HM Bark Endeavour was originally a small merchant collier named Earl of Pembroke, built in Whitby, North Yorkshire. She was purchased by the Royal Society of London for use in a scientific study to observe the 1769 transit of Venus across the sun, and renamed Endeavour after a major refit at Deptford on the Thames in 1768, which converted her from a collier into a barque. Her commander was James Cook.
The voyage began on August 8, 1768, and took them to the Madeira islands, along the west coast of Africa and across the Atlantic to South America, arriving in Rio De Janeiro on November 13, 1768. The next leg was to round Cape Horn into the South Seas and on to Tahiti, where she remained for the next three months observing the transit of Venus.
Her official mission now completed, she continued with her tasks of charting the Southern Hemisphere. Endeavour sailed from Tahiti to New Zealand, where she spent the next six months surveying and mapping the coast under constant harassment from the Maori population. From New Zealand she moved west to the coast of Australia, sighting land on April 19, 1770. Putting into to a sheltered bay, her botanists were able to collect an astounding array of flora, so much so that Cook named the place Botany Bay.
For the next four months Cook charted the coast of Australia, until the ship ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef. After lightening the ship as much as possible, she was re-floated by an incoming tide, but sustained considerable damage. She was careened on the beach of a river estuary, now named the Endeavour River, and spent the next two months undergoing repairs.
She turned for home arriving, after several other stops, on July 11, 1771. Cook's first voyage in Endeavour is of historical importance because of its contributions to the world's knowledge of seamanship and navigation, as well as geography. On this voyage Cook became the first captain to calculate his longitudinal position with accuracy, using a complex mathematical formula developed in the 1760s. He was also the first to substantially reduce scurvy among his crew, a serious danger on long voyages.
Cook was to captain Endeavour on two subsequent voyages, sailing from pole to pole, until he, and four of his marines, were killed by natives on the Hawaiian Islands.
In January 1988, to commemorate the bicentenary of European settlement in Australia, work began in Freemantle, Western Australia on a replica of Endeavour. Financial difficulties delayed completion until April 1994. She then embarked on her own world trip, calling at many ports along the way.