Captain Cook Monument

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Whereabouts.’ See more responses here. ‘Whereabouts’ means ‘the place or general locality where a person or thing is.’

My whereabouts are the Big Island, Hawaii, which is also the place where Captain James Cook, of the British Royal Navy, lost his life on February 14, 1779. He was killed by native Hawaiians with whom he was involved in a dispute over the loss of a cutter from one of his ships. I won’t go into a detailed history here, but more information about Captain Cook can be found at www.captaincooksociety.com/.

Captain Cook’s whereabouts were often uncertain, in that he was an explorer who visited unknown or little known places around the world. Not only did he sail to far flung places, but he made excellent, detailed maps and charts of the places he visited, which made him highly thought of in the British Admiralty, and which made it easier for future travelers to know their whereabouts.

Between 1768 and 1779 Cook made three voyages around the world. The first two focused on the search for the theorized southern super-continent of Terra Australis. The third was intended to find the Northwest Passage across the northern part of North America.

It was on this third voyage that Cook became the first European to officially visit Hawaii (as opposed to other European commercial ships that were believed to have been there before). He sailed on to the north to attempt (unsuccessfully) to fulfill his commission before returning to Hawaii.

This time he anchored in Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island (official name, Hawaii Island). He was well received, in part because his arrival coincided with a Hawaiian festival for the god Lono. After a month, Cook left to resume his voyage, but when one of his ships lost a mast, he returned to Kealakekua Bay.

Unfortunately, by then the festival for Lono was over and his return was not greeted with the same enthusiasm. Soured relations led to several incidents culminating the theft of a ship’s cutter and the incident that led to Cook’s death. However, the killing of Cook did not diminish his standing in the eyes of the Hawaiians. In 1874, the Captain Cook monument was put in place and, in 1877, the land on which it stands was deeded to Britain by Princess Likelike as a sign of respect.

The top photo shows the monument, surrounded by a chain supported by twelve cannons from HMS Fantome. The second photo shows the inscription on the monument. I particularly like the bit about how he discovered these islands, islands which were occupied by a substantial population governed by an established royal line. The third photo is the plaque marking the spot where Captain Cook is believed to have been killed. Below is the location of that plaque in relation to Kealakekua Bay, which is the water beyond the rocks in this photo.

10 thoughts on “Captain Cook Monument

  1. Forestwood

    So intetesting and I am sorry I missed this post before. There was some suggestion he was using Dutch or Portuguese maps when he mapped Eastern Australia. They had never been along the East coast but had bern along the north easy coast south of Papua.

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    1. Graham Post author

      I think back then navigators would use anything they could get their hands on. Maps and charts of many places were regarded as state secrets and anyone who could get their hands on them, legally or otherwise, could make a fortune. Cook’s greatest skill, and what his reputation was built on, was that he made highly accurate, charts of the places he visited. This was at a time when some charts were mostly the cartographer’s wishful thinking.

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    1. Graham Post author

      Indeed. He came up through the ranks, which was unusual, but he was such a good cartographer that he couldn’t be overlooked. Sounds like he was also a decent captain, by the standards of the time. It’s a busy spot, very popular with tour companies, but I was there early and the place was deserted so I was able to take a moment and imagine the scene in the quiet of the morning.

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        1. Graham Post author

          Who knows how the end will come? I had a friend who was into her 90s, a lively soul, living independently and still in pretty good health and able to get around and do what she wanted. Then one morning she collapsed and died. I was sad at her passing but happy at how she’d gone, living her life right up to the end. I thought, I’d sign up for that in a heartbeat if I could!

          Liked by 1 person

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