Charting a course from first voyage to last rites
Death of Captain Cook taking part in stoushes that Mundle suggests “excelled the wildest dreams of that young farm boy”. While British ships were trying to dislodge the French from Quebec, Cook as a ‘‘master’’ aboard the Pembroke witnessed 26 men die of scurvy during a 10-week journey. Another good lesson. Cook would always provision his vessels with sauerkraut (pickled cabbage), which provided a measure of life-saving vitamin c.
The first of his remarkable navigational charts would be drawn up while exploring Halifax Harbour and the shorelines of the St Law- rence River after meeting a Dutch-born surveyor there. His first challenge was that of spherical trigonometry. Mundle suggests Cook was one of the first men to understand and apply the ‘‘new’’ form of celestial navigation using a sextant, an instrument created a mere two years earlier in England.
Four years and eight months later, with a trunk filled with charts, soundings and surveys, his vessel and others sailed back to England.
By now, as Mundle points out, his reputation as a surveyor in the Royal Navy was “un-
George Carter’s painting