CAPTAIN JAMES COOK (1728-1779)
Indefatigable explorer who had all the essential traveller’s virtues – until he went a bit funny at the end
Nominated by Sara Wheeler, travel writer: “Captain Cook discovered more of the earth’s surface than any other man and excelled as a scientist, cartographer and surveyor. He was bad-tempered – I like a touch of clay feet in a hero.”
Travelling style: Precise – an excellent navigator, he always drew up accurate charts; indomitable – when his ship, the Endeavour, ran aground in the Coral Sea, he beached and repaired it; shrewd – he averted scurvy by forcing his crew to eat fruit and sauerkraut; open-minded – his notes show genuine interest in other cultures.
Places visited: He circumnavigated the globe twice, visited all seven continents and crossed the Arctic and Antarctic circles.
Hardships suffered: Sailed with Captain Bligh, recovered from biliary colic by eating stew made from a ship’s dog; was clubbed to death in Hawaii.
Changed-the-world rating: By finding Australia and mapping New Zealand, Captain Cook essentially created the map of the Pacific we know today. He also anticipated ethnology and anthropology – and, arguably, independent travel. His aim to go “farther than any man has been before me but only as far as I think it possible for a man to go” is an inspiration to every travelleImage

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