Papers of the Board of Longitude : Log book of HMS Adventure

Papers of the Board of Longitude

<p>The astronomer <a href='/search?keyword=William%20Bayly'>William Bayly</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/154073.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] compiled this observations book on the voyage of HMS <a href='/search?keyword=Adventure'>Adventure</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/86374.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] under the command of <a href='/search?keyword=Tobias%20Furneaux'>Tobias Furneaux</a> from 1772 to 1774. It records the journey through the ice fields near <a href='/search?keyword=Antarctica'>Antarctica</a> (see Hodges' drawing [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/album/ItemViewer.aspx?itemid=823696&suppress=N&imgindex=43'>link</a>] in the State Library of New South Wales) and the islands of the <a href='/search?keyword=South%20Seas'>South Seas</a>. The voyage was part of the second expedition to the South Pacific led by then-Commander <a href='/search?keyword=James%20Cook'>James Cook</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/14102.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] . The main purpose of this tour was to search for an unknown continent, <i>Terra Australis</i>, in the Southern Ocean. A secondary aim was to test marine timekeepers made by <a href='/search?keyword=Larcum%20Kendall'>Larcum Kendall</a> and <a href='/search?keyword=John%20Arnold'>John Arnold</a> (see portrait in the British Museum [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/search_object_details.aspx?objectid=55293&partid=1&searchText=john+arnold&fromADBC=ad&toADBC=ad&numpages=10&orig=%2fresearch%2fsearch_the_collection_database.aspx&rrentPage=2'>link</a>] ).</p> <p>The expedition was a commission from the <a href='/search?keyword=Royal%20Society'>Royal Society</a>. Cook sought to find <i>Terra Australis</i> by circumnavigating the globe eastward in a high southern latitude, and this expedition was the first to cross the Antarctic circle. Joseph Banks, famous from Cook's first voyage to the South Seas, originally intended to make this journey as well but backed out after disagreements over the arrangements to house him and a larger entourage than the ship could safely hold. Other staff, including an artist and a natural historian, joined the expedition to further examine and record the maritime and terrestrial sights instead. A number of William Hodges' paintings [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/usercollections/8cb8d6e607a16a493b03346f8d244808.html'>link</a>] depict places described or mapped in the log book.</p> <p>Cook's two ships, the <i>Adventure</i> and HMS <a href='/search?keyword=Resolution'>Resolution</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/100618.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] left <a href='/search?keyword=Plymouth'>Plymouth</a> on 13 July 1772. They were split up by heavy fog in the southern <a href='/search?keyword=Indian%20Ocean'>Indian Ocean</a> from February to May 1773. Five months later, storms near <a href='/search?keyword=New%20Zealand'>New Zealand</a> meant the ships lost contact permanently. Bayly and the <i>Adventure</i> returned alone around <a href='/search?keyword=Cape%20Horn'>Cape Horn</a> and docked at <a href='/search?keyword=Spithead'>Spithead</a> on 14 July 1774. The <i>Resolution</i> further explored the South Pacific and the Antarctic before returning home on 30 July 1775.</p> <p> While separated from Cook the first time, Furneaux and his crew explored much of <a href='/search?keyword=Van%20Diemen%27s%20Land'>Van Diemen's Land</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/154013.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] or <a href='/search?keyword=Tasmania'>Tasmania</a>. They produced the earliest British chart of its geography. During the second separation, Furneaux took on board Cook's local interpreter and guide <a href='/search?keyword=Mai'>Mai</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/101256.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] (whom the British called Omai) of the Ulaietea or Raiatea people of <a href='/search?keyword=Tahiti'>Tahiti</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/15642.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] . Mai was the second native inhabitant of the Pacific to travel to Britain and later returned home to Tahiti with Cook in 1776-1777.</p> <p>William Bayly, like his counterpart <a href='/search?keyword=William%20Wales'>William Wales</a> on the Resolution, was a long-time collaborator of the Astronomer Royal <a href='/search?keyword=Nevil%20Maskelyne'>Nevil Maskelyne</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/379043.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] and of the Board of Longitude. He was one of the 'computers' of the figures published in the annual Nautical Almanac and served as Maskelyne's assistant at Greenwich from 1766 to 1771, with a break in 1769 to observe the Transit of Venus in Norway for the Royal Society. The Astronomer Royal recommended Bayly to the Board as the astronomer of one of Cook's two ships in 1772. His role was to make astronomical, navigational, ethnographic and natural philosophical observations both aboard ship and on the islands and continents that the vessel visited.</p> <p>On land, Bayly and Wales used temporary tent-like observatories [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/11177.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='RMG icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] , which Bayly had designed, to house their instruments and make observations. Bayly oversaw the testing of two of the marine timekeepers made by John Arnold ('No. 1' and 'No. 2'), although one of these stopped working near the <a href='/search?keyword=Cape%20of%20Good%20Hope'>Cape of Good Hope</a> on the journey out. (Cook had more success with Larcum Kendall's timekeeper 'K1' [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/79143.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='RMG icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, on board the <i>Resolution</i>.) The timekeepers were early attempts to move beyond the designs of <a href='/search?keyword=John%20Harrison'>John Harrison</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/136321.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] , which, while brilliant and effective one-offs, were too complex and expensive to reproduce for the entire Naval and mercantile fleets. Wales edited and published Bayly's observations in 1777 on behalf of the Board. From 1776 to 1780, Bayly served again as an expedition astronomer on Cook's third and final voyage to the (north) Pacific Ocean. He ended his working life as headmaster of the Royal Naval Academy in Portsmouth Dockyard from 1785 to 1807, with mixed results.</p> <p>Log books like that kept by Bayly on the <i>Adventure</i> were a central and long-standing component of maritime navigation. They were used in conjunction with traditional tools like timekeepers (whether hourglasses or clocks), lead-lines and compasses. These books became increasingly detailed and regularised over the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In them navigators, or in this case astronomers, recorded systemic observations and estimations of conditions. These could include wind, weather, currents, geographical landmarks and sketches, temperature and pressure, magnetic declination, and later chronometric readings. These observations contributed to estimates of position, direction and distance travelled. Institutions at home, from trading companies to the Hydrographic Office, could use these records to try to build up an accurate picture of the globe's oceans and trading routes. The information held in log books makes them of interest to researchers in a variety of subjects including geography and cartography, navigation and Naval history, astronomy and natural history, and ethnography and local history.</p> <p>Bayly used his log book to regularly record at sea the observed or estimated course or bearing of the ship, wind directions, current weather, and thermometer and compass readings. He also noted wildlife and oceanic vegetation, phenomena such as aurorae, and features such as icebergs. The astronomer made note of his successful and attempted astronomical observations for the lunar-distance method. He sometimes recorded the rates of going of the two marine timekeepers as well as any problems with them. He made some comparisons between the timekeepers or between different methods of estimating the ship's location. On land, Bayly also typically recorded islands' estimated locations, elevations and sizes as well as the types of vegetation and wildlife present, and (briefly) any present or past habitation.</p> <p>One of the most striking things apparent from these records is the difficulties that Bayly faced in transporting and using his instruments, and the marine timekeepers, aboard ship and at landfall. This was due to factors including chance, human error, logistical challenges, and dramatic changes in movement, temperature and humidity. Great patience and ingenuity were required to overcome or to compensate for these obstacles. In the Antarctic waters, fantastical sights of icebergs, whales, dolphins, penguins and the <i>Aurora Australis</i> alternated with horrendous weather including violent storms and snow, waves breaking over the decks, and poor visibility.</p> <p>The weather and visibility were frequently so poor that even when the <i>Adventure</i> and <i>Resolution</i> were accompanying each other, they could not make contact visually or by firing cannons. Bayly persisted in conducting experiments whenever possible, even during these episodes, as he recorded [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(67);return false;'>31</a>] on 29 November 1772. The astronomer lost [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(272);return false;'>133v</a>] his thermometer on 28 May 1774, when 'the bottom of the case of the Thermometer dropt out it being unglued by the change of weather'. There were also problems with the timekeepers from early on in the voyage, whether due to the conditions or to human error. Bayly noted [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(51);return false;'>23</a>] on 5 October 1772, that the Watch No. 2 had 'lost' an unusually high amount of time as compared to Watch No. 1: 'I frequently saw the second hand stand still 2 or 3 seconds & then go on again but from what cause I know not'.</p> <p>Bayly's corresponding observations book for this voyage is in volume [<a href='/view/MS-RGO-00014-00057/1'>RGO 14/57</a>]. The log and observation books kept by William Wales on board the HMS <i>Resolution</i> are in volumes [<a href='/view/MS-RGO-00014-00058/1'>RGO 14/58</a>] and [<a href='/view/MS-RGO-00014-00059/1'>RGO 14/59</a>]. Both astronomers also appear in a number of other volumes in RGO 14, in relevant minutes, accounts and correspondence, as well as in the papers of individuals such as Maskelyne. It is extremely interesting to see in the two men's log and observations books, their disparate approaches to their tasks (and perhaps disparate abilities). Their reactions to the different landscapes and native peoples whom they encountered are telling. Wales comes across as far more enamoured of observing and interacting with these populations. He appears more appreciative of them, albeit still in a rather patronising and exoticising way.</p> <p>Such apparent differences between the two astronomers, and likely between their two Commanders, are reflected in their differing reactions to a momentous event which occurred on 18 December 1773. Bayly recorded [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(206);return false;'>100v</a>] in greater-than-normal depth in his log book, likely due to horror, that some of the Maori killed and purportedly cannibalised ten of the <i>Adventure</i>'s crew who had gone ashore. When the <i>Resolution</i> returned to New Zealand the next year, Wales communicated with a number of Maori at length about this event, as best as he could given the language barriers. He noted [<a href='/view/MS-RGO-00014-00058/1'>RGO 14/58</a>] with some unease on 13 October 1774 that they told him that perhaps two (and in reality about ten) months earlier, other British visitors had come ashore and, after some of the natives stole from them, shot and killed many of their people. The men that spoke to Wales insisted they had played no part in the debacle and continued to say that the Maori in question had overcome and eaten the sailors. Cook tried to question the speakers as well, but they would say no more to the British.</p> <p>Alexi Baker<br />History and Philosophy of Science<br />University of Cambridge<br /> </p>


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