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James Cook's stopover in Santa Cruz

Resolution and Adventure in Matavai Bay, by William Hodges in 1776, shows the two ships of Commander James Cook's second voyage of exploration in the Pacific at anchor in Tahiti.

The event took place during his expedition to find a route that connected the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic through North America.

James Cook, born on November 7, 1728 in Marton, United Kingdom, died in Kealakekua BayHawaii, on February 14, 1779. The most important navigator, explorer and cartographer of the 18th century entered the Royal Navy in 1755, rising to to captain 4 years later. The English Admiralty and the Royal Society of London appointed him to carry out three great maritime expeditions through the Pacific Ocean, which would be of enormous scientific and cartographic significance for later years, while at the same time they took possession, on behalf of His Majesty, of sites of interest to the crown.

The first voyage sailed from London on June 30, 1768, aboard the Endeavour, bound for Plymouth, where they picked up naturalists and astronomers Daniel Solander, Charles Green, and Joseph Banks. After being in Tenerife, in September they headed for Tahiti, with the mission of observing the passage of the planet Venus in front of the solar disk, on June 3, 1769. From here they went in search of the Southern continent, discovering the island of Admiralty and Society Island. He sailed around New Zealand and headed for Australia, which had not yet been settled by Europeans. On his arrival in London in 1771, the people were amazed at the collections of exotic plants they had collected.

The second trip (1772-1775) was delimited to the South hemisphere and the oceans of the Earth. On this occasion, the H.M.S. Endeavor was accompanied by H.M.S. Resolution and the H.M.S. Adventure, on board were astronomers, naturalists and cartoonists.

The third voyage (1776-1780) had the mission of finding a maritime commercial route that would connect the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic through the North of the American continent. In addition to finding this northern pass, they discovered several islands and the Hawaiian archipelago.

Cook departed from the port of Plymouth, on July 12, 1776, in command of HMS Resolution (1771), accompanied by HMS Discovery, captained by Charles Clerke.

When sailing to the Cape of Good Hope, they had to make a stopover in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, from August 1 to 4, 1776, because a storm that surprised them off the Bay of Biscay left them without food for the crew and for the livestock. They took advantage of their stay to obtain wine, stock up on water, buy wheat, pears, melons, bananas, pumpkins and potatoes, and buy oxen, lambs and goats.

His stay coincided with that of the French mathematician Jean-Charles de Borda, with whom he had the opportunity to exchange his observations on the longitude and latitude of the Santa Cruz dock, as well as the height of Mount Teide.

The expedition's doctor, William Anderson, recommends the climate and air of Tenerife for the cure of tuberculosis patients. He testifies that Captain Cook was invited to spend the night at Casa Mackay, a house located on the main road to La Laguna, nº 120.

His journeys did not see the light of day until 1784, the year in which his posthumous work was published by the British Admiralty, with the title 'A voyage to the Pacific Ocean by order of His Majesty to make discoveries in the northern hemisphere and determine the position of western America, its distance from Asia and the possibility of finding a passage to Europe through the northeast.'

Chapter II of the third volume, entitled 'Stay of the Resolution in Tenerife', deals with the description of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, provisions that can be acquired, observations to determine the longitude of Tenerife, botanical investigations, the city of Santa Cruz and La Laguna, agriculture, air and climate.

"Seeing that we did not have enough fodder and grain for the animals that I wanted to keep alive until we reached the Cape of Good Hope, I decided to stop at Tenerife and also take provisions for the crew there, since I considered this island more appropriate than Madeira. for my purposes.

We sighted Tenerife at four in the afternoon on July 31st and, as at nine o'clock at night we were quite close, we went deeper into the sea, in order to skirt it during the night. At dawn on August 1, we rounded the eastern tip of the Island and, at eight o'clock, we anchored on the southeast side of the Santa Cruz roadstead, at twenty-three fathoms (33.4 m.) on a muddy sandy bottom. .

Punta de Anaga, the eastern point of the roadstead, was to the north, 64º west. To the West-South-West, we had the church of San Francisco, which made the height of its bell tower remarkable. To the South 65º West, the Peak. And, to the South 39º West, the southwest point of the roadstead, where the fort or castle is located.

In this roadstead we find La Boussole, a French frigate commanded by Caballero Borda, two brigs from the same nation, a third brig that came from London and that was going to Senegal, and fourteen Spanish ships.

As soon as we docked, the harbour master came to pay us a visit; One of my officers accompanied him ashore to greet the Governor on my behalf and request permission to ship water and buy the things that were necessary for us. The governor granted me, with the greatest kindness, everything I had asked of him, and one of his officers came to compliment me. After dinner I went to see him with some of my officers; before returning on board I bought grain and straw for the animals, and arranged with Mr. M'Carrich for the purchase of some casks of wine. Since we couldn't refill our containers ourselves, the skipper of a Spanish ship promised to supply us with water.

The Santa Cruz roadstead is located in front of the city of the same name, on the south eastern side of the island. It is well sheltered, it is wide, and its bottom is of good firmness. It is completely open to winds from the southeast and south, but these winds are never long lasting. All the ships we saw had four anchors out, two to the northeast and two to the southwest; and its cables were stretched on barrels.

In the southwestern part of the roadstead there is a boardwalk that extends into the sea from the city and is very convenient for loading and unloading ships; there the water that is embarked is taken. The city's water comes from a stream that descends from the hills; most of it arrives in wooden tubes or troughs, supported by thin struts. However, the width of the channel shows that it sometimes serves as a channel for large torrents. These canals were being repaired during our stopover and fresh water, which is very good, was scarce.

The city of Santa Cruz, which is small in size, is fairly well built; the churches have nothing magnificent on the outside, but the interior is decorous and somewhat ornate.

They sold us a considerable amount of provisions, and it is clear that they do not consume all the products of their soil. I was foolish enough to buy young oxen and paid for them at a higher price; however, pigs, lambs, goats, and poultry were not as expensive. We also found fruit in abundance and ate grapes, figs, pears, blackberries and melons. The squashes, onions, corn, and sweet potatoes are of excellent quality, and I have never found them better preserved at sea. The inhabitants take little fish from its coastline, but their boats do a considerable catch off the Barbary Coast and sell the produce at a good price. In a word, it seemed to me that ships undertaking long voyages should stop at Tenerife rather than at Madeira.

Caballero de Borda, captain of the French frigate that was anchored in the Santa Cruz roadstead, carried out, in agreement with M. Varela, a Spanish astronomer, observations to determine the daily movement of two clocks that they had on board. They carried out this work in a shop located on the wharf; Every day, at noon, they compared their watch, with the help of some signals, with the astronomical clock that was on the coast.

M. de Borda was kind enough to communicate his signals to me and we were also able to examine the daily movement of our marine clock; but our stopover at Tenerife was too short for me to take much advantage of the friendly favor he wished to do me.

The comparisons that we repeated three days confirmed that the movement of my marine watch had not made any difference. We determined the longitude by observations of the height of the sun on the horizon, and the marine clock gave me the same result. I took the mean of the observations made on the first, second, and third days of August, and found longitude 16º 31´ West. By the same operation find out that the latitude is 18º 35' 30''.

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