The Voyages Of Captain Cook 2nd Voyage (With Thanks To John Robson)

Cook had received some criticism for not having searched more thoroughly for the supposed Southern Continent and so on this voyage he was detemined to sail into the highest latitudes that conditions would allow in order to settle the matter.

He planned to use New Zealand and Tahiti as bases to which the expedition could retreat for rest and repairs. He also intended to use two ships on this expedition. The Admiralty agreed to his plans and to his request for two ships. Again, colliers were used - the 'Marquis of Granby' and the 'Marquis of Rockingham' were bought and renamed 'HMS Resolution'(462 tons) and 'HMS Adventure'(340 tons). Joseph Banks the botanist who had been on the 'Endeavour' had ideas of his own for this second voyage. He planned on taking a party of fifteen made up of draughtsmen, an artist, secretaries, servants and musicians. Further, Banks through his friend Lord Sandwich, who happened to be First Lord of the Admiralty, managed to persuade the Navy that alterations had to be made to the Resolution in order to accomodate his party and their equipment. The changes were made but when attempts were made to sail the Resolution down the Thames the pilot gave up when it soon became clear that the vessel had been rendered unseaworthy. The Navy therefore decided that the Resolution should be returned to its former state. When Banks became aware of this he was furious and insited that he and his party would not take part in the voyage unless his demands were met. He also made protestations to his friend Lord Sandwich. This time however, Lord Sandwich took the side of the Navy with the result that Banks was no longer part of the expedition. This meant that last-minute replacements had to be found and two naturalists, Johann Reinhold Forster and his son were chosen. Also picked to join the voyage were two astronomers, William Wales for the Resolution and William Bayley for the Adventure. The artist William Hodges was also chosen and in drawings and paintings he was to produce a remarkable record of the expedition. Of the officers recruited for the voyage, the Resolution's lieutenants were Cooper, Clerke and Pickersgill. The captain of the Adventure was Tobias Furneaux who had previous experience of the Pacific and his lieutenants were Shank, Kempe and Burney.

Finally, after much delay, the ships were ready to set sail and at the end of June, 1772 Cook sailed from Sheerness aboard the Resolution. On 3rd.July they reached Plymouth where they were joined by the Adventure but before leaving, Cook took aboard marine chronometers which would be used to guage longitude.

One of these chronometers was made by Larcum Kendall and was a copy of John Harrison's original design. Cook referred to Kendall's chronometer (K-1) as "the watch". There are frequent references to the watch in Cook's log : "It would not be doing justice to Mr.Harrison and Mr.Kendall if I did not own that we have received very great assistance from this useful and valuable timepiece."

The route the ships took was close to that of the Endeavour and towards the end of July Resolution and Adventure arrived in the harbour of Funchal, Madeira where they took on board fresh food and drink. Heading south they passed the Canaries before reaching the Cape Verde Islands where they anchored to the south of Sao Tiago Island. The scientists took the opportunity to spend time ashore while charts were being made of the harbour. The two ships sailed again on 15th.August and kept pace with each other as they crossed the Equator on 7th.September. During this part of the voyage the scientists on board tried out new instruments such as a submersible thermometer for measuring the temperature of seawater and a method for converting saltwater into drinking water.

Because of the time spent on alterations to the Resolution back in England the expedition was now behind schedule and when the ships arrived in Capetown on 31st.October there were further delays due to the length of time it took the Dutch to supply provisions. While in Capetown the naturalists took on an assistant named Sparman. When the ships finally left Capetown on 23rd.November Cook was a month behind schedule and anxious to reach the latitudes around Antarctica while it was still Summer and conditions weren't too inhospitable. He wanted to settle the question of of the Southern Continent's existence once and for all.

By mid-December they were encountering gales and icebergs and so as a precaution the two captains, Cook and Furneaux arranged rendezvous points in case the ships became separated. Conditions worsened when dense fog closed in. By 12th.January conditions had improved, the weather was calm and clear and the crew experimented by breaking blocks of ice from icebergs and melting them to produce drinking water. Sailing south on 17th.January 1773 they were the first known ships to cross the Antarctic circle. On the following day they had sailed as far as 67degrees15'S when their passage was blocked by pack ice and they had to retreat northwards. By the end of January they were free of icebergs so Cook began a search for the land described by the explorer Kerguelen. They had not met with success when on the 8th.February dense fog enveloped them and the two ships became separated. The Resolution made a circuit of the area for several days, firing shots but was unable to locate the Adventure, it was assumed that it had made for the rendezvous.

The Resolution headed south again and by 24th.February had reached 67degrees15'S when again they were stopped by pack ice and forced back, not realising that they had almost reached the Antarctic mainland. Also at this time they witnessed the Aurora Australis which was the first recorded sighting of this phenomenon. Cook sailed east at around 60degrees S. for about three weeks before heading for New Zealand and warmer waters. In the meantime Furneaux had made for the rendezvous, stopping briefly at Van Diemen's Land before heading east for New Zealand where he arrived at Queen Charlotte Sound on 7th April.

On March 25th the Resolution came in sight of the southwest tip of New Zealand's South Island and sailed into Dusky Sound. When a suitable anchorage had been found at what was later called Pickersgill harbour a party went ashore to prepare an area for the astronomers to carry out their work. The ship's officers began to explore the area and Maori were sighted though no contact was made and when Cook found their camp it was deserted. Further exploration was made in order to gather food and slowly, contact was established with the Maori and gifts were exchanged.

After more exploration of sea passages and sounds the Resolution headed back out to open sea on 11th.May and sailed north up the coast to Queen Charlotte Sound where to Cook's relief he found the Adventure safely anchored in Ship Cove.

Beginning on 7th June, Resolution and Adventure undertook a voyage to cover the central Pacific in order to settle the question of the Southern Continent. They sailed as far as 133 degrees W. without sighting land then headed north for Tahiti, reaching the island on 15th August. On 17th August the ship anchored at Cook's Anchorage in Vaitepia Bay to a warm reception from the islanders. The local chief was Vehiatua who as a boy, had spent time with Cook on his previous visit. The artist Hodges painted scenes of the Vaitepiha river valley before the ships left to make for Matavai Bay. Things had changed in the years since Cook's first visit. Wars had taken place and a new chief, Tu, was in power. 

Entertainments were provided for the visitors but provisions were in short supply and so on 1st.September the two ships sailed to Huahine and the other Society Islands. On reaching Huahine the next day Cook was welcolmed by the island chief Ori and gifts were exchanged. Here, supplies were plentiful but unfortunately the naturalist Anders Sparman while inland, was robbed and stripped which resulted in a tense atmosphere but the matter was resolved peaceably and on 7th September the ships set sail with the addition of a passenger, Mai, on board the Adventure who was later to gain fame in London. They sailed across to Raiatea and headed for the anchorage at Rautoanui making and ammending charts as they went. They again received a warm welcolme from the chief, Orio who laid on dancing and musical entertainments every day of their visit. Provisions were obtained and the ships left on 17th September but instead of returning straight to New Zealand as Cook had originally intended they decided instead to make for the Tongan Islands which Tasman had visited in 1643. Relations with the islanders were very good, so much so that Cook gave the islands the name 'Friendly Islands'. It was a brief visit but Cook was able to make detailed observations about the island Tongatapu and he was told of more islands further to the north. After stocking up on supplies Cook was keen to move on in order to be able to return to the Antarctic by the start of Summer. Both ships left Tonga on 8th October and headed for New Zealand. Their passage was uneventful until they reached Cape Palliser on the southern tip of New Zealand's North Island when they encountered gales which lasted a week and greatly impeded their progress and on 30th October the two ships lost sight of each other. The Resolution eventually made it to Queen Charlotte Sound on 3rd November but there was no sign of the Adventure.

After three weeks during which time repairs to the Resolution were made there was still no sign of the Adventure. Unable to wait any longer, Cook set sail. He spent two days in Cook Strait searching for the Adventure before giving up and heading south. By 11th December Cook had crossed latitude 60 degrees S. and in the days following the ship was gradually surrounded by loose pack ice. They crossed the Antarctic Circle on 20th.December by which time conditions on board ship were very harsh, a layer of ice covering everything. The crew were suffering so Cook decided to head north to warmer conditions to check a space on his Pacific charts. He sailed as far as 47 degrees S. without sighting any land when to the crew's disapointment he turned and headed south once more. By 26th.January 1774 they had crossed the Antarctic Circle at longitude 109 degrees W. in mild, foggy conditions. They were surrounded by large icebergs however and on 30th January they encountered unbreachable pack ice that forced their retreat. At this point they had reached 71 degrees 10'S. The furthest south and closest to the South Pole that anyone had ever been.

William Wales the astronomer on board the Resolution would later teach at Christ's Hospital School where one of his pupils was Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It is highly likely that Wales would have recounted his experiences on board the Resolution. Coleridge's poem 'The Ryme of the Ancient Mariner' was partly inspired by the voyage and their are many similarities between the verses and the descriptions in Cook's journals.

Encountering impassable pack ice again led Cook to give up searching for the Great Southern Continent. He wrote : "I, who had ambition not only to go farther than anyone had done before, but as far as it was possible for man to go, was not sorry at meeting with this interruption". He decided that if a Southern Continent did exist then it must lie at such high latitudes as to be too cold and inhospitable. As the Resolution made its way north to warmer waters Cook began looking for islands previously recorded by Juan Fernandez in 1563 and Edward Davis in 1687. The locations were vague but Cook felt duty-bound to seek them out. By 22nd.February Cook had reached 36 degrees S. and began to sail through the area where Fernandez had made his sightings. At this time Cook became seriously ill with a stomach ailment and gave command to Lieutenant Cooper. His condition worsened and it was constant attention from the surgeon, Patten with help from the naturalist Forster that saved Cook. Forster had his dog killed and a broth made from it which was carefully fed to Cook. It is now thought that Cook had a problem with his gall bladder and a paralysed bowel. The ship meanwhile continued north without sighting any land and now the crew were complaining of the heat and a lack of drinking water. At the beginning of March the Resolution turned west in search of Easter Island so named by the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen who had visited in 1722.

On 13th March the island, one of the world's most remote inhabited locations, was sighted. The Resolution approached the island from the south east and after skirting the coastline and finding no safe harbour anchored offshore opposite a settlement called Hanga Roa. Cook went ashore on March 14th. and with some difficulty was able to communicate with the locals. Some trade took place but there was little fresh water available. Being still too weak himself, Cook sent a party to explore the island. The Forsters, Wales and Pickersgill returned with good accounts of what they had seen.They had found a largely barren and treeless landscape and upon climbing a hill were able to view both the north and south coasts of the island some 18 kilometres long. They were especially fascinated by the groups of large statues (moai) standing on platforms (ahu) around the coast and the artist Hodges made a painting of one of these groups near a place called Orito. The Resolution left Easter Island (Rapa Nui) on March 17th. and as they sailed north Cook again fell ill. They were looking for islands found by the Spaniard Mendana during a voyage from Peru in 1595. The Spanish had named them Las Marquesas de Mendoca which was later contracted to the Marquesas, the Polynesian name being Te Fenua Enata. The islands were reached around 6th.April and the Resolution anchored in the harbour of Vaitahu Bay on 8th.April. Both water and provisions were available and trade began but an incident occurred which resulted in an islander being shot dead and although trading continued there was tension on both sides. Someone from the ship began to use red feathers brought from Tonga, as currency and this undermined all other attempts to trade so Cook decided it was time to leave and headed for Tahiti without seeing the other islands of the Marquesas which lay further to the north. Despite a brief visit and the trading problems Cook came away with a positive impression of the islands and their people and the men were thought to be the most handsome yet encountered in the Pacific.

After a few days the Resolution arrived at the Northern Tuamotu Islands where in order to navigate the reefs and atolls a small boat was sent ahead to find a safe passage. On 17th.April they reached Takaroa where Cook and Forster went ashore but they were not made welcome by the locals and so they went on to neighbouring Takapoto and a group of small atolls including Apataki, Arutua and Toau which he named Palliser's Isles. On 22nd April Cook arrived back in Matavai Bay on Tahiti where they found, in contrast to their last visit, plentiful supplies. A few days later at Pare, Cook witnessed the spectacle of a gathering of a war party of over 300 canoes carrying about 7,000 men. The purpose appeared to be an attack on the nearby island of Moorea. A musket was stolen from the Resolution's party but fortunately it was retrieved and in order to calm things down Cook put on a display of fireworks.

They left Tahiti on 14th May and sailed to Huahine where their reception was less than friendly. Forster's servant Scholient was attacked and robbed and this and other incidents persuaded Cook to move on to Raiatea where the chief, Orio, staged various entertainments for their benefit, mainly featuring his daughter Poetua. After taking on supplies the Resolution left Raiatea on 4th.June and began heading north. Two weeks later the Resolution arrived at Palmerston Atoll, part of the Cook Islands. Two attempts were made by the crew to land on one of the islands but on both occasions the locals threw coral at them and so Cook continued on, reaching the Tongan Isalnds again on 25th June. Cook anchored off the north coast of the island of Nomuka. Supplies were plentiful but while trading was taking place two muskets were stolen and once they had been recovered Cook decided to leave. They headed north for two islands, Kao and Tofua, an active volcano. Low cloud prevented them from seeing if the volcano was active and Cook wouldn't go ashore to investigate. ( 15 years later the mutiny on the Bounty occurred off Tofua and when Captain Bligh landed his longboat there he was attacked and lost his Quartermaster).

In 1606 the Spanish explorer Quiros encountered some islands which he named Tierra del Espiritu Santo but their precise location remained unknown and Cook, after leaving Tonga now tried to find them. Cook sailed west on latitude 20 degrees S. and on 3rd July he reached Vatoa, one of the Fijian islands but after an unsuccessful search for water Cook continued westwards. This was Cook's only visit to Fiji. On the 11th.July the Resolution turned north and on July 16th. the island of Maewo was sighted. This was one of the islands visited by Quiros. Cook sailed south between Maewo and another island, Aoba and then on down the west coast of Pentecost. Cook now found himself surrounded by islands and he headed southwest for Malekula where he anchored the Resolution in an inlet on 22nd. July. When Cook went ashore it was to discover that the inhabitants were Melanesian not Polynesian and so communication was very difficult. Between four and five hundred people had assembled on the beach and Cook exchanged grren branches with one of them. It became clear that trade was not being encouraged but the crew were allowed to chop wood. Cook and Forster managed to visit a local village. What Cook was entirely unaware of was that the Malekulans regarded Cook and his men as ghosts and since ghosts did not eat or drink there was no need to provide food or water. An incident occurred which persuaded Cook it was time to leave and so they left the inlet and sailed south. Cook visited various other islands in this group which he christened the New Hebrides. He and his crew met with varying degrees of hospitality. On the island of Tanua their reception was somewhat guarded but they were able to obtain fish and fresh water though they were not encouraged to explore anywhere beyond the beach. Shortly before the Resolution sailed on 20th August a sentry shot one of the islanders and Cook ordered him to be flogged but the officers interceded on the man's behalf and Cook was persuaded to relent. By the 23rd August Cook was again off the coast of Malekula and on 24th. he sailed east through the Bougainville Strait between Malekula and Malo then went north along the coast of a large island he identified as Terra del Espiritu Santo and named a headland Cape Quiros in honour of the Spanish explorer. Cook took the Resolution round the northwest Cape Cumberland and down the west coast before finally leaving the New Hebrides on 1st September 1774. It is remarkable that during Cook's visit to these islands he completed their charting in only four weeks sailing time. (When the New Hebrides gained independence the country became known as Vanuatu).

The Resolution sailed south from the New Hebrides and came in sight of land once again on 4th.September. The first bit of land sighted was called Cape Colnett after the midshipman who spotted it. The land seen stretched from northwest to southeast and was bordered by a reef so the Resolution stood off until next day when a safe passage was found and the ship was able to sail through into a safe anchorage accompanied by local canoes. Cook went ashore at Koulnoue M'Balan where he was received courteously by the Melanesian inhabitants who were of a different disposition to those he had encountered in the New Hebrides. A chief named Tibooma met Cook and his men and took them to the village of Baio for water. On a neighbouring island, Poudiou, an observatory was established to record a solar eclipse. At the same time Cook climbed Mount Vengaya south of Baio and from the summit he was able to see the valley of the river Diahot and, beyond, the island's south coast. Cook thought the dryness, vegetation and the landscape similar to New Holland which lay not too far west on the same latitude. Cook dispatched parties to explore and find a passage via the north which would bring them to the other coast. On 13th September they sailed north all the time keeping a safe distance from the reef. However, no route west could be found so Cook was forced to turn and sail back the way he had come, continuing south and keeping the coastline in sight. As they sailed on they could see what appeared to be some kind of tower-like structures. Cook thought they were trees and he was keen to find a way to shore to investigate. By 24th September they had reached the southern point of the island where Cook named the headlands Cape Coronation and Queen Charlotte's Foreland. Still, reefs and now gales prevented Cook from rounding this point and they were forced southeast to a smaller island which also appeared to be covered in the "towers". Cook managed to sail the ship back towards the main island but was compelled to anchor off a smal islet named Amere Island or Botany Island as Cook called it. Finally, the botanists were able to confirm that the towers were indeed trees (New Caledonian Pines, their Latin name being Araucaria columnaris cooki). Carpenters felled some of the trees and they were found to be very suitable for ships timbers. Cook learnt from the locals that they had no one name for for the large island and so as it's coastline had reminded him of Scotland he gave it the name New Caledonia. Cook left the islands on 1st.October, 1773 and headed southeast in the direction of New Zealand.

After several days of sailing in a southerly direction Cook turned west and came in sight of another small island. The Resolution anchored off the north coast and Cook went ashore. Much of the plant and animal life reminded Cook of New Zealand. It also had a version of the tall pine trees encountered on New Caledonia. During his brief time ashore Cook found no signs of human habitation. He returned to the ship having named the island Norfolk Island. As the Resolution left several smaller islands to the south were noted.

They reached Cape Egmont on the west coast of New Zealand's North Island on 17th.October and the following day anchored in Ship Cove in Queen Charlotte Sound. The Adventure wasn't there but there were signs that it had been. The bottle left for Furneaux was gone and some trees had recently been felled by axe though no message had been left. Cook lost no time in restocking and making repairs since he was anxious to be on his way to round Cape Horn.
The Resolution left Queen Charlotte Sound 10th.November 1774, precisely two and a half years after leaving Plymouth. Everyone on board was ready to go home but Cook decided to cross the Pacific to Cape Horn and make another attempt to find Cape Circumcision before heading back to Britain. Cook headed south to latitude 55 degrees S. that of Tierra del Fuego then turned east - a course that would take them through areas of the Pacific they had yet to explore. However, on 17th.December they arrived at Cape Desado on Desolation Island having seen no land or any indication of land. Cook was now able to declare with confidence having undertaken two voyages criss-crossing the Pacific, that no significant large landmasses remained to be found in the South Pacific. The map Cook produced of the Pacific shows that he fixed definitively the positions of those islands visited by earlier explorers and that if any land remained undiscovered it was small or lay in waters too cold and inhospitable. Making for Cape Horn Cook followed the coastline of Tierra del Fuego which comprised of hundreds of small islands some charted, some not. Keeping a safe distance from shore Cook sailed on and in need of supplies and to check the ship's condition he found an inlet in which to anchor the Resolution on the 20th December. They stayed there for eight days over Christmas resulting in the inlet being named Christmas Sound. Fresh water and vegetables were found while Cook, the Forsters and other officers explored the area. Fuegan people visited the ship and gifts were exchanged. Various birds were shot for food and features in the Sound were named after them. A towering rock on Waterman Island was named York Minster. The Resolution left Christmas Sound on 28th December, rounded Cape Horn the following day then made for the Bay of Good Success to look for any signs of the Adventure but no trace of the other ship was found. Sailing on through the Strait of Le Maire Cook turned east following the north coast of Staten Island. He reached a group of small islands, the New Year's Isles on 31st December, 1774 and anchored off the largest of them, Observatory Island. Gilbert, the ship's Master was sent to investigate an inlet of Staten Island and charted a good harbour naming it New Year's Harbour. They sailed on two days later heading east past what was later called Cook Bay then rounded Cape St John before setting off to explore the South Atlantic on 3rd January, 1775 Cook had with him a chart made by Alexander Dalrymple which showed some features supposed to exist in the South Atlantic. A large gulf, the Golfo de St.Sebastian was thought to to have been seen but when the Resolution sailed through the supposed location there was no sign of such a gulf. However in 1756 another explorer, Gregorio Jerez reported seeing an island east of Tierra del Fuego which he named San Pedro and on 14th January Cook sighted what was possibly the same island. On the 17th the Resolution was steered through a strait and began sailing along the the north coast of a mountainous, snow covered barren landscape. He gave the names North and Butler to two capes before anchoring at the mouth of an inlet. Cook called this inlet Possession Bay and went ashore with Forster the botanist. They found only three species of plant life in what was a cold and inhospitable environment. Seals and birds were seen including King Penguins but the most remarkable sight was when they witnessed an iceberg calving from one of the large glaciers that flowed into the bay. The Resolution continued along the coast and on the 20th January they rounded what was named Cape Disappointment and could see the coast stretching northwest confirming the land to be an island that Cook named South Georgia. Some smaller islands he named after crew members such as Pickersgill Island and Cooper Island. It was a puzzle to Cook that land 55 degrees S. should be so cold and have such little vegetation or water. He wondered if glaciers were the source of the huge amounts of pack ice the ship had encountered. Earlier, they had sighted more land further east and Cook now sailed in that direction. Gales and dense fog made progress difficult and on the 23rd. they found the land to be only rocks hosting colonies of seabirds. Cook named them Clerke's Rocks after one of his officers. The Resolution continued southeast then south to 60 degrees S. when the ship became enveloped in dense fog. Cook did not want to run into any pack ice in the fog so on 27th January he turned east. Moving slowly through the fog on the 31st. a towering rock became visible. Named Freezland Rock after the seaman who spotted it, more land became visible beyond the rock and when Cook turned and retraced his route more land was sighted. The Forsters thought of calling this land Southern Thule suggesting it was the furthest point south. Visibility remained poor and Cook was unable to determine if the landmasses seen were joined or were separate islands. He decided on the former and referred to his sightings as capes and a stretch of water named Forster's Bay (now Forster's Passage). Cook sailed north sighting two more 'capes' then northeast then, on the 5th February he turned south again and finding no further evidence of land he decided that what he had called capes were in fact, islands which he named the South Sandwich Islands.

Later, Russian explorers found three more islands belonging to the group and showed that Southern Thule was really three islands, one of which they called Cook Island.

Cook now headed east and spent eight days sailing close to 58 degrees S., encountering many icebergs. He then sailed northeast in the direction of where Bouvet's Cape Circumcision was thought to be but he was too far east and despairing of ever finding Bouvet's cape he headed north on the 25th February and made for Cape Town. There were two more islands indicated on Dalrymple's chart but after making only a brief attempt to find them he dismissed the likelihood of their existence (correctly as it turned out) and continued on to Cape Town where he arrived in Table Bay on 22nd March, 1775. In Cape Town there was a letter from Furneaux explaining what had happened since their separation.

After the two ships had lost contact the Adventure spent several days at the mercy of gales off Cape Palliser at the southern tip of New Zealand's North Island and was blown well to the north. By now they were in great need of water and wood and put into Tolaga Bay on 9th.November where they stayed until the 12th. but on attempting to leave the bay they were forced back by more gales. They sailed again on the 16th. into more gales which this time the ship endured out at sea. Finally and by this time badly in need of repair, the Adventure anchored in Queen Charlotte Sound on 30th November to find that the Resolution had been and gone. They found a message in Ship Cove from Cook describing what had happened to the Resolution but no further rendezvous was suggested. Repairs to the ship were begun and water and supplies were taken on board. On the 17th December Midshipman Rowe and nine others set off in the ship's cutter to the east side of the Sound but didn't return. The next day Furneaux sent Lieut. Burney in the launch to find out what had happened. They rowed as far as Whareunga Bay where they found what was left of the cutter and the remains of the crew. They also saw several hundred Maori and decided it was best to return to the ship. Upon hearing the news Furneaux decided to leave immediately and with little chance of meeting Cook, set sail for Britain. The Adventure sailed on 23rd.December and on March 19th reached Cape Town where they stayed until 16th.April when they sailed for Britain, reaching home on 14th.July, 1774.

The Resolution spent five weeks in Cape Town undergoing repairs. The naturalist Sparman who, it may be remembered, joined the Resolution in Cape Town two years earlier now left the ship to resume his study of the Cape district. Cook sent ahead copies of his journals on board an Indiaman, 'Ceres'. While repairs were going on Cook met a French explorer, Julien Marie Crozet who told Cook of French voyages and discoveries in the Indian and Pacific Oceans all of which made Cook think of the possibilites for future voyages.

The Resolution left Cape Town with another Indiaman, the 'Dutton' on 27th.April. Using one of the new chronometers for calculating longitude, Cook was able to sail directly to St.Helena and was able to tell the Dutton exactly when they would reach the island. As predicted, both ships arrived at Jamestown, St.Helena on 15th.May. However, Cook's reception was lukewarm. John Hawkesworth's edition of Cook's journal of the first voyage had already arrived at the island and it contained less than flattering descriptions of St.Helena. Cook had to exercise some nimble diplomacy but as a joke he received several wheelbarrows due to the fact that Hawkesworth had wrongly stated that there was no wheeled transport on the island. A happier experience for Cook was the discovery that the Governer of the island was John Skottowe, the son of Cook's former employer and benefactor Thomas Scottowe. Their friendship renewed, they spent much time together visiting various parts of the island. In the evenings social events were organised for the ship's crew.

On 21st.May. the Resolution together with the Dutton sailed north, parting company three days later. Cook made for Ascension Island where he hoped to obtain turtles for food. On arrival however, turtles were found to be in short supply so Cook left on 31st.May. Even as they headed for home Cook still felt obliged to continue searching for islands in order to fix their positions and on 9th.June Cook sighted the island of Fenando de Noronha, off Brazil. The chronometer was used to fix the islands position but no attempt was made to land. Instead, a salute was fired to a fort that could be seen on shore then the ship sailed on, heading north and crossing the Equator on 11th.June. They continued north then northwest until 9th. July when they turned east for the Azores. During this part of the voyage Cook experimented with a still for producing fresh water which, although it made good quantities of water, Cook felt needed too much fuel to operate. On the 11th.July, the Resolution anchored at Horta on the island of Fayal in the Azores. They were there for five days during which time Cook made a detailed description of the place and its inhabitants. The British Consul, Mr.Dent, supplied the ship with beef and water. The Resolution left on 19th.July passing to the north of Pico, Sao Jorge and Terceira islands before heading home. On the 29th.July the Resolution sighted Plymouth and the next day Cook anchored off Portsmouth at Spithead. Despite having been away for over three years only four men had died, one from sickness. Cook went immediately to the Admiralty while the Resolution was sent to Deptford on the Thames.

During the voyage the Resolution and the Adventure lost contact with each other and Cook had been unable to positively confirm the existence of the Antarctic mainland but nevertheless Cook's second voyage can be regarded as an even greated success than the first. He circumnavigated the globe at around 60 degrees S. and was the first person to cross the Antarctic Circle. His repeated criss-crossing of the South Pacific resulted in the previously vague positions of the Marquesas, the New Hebrides, New Caledonia, Easter Island etc. being charted and positively fixed. Furthermore, he had done this using the new marine chronometers which enabled Cook to determine longitude with a reasonable degree of accuracy. The botanists on board were able to bring home many interesting samples and the artist, William Hodges provided an excellent pictorial record of the places and peoples encountered on the voyage.

This time, upon Cook's return to Londoon he was greeted as a hero by the Admiralty, his family and by the population at large. Unfortunately another of Cook's children, George, had died in October 1772 aged three months. This left only the two boys James and Nathaniel. James, aged 12, had entered the Naval Academy at Portsmouth and Nathaniel would soon follow. Cook was presented at Court and promoted to Post-Captain of HMS Kent but then was appointed as Fourth Captain at the Greenwich Hospital. This entitled Cook to live at the Hospital and provided him with a pension. It was intended that Cook take this opportunity to write an account of the second voyage which he did with the help of Canon Douglas. His account was published in May 1777 to great acclaim. In March 1776 Cook was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and a paper he presented on the prevention of scurvy won him the Society's Copley Medal.