Troubador Schooner to the Southern Oceans

Released: 29/08/2011

eISBN: 9781848769038

Format: eBook

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Schooner to the Southern Oceans

The Captain James Cook Bicentenary Voyage 1776-1976


Gordon Cook set out from Plymouth with his wife Mary and their two very young children, Sue and Jon, to repeat the third and last voyage that Captain James Cook made in 1776. The bicentenaries of Captain Cook’s first two voyages in 1963 and 1969 had both passed with little or nothing to celebrate them, despite huge fund-raising efforts. When both of these bicentenary events ended in failure, Gordon vowed to sail in his own ship and repeat Captain Cook’s final voyage 200 years later in 1976. He did just that. Despite numerous problems he completed and fitted out a beautiful seventy-foot schooner, Wavewalker. The schooner carried the Cook family to Madeira, the Canary Islands, and then 6000 miles to Rio de Janeiro. They then followed Captain Cook’s route across the South Atlantic calling at the remote island of Tristan da Cuna, before arriving in Cape Town. Leaving Cape Town Wavewalker sailed 3,000 miles towards Australia in the worst Roaring Forties weather for many years with 60 foot waves from the West. Then a storm from the South Pole created equally large waves and the schooner was eventually overwhelmed by a huge combined wave that threw Gordon overboard and smashed through the decks, filling the schooner with sea water. Despite massive damage and against all the odds, the family kept the ship afloat and made temporary repairs. The schooner was then hit by cyclone Clarence before sailing the last 2,000 miles voyage to Australia. Gordon was awarded the prestigious Lady Swathling Trophy by the Shipwrecked Mariner’s Society for that year’s “most outstanding act of seamanship and navigation that saved the lives of all the people on board”.

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