Endeavours of Cook

by Ismail Zain Zuhoor

Captain James Cook was a revolutionary explorer, known as the man who peacefully changed the world map more than any other individual. He has charted the east coast of Australia, circumnavigated New Zealand, charted countless islands and also discovered the largest reef in the world.

What makes an explorer great? Is it his ability to travel skillfully through harsh terrains and the sea? Or his ability to find new land? One could say that a great explorer should be an individual that has both of these abilities and the achievements to back it up. Someone who has not only discovered islands but countries or maybe even continents. A splendid example of a great explorer is a man who was arguably one of the best explorers humanity has ever seen. Not only was he a good explorer, but he was also a skilled charter, so skilled that some of his maps were used up until the 20th century. This man is, of course, Captain James Cook. Captain Cook was most well-known for his three major expeditions, and in each of his three expeditions, he has either discovered or charted land.

James Cook, drawn by Ismail Zain Zuhoor

On his first expedition, he set out to record the transit of Venus around the Sun. In order to record the transit, he had to travel to Tahiti. To find a speck of land in the huge South Pacific, would very much be like finding a needle in a haystack. Mind you, at that time the maps of the Pacific weren’t accurate, but Cook pulled it off.

After recording the transit, He went on to circumnavigate New Zealand and charted the coastline of the country. Unbeknownst to others, Cook was given sealed scrolls that had a secret mission from the British Royal Navy inscribed in them. The mission in question was to find the southern land, “Terra Australis”. Cook couldn’t find the fabled land, but he was the first European to chart the eastern coast of Australia. This would cause Australia’s population to rise by a million in the next 80 years, due to British colonization. On his way back home, Cook’s ship, the “Endeavor” suffered damages from stumbling upon a huge array of sharp corals. These corals were a part of the ginormous “Great Barrier Reef”, the damage took time to repair, but Cook finally returned home.

Terra Australis, drawn by Ismail Zain Zuhoor (not scaled)

Moving on to the second expedition, his main mission was to find the continent, Terra Australis. After setting sail, Cook circumnavigated the Earth in a southern latitude, in the process becoming the first European to cross the Antarctic Circle. Cook also came tremendously close to the continent of Antarctica, if he went a bit closer, he would’ve definitely seen the mainland of Antarctica. After searching for the southern continent but to no avail, Cook made his way back home.

On his way back, Cook discovered and charted numerous islands including the Easter Island, Tahiti and the Friendly Island. Upon his return, he disproved the existence of Terra Australis. On his expedition, Captain Cook also assisted in coming up with a cure for Scurvy, he forced his crew to eat a vegetarian diet, when they were ridden with scurvy. In the course of his journey, he didn’t lose a single member of his crew to the disease which was taking the lives of many.

Now, onto his third and final expedition. For this expedition, the goal was to find the North-West passage. The passage in question was of incredible importance to the British because if the passage was found, it would possibly result in them having a trade route with the New World (America). After Cook and his crew departed, they discovered and charted small islands on the course of the trip. One of them being the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). After sailing north for a considerably long time, they reached the coast of North America and Cook proceeded to chart the majority of the North American coastline. However, even after 2 years of searching he simply could not find the Northwest Passage. Feeling demoralized, Cook made his way back home, and on the road back, he stopped by the Sandwich Islands.

This was what led him to his doom, as blood was shed over a scuffle with the natives. The natives stole one of Cook’s ships, and to get it back, Cook kidnapped their tribe leader to negotiate. One thing led to another and ultimately Cook was murdered. The colonization of a continent, a country and countless islands getting charted were all because of the actions of a great explorer. Even though Captain Cook isn’t as well known as the likes of Christopher Columbus, he will forever be known as the man who peacefully changed the map of the world, more than any other individual in human history.

Captain Cook, drawn by Ismail Zain Zuhoor

Captain Cook’s voyages of discovery | State Library of NSW
James Cook - Wikipedia

Author biography

Ismail Zain Zuhoor, a 15 year old who loves weightlifting, was a member of the “Leaders of Tomorrow 2021'' programme by Professor Ugail. He has an interest in sports and mathematics and during his spare time, he reads books online and ponders about the purpose of life.

Ismail Zain Zuhoor

Cite this article as: Ismail Zain Zuhoor, Endeavours of Cook, theCircle Composition, Volume 1, (2021). https://thecirclecomposition.org/endeavors-of-cook/