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post #19 of Old 05-17-2011
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Hartley, I think we are both trying hard to agree with each other on the skills and daring these mariners must have possessed in order to cross oceans in their day. It is interesting comment about the lunar method. Was it relatively more accurate because the chronometers of the time were such poor keepers of time as to make them impractical to use in a marine environment? And why was the Royal Navy offering such a big prize for the invention of a practical chronometer if they already had a better way of determining longitude? Imagine a skipper of that time working out logarithms in longhand using quill and ink by the light of a whale oil lamp. I read once that they would calculate their equations until they two answers that matched. I remember reading about the clipper ship Swordfish’s attempt at breaking Flying Cloud’s New York to San Francisco record of which they were set to break handily until they chose to head up the California coast instead swinging out 400-500 miles to the west. All because they didn’t understand (or comprehend?) the North Pacific High weather phenomenon.
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