This incomparable book is at once a unique account of a great journey of discovery – Endeavour's voyage up the east coast of New Holland (Australia) in the year 1770 – and a remarkable re-creation of the experience of being on board ship.
Parkin draws on meticulous research to reveal what the Endeavour looked like, how she sailed, how she smelled: what daily life would have been like for those on board. No aspect of the ship is too insignificant for his enquiries. How many strands of yarn
were in the ship's cable? (954) Did the ship have a lightning conductor? (Yes) What was the diameter of her main mast? (21 inches).
These details are illustrated by a series of plans and figures depicting the ship's architecture and construction, her deck plan, rigging, sails, armament, boats, cables, anchors and accommodation, beautifully drawn by Parkin himself. A composite log of Endeavour's voyage up the east coast of Australia – extracts from journals kept by those on board – are supplemented by an interpretive commentary and a series of explanatory charts.
HM Bark Endeavour is a fitting companion to standard works on Cook's voyage. It is also an absorbing book: discursive, erudite, at times poetic; full of w isdom, insight and information.
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Melbourne-born Ray Parkin (1910-2005) was an omnivorous reader and gifted artist who largely educated himself and became a fine maritime painter. He spent eighteen years in the Royal Australian Navy, including three years as a prisoner of war of the
Japanese during World War II.
After the war he became a waterfront tally clerk and wrote of his wartime experiences in Out of the Smoke, Into the Smother and The Sword and the Blossom, all published to critical acclaim by The Hogarth Press, London, in the 1960s, and republished by MUP as Ray Parkin's Wartime Trilogy. He worked on the Melbourne waterfront until his retirement in 1975 when he went to London to continue his research into Endeavour.