Riding the wave


George Vancouver

George Vancouver had learned hydrographic surveying as early as 1772 when very young, early in his career in the Royal Navy, had accompanied Cook and Bligh in the last two voyages of exploration in the Pacific.

In the early eighties he was assigned to the hydrographic service in the West Indies, and in 1791 accomplished his memorable voyage of circumnavigation and of search, along the north-west American coast, of the North-East passage to the Atlantic.

In 1788, therefore, he was in Jamaica, in command of the ship "Europe" of which Joshua Whidbey was second officer. On that occasion he produced a detailed chart of Kingston, which was drawn by J. Baker.

In addition to the plentiful nautical information and soundings, the chart has 5 small detailed views of the coast, described in the legend at the top right, which of each describes fortifications, coastal defenses and other landmarks.

In the legend on the left, instead, appear explanatory notes on the nature of the surveys because "When a survey of a Coast Harbor is made is it Necessary to mention on what principles that Survey is taken, that the Mariner may be a Judge, what Confidence he can repose in its Authority.

Kingston, Jamaica. George Vancouver, 1788
(Taunton, UK Hydrographic Office)
The chart has been reproduced in Coste del Mondo nella cartografiaa europea :1500-1900, (179 p., about 300 images), by Priuli & Verlucca, publishers, Ivrea, 2000.