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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 15, Issue 3 (June 1, 1940)

Cook Enters the Bay

Cook Enters the Bay.

Three years later, in the same month, Dusky Bay suddenly rose to greatness; for about noon on Friday, 26th March, 1773, Captain Cook, on board the Resolution, sailed into the bay and anchored under Anchor Island—the first place he touched in New Zealand on this, his second voyage round the world.

The Resolution had just come from Antarctic regions, where, with her consort the Adventure, she had been sailing among thick fogs, sleet, snow, and icebergs. During a furious gale a great part of the live-stock brought from
Pickersgill Harbour, Dusky Sound.

Pickersgill Harbour, Dusky Sound.

the Cape, was lost, and in February the Adventure disappeared from view in a dense fog; everything possible was done to gain contact with her again, but without avail. On 17th March Cook decided to proceed to New Zealand, to look for the Adventure, and to get greatly needed refreshment for his people. By the time he reached Dusky Bay, Cook had been over four months without even sighting land.

It was with feelings approaching ecstasy that the ship's company looked on Dusky. George Forster—one of the naturalists with the expedition—describes their sensations on entering the bay:

“Flocks of aquatic birds enlivened the rocky shores,” he says, “and the whole country resounded with the wild notes of the feathered tribes.” “The view of the rude sceneries … of antediluvian forests which clothed the rock, and of numerous rills of water which everywhere rolled down the steep declivity, altogether conspired to complete our joy. And so apt is mankind, after a long absence from land, to be prejudiced in favour of the wildest shore, that we looked upon the country at that time as one of the most beautiful which nature, unassisted by art, could produce.”

At three o'clock in the afternoon the Resolution was anchored, and immediately Cook sent “a boat and people afishing”; meanwhile, some of the gentlemen killed a seal—out of many that were upon a rock—and thus a fresh meal was procured for the whole ship's company, which numbered 112.

Not liking the place where they had anchored, Cook sent Lieutenant Pickersgill over to the south-east side of the bay to search for a better anchorage, while for the same purpose he himself went to the other side. After hearing Pickersgill's report, Cook considered his finding to be the better; therefore, the following morning they got under sail, and working over to Pickersgill Harbour, entered it by a channel scarcely twice the width of the ship. Mooring head and stern in a small creek, they were so near the shore that it could be reached by a stage. Certainly, it was a most convenient spot—wood for fuel and for other purposes was right at hand, and a fine stream of fresh water ran about 100 yards from the ship's stern.

Dusky Bay woke up—disturbed in its sleep by the shouting of voices, the moving of gear, sawing, hammering, and chopping of wood. In the woods places were cleared in which to set up the astronomer's observatory, a forge to repair the ship's iron work, tents where the coopers and sailmakers could work while mending the sails and watercasks. Out in the bay, men were fishing with great success; getting, in a few hours, enough to serve the whole company for dinner.

(Continued on p. 52 ).

page 52
At the Head of Dusky Sound.

At the Head of Dusky Sound.