Originally Posted by GeorgeB
I’d like to know how they were able to navigate without the ability (or sometimes even the knowledge) to determine longitude.
The Lunar Distance Method
was introduced in "about 1767" as an accurate way to determine longitude and either Octants or Sextants were already in regular use, meaning Ships Captains of those days needed to be very good at spherical trigonometry - something I suspect most of us would fail at (I would!).
The mind boggles when you think of the pages and pages of calculations that the early maritime explorers (Cook and others) were required to do to accurately chart the coastline of a country - accurately enough that modern satellite imaging changed charts of this region very little indeed!
Before 1767 they just stayed a long, long way away from land and used their knowledge of the sea and sky (colour, temperature, wave and cloud patterns), compass course and distance run to tell them approximately where they were.
How did they do it? Basically, with no "lazy" way (like GPS) to safely determine where they were going, the ones that lived to tell the tale were just very, very good - they had to be.