Short Biography of Captain James Cook
Historically recognized as one of the most gifted and prolific navigators in the world, Captain James Cook was also a cartographer whose contributions led to what would become an entire mapping of the Pacific Ocean. His methods of exploration were careful, calculated, and scientific in nature. These attributes would mean that he would be sent on some of the most important of voyages under the British Crown.
Born into what biographers consider was a poverty-stricken family, young James was determined to find his way in the world and to lead a life of adventure and exploration. His first ventures were into the Baltic Sea until he served with the Royal Navy where within only four years he worked his way to master an entire vessel. The Royal Navy sent him to Canada to survey the eastern coasts of the country where his notes, maps, and sketches were subsequently published.
Around this time, Captain Cook began thinking about the reasons why some shipmates survived ocean crossings and while others did not. Being a captain meant that he had adequate food and nourishment. He began making sure that all his hands were fed properly and given nutrient-rich foods. This contribution to sailing would mean that he would statistically lose fewer men on his journeys than any other captain.
Captain Cook’s first explorative voyage sent him to the Pacific Ocean. He set a due course past the Canary Islands, the Cape Verde Islands and below Cape Horn. He made it to Tahiti and continued onward to modern day New Zealand and there accurately mapped the entire perimeter of both islands. He then founded New South Wales in Australia and continued westward below the Cape of Good Hope to England, which meant that he had successfully circumnavigated the globe.
His second voyage saw him on an even more important navigation on a ship called Adventure. He continued into the Pacific and explored Easter Island, Tonga, and even discovered New Caledonia and Norfolk. He returned to England and his fame as one of England’s most prominent explorers of the Pacific. In Captain Cooks third and final journey, he was put in charge of finding a new route that would allow Britain to move from the Pacific to the Atlantic without having to go below South America. He and his crew eventually landed on and discovered Christmas Island and the entire chain of the Hawaiian Islands. He landed in what is now the northwest United States and sailed south along the coast looking for a passage to the Pacific. Finding none, he returned to the Hawaiian Islands and in a skirmish was killed.