, and classic adventure. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.