HMS Endeavour

HMS Endeavour

* 1764 – 1778 * Royal Navy, Plymouth, Great Britain *

The HMS Endeavor, also known as the “HM Bark Endeavor”, was built by Thomas Fishburn Whitby for the Royal Navy of England as a “Bark” type ship with over 368 tons burthen, a length of 106 feet, a beam of over 29 feet, as a full rigged ship designed for scientific research missions. It possesses over 3,321 square yards of sail. It has the ability to clock over 8 knots maxium (13-15 km/hour). She could house a crew of 94 which included 71 ship’s company, 12 Royal Marines, 11 civilians, and armament. She was first launched in June of 1764 as the collier “Earl of Pembroke” for 2800 Pounds. Purchased by the Navy in March of 1768 and refitted at Deptford to be commissioned a few months later as “His Majesty’s Bark the Endeavor” for a scientific mission to the Pacific exploring the seas for the legendary “Terra Australis Incognita” or “Unknown Great Southern Land” after the Royal Society lobbied King George III to accomplish the mission. The Royal Society originally wanted noted hydrographer Alexander Dalrymple to lead the expedition. The Admiralty would not let this be and appointed a relatively unknown Lieutenant James Cook to the mission. She was commanded by Lieutenant Captain James Cook who took her on a journey for the Western discovery of Australia and New Zealand from 1769 until 1771. Normally collier ships would not be used for such as quest, but it was believed at the time that these vessels were of the most sea-worthy and could carry a large cargo. She set sail from Plymouth in August 1768, rounding Cape Horn, onwards to Tahiti for arrival in June of 1769 to chart and observe the transit of Venus across the sun so scientists could measure the distance from the Earth to the Sun. She explored the South Seas and granted Cook the privilege to discover, chart, and claim for England the Pacific Islands of Huahine, Raiatea, and Borbora. Cook first sailed south and upon not encountering land went west. On October 6, 1769 he sighted the east coast of New Zealand at Poverty Bay. Cook and his crew circumnavigated New Zealand until March of 1770 creating the first complete charts of that country. In April of 1770 she became the first seagoing vessel to reach the East coast of Australia at Botany Bay. From there she sailed north along the coast, beaching on the Great Barrier Reef only later to beach n the mainland along the Endeavor River. She was the first to almost completely chart the entire east coast of Australia. Seven weeks of repairs and refitting, she was back to sail in October 1770 onwards to Batavia and back to England. She arrived in July that year. One of Cook’s crew, Joseph Banks, had phenomenal reports of Botany Bay and the surrounding land that the British Government later sent Arthur Phillip and the first fleet to the area to establish the first European settlement in Australia. She was then used for the next three years shipping Navy stores to the Falkland Islands. She was officially de-commissioned in September 1774 and marked “Out of Service” in March 1775. She was sold into private hands in 1775 and used for naval service as a troop transport during the American Revolutionary War. The “HMS Endeavor” was renamed the “Lord Sandwich” in 1776. She had as least one commercial voyage to the Archangel in Russia. It became “scuttled” in 1778 in the Narragansett Bay outside of Newport, Rhode Island, North America where it sank to an unknown location and depth. Some relics from the wreck have been uncovered, including the cannons and anchor. A 1991 Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project known as RIMAP researched the identity of ten transports sunk as part of the Narragansett Bay blockade and confirmed the Endeavor had been renamed “Lord Sandwich” and scuttled to sunk in the Bay. She has been replicaed as the HMB Endeavor, launched in 1994 and berthed at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney, Australia. The replica has since done two circumnavigations of the World and is now embarking upon its 2011 circumnavigation of Australia.

The Ship:

The original ship’s mast, bowsprit, and topsides were made of spruce or fir. The keel, lower hull, and ship frame was made of elm or oak. The original sails were of flax canvas. The Endeavor had six anchors with hour of these carried on the bow. The two largest was the bower anchors that weighed over a ton. The originals were lost in 1770 when the Endeavor beached on the Great Barrier Reef. These were raised and released from the catheads which are black timbers extending forward of the bow, one each side of the bowsprit and pulled up using the windlass. The windlass is a horizontal winch that is turned manually by the use of very long wooden bars. Next to the catheads are the seats of ease used by seaman. Since they didn’t have toilet paper at the time, used rags or frayed cords of rope with water was used instead. The ships bell tells the time of day struck each half hour with a four hour watch comprised of one to eight bells. One hour is accomplished by striking two bells closely together. Down below, a state of the art (for 1768) “firehearth” was used to cook the meals. It was a huge iron stove that was fed wood for fuel. It sat on a stone hearth set on tin and sand that would protect the deck. The deck itself was believed to have been lined with tin. John Thompson, Cook’s one handed cook and his mates would cook a hot breakfast and midday dinner for upwards of 94 crew members on each day for three years in length. The food was boiled in large coppers and liquid was run out via taps. The open fire in the back was for spit roasting and three-legged pots were used to stand in the embers. On the port side a small over was used to cook pies and fresh break to feed to the officers, gentlement, and the sick. After mid-day meal, the fires were extinguished and coppers cleaned with a small fire kept alight towards the back to heat water for the gentlemen, surgeon, and the captain. A typical day’s meal would consist of a breakfast of hot porridge boiled with portable soup made of beef stock and scurvy grass at 6 am, then during midday dinner was served usually consisting of boiled salt meat, sauerkraut and vegetables as available. Three days a week, pease pudding, dried fish, or cheese was substituted instead of meat to make the rations last longer. One pound of dry biscuit and a gallon of beer were issued daily. During evening meal, cold leftovers were ate. Sometimes during winter a cup of hot chocolate made with water was offered and one a week boiled raisin pudding added. The cabins and workshops on either side of the kitchen were used by the carpenter, the bosun, and the sailmaker. Under the forecastle was the forepeak which is where the anchor cables and ropes would be stored.

Upwards of 60 sailors lived in these quarters for three years and six men would mess at each table sitting on seachests that held their belongings. The crew had very little choice in much of anything on the ship, but could choose who they messed with, and every month each table would elect a cook of the mess who took their rations to the ship’s cook and then collected them and served the table, cleaning the bowls, utensils, and returned them to the mess shelves. Every man had to provide his own bowl, spoon, and mug upon which he inscribed his own mark. The aft table was set up for the marines who often messed together. On the hatch are an assortment of casks, containers, and sailmaker’s tools. All crew would mend sails including the marines, a duty that no one could refuse.

The mess deck was added when the Endeavor was refitted from the collier to take Cook and his men to the Pacific. It was placed on the existing support beams in the collier giving a very high deck head in this area and a very low deck head aft. Hammocks were slung over the tables across the deck, sleeping 14 inches apart with them lashed and stowed every morning. The sick would sling their hammock above the mess tables during the day and was cared for by his mates. Officers and the gentlemen had swinging cots as a canvas hammock with a frame base of 18 inches. While at sea, the area would not have been very crowded as one group were always on watch while it was just the opposite when at anchor.

A red baize bag contained the cat o’ nine tails and used to discipline unruly crew. Acing like a whip, this was the usual method of punishment in the Royal Navy as well as on Cook’s watch consisting of 12 lashes for disobedience, mutinous talk, or being drunk on duty. Cook didn’t use it very often. A log line and lead line were tools for measuring speed and depth. The area between the cabins was called the “mess” for the midshipmen and mates. It was here that 8 young men would sling their hammocks, store their personal effects, ate their meals, and relaxed when off duty. Items on the shelves and stern beam would be their effects. The surgeon’s brother, a 17 year old Midshipman named Jonathan Munkhouse on Captain Cook’s ship had a cabin on the mess. Six of the small cabins were used by officers who ate meals and relaxed in their mess on the deck above. These cabins would be littered with their work and personality. The Captain’s clerk Richard Orton was Cook’s record keeper and wasn’t a very popular crew mate. His ears had been cut off during a drunken brawl in his cabin. Cook never found the culprit. Cook’s Third Lieutenant was a 38 year old American colonist who previously had sailed around the world twice on the Dolphin. He was a very good officer and sportsman being the first European to shoot a kangaroo. In 1771 he was promoted to Second Lieutenant and became a very good friend to Joseph Banks travelling with him later to Iceland in 1772. He sailed with Cook during the third voyage and brought both ships home after Cook’s death. The Master Robert Molyneux was one of Cook’s navigators who also performed boat work and storage of supplies. At age 22 he died of dysentery during return travel. The 29 years old Lieutenant Zachary Hicks was second in command to Captain Cook. He unfortunately died of tuberculosis during the voyage. William Munkhouse was the surgeon for Cook and represented a very intelligent educated doctor who died with his brother on the return voyage. Stephen Forwood, one of Cook’s Gunners took care of the guns and cannon. He was one of the few to be punished with the cat o’ nine tails under Cook’s authority for stealing rum but was allowed to join Cook during the second voyage. Marines on board would act as guards and policemen. They were easy to recognize with their bright red coats. They slung their hammocks port side with 4-6 inch headroom sleeping between the officers and the men to prevent mutiny. Cook sailed with 12 marines – one sergeant, a corporal, a drummer, and nine regulars. There were always 2 twenty-four hour sentry positions with one outside the captain’s cabin and the other in front of the gunpowder store or magazine to prevent anyone entering with a flame. The young boys and servants would sling their hammocks on starboard while in training for seamanship. The Swedish botanist (student of Linnaeus), Dr. Daniel Solander was aboard identifying over 1,000 new species of plants while on the voyage. The astronomer Charles Green was on board as he was appointed by the Royal Society to observe the transit of Venus across the sun in June 1769. He was a keen observer at sea upon whom Cook relied upon greatly when coursing through the reef on Australia’s east coast. The bedspread and curtains in his quarters were made by his wife and unfortunately he died during the return voyage of dysentery. A Swedish secretary was on board to assist the botanists, his name was Herman Sporing, and he also was a watch maker and had some medical training. He died of dysentery during the return trip. Two artists on board, Sydney Parkinson and Alexander Buchan, shared a cabin on he main floor recording what they saw throughout the journey. Unfortuantely Buchan died of epilepsy in Tahiti and Parkinson of dysentery after Batavia. Parkinson completed over 1,500 paintings and drawings during the expedition. The Captain James Cook, who died at age 40, had the largest cabin on the ship. He slept in a swinging cot that is lashed up during the day. Cook and Joseph Banks shared his cabin when Banks joined the crew. Joseph Banks was a world famous naturalist who published over 110 of his books. The Botanist, Dr. Solander would spent countless hours at his table checking the new plants collected ashore and classifying them using Linnaeus’ book “Species Plantarum”. Plants were drawn, dried, and archived.

Hatches would go below to the captain’s store room, the bread room, the clothing or slop room, the fish room, and the purser’s cabin. Stern openings are loading ports used to take in timbers and other items too long for the deck hatches. THe latticed pantries held the food/stock. The wheel/helm was manned by two sailers, one on each side, and is connected by ropes to the tiller run around the wooden drum and through a set of blocks. Poultry was stored in a hutch in front of the wheel and during storms it was not uncommon for birds to be lost during a storm. The Binnacle houses the compass, lanterns, and half-hour glass. The capstan is a vertical axis winch to hoist heavy spars, yards, and maneuver the ship at anchor.

The Living History Museum on board the replica of the HMS Endeavour –
The HMB Endeavour, while docked in port at Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

[ The Great Cabin ]   [ The Officer’s Mess ]   [ Main Deck ]   [ Mess Deck ]

HMB Endeavour In-Depth: The Great Cabin



HMB Endeavour – In-Depth: The Officer’s Mess


HMB Endeavour In-Depth: Main Deck:

HMB Endeavour In-Depth: Lower Deck / Mess Deck:








HMB Endeavour In-Depth: Main Deck


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