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Old 02-22-2013
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Re: Historical Sailing HELP needed!

What do you know of storm forecasting in the late 17th century? No satellites, no radar, no radio, so it largely boiled down to the crow's nest and intuition, possibly with attention being paid to a "storm glass" an early form of barometer. Square rigged ships were slow and not eager to steer, so getting out of the way was not an option. Combine this with the lack of early warning and storms become a matter of forebearance. An account from the 1715 Spanish fleet gives you an idea:

"Arriving after 3 days at the mouth of the Bahama Channel, when night fall came this same day we had 'Los Roques'in sight and at daybreak the following morning we were near the head of the Florida Keys (Key Largo or Key Biscayne) which was opposite of us off our beam. And continuing we coasted along the cayos and the mainland of Florida, however, always with very light winds, having to tack until we were forced to lay to (without sail), for the motive of still trying to incorporate Echeverz Squadron which always sailed at a distance from our Flota. We were in this position when the wind began to blow fresh from the ENE and taking a sounding we found we were in 50 fathoms of water. We were advised by the Capitana, by a cannon shot and flags, to use what sails we could and head away from the coast until we were in deep water. But we were unable to do this because the currents were pushing us towards the shore and the winds were getting stronger, as being from the wrong direction for getting away from the shore. The sun disappeared and the wind increased and increased in velocity coming from the east and ENE. The seas became very great in size, the wind continued blowing us toward shore, pushing us into shallow water. Then the wind changed to a furious hurricane and the seas became of such great size, with huge waves, and being in still shallower water we were unable to sail. It soon happened that we were unable to use any sail at all, making bare our yards, mostly due to the wind carrying away our sails and rigging, and we at the mercy of the wind and water, always driving closer to the shore. Having then lost all our masts, all of the ships were wrecked on the shore between the middle of the night of the 30th until 10 in the morning of the 31st. All of the ships, with the exception of mine, broke into pieces."
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