Vanessa Collingridge

Breaking the Waves

Beyond the Blue Horizon: How the Earliest Mariners Unlocked the Secrets of the Oceans


Bloomsbury 313pp £20 order from our bookshop

In January 1778, in the seemingly boundless blue of the northern Pacific, world-renowned navigator James Cook chanced upon the wondrous volcanic islands of Hawaii. The discovery took every-

one by surprise: since Cook left Tahiti and her neighbours, all his charts and the Tahitians’ knowledge had led him to expect clear and open water up to the coast of North America. Instead, an archipelago new to Western cartography grew large on the horizon. As the inhabitants paddled their canoes out to meet him, Cook realised to his great astonishment that they spoke the same Polynesian language as the people of Tahiti and even New Zealand some 4,300 miles away. Shortly afterwards, he mused in his journal: 

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