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    Re: Ancient mariners enjoyed Hawaiian holidays
    From: Peter Fogg
    Date: 2007 Nov 7, 10:10 +1100


    Clive wrote:

    David Lewis in his book " The Wandering Stars" also describes the appearance
    of the sea denoting the presence of a strong Current being recognised by his
    Polynesian Navigator during a voyage form the reef islands of Santa Cruz
    near the Solomons.The depth at that time was better than a mile deep.
    He(Lewis) suggests that the overfalls were occurring not over shallows but
    over a layer of stationary or contra-flowing water a few fathoms down.- a
    phenomenon hydrographic research shows to be exceedingly common! Has anyone
    in nav-l group heard of this?
     
    In parts of the South Pacific there are underwater volcanoes (extinct, hopefully).  Rising from a fairly level base about 4000m deep, they come to within a couple of hundred metres of the surface. The chart warns that the surface of the sea may be potentially disturbed in an unpredictable fashion in their vicinity. I have sailed right over one of these sea-mounds. Unfortunately (?) the sea was reasonably calm that day and we could perceive no difference. These spots are also distinguished as while much of the open ocean seems almost empty of fish these areas are comparatively rich in marine life.
     
    Am I claiming that Polynesians knew of these places, fished them, and used them as potential navigational signposts, out in the open ocean? (well, these particular ones I have in mind are in the Tasman Sea, or a little to its north, but in any case a long way from land).
     
    No, I'm not claiming this. What I am saying, again, is that there is a lot we don't know about Polynesian navigation and much that we don't understand about the little we do know.
     
    I concede that lore of this kind would be acquired by Pacific islanders from
    ancestral stories but it is one thing to be aware of  current flow in a
    local area when it briefly becomes strong but it is quite another to gain
    this awareness over a vast empty area of the ocean. I think the jury is
    still out.
     
    The jury will always be out. The exciting part is that new discoveries continue to be made that assist our knowledge of this subject. For me the main significance of the recent Lapinta analysis was the proposed speed of that initial (presumably) human colonisation of the Pacific. Formerly I had assumed at that stage the development of much navigational skill still lay in the future, with the Polynesian expansion from the eastern Pacific, but now that assumption may require revision. 
     

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