Sunday, August 26, 2012
On August 26, 1768, James Cook set sail from Plymouth, England, on the HMS Endeavour on his first of three voyages around the world. He was a junior naval officer (lieutenant) with skills in cartography and mathematics. Alcohol supplies consisted of 250 barrels of beer, 44 barrels of brandy and 17 barrels of rum. The first expedition's aims were to observe the 1769 transit of Venus across the Sun and find evidence of the postulated Terra Australis Incognita ("unknown southern land"). He charted the entire coast of New Zealand in 1769, then in April 1770, Cook and his crew became the first Europeans to see Australia’s east coast, arriving at what is now known as Botany Bay. Pictured: map of southern hemisphere in Cook’s own hand (1772).