This page was last updated on 21/02/01.
Since January '99 I have been building a 60 scale wooden model of Captain Cook's "Endeavour". It is the first time that I have tackled a wooden model and it is a real challenge.The Endeavour Replica visited Adelaide in January 2001. I went on board for a tour and took video footage. The resulting 100+ video-capture shots are here for your perusal. (The link is at the bottom of this page.) Endeavour modellers can compare the 'real thing' to their model. I thought my model was about as accurate as one could hope for. I was well pleased.
This is a picture of the model at it's current stage of completion, December 2002. Spars and beams are installed and I am now working on sails and their rigging. I am not a sailor and therefore have no working knowledge of how these components should function. Therefore there will be some inaccuracies in the way some of these ropes are tied. However, I am trying to be as faithful as I can to the drawings and pictures I have to work from and to try to understand the purposes of the various installations and to imagine men altering and adjusting them. It must have been a frightening task to operate the vessel in rough seas and storms. In fact, at all times other than at deep sea in good weather it must have been a very stressful occupation - being at the mercy of the changeable winds and currents. For the explorers, add to this the problems of not knowing what lay in their path, fairly crude methods of navigation, a wooden hull being steadily eaten by worms, limited food and water slowly going rancid and the myriad of other day to day problems and challenges. The thrill of adventure and discovery needed to be there to keep them going. Many sailors in this era decided to jump ship when they did eventually make the land rather than submit to more punishment at sea. Making a model such as this and also just gazing at it when completed brings one closer to understanding the achievements of those whose hard work and years of struggle have underpinned our prosperity. The model has kindled in me, an interest in learning more about the history of my two countries, England and Australia.
The model is a kit by Artesania Latina, a Spanish company. It will be 690mm high and 800mm long when complete.
Were it not for Cook and his "Whitby Cat", the Endeavour, todays Australians may have been of French, Dutch or Portuguese extraction. The Whitby coal transport ship which Cook knew like the back of his hand from his years in the coal shipping trade, proved an excellent choice for voyages of discovery. Having been designed to carry voluminous loads it was able to accommodate the tons of supplies needed for years away from provisioning ports. Its flat bottom meant it was able to stay close to shallow coasts to assist in charting and was able to be beached for repairs. It was also built tough. "No sea could harm her" Cook said. Being able to rely on his transport, coupled with Cook's supreme navigational skills in addition to his ability to command the respect of his men and also having the foresight to be an innovator in maintaining the health of his men all combined to enable the successful completion of one of the most staggering journeys of discovery of his age.
The Endeavour more than ably assisted Cook's ambition... (you must read this with a Yorkshire accent) "not only to go farther than any one had done before, but as far as it was possible for man to go."
This well chosen ship carried Lieutenant James Cook (later Captain James Cook), Sir Joseph Banks and a crew and passengers numbering 94 souls into uncharted waters to record the transit of Venus from newly discovered Tahiti, then to go on to discover and chart the fabled 'Great South Land'. They were away for three years in which time they performed their astronomical calculations in Tahiti then went on to discover that the fabled Great South Land did not exist, that New Zealand (previously touched upon by Tasman) was in fact two islands, not part of the fabled land mass. Then, after fully charting New Zealand, a momentous decision was made to find what was between Tasman's Van Diemens Land, another small line on an incomplete map of the Pacific that Cook could expertly locate, and Torres Strait (New Guinea). This was their great discovery. A strange new, yet very old land where Banks especially was beside himself with the wealth of Botanical discoveries to be made. Peoples, plants, marine life and bird and animal life stranger than anything that was then known. The East Coast of Terra Australis was charted, almost completing the map of that island continent and then it was claimed for England. Banks went on to encourage further discovery and charting of Australia and was an instigator in its colonisation in 1787. He earned the name, "The Father of Australia." Cook was promoted to Captain and eventually became a somewhat reluctant National Hero and a legend to Navy men, making two more epic circumnavigations, charting Antarctica and discovering more Pacific Islands including Hawaii. He has since been venerated by all peoples of the world as one of the greatest explorers of all time.
Visit my History page to see what Exploration History books I have read since starting the model and perhaps some comments on what I have learned.