Cook says, "I received my instructions at Plymouth dated 25th June. They enjoined my immediate departure for the island of Madeira. To ship wine there, and thence to proceed to the Cape of Good Hope, where I was to let the crew have a spree on shore, and obtain the provisions and other stores I needed. To advance southwards and endeavour to find Circumcision Cape, which was said to have been discovered by M. Bouvet, in the 54° southern parallel, and about 11° 20' east longitude, reckoning from Greenwich. If I found this cape, to ascertain whether it was part of the continent or an island. Should it prove the former, to neglect no opportunity of investigating its possible extent. To collect facts of every kind which might be useful to navigation and commerce, or would tend to the progress of the natural sciences. I was desired to observe the spirit, temperament, character, and means of the inhabitants, should there be any, and to use every fair means of forming friendly alliances with them.

"My instructions proceeded to enjoin me to seek discoveries in the east or west, according to the position in which I might find myself, and advised my nearing the south pole as much as possible, and as long as the condition of the ships, the health of the crew, and the provisions allowed of my doing so. To be careful in any case to reserve sufficient provisions to reach some known port, where I might refit for my return to England.

"In addition, I was ordered, if I found Circumcision Cape to be an island, or if I did not succeed in finding it, in the first case to take the necessary bearings, and in both to sail southward as long as I still hoped to find the continent. Then to proceed eastward, to look for this continent, and to discover the islands which might be situated in this part of the southern hemisphere. To remain in high latitudes and to prosecute my discoveries, as had been already said, as near the pole as possible, until I had completed the navigation of the world, and finally to repair to the Cape of Good Hope, and from thence to Spithead."

Cook left Plymouth harbour on the 13th of July, and on the 29th of the same month he arrived at Funchal, in Madeira. Here he took in provisions, and continued his route southwards. But being shortly convinced that his supply of water would not hold out until he reached the Cape of Good Hope, he determined to break the voyage by putting in at Cape Verd Islands, and on the 10th of August he anchored in Praya Port, which he left four days later.

Cook availed himself of his stay in this port, as he usually did, to collect every fact which might be useful to navigators. His description is the more valuable now, as these parts have completely changed in character, and the conditions of a stay in port have been greatly modified by the improvements accomplished there.

On the 23rd of the same month, after violent squalls which had driven every one on deck, Cook, aware of the pernicious effect of the damp of warm climates, and always on the alert to keep his crew in good health, gave orders to aerate (renew the air) in the between decks. He even had a fire lighted in order to smoke it, and dry it quickly, and not only took the precautions advocated by Lord Sandwich, and Sir Hugh Palliser, but also those which the experience of his last voyage suggested to him.

Thanks to all these efforts at prevention there was not a single sick case on board the Resolution when she arrived at the Cape of Good Hope on the 30th of October. Cook, in company with Captain Furneaux, and Messrs. Foster, went to pay a visit to the Dutch governor, Baron de Plettemberg, who placed all the resources of the colony at his disposal. There he found that two French ships, which had left the island of Mauritius in March, had touched at the Cape before proceeding to the southern seas where they were to prosecute discoveries, under command of Captain Marion.

During this stay in port, which was longer than they expected, Forster met the Swedish botanist Sparman, a pupil of Linnæus, and engaged him to accompany him, by promising him large pay. It is difficult to praise Forster's disinterestedness under these circumstances too highly. He had no hesitation in admitting a rival, and even paid his expenses, in order to add completeness to the studies in natural history which he wished to make in the countries he was about to visit.

Anchor was weighed on the 22nd of November, and the two ships resumed their course southwards, in search of Cape Circumcision, discovered by Captain Bouvet, on the 1st of January, 1739. As the temperature would rapidly become colder, Cook distributed the warm clothes, furnished by the Admiralty, to his sailors. From the 29th of November till the 6th of December a frightful tempest prevailed. The ships, driven out of their course, were carried to the east, to such a degree that they were forced to resume the search for Circumcision Cape. Another consequence of the bad weather, and of the sudden change from heat to extreme cold was the death of all the animals embarked at the Cape. And lastly, the sailors suffered so much from the damp, that it was necessary to increase the rations of brandy to stimulate them to work.

On the 10th of December, in 50° 40' southern latitude the first ice was met with. Rain and snow succeeded each other uninterruptedly. The fog soon became so dense, that the crews did not perceive a floating iceberg, until they were a mile past it. "One of these," says the narrative, "was not less than 200 feet high, 400 wide, and 2000 long.