Captain James Cook’s third and final voyage (1776-1779) of discovery was an attempt to locate a North-West Passage, an ice-free sea route which linked the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. “Cook had chosen his subordinates well or had been lucky. The officers of the third voyage were a remarkably intelligent group of men.” George Dixon, an armourer in the Royal Navy per a warrant dated April 16, 1776, joined the Discovery and also sailed for the Pacific on Captain James Cook’s third voyage of exploration. As an armourer Dixon was a skilled mechanic, with the rating of petty officer first-class, whose duty it was to assist the gunner in keeping the ship’s arms in order.
Cook’s voyage had initiated the maritime fur trade in sea otter pelts with China. “(D)uring the late Captain Cook’s last voyage to the Pacific Ocean, besides every scientific advantage which might be derived from it, a new and inexhaustible mine of wealth was laid open to future navigators, by trading furs of the most valuable kind, on the North West Coast of America.” Then, in the spring of 1785 Dixon and Nathaniel Portlock, a shipmate in the Discovery, became partners in Richard Cadman Etches and Company, commonly called the King George’s Sound Company, one of several commercial associations formed to conduct trade. Portlock was given command of the King George and of the expedition, Dixon commanded the Queen Charlotte.