Captain James Cook was commissioned by the Council of the Royal Society of London to command an expedition to observe and record the six-hour transit of the planet Venus in 1769. His Majesty’s Bark Endeavour was used by Captain Cook to make this first voyage of discovery to the South Seas.
In 1768, the Admiralty purchased a cat-built (bluff bow) collier named the Earl of Pembroke to be converted for Cook’s expedition. She was a three-masted square-rigger, built in Whitby in January 1767. The Earl of Pembroke was a sturdy built vessel, originally designed to carry coal and timber in her broad, flat hull. Although she was not very fast, her unusual
convex shape meant that she had a large hold for provisions and was ideal for sailing in the shallow waters of the South Pacific.
Captain James Cook and the Endeavour returned to England on 13 July 1771, having completed what would become the first of his three voyages to open up the mysterious Pacific Ocean and her islands to Europe.
The Endeavour was converted and fitted out at Deptford Dockyard in 1768. The Admiralty had ship builders plans of the vessel drawn up during her refit, which are still in existence today.
A lot of work had to be carried out on the vessel to make her suitable for the journey. The hull of the collier was sheathed and caulked to protect her from the tropical marine worms. As one hundred and seven people had to be accommodated for the long voyage, a third deck had to be squeezed into the ship, to house extra cabins, storerooms and the galley.
From Deptford, HM Bark Endeavour sailed down the Thames to Galleons Reach to take on her compliment of guns, before she set sail for Plymouth to provision and take on crew. Endeavour set sail from Plymouth on the 25 August 1768 to begin her long voyage.
· Length: 32 metres (106 feet) · Beam: 9 metres (29 feet) · Weight: 400 tonnes (397 tons) · Sail area: 897 square metres (9964 square feet) · Three masts · Main mast height: 39 metres (128 feet) · Fore mast height: 33 metres (110 feet) · Mizzenmast height: 24 metres (79 feet) · Carried a compliment of 107: Captain and crew · She carried three small boats: the yawl, the pinnace and the longboat
16 Feb 1768
George III is petitioned by the Royal Society to finance an astronomers’ voyage to the Pacific
29 Mar 1768
The 'Earl of Pembroke' was purchased for £2307 5s. 6d. The ship is renamed HM Bark 'Endeavour'
25 Aug 1768
'Endeavour' leaves Plymouth
12-18 Sept 1768
'Endeavour' anchors in Madeira
13 Nov 1768
'Endeavour' anchors in Rio de Janeiro to take on provisions
25 Jan 1769
'Endeavour' rounds Cape Horn
13 Apr 1769
'Endeavour' reaches Tahiti
3 Jun 1769
The transit of Venus is observed and recorded
13 Jul 1769
'Endeavour' sets sail to explore the Society Islands
7 Oct 1769
'Endeavour' makes landfall on the east coast of North Island, New Zealand
4 Nov 1769
The transit of Mercury is observed and recorded
14 Dec 1769
'Endeavour' rounds the North Cape
31 Mar 1770
'Endeavour' leaves New Zealand and sets sail for ‘Van Diemans Land', Tasmania
29 April 1770
'Endeavour' anchors at Botany Bay
10 Jun 1770
'Endeavour' strikes the Great Barrier Reef during the night
18 Jun - 4 Aug 1770
'Endeavour' is beached in Endeavour River in order to repairs her hull
'Endeavour' anchors off Timor
10 Oct 1770
'Endeavour' anchors at Batavia. Many of the crew become sick with malaria and die
26 Dec 1770
'Endeavour' leaves Batavia with many of the crew still sick
15 Mar 1771
'Endeavour' anchors in Table Bay, Capetown
4 May 1771
'Endeavour' leaves St Helena for the voyage home
13 Jul 1771
'Endeavour' anchors in the Downs and reaches the end of her expedition