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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

“Adventure's” Double Visit to Tolaga Bay in 1773

“Adventure's” Double Visit to Tolaga Bay in 1773

The only vessel belonging to either of Cook's other expeditions to the Pacific which halted on the East Coast was the Adventure (Captain Furneaux). She put into Tolaga Bay for two brief periods in November, 1773. Together with her sister ship, the Resolution (Captain Cook), she had made the coast near Table Cape (Mahia) whilst en route from Amsterdam Island [in the Friendly Group] to Queen Charlotte Sound. Heavy squalls were experienced off Cape Turnagain, and, as the two vessels ran a great risk of becoming separated, Cook signalled to Furneaux page 60 that Queen Charlotte Sound was to be the rendezvous. They never met again on the voyage.

Furneaux's narrative appears in A Voyage Towards the South Pole and Round the World in 1772–75 (Dublin, 1777), which was written by Captain Cook and Geo. Forster, F.R.S. According to Furneaux, the Adventure struck very heavy weather and, on 4 November, whilst she was off Cape Palliser, “our decks were very leaky, our beds and bedding wet, and several of our people were complaining of colds.” As progress could not be made, it was decided to put back into Tolaga Bay “to complete our wood and water, being in great want of both, having been at the allowance of one quart of water for some days past, and even that pittance could not be come at above 6 or 7 days longer.”

Hospitality as warm as that which Cook had experienced four years earlier was Furneaux's happy experience at Tolaga Bay. He says that the natives were more numerous there than at Queen Charlotte Sound, and seemed settled, having regular plantations of sweet potatoes and other root crops and plenty of crayfish and other fish, “which we bought of them for nails, beads and other trifles at an easy rate.”

“In one of their canoes,” Furneaux adds, “we observed the head of a woman lying in state adorned with feathers and other ornaments. It had the appearance of being alive, but, on examination, we found it dry, being preserved with every feature perfect and was being kept as a relic of some deceased person.”

On 12 November, 1773, the Adventure took her departure, but, next day, another gale forced her to return in order that more rigging might be repaired. The opportunity was also seized to secure some more water and wood. On the 16th, she again sailed, and, after much delay in negotiating the eastern entrance to Cook Strait, she made Queen Charlotte Sound. Nothing was seen of the Resolution, but all fears as to her safety were dismissed when, on going ashore, a message to “Look Underneath!” was found cut out on the stump of a tree in the garden at Cook's Cove. In a bottle which was dug up was a message from Cook intimating that his ship had arrived there on 3 November and had sailed again on 24 November.