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    Re: Ancient mariners enjoyed Hawaiian holidays
    From: Michael Daly
    Date: 2007 Oct 30, 19:04 -0400

    George Huxtable wrote:
    
    > As a habitual sceptic on such matters (and on most others), I would like to
    > learn a bit more detail. Where, exactly, was the voyage from, and to? How
    > many thousands of km? Did they REALLY have no GPS in a locker as a backup?
    > (If that was really the case, it would indeed show a convincing level of
    > self-confidence!). Was the exact intended destination announced in advance?
    > Was there radio contact, or the possibility of it? Were any on board
    > familiar with a chart of the Pacific? Were any such charts carried? Did they
    > really trust their lives to that "map of the Pacific recorded in the mind"?
    
    I wrote that from memory, so if you want to se how good or bad my memory
    is, I found the show has been posted to Youtube:
    
    That link is to the first of four(?) parts.  The show was one hour (with
    commercials) so it should be about 42 minutes without.  The voyage was
    in the second half of the show.
    
    If there was any funny business, it wasn't shown.
    
    > Remember, large parts of the Pacific have many island CHAINS and groups; in
    > many cases it's hard to miss an island as you sail through such a chain, and
    > the chains themselves can present a large target.
    
    These features are precisely part of the maps they work with.  Since the
    currents are affected by their presence, they can use the currents and
    knowledge of islands to position themselves.  I think that identifying
    plants and birds from specific island chains comes into it too.
    
    I hope I didn't give anyone the idea that this was a "magical" ability.
      While Davis does put a bit of a mystical spin on things, the basic
    navigator's abilities are all there.  It's not celestial navigation, but
    rather piloting on a grand scale.  The stars are used for direction, the
    currents for direction and information on nearby (but below horizon)
    islands, clouds reveal islands by their patterns etc (even Patrick
    O'Brien has Aubrey using stationary clouds over islands as an indication
    of their presence, so that's part of European tradition, too).  Waves
    reveal the effects of both random weather and steady winds - learning to
    see the difference is part of learning the ocean.
    
    When I said it's in their mind, I simply mean it's not written down.
    The Inuit can voyage far over what white men see as a featureless arctic
    without getting lost.  They didn't write it down either but kept the
    maps in their minds.  The Inuit work with land, ice and ice flows, winds
    and water just like the Polynesians used the features of the Pacific.
    It only seems like magic to the Europeans who were slow or who refused
    to learn.
    
    
    Mike
    
    
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