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1785 Chart of the Sandwich Islands Cook Bligh French

Cook Bligh French 1785
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Chart of the Sandwich Islands, Captain James Cook, William Bligh, Henry Roberts, 1778 – 1779

The first map of Hawai'i is often credited to Captain James Cook because he was in charge of the expedition that produced it. The official map is attributed to Lieutenant Henry Roberts, who prepared for publication all of the maps appearing in the three-volume narrative detailing the adventures of Cook's final voyage.

The large inset of "Karakakooa Bay" represents Kealakekua Bay on the island of Hawai'i, where Cook spent several weeks before dying in a clash with the Hawaiians on February 14, 1779. The tracks of Cook's ships are shown by the dashed and solid lines. The longitudes in the bottom and top borders are numbered continuously in an eastward direction from Greenwich; the longitudes shown on this map can be converted to the modern format by subtracting the value of 360.

Although best known for his involvement in the famous mutiny on the Bounty, Bligh was an outstanding seaman and accomplished chartmaker. Only twenty-one when selected by Cook as master for his flagship, the Resolution, Bligh performed many critical duties aboard ship, one of which was to assist in the making of the charts and harbor plans. After the publication of the official narrative of Cook's third voyage, Bligh privately challenged the assertion that Roberts drew the maps that accompanied the volumes, claiming credit himself for many of the maps, particularly the plan of Kealakekua Bay and much of the larger map of the "Sandwich Islands."