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Captain James Cook; a life full of adventure, triumph, and struggle
By Nate Kerl
ver. 2

Cook's Third Voyage and Death

In the summer of 1776 Cook sailed again in the well-traveled Resolution. A new sister ship, the Discovery, and its captain, Clerke, were to look for the approach from the East. Cook made his usual stop at New Zealand and confirmed the location of his Kerguelen Island while there. From Tahiti he sailed North, discovering the Cook Islands. He discovered Christmas Island and some of the smaller Hawaiian Islands, but only stopped quickly continuing onto the northwest American coast and started charting and exploring. He eventually rounded the tip of the Alaskan Peninsula, through the Bering Strait and into the Arctic Ocean where he was met at every turn by ice. After spending as much time as possible with the ice, Cook turned southward at 70 degrees 44 minutes North to replenish and repair for the next spring. Cook named the islands they would be staying at in honor of one of his friends, John Montague, the Earl of Sandwich.

After eight weeks of seeking a suitable harbor, the Discovery and the Resolution anchored in Kealakekua Bay, on the Kona coast of the island of Hawaii. Cook seems to have been regarded as some sort of god (Lono, by the people of Kaua'i) and was accepted with a great welcome and hospitality. After a month, Cook realized the mission must continue to move onward. The ships left on February 4, 1779, in search of another anchorage before exploring the northeast coast of Asia. After sailing the stormy seas for only a week, the damaged ship was forced back into Kealakekua Bay, dragging the mast ashore on February 13.

It was here that he again was thought to be the God Lonoikamakahiki the God of Harvest, by coincidence landing during this time of celebration. When he first arrived several months before, it was Kaua'i that welcomed him as Lono, taking him to a temple or heiau and consecrating his arrival in ceremony. He was given the daughter of High Cheif Kaeo, who became pregnant and subsequently gave birth to a child.

When in Kealakekua, one of the ships long boats was stolen by lesser chiefs for the iron, it was burnt and iron taken. In addition one of two of the watchmen were killed. In order for the return of the long boat to take place, Cook devised a plan for its return. They'd land and take hostage of the Cheif and hold him until the return of the boat. Unknown to him that boat was already in ashes. Upon arrival, he did meet with the High Cheif who intially agreed to go with him to his ship, however, when near the landing the Cheif's wife came to him begging him not to go. Here is where the scuffle begins. Panic sets in, and a musket is fired and the fight is on. In this turmoil, Cook is hit and begins to bleed. (This account has been documented in Ruling Chiefs of Hawai'i by Samuel M. Kamakau, Historian via Charles K Ka'upu). There are many accounts of what happened next. Some say that Cook was bludgeoned to death once the natives realized he was not a man, others say it merely because they were tired of his domineering and inhuman rule, some say it was Cook who struck a man across the face, or maybe it was simply a misunderstanding. This still was another people's land and the language barrier did exist between the two very different cultures. What truly happened is a discussion that still goes on today betweeen those who knew Cook and his mission and the natives of Hawaii. Regardless of this debatable issue, Cook was dead and morale was now at an all time low and instead of moving onward with the mission the crew returned home in August of 1780.

Even though Cook was not usually regarded as a family figure, he was definitely one to be looked up to when it came to the skills needed in map making and exploration. Cook always knew his ship and cared for his crew's well being, something that most captains cared little of in Cook's time. Cook discovered the lands he had always dreamt of and died amongst his journeys of exploration; the way, some argue, he should have gone. He did all this because of one central goal for his life, the goal: To "Not only go farther than any man had ever been before, but as far as it was possible to go."(Porter. 1991. Pg.57)

This is an original biography, all work must be quoted, copyright© ver. 1: 1998; ver. 2: 2000 Nate Kerl Sources from this biography are taken from books listed on the source page

Captain James Cook, The World's Explorer

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