CHAPTER 16. 1776 TO 1777. THIRD VOYAGE.
On 24th June Cook and Omai joined the ship at the Nore, leaving next day for Plymouth, arriving there on 30th, three days after the Discovery. On 8th July the final orders, which Cook had helped to draw up, were received. They were to the effect that he was to proceed by the Cape of Good Hope; to look for some islands said to have been seen by the French in latitude 48 degrees, about the longitude of Mauritius; to touch at New Zealand, if he thought proper; and then to proceed to Otaheite and leave Omai there, or at the Society Islands, as the latter might wish. Leaving Otaheite about February he was to strike the North American coast in about 45 degrees latitude, avoiding, if possible, touching at any of the Spanish dominions, and proceeding northwards to explore any rivers or inlets that seemed likely to lead to Hudson's or Baffin's Bay. For the winter he was to proceed to the Port of St. Peter and St. Paul in Kamtschatka, or other suitable place, and in the ensuing spring he was again to try and find a passage either to the east or west; failing that, the ships were then to return to England. A reward of 20,000 pounds had been offered to any British merchant ship that discovered a passage between Hudson's Bay and the Pacific; and now this offer was thrown open to any ship flying the British flag, and the passage might be to the east or west so long as it was north of latitude 52 degrees.
On 9th July the marines, who had been carefully selected, embarked under the command of Lieutenant Molesworth Phillips, and the following day officers and men were paid up to 30th June, and petty officers and seamen received in addition two months' advance.
THE RESOLUTION SAILS.
The Resolution sailed on 12th July, the crew looking on it as a lucky day, being the anniversary of the day they had sailed on the last voyage; but as Clerke had not yet arrived, the Discovery remained behind. Putting in to Teneriffe, Cook purchased a supply of wine, which he did not think as good as that of Madeira, but remarks that the best Teneriffe wine was "12 pounds a pipe, whereas the best Madeira is seldom under 27 pounds." Here they met "Captain Baurdat" (the Chevalier de Borda), who was making observations in order to time two watch machines, and were afforded an opportunity of comparing them with their own. Looking into Port Praya in hopes to find the Discovery they crossed the line on 1st September in longitude 27 degrees 38 minutes West, and sighted the Cape of Good Hope on 17th October, anchoring in Table Bay the next day. The ship was found to be very leaky in her upper works, as the great heat had opened up her seams which had been badly caulked at first. "Hardly a man that could lie dry in his bed; the officers in the gun-room were all driven out of their cabin by the water that came in through the sides." The sails were damaged, some being quite ruined before they could be dried.
The reception accorded by the Dutch was all that could be desired, and all the resources of the place were at Cook's disposal. Letters were sent to England and one invalid, Cook wishing afterwards that he had sent one or two more, but he had at the time hopes of their complete recovery. On 31st October they were unable to communicate with the shore owing to a heavy south-easterly gale which did not blow itself out for three days, and the Resolution was the only ship in the bay that rode through it without dragging her anchors. On the 10th November the Discovery arrived, having left Plymouth on 1st August. She sighted land above twenty-five leagues north of Table Bay, but had been blown off the coast in the storm.
It may be noted here that the French, Spanish, and United States Governments issued instructions to their naval officers that Captain Cook and his ships were to be treated with every respect, and as belonging to a neutral and allied power. An honour to Cook, and also to the nations who conferred it on him.
When her consort arrived Cook was almost ready for sea, so the refit of the Discovery was pushed on as quickly as possible, but some delay arose in the delivery of bread ordered. Cook says he believes the bakers would not put it in hand till they saw the Discovery safely at anchor. However, on 30th November Clerke was handed his instructions, and the two Captains went on board their respective ships to find them fully supplied for a voyage which was expected to last at least two years. Live stock had been purchased at the Cape, and one journalist says that on leaving, the Resolution reminded him of Noah's Ark.
They did not get clear of the coast till 3rd December owing to light winds, and then on the 6th "a sudden heavy squall" cost the Resolution her mizzen topmast; not a very serious loss, for they had a spare stick, and the broken one "had often complained," but Burney says that owing to the weather it took them three days to complete the repairs. The cold, rough weather also had a bad effect on the live stock, several of them perishing.