Chris Scott Wilson Writer
insubordination by dismissing Hamar and appoint-ing another captain.
Cook’s journal for Wednesday 1st October reports: “AM Cast off from the Leopard and warped over and made fast to a mooring upon the wethering shore. Ditto came on board Captain Palliser and took possession of the ship.” A fellow Yorkshireman, but from the West Riding. Hugh Palliser was another man of the sea born of the land. His father had been an army captain, but Hugh had gone to sea at the age of 12 and had attained the almost unprecedented achievement of being promoted lieutenant at 18. Only five years older than James Cook, Palliser already had a wealth of experience under his belt, given his first command some nine years previously, since when he had sailed most of the seven seas. In the future he would become a Baron and a Lord Of The Admiralty, but almost from the moment he was piped aboard Eagle, he began to play an important part in Cook’s life as patron and friend. He had an eye for men and saw James Cook's potential almost instantly.
October and November’s dirty weather battered the squadron but nothing would prevent them from obeying orders to detain any French vessels. Several engagements ensued, prizes taken as the weather worsened. A French banker (a type of fishing vessel used on the Grand Banks off Newfoundland) was captured, adding more prisoners to be fed by Eagle’s cook. As the weather continued to deteriorate, Eagle continued on her mission to intercept foreign vessels. But the heavy seas took their toll. Within days Eagle’s topmast went by the board in a tangle of spars and rigging. They were forced to heave-to, off the wind to begin repairs. Cook remarked, “the topmast broke the main cross trees,” further complicating matters. HMS Monmouth was sighted and closed, then her captain sent across carpenters to assist Eagle’s own and as soon as she was seaworthy they sailed together, giving chase to any strange sail to be called down from the lookouts.
The English Channel is notorious for long stretches of bad weather at the back end of the year; gales that blow endlessly, teasing and sucking at the rising swell, tearing off the wave caps in a haze of
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