Sunday, March 19, 2006

HM Bark Endeavour - Captain Cook's ship

NEWS 17 May - Wrecks of six British ships found off Rhode Island by researchers with the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project say there is a 47% one is the Endeavour. This replica of Cook's ship was open to the public at Melbourne's Docklands today so I took the tour which I found very interesting and am glad I went - even if I have a bruised head. It is considered world wide to be the best replica ship ever made. The tools and materials were very carefully chosen to be as nearly authentic as possible. The construction was carried out in Western Australia at a cost of $14 million dollars even with much volunteer work. It is 109 feet and 3 inches long and 29 feet 2 inches wide. The space between deck and the roof is very low indeed - the best being 4 foot six inches but sometimes so low that some people on this tour took to "walking" on their knees! There is a section below all the other decks which Cook used for food, fuel and water storage. This is now used for modern sailing and safety equipment below decks which makes everything above water level look exactly correct for the time when it was on the first voyage to Australia. It is called a Barque although the spelling on this particular one seems to be "bark" - perhaps this is from an era when spelling was allowed to be vague - "a sailing vessel of three or more masts and whose after mast [ back one] is fore-and-aft rigged". This sounds like double dutch to me.. will investigate... It is a square rigged ship and it would be great to see her under sail! To see below deck required climbing backwards down a very steep set of steps through a small square hole in the deck, while holding tightly to a long knotted rope suspended from above.

Galley, stores and crew's "Mess Deck"

The Ship's Cat a VIP - in the Mess Deck. really a stuffed cat

The first place we were shown below the main deck was the galley - or ships kitchen. This was a narrow floor space in front of a huge iron stove/oven that burned wood. It had huge pots of stew and gruel for the men and a spit for roasting meat for the officers and the ill. There were many measures around this furnace designed to prevent fire on board. We were shown the appalling looking barrels of salted pork, another with sauerkraut to prevent scurvy, another with potatoes. Alongside all this were some fresh vegetables that the sailors would get eveytime they would dock. Aft or towards the back of the ship from this stove - galley area was the eating / sleeping / relaxing area for most of the crew of 94 people on Cook's voyage. The seats at these table were the trunks for the clothes and possessions of the crew. And cats were good to keep down the rats which always plaque ships and wharfs. The tables were suspended from the roof so they could remain level but as the men were sitting on the trunks to eat, the table and plate of food would move with the swells... No person on board died of scurvy after a 3 year journey which was amazing for this era. In 1747 a the Scottish naval surgeon Dr James Lind showed that having daily oranges and lemons scurvy could be prevented. His was not believed but Captain Cook realised it was important so insisted on all his crew eating them daily. Amazingly it took another 50 years for the British Admiralty to prescribe a daily ration of lemon juice for all sailors in the Navy. However a total of 30 of Cook's passengers and crew of all ranks died - mostly from dysentery contracted in ports of Batavia [Indonesia] and South Africa. There were no showers - or washing facilities for the crew. The Captain had a wash bowl and a mirror and officers all had a chamber pot under their bed. The front of the ship or head of ship had a board to sit on out over the edge of the ship with big hole in it for a toilet. Hence saiors refer to the t lavatory as the "head" . In the days of cook it was called the "seat if ease". The officers quarters were all at the rear of the ship- far away from this area. Their meals were even prepared up there too but cooked in the main galley. The type of hat a man wore indicated his rank - see the three hats on a rack in photo. In the Mess Deck the men slept in hammocks that had to be folded very small and stowed just under the rafters above the dining tables during the day. To test if the hammock was folded tightly enough it had to pass through this rope loop.

Mariners equipment

The crew had to fold their hammocks very tightly, so small that they would fit through this rope loop, then they were stowed under the roof of their dining area. We were shown some of the sailors measuring "tools". One was a lump of lead tied to long knotted rope which was used to find the depth of water the ship was in. The lead was about 10" long and 5 " in diameter. This caused me to wonder if it was connected to the expression "swinging the lead" describing a lazy person. And lo in a second I get the answer from the amazing Internet! The lazy sailor stood and swung the lead without dropping it into the sea and hauling it back up - heavy work - until he thought someone would see him. You can just make out the lead sitting on the edge of the table here. The other tool we were shown was for measuring the speed a log line and reel - a triangle of wood on a knotted rope. One side of the triangle has to be part of a circle. It was tossed into the sea at the back of the ship and allowed to drag in the water for the length of time their hourglass sand ran through which was 28 seconds and the number of knots in that rope that were run out off a reel was the speed of the ship expressed as - knots. A knot is one nautical mile... One nautical mile is 6,076 feet or 1.852 kilometers per hour. I did not see the floating compass and primitive sextant or the large steering wheel - helm connected by large ropes to the rudder.

Midi-mates' Mess and Officers Cabins

After the Main Mess Deck there was a Midi-mates Mess and Officers' Cabins - here you could not stand but crouch or go on all fours as the roof was only 4 foot 6 inches high. The boys apprenticed to officers and servants and also looked after the the animals, slept in hammocks that did not hve to be rolled up. Midshipmen and the 12 Royal Navy Marines also slept here. The Royal Marines were the policemen so slept with rifle to hand and their quarters were very sparse. The entrances to the stores of food and water below this deck had to be guarded by them at all times too. The Officers here were: the ships surgeon, the Captain's Clerk, 2nd and 3rd Leutenants, and Gunner, some in private cabins. Some Officers had their own rooms with walled hammocks and shared the Mess Room on the next deck up with a roof of 4 foot 5" high, with the Officers and Gentlemen where there was a sideboard and a drop sided table.

Captains quarters

At the very back of the ship reserved for the Captain and in this expedition Joseph Banks the botanist, men on the our tour were stooping. This room was bright and airy. Also it had a small fireplace and good desk and many leather bound books and a very large table for maps etc. There was more on this tour to the top of the back of the ship where in fact the sheep, goats, chickens were housed. Also they were shown the steering wheel and its many ropes attached to the rudder and the navigation instuments . On the rear deck no ordinary crew were allowed, only officers. More Information about this floating working sailing ship/museum here. For a photograph of this ship under full sail see the Museum site here