All About History

Nine Incredible Expeditions

James Cook’s first voyage


Southern reaches of the Pacific Ocean

Commissioned by King George III of Great Britain with seeking an unknown southern land and charting the course of the planet Venus across the Sun, James Cook set sail aboard his ship, HMS Endeavour, from Plymouth in the summer of 1768. It was the first of three voyages to the Pacific.

Cook crossed the Atlantic, rounded Cape Horn at the tip of South America, and reached Tahiti, where the movement of Venus was observed. Heading south into virtually uncharted waters, he claimed several islands for Britain and made landfall in New Zealand in September 1769. Cook’s was the second European expedition to reach New Zealand, 127 years after Dutch explorer Abel Tasman.

After mapping the coastline of New Zealand for six months, Cook went to Australia, the first European to reach its east coast, at Point Hicks and then Botany Bay. Sailing along the Australian coastline, Cook nearly met disaster as HMS Endeavour was damaged off the Great Barrier Reef. Repairs were made at Batavia in the Dutch East Indies. Cook sailed for home, rounding the Cape of Good Hope in March 1771. The 35-month journey ended at the port of Deal, England, on 12 July.

Leif Erikson establishes Vinland


Establishment of Norse colony in North America at Vinland

The son of Erik the Red, the Viking explorer who colonised Greenland, Leif Erikson sailed from there toward Norway in the year 999, landing first in the Hebrides and remaining for several months. Upon arrival in Norway, Erikson was converted to Christianity by King Olaf I Tryggvason and commanded to return to Greenland to introduce the religion there.

Accounts differ on the details of Erikson’s subsequent voyage. One holds that he sailed off-course and inadvertently made landfall in North America. A second and probably more reliable story relates that Erikson was aware of a vast land east of Greenland

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