One question still remained from Cook's first mission, whether the unexplored part of the Southern Hemisphere is only an immense mass of water or could it possibly contain another continent. The British Admiralty decided it was time to finally send someone out and find an answer to the long pondered question. Cook was promoted to Commander and then notified that he had been chosen to lead the mission. He was instructed to travel south to find Bouvet's Cape Circumcision and determine if it was part of the imagined continent. If so, he was to "take possession of convenient situations in the country in the name of the King of Britain" (Blumberg, 1991). If not part of a continent, then he was to sail as far south as possible, circumnavigate the area and sail north when the ice and weather proved too harsh to sail in. James Cook was not a believer in the existence of a 7th continent, but because the Admiralty still believed there was, and because of pressure from other countries the assignment stayed.
The Admiralty outfitted the newly purchased Resolution and Adventure, two colliers; the Resolution positioned as Cook's flagship.
The Resolution was a smaller ship than the Endeavour, only 110 feet long and 35 feet wide across the beam however the Adventure was even smaller and would be used as a type of scouting sheep to maneuver in tighter spots. With little ceremony the two ships set sail from Plymouth Sound at 6:00 a.m. on July 13, 1772, faced with an extensive three-year voyage only a year after Cook's last voyage
Along with the mission to find the supposed 7th continent, Cook planned to circumnavigate the world. This second trip would also be a scientific expedition and Joseph Banks was originally planning to ride on the Adventure. Because of a dispute over the number of people Banks wanted to take, Banks withdrew from the mission. Despite the small quarrel, two astronomers did sail with Cook and they had with a new instrument called the Chronometer. This instrument was supposed to measure longitude with the aid of time and the stars. These four chronometers, the scientists used, proved to be useful and more reliable than any other instrument at that time for their calculations. The two ships arrived at Cape Town, South Africa, 109 days later and then continued south, crossing the Antarctic Circle and eventually forced north because of ice. They reached Dusky Bay, New Zealand in March. Cook then pushed south across the Pacific until the crew could endure no more. Cook returned to Tahiti unhappy with the results as of yet and investigated the Tongan Islands. Heading south, the two ships met a fierce storm and were separated from each other. Nevertheless, Cook kept sailing south on November 27. He again reached the ice pack in mid-December, and continued his search for a way through to the south. Cook now thought for sure that this ice-mass went south all the way to the Pole, or maybe it joined some piece of land unfound by Europeans. Without an answer he sailed north again landing at Easter Island in March 1774 and the Marquesas. Again from Tahiti, he sailed west to confirm the discoveries of the explorer Quiros. He discovered many of the Tuamoutu Islands, Society Islands, Tonga, and Fiji Islands until reaching what he named the New Hebrides(Vanuatu). From here he sailed south and found New Caledonia. Before rounding Cape Horn Cook claimed the Kerguelen Island as for Britain, and returned to Plymouth in July 1775. His second voyage had lasted three years and eighteen days finding out bits and pieces of land and clues along the way. In this he lost four men, one to sickness, none to scurvy.
Cook returned to England and was retired to the Royal Hospital in Greenwich. Apparently Cook could not stay at home very long and eventually a third voyage was planned, Cook taking told of the details. He volunteered himself for the head job of finding the crew and men to take on the task of this more northerly mission. The purpose of the third voyage was to seek out an existing Northwest passage (the passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean) and map what he found.
This is an original biography, all work must be sourced, copyright © ver. 1: 1998; ver. 2: 2000 Nate Kerl