A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Harry Lewis
Date: 2018 Aug 6, 05:09 -0700
My first post here. My name is Harry Lewis. I'm not a professional researcher, mariner, historian, journalist, writer, or anything of the type. I'm an ordinary guy who has become intrigued by some historical questions and am pursuing them from my own curiosity only. Specifically, I'm looking at the Mary Celeste, the ship that was found drifting in 1872, largely intact but with everyone on board absent. (BTW, I'm not part of the Bermuda Triangle/alien abduction/time travel crowd, and looking at the evidence I think mutiny is so unlikely that the possibility can be safely discounted.)
Anyway, I'm trying to find some answers to questions about how ships' captains did things in the 1870s. Most of the questions are about navigation or matters closely related to it.
Bowditch is a great resource -- and thank you to whoever put links online at this site to the various historical editions. I've been looking at them, and they've been an enormous help; but they also raise some other questions.
The problem is, they're great references for doing things "by the book" (please pardon the inevitable pun) -- but in any activity, there's "by the book" and there's how things are really done. By analogy, a completely naive person looking at modern US drivers' license manuals might infer that only criminals drive over the speed limit, and would have no way of knowing that on any real world US interstate highway, driving a few mph over the limit is the norm, not the exception.
Well, I've never lived in the 1870s. And I've never been on a ship in my whole life. So on these matters I'm very naive. I'm sure that real world captains did some things per Bowditch but that there were also commonly accepted shortcuts, variations, etc for other things; but I have no idea what they were, and some of my questions touch on those matters.
So before I go further, are there other forums, in addition to this one, that would be useful which any of you can recommend?