COOK'S LOOK AT LIZARD ISLAND
This is the anchorage at Lizard Island. We spent several
days here as we sailed in the wake of Captain Cook along the Ozzie
coast. Here is the story of Captain Cook and Lizard Island.
Captain Cook almost lost his ship, the Endeavor, as he sailed up
the Australian coast inside the Great Barrier Reef. He was
exploring uncharted waters, and on 10 June, 1770 he ran out of
luck when the Endeavor struck a reef. The reef rose steeply
from the seabed and was undetectable until it was too late. The
ship started taking on water and was in danger of sinking.
On the positive side, the Endeavor struck the reef at high tide,
and that meant there was time to deal with the breach in the hull
as the tide went out. Cook's crew lightened ship by throwing
heavy canons and stores overboard, so that when high tide returned
they might be able to float off the reef. They manned their
emergency pumps, and created a type of collision mat to put on the
outside of the hull to stem the leak. They ran out kedge
anchors, and worked furiously to prepare to refloat Endeavor at
high tide. All of the work paid off, because eventually they
kedged off the reef and their temporary hull patch controlled the
flow of water so they did not sink.
After they escaped from the reef, they sailed north to the mouth
of a large river where they careened their ship and made repairs.
It turned out that in spite of their bad luck, good fortune had
smiled on the Endeavor because a large fist sized piece of coral
had penetrated the hull and lodged in the hole, sealing the breach
to a significant degree. If the coral hadn't lodged in the
hull, it 's likely the Endeavor would have sunk.
After completing repairs, Cook sailed north searching for an
opening that would let him navigate eastward through reef
strewn waters and back into the Coral Sea. Unfortunately,
Cook didn’t know how far north the Great Barrier Reef extended
since he was voyaging in uncharted waters. It turned out that the
reef is nearly 1200 miles long. In addition, ships like the
Endeavor did not sail well to windward, and to escape, Captain
Cook needed to sail against the prevailing trade winds.
As he continued north along the Ozzie coast, he finally came to
Lizard Island which turned out to be his salvation. Lizard has a
good anchorage, and best of all, it's high enough to give an
excellent view of the reef for miles in all directions. He
spent a couple of hours climbing to the top of Lizard, and when he
surveyed the reef to the east, to his great relief, he found a
break in the reef through which he could safely take his ship.
All he had to do was wait for good weather and a favorable wind,
and he would escape the clutches of the Great Barrier Reef.
climb to the top of the island today, a monument points your eyes
in the direction of Cook’s passage through the reef. Take your
binoculars to the top of the hill in the afternoon, and with the
sun to your back, you will easily see Cook's escape route. If you
want to sail in the wake of Captain Cook, just sail through the
break in the reef as you head out into the Coral Sea on your own
voyage of discovery.
the wake of explorers like Captain Cook encourages me to live my
dreams. Captain Cook had no end to adversity in his life,
but he always did what the had to do as he sailed on the ocean of
You and I are just like Captain Cook. If we are going to
live our dreams, there will be no end to adversity in our lives.
We may as well expect it and get used to it. There's a
hundred percent chance that we are going to hit a few reefs, and
we will need to make emergency repairs more than once as we
navigate through our life. But that's ok. After all,
we are on a voyage of discovery, and we are sailing in uncharted
waters. If we live as if our dreams are possible and work
each day to make them happen, we will find an opening in our
barrier reefs, and before long, we will be sailing downwind on the
ocean of our dreams.
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