A blog series by Steward Bill Ellemor from on board the Australian National Maritime Museum’s HMB Endeavour replica as it sails from Geelong to Adelaide. See our Sail the Endeavour page to learn more about joining voyages like this.
Wednesday 17 February 2016
In the absence of One and All, our planned re-enactment became more of a salute to Victor Harbor. The night passage — mostly sailing — saw us off Victor Harbor at dawn. As we drew slowly closer to the breakwater (and as the townsfolk became aware of our presence) people could be seen on shore, especially at the lookout, and spectator craft approached. Of most interest was the fleet of sea kayaks, 7 or 8 of them in all. Timing our closest approach, almost exactly to the planned 0800, Captain John’s voice called loudly enough to wake the town: “fire the port cannon!”. A suitably appreciative response could be heard from the spectator craft as shredded pieces of Navy News settled on the water beneath the smoke of the cannon shot.
There followed a fairly relaxed day slowly making our way along the Fleurieu coast. Passing through Backstairs Passage, much closer to the mainland this time, the coast of Deep Creek Conservation Park made an attractive view to some on board—though one that stirs other emotions in mariners. Down in the galley, our chef Alan, in his most spectacular chef’s trousers, was preparing to delight us all with a marvellous dinner of tuna steaks.
As the sun heads towards the western horizon I am sitting on deck on a cool, calm evening anticipating clear skies perfect for stargazing at the southern end of St Vincent’s Gulf. The Kangaroo Island ferry has just passed by — and all is well.
The sad end of James Cook’s life came at Kealakakua Bay in Hawaii (then also called the Sandwich Islands) on 14 February 1779. He was killed by angry locals in a situation laced with tragic irony. It was partly due to misunderstanding between Cook, his men and the local people over the way in which they had been feted on their initial visit there less than a month earlier (Later it was learned that the local people regarded Cook as a returning god).
From Cook’s point of view it had been a wonderful visit. However, from the point of view of the local people there was also a downside — the 200 men of Resolution and Discovery had taken a lot of feeding and had seriously drained their resources, so there was genuine relief when they sailed away after two weeks. Unfortunately, very soon Resolution’s lower main mast was seriously damaged in a storm; Cook decided he had no alternative but to go back.
This time their reception was far less friendly — this behaviour did not fit with that expected of the god the local people imagined him to be and they were certainly not ready to feed them all for another long stay. Who did these visitors think they were, barging in like this? Eventually hostility reached boiling point on both sides when Discovery’s cutter was stolen, Cook went ashore to take measures to have it returned, bad turned to worse, guns were fired, local warriors fell — and Cook was clubbed and stabbed repeatedly, dying in the sea at the water’s edge.
Today’s question: What is known of Cook’s family?
– Bill Ellemor, Steward